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So you got engaged and started planning your big day, only to realise that costs quickly add up and the dream wedding you always wanted might burn a hole in your pocket. With the average cost of weddings close to $30,000 – and that’s not even including the honeymoon, it’s no wonder couples are researching all the possible ways to reduce those costs (and, why not, even eloping).

Here are just a few things to (re)consider when planning your wedding:

Piggie bank

1. Set the budget you’ll be able to spend and establish priorities: what aspects you consider most important and don’t care about the expenses? Where would you consider making compromises? Make a list of all the aspects that really matter to you and those that don’t.

TIMING:

2. Plan in time. The more you wait, the more expensive it will get. Some vendors give discounts for couples that book early in advance.

3. Consider less popular dates: have the wedding off-season (so no May-September) and / or during midweek (weekend weddings are more expensive). Perhaps even April fools day or Friday the 13th.

Beach wedding

VENUE:

4. Consider having the venue outside your city (or in a smaller nearby city).

5. Try an all-inclusive deal, with restaurant + hotel for your out of town guests.

6. Limit to one location: it will save on transportation costs. You could use one room for both the ceremony and the reception.

7. Location that doesn’t need extra decor (or needs a minimum): choose a place that’s already beautiful.

8. Already owned decor: look around your house for ideas to use as centerpieces and other decor options

9. If you’re marrying outdoor, consider a brief, standing ceremony, to save on seating. And only bring a few chairs for your elderly guests.

Buffet wedding

GUESTS:

10. You can always cut from the guest list. Consider not inviting children, co-workers, relatives you almost never speak to etc.

Extra reading:
10 Rules for a Wedding Guest List
Wedding Guest List and How to Handle it

11. Limit the number of bridesmaids to minimum.

Wine toast

STATIONERY:

12. Send online “save the dates”: make a video invitation with your smartphone and email it. Also, it’s ok if you don’t send any at all – word of mouth followed by formal invitations work just as fine.

13. DIY Invitations – if you are talented, you can start digging on Pinterest for inspiration and tutorials, but this probably won’t make a big difference.

14. Search for lighter ones – the heavier the invitation package, the higher the costs.

15. An alternative would be having a digital version: forget the traditional invitations and just send a newsletter, create a website or even a FB event page for RSVP. Again, it all depends on what’s important to you and how much you wanna cut from the costs.

16. Drop the individual place cards and instead just have one table-seating chart at the front door of the reception.

17. You may also skip the ceremony programs.

Modern Luxe wedding invitation

[photo credit]

DRESS / SHOES / HAIR / MAKE-UP

18. You can buy your dress from designer outlets, annual sales or even sample sales (subscribe to newsletters on designers websites to find out in time about them).

19. If you still consider it too much for your budget, you can try renting it, borrowing or buying a second-hand one. Here are some websites that can help with that:
PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com
OnceWed.com
– VowToBeChic.com
HappilyEverBorrowed.com

20. Save on shoes – you probably already have tons of pairs of wheels that you can wear. But if you are planning on buying new ones, make sure you pick ones that are comfortable and you’ll be able to wear again in the future.

21. Ask hair and beauty schools to recommend you students – they’ll charge much less than a pro.

22. If you have friends who are experts in hair styling and make-up, you can also ask them to help you.

23. If you go with a pro and don’t plan on making any experiments, you can just skip the preview for hair and make-up.

Art of wedding photography in 2014

FOOD, DRINKS & SWEETS:

24. Try a buffet instead of sit-down meals.

25. The cost for kids meals is often negotiable. Ask the caterers about it, they might knock down half the price.

26. Alcohol is one of the biggest expenses. Arrange for porued service at a sit-down meal over bottles on tables – the guests will drink more if they pour their own.

27. You can also offer limited bar (beer + wine + champagne and eventually 1 personalized cocktail).

28. Also, you can propose the venue to bring your own booze.

29. Cake: why not go with pie or cupcakes instead? Or a candy bar.

Wedding cake

PHOTO & VIDEO:

30. You can hire a photography-school student, but check their portfolio before in order to be sure you like their style. You can also send them photos you found online and liked (Pinterest and 500px are good inspiration sources).

31. Professionals are expensive and paid by the number of hours, so give them a time-frame for the most important moments of the weddings. Avoid a long gap between ceremony and reception + cut the cake earlier.

32. Consider DIY and hand out GoPros or Polaroids to your friends. Or, if you’re into social media, create a hashtag for your wedding and ask everyone to tag their photos.

33. You can have a photobooth and don’t print out the photos, just make them available online after the wedding.

Vintage photo camera

MUSIC:

34. Hire a DJ instead of a live band – they cost less and stay longer (live bands don’t perform non-stop at the party). Plus, you’ll only have to provide food and drinks for one person.

35. If you like and you’re already passionate about, you can handle the music yourself, but that’s complicated and not always worth the stress. Try testing some basic DJ applications or create dedicated playlists on Spotify or 8Tracks (or just search for the ones already made by others). However, you will still need to ask someone to manage it during the important moments – toasts, first dance etc.

Extra reading:
5 Easy Ways to Save on Your Band or DJ

Wedding turntable

FLOWERS:

36. Pick regional and seasonal flowers.

37. Try to choose only one or two types of flowers.

38. Consider non-floral options (such as candelabras). Material for inspiration:
34 Creative Non-Floral Wedding Centerpieces
Top Tips – Non Flower Centerpieces

39. Create arrangements that work for both the ceremony and the reception.

40. Combine your bridesmaids bouquets into one large centerpiece.

Wedding flowers

OTHERS OPTIONS:

41. Getaway car – are you sure you need one? Why not instead borrow a car from a family member or close friend? Or simply use your own car.

42. Hire an expert / wedding planner – they already have experience and established working relationships within the industry, can get you much better offers.

43. Check out for hidden wedding costs.

44. In the end, you can always just elope and drop the whole big wedding thing. Two articles on the advantages:
Why I Eloped. And you should, too.
– The Eloping Trend- Our simple guide to the ins and outs of eloping.

Heart in sand

[photo credits: sxc.hu]

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