Planning a wedding? Mazel! Prepare to blow through your life savings and then some. This most joyous day of your life (allegedly) is going to cost you and your intended (and/or your parents) quite a pretty penny, just by nature of what the wedding industry is. Now, I’m not here to do the whole “why spend a down payment on a house for a party?” song and dance. It’s your money, spend it how you want, whether that be on a lavish wedding, a sick honeymoon, or a down payment on your dream house. That being said, I’m sure we’d all like to spend less on our weddings without looking totally cheap and tacky—and that’s completely possible! If you’re interested in saving a few bucks here and there, though, knowing what you can totally skimp on is helpful. Like, do you really need fresh wildflowers in the bathrooms to liven up the space? Short answer, no. Here are a few things you can add to the list of splurge vs. save when your big day pops up.
By the time dessert rolls around, everyone is going to be either really drunk, really passed out, or really dancing to impress potential hookups. Please, for the love of God, do not drop thousands of dollars on a cake unless you really, really need it. First off, a lot of wedding cakes taste, well, awful. Secondly, people like brownies and cookies more; plus, they make for better handheld food while doing the Cotton-Eyed Joe. Opt for a tea-size cake so you and hubs can cut and smash it into each other’s faces (photo-ops, fam). But a six-tiered fondant and buttercream vanilla monstrosity? Pass.
I don’t even know how many hundreds if not thousands of buckaroos we wasted on this at my wedding. Holding up a glass of champagne and toasting the new couple is kind of tradition, but why not just ask guests to raise whatever they’re drinking instead of a $5 per glass flute of Dom Perignon? If you have a large venue, people will more than likely miss the toast, forget to pick up a glass, chug eight by themselves later (*slowly raises hand*), or just forget about the whole thing completely, which leaves the event staff to dump all that bubbly right down the drain. Moment of silence.
When you go and sit down with either your wedding planner or event person at your wedding venue, they’re likely going to ask you about linens. When we say linens, it means everything from table runners to napkins to tablecloths. Pro tip: do not spend a sh*tload of money on these. Napkins will end up on the floor, in the garbage, and covered in dried food. The same applies for tablecloths and runners. Obviously, you need these things, but don’t feel like you need to splurge on it. If you have a very specific color, fine. Chances are, they have a cheaper version of it. Oh, and this doesn’t mean put burlap everywhere. That’s tacky.
Flowers For The Venue
Hear me out on this one—you definitely need flowers for bouquets, the spot where you’re actually tying the knot, and on a table here and there at your venue. What you don’t need are flowers and bouquets on every cocktail table and piece of furniture throughout the entire day. Flowers are probably one of the most expensive items you’ll have for your big, special day, so choose them wisely and don’t go crazy with them. Sh*t, go to Michael’s and Trader Joe’s and get some dried and mixed them in with the real ones, opt for candles and lanterns, or think of other decor that’ll fill the space. But don’t feel like you need flowers f*cking everywhere.
Alright, listen, and try not to @ me on Twitter—the shoes you wear for your wedding are definitely important. They should be stylish, fit your personality, and they should be comfortable. They do not need to cost $3,000. Unless you’re sporting a tea-length dress (which, ew), you really don’t need to go balls to the wall on crazy expensive feet holders because, well, no one is going to see them. That doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to wear cowboy boots or sneakers, tho. Keep it classy.
Weddings are expensive AF no matter how you cut it. In addition to cutting costs for things so you can spend your money on important things like a house and a baller honeymoon, nixing things that your guests don’t care about is a smart move. Whether it’s programs or a certain type of dessert, don’t waste your Dad’s hard-earned money on things that literally no one will remember. Free booze, good food, and a dress that doesn’t look like it belongs to a cat weirdo are what matters.
Pass. We mentioned it here, but programs get forgotten, thrown out, or just generally ignored. If you’re really v concerned that people won’t know which version of “All Creatures of our God and King” to sing as the Offertory hymn during your 10-hour Catholic Mass, go ahead and write it on a chalkboard in the front. It’ll be a lot cheaper and grandma will be able to see the font.
By the time guests are on their way out of a wedding, they’re more concerned with either a) finding the next bar, or b) finding a suitable bush to throw up in. They’re not looking for a table with favors. Face it—most wedding favors are pretty forgettable and/or tacky. If you want to really give your guests a gift, offer a midnight snack like a pretzel, hot dog, or schedule a food truck to show up as the party winds down.
3. Types Of Flowers
Ask any former bridesmaid what kind of flowers she carried at any given wedding and she literally will not remember. Ask any wedding guest what kinds of flowers were used as centerpieces at any given wedding they’ve attended. No one will know. Flowers are def important for “fluffing” a space and adding color, but don’t feel the need to go balls to the wall and order perfectly pink hydrangeas out of season because the color is the only thing that will work. Set a budget and stick to it. Guests don’t care and won’t remember. Sh*t, go to the grocery store and get your own.
No one goes to a wedding for the cake. Oftentimes, wedding cake gets a bad rep anyway for being dry, bland, vanilla, and generally not that amazing compared to the free booze that the bartender is dishing out. Grabbing an Oreo ice cream cake is going to be just as sufficient for those cute shoving-cake-in-each-other’s-faces pics as a $1,000 four-layer French whipped meringue and sponge cake. At my wedding, we had a guest (who happened to be a baker) make our tiny perfect-for-smashing cake and it was just big enough for the two of us (which we loved cause we’re both v bad at sharing). Then we fed everyone else cookies, brownies, pies, and mousse. Win, win.
5. Cocktail Hour Music
This is the part of the program where your guests will pound shots, beer, and wine before heading into what they believe will be a v boring dinner. The soundtrack you provide during this power hour is not something your guests will notice. Sure, your parents may insist you play four to seven Bruce Springsteen songs because, “Sarah, you’re from New Jersey and you’re required by law.” Go ahead—your guests are going to be too busy guzzling appetizer-sized crab cakes and free prosecco to notice that “Glory Days” gets really old after the 50th time.
6. A Choreographed First Dance
Nine out of 10 couples in a survey I made up for this article don’t give a sh*t if the bride and groom can’t dance versus having a 4-minute choreographed dance routine. During the first dance, the guests are urging their bodies to quickly digest the multi-course feast of seafood and antipasti from cocktail hour while counting the minutes until the buffet opens and they can comment on the types of meat offered. No one cares if you spent four consecutive weeks verbally abusing kindly encouraging hubby to perfect his ability to dip you so that you can have the perfect picture. Just get out there and dance. Stop being a snot.
7. A Slideshow Of The Couple
Yawn. No matter how many “ooohs” and “awwws” you think you’ll garner from showing pics from the one-night stand respectable first date or the engagement you knew about and, therefore, had heavily photographed, no one cares. Sure, a photo here and there of the happy couple on tables at cocktail hour or tastefully worked into the reception hall is fine. But having a literal home movie of you two drooling on each other isn’t really necessary.
8. The Bouquet And Garter Toss
Oftentimes, the bouquet and garter toss only serve to up the ante at a boring wedding. You, chances are, are not going to have a boring wedding, so why stop the music for an outdated tradition? The only entertaining part of the bouquet toss is watching your single friends fight each other for a pack of flowers, so if that’s something you want to see, go for it. Bonus points if your maid of honor pushes a child to the floor in an effort to grab it.
Images: Wu Jianxiong, Unsplash; Giphy (3)
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)