Wedding budgets almost have a life of their own. They are crazy little beasts that if left unrestrained for a moment can run out of control before you even realize it!
Keeping the beastie reigned in can take a little finesse, but with with some savvy planning, it can absolutely be done.
For most people, the epic dream wedding they'd fantasized about feels a little deflated once you actually start looking at how much everything will really cost. But don't fret! You can still have an AMAZING wedding that doesn't sink you financially. All it takes is some creative planning and the willingness to do some work.
Here are just a few tips for keeping your wedding on-budget without sacrificing your dream day!
1) Edit the guest list
Your wedding day is so special and it makes sense that you want to share it with everyone including all of your friends, close family, cousins and maybe even co-workers. But, keep in mind that aside from venue costs, catering costs are one of the most expensive aspects of planning a wedding! A serving of food, with drinks added on, can cost $50-$100 or more, per person.
And it's not just the catering that's effected, add onto that the cost of seating them- Extra tables, chairs, linen rentals, centerpiece decor, favors, programs, etc... Each person will cost you a pretty penny, and while it sucks to have to think of your loved ones with dollar signs attached, for the sake of your budget, you should!
I do realize that the guest list isn't always just influenced by you, family often interjects their opinions too.
So if there is family pressure to invite your 5 cousins from Harrisburg who you haven't seen since you were 10, maybe have a discussion with your family member(s) about the budget. Inform them of your estimate of exactly how much it's going to cost for everything per person and how inviting extra folks will put a financial strain on you two.
Sometimes, family will kick down extra funds to invite their ideal guests, which still makes the ultimate decision yours, but makes it easier if you do invite them! But if family is *not* paying for the extra people they're pressuring you to invite, don't feel like you need to go into massive debt to appease them!
2) Be Smart About Your Venue
Yes, renting a farm out in the country for $300 a day looks cheaper on paper... But how much will it really cost in the end? Building a venue from a blank slate is fun, but it can also be an investment. Research the cost of renting tables, chairs, tents, delivery fees, catering set-up fees, etc. How far out in the country the location is also might increase delivery and travel fees for all of your vendors.
You can still totally have your dream farm wedding, but just be sure to check all the end costs before putting down your deposit! Sometimes it is a better deal to pay a larger base price for a professional venue.
If you're booking a professional full-service venue, look at the fine print so you conceptualize ALL of the costs involved. Do they include the table and linen rentals, or is that an extra fee? Is lighting extra or included? Is there an automatic service charge? A food minimum? It often costs a lot more in reality than the base cost they quote you.
Booking your wedding venue far ahead of time and doing lots of research will also really help you get the best price. The super cool, unique and cheaper venues will often book up fast.
And lastly, if you are working with a small budget- Week day or off season weddings are a thing! If you book outside of their peak times you can get amazing deals.
3) DIY Can Help... *Sometimes*
Folks do DIY projects for their weddings for a variety of reasons. They're just plain fun and they add that personalized, unique touch to your decor.
But, sometimes these projects can end up costing you way more than if you'd just bought a ready made version of the item on Etsy.
My advice for DIY project planning is this:
1) Take an honest look at your skills. Hand written calligraphy is beautiful, but if you've never done it before and have limited artistic experience, you might buy that fancy calligraphy set only to find that you are not able to learn the craft in time to write beautiful envelopes for your guests.
2) Figure out the total cost and compare it before starting the project. That includes the cost of tools needed (like fabric scissors, better quality glue, etc.) and materials cost.
Your materials cost needs to include extra, because if you're doing a craft that you've never done before, there will be a bit of a learning curve and you may have to re-do some of your work. I've been crafting for over 15 years and it still takes me a minute to get the knack of doing certain projects, especially if I'm following a free online tutorial that maybe left out a detail or two.
Remember that those blog photos of beautiful fabric flowers were made by someone who had practiced making them for many hours and probably threw away the first ten that they created!
I'm in no way trying to steer you away from doing fun DIY projects, quite the opposite! But I do want to urge you to go into these projects with a realistic eye.
4) Prioritize Your Splurges
If you want to buy a $5,000 custom dress with a mirrored corset and hand painted train and then have a BYOB reception where you order in pizza.... Do It!
The point is to figure out what is most important to the both of you. Sit down and rank all of the big things you need to buy for the wedding. Things that aren't as important can be majorly cost-cut or even eliminated. Don't fall into the trap of feeling like you *have to* buy certain things. Really, your friends and (hopefully) family will understand, or, even if they don't understand they will deal. It's YOUR day.
But be sure when you're prioritizing that you've done your homework on figuring ALL of the costs for everything involved with the wedding (including set-up fees, tips, dress/suit tailoring, all those little extras, and what I call the "oops fund", which is just an extra 10% on top of everything for those things you didn't realize you wanted/needed.)
5) Hunt for Bargains
It can be time consuming to look for the best price, but it can save you a heap of money.
For one small budget wedding I planned I found brand new linens online that were $7.00 each with free shipping. Compared to renting table cloths for $11 each, that was a major deal!
Checking out Amazon, Ebay and your local resale shops are also great ways to find bargains.
Up-cycling items purchased second hand or at the dollar store is also a great way to glam up your wedding for very little cash! A can of gold spray paint goes a long way.
In Portland, buying your dress second-hand can also give back to charity. Brides for a Cause sells gently used wedding gowns at amazing prices.
You can also resell wedding items after the day is done. Local Facebook buy/sell pages can be a great place to post in addition to Ebay and Tradesy.
So there we have it!
Your dream wedding is entirely in your reach and all the work you do to make it stay inside the budget will make it all the sweeter!
Feel free to share below how you kept your wedding in budget!