Oh god. Here we are again with tips and tricks on how to cut costs on your wedding and have it not be a precursor to your poverty. If you want things in life like the down payment on a house or a honeymoon that isn’t at a cheap resort in Mexico that serves tainted alcohol, you’re going to need to chill on some wedding day stuff. Everything from food to flowers to photographers costs a lot of money, and you need to prioritize where it’s cool to pay a couple thousand and where it’s like, uncool. Maybe none of this applies because Mommy and Daddy are footing the bill, but, like, maybe they aren’t. Or maybe you’ll piss them off so much that you’ll be paying for it yourself.
In any case, here are a few ways to cut costs on your wedding.
1. Chill On Your Dress
Do you honestly need the custom designer Oscar De La Renta dress for your wedding day? Yes, it’d be nice to have, and yes, everyone would be super jealous (especially your cousin who literally always tries to one-up you). However, at the end of it all, is it necessary to spend more than $5k on a dress you’re going to wear once? There are millions of beautiful dresses below the $5k point, many in the $1,000 to $3,000 range. If you NEED the designer dress, check the sale racks or shop sample sizes if you’re #blessed enough to be a size zero or two.
2. Don’t Use A Florist
Flowers are going to kill your budget. All of your flowers are going to die three days or less after your reception. I’ve heard of people quoted $30k on flowers (she wanted an entire altar made of roses, but that’s neither here nor there). Knowing these cold hard facts, go ahead and get your bridal bouquet and potentially bridesmaids bouquets from a florist. But when it comes to decorating cocktail hour serving areas or adorning tables in the reception hall, go for dried arrangements of lavender, baby’s breath, and eucalyptus from your local Michael’s (I know you have a coupon) or mixed floral bouquets from spots like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Grocers have fresh flowers delivered on the reg and will prevent you spending a metric f*ck ton of money on the same effect you’re getting from the florist. If you put gas station roses on a table, chances are your guests will be too drunk to realize you spent $12 instead of $100.
3. Stock Your Own Booze
Although some of us (me) think it’s tacky, soon-to-be-wedded couples sometimes do a “stock the bar” party instead of a bridal or wedding shower. The object is to guilt guests into buying all the booze for your event so that you aren’t forced to pay a couple thousand dollars for an all-night open bar. You could also slowly buy nice bottles of top shelf liquor and use that, depending on the size of the wedding. The moral of the story is that having an open bar with a bartender with top shelf liquor at a venue is often extremely expensive. So, if you’re able to at least stock the bar with your own beer, wine, and liquor to offset some costs, go for it.
4. Limit The Guests
I know your mom is dying to invite your third cousin twice removed, but if you want to count pennies for this shindig, limit the guest list. Every person you invite is going to cost you between $50-100 depending on the size of the wedding. Once you think of everyone as a dollar sign—dollars that could be spent on wine during your honeymoon—you’ll stop feeling so obliged to have them sit through your special day.
5. Buy Used
Check out Etsy, Craigslist, weird garage sales, flea markets, etc. for wedding decor like lanterns, tea lights, vases, etc. Chances are, you’re going to find little corner-filling items for a lot cheaper (and in probs fine condition) by perusing used items versus going to a planner and having them source stuff for you.
6. Nix The Programs
You know what costs money? Printing programs. I printed 160 programs for my wedding which hosted a guest list of 150. I still have about 100 said programs laying in a v sad, handwritten book basket in my office. If you want everyone to know the correct Psalm number with which your reading coincides, get a giant, adorable chalkboard, frame it nicely, and have someone with lovely handwriting get to work.
7. Don’t Bother With Favors
Save your money. You just gave these ungrateful plebs an all-you-can-eat buffet and free booze. They don’t need a personalized tea light or Mason jar of local honey that they’ll forget about and leave in their car. It may add up to just a couple hundred bucks, but every little bit counts when you’re trying to buy house wares like that margarita machine, amirite?
8. Go Buffet
When it comes to food, obviously, a plated dinner is nicer, fancier, and classier. However, if you really want two weeks in Corsica after the wedding, opt for a family style meal or buffet which is almost always cheaper (don’t @ me). People can eat as much or as little as they want (less food waste which is like, v planet-friendly), go up as much as they want, and you can have an assortment of mains and sides.
All these tips AND MORE can help you save thousands of dollars on your big, giant, one day party. Remember that when you’re drowning in invites and custom napkin colors and your bridesmaids refusing to wear pink: it’s a big party. What matters is the person waiting for you at the end of the night; the person you can pass out and throw up on this night and every night for the rest of your life.
Images: Anne Edgar / Unsplash; Giphy (3)