Weddings are known to be massive investments—in fact, when Googling "wedding budget", the first option that comes up is a line-by-line breakdown of a $20,000 budget. The Knot surveyed 18,000 couples and found that in 2015, the average wedding cost $32,641. For a lot of brides, those are intimidating numbers—especially for those that are hoping to simply throw a little party to celebrate their nuptials rather than host an event that rivals the White House Correspondents' Dinner. With that in mind, here are a few simple ways that you can save a few dollars when planning your wedding.
1. Ditch the programs.
We know, we know—programs are long standing traditions at weddings of all kinds. The intention is always that attendees will save your wedding day programs for years to come as mementos of your day, but the fact is, most guests are going to leave their programs behind on their seats when they carry on from the ceremony to cocktail hour. The hours spent designing (or hundreds of dollars spent having them designed) will go to waste as program cards are tossed into the recycling bin at the end of the night. Certainly, there are scenarios where programs are important parts of a wedding—but consider what they mean to you, don't just accept that they belong at every wedding. You can share information about your schedule on your wedding website, if you choose to build one, or you can station that information on big DIY signs placed at waypoints where guests will see them. Just because they're taken as a wedding mainstay doesn't mean they're an absolute must.
2. You don't need a full bar.
While it is incredibly novel to waltz up to a bar and ask for the most complicated and obscure drink you've ever heard of ("Give me one A Lonely Island Lost in the Middle of a Foggy Sea!"), the cost of a full bar is going to dwarf the cost of a perfectly respectable collection of white wine, red wine, and a signature cocktail. Crafting a signature cocktail for the wedding is not only a sweet and personal touch, but frankly, with fewer kinds of alcohol available, you may be less likely to see your hubs' old frat brothers blind drunk and dancing by 9pm. Save some money, and save some hangovers. (Some. We know a lot of damage can be done by white wine on a hot summer evening.)
3. Say farewell to the champagne toast!
Similarly, the champagne toast, while novel, is costly. Renting champagne flutes for every attendee will drive bar costs up for what is, ultimately, a quick gesture. Toasting with everyone's drink of choice is no less emotional, no less intentional, and no less meaningful. The cost of a champagne toast, from the flutes, to the bubbly, to the labour and coordination of pouring and passing out, for some brides, will not be worth it. Similar to skipping the programs, the champagne toast is tradition, and you may choose to include it in your wedding, but think about why you want to include a champagne toast versus toasts with your signature cocktails or the bar white wine. If it's just because it's "the way weddings are done", consider taking a pass.
4. Double down on favours.
There are some glorious wedding favours out there on Pinterest. Personalized matchboxes, scented candles, signature teas... All are charming, all can be costly. Something to consider is skipping the favours. Your guests are coming to your wedding to celebrate you and your partner—they're not in it for the goodie-bags. If you're absolutely stuck on giving out favours, consider handing out one favour to each couple at your wedding, rather than individuals (unless, of course, someone is there without a +1). It's worth discussing your options with your photographer to display the reception gallery for all attendees to view and save photos, or passing out a few disposable cameras the night of and then scanning and distributing the best photos from your reception. Even the cost of 10 disposable cameras for 300 images during your reception will only run you $100, versus potentially several hundred for all of those personalized matchboxes.
5. Take your time!
While the idea of marrying your best friend might make you want to rush down the aisle four months from now, taking your time will save you thousands. No one is suggesting a five year engagement, but by booking at least a year (or two!) in advance, you can lock in low prices from your venues and caterers. If you leave booking 'til the last second, you'll pay higher prices. Everywhere. From rushing your cake, to your caterers, to your photographer. Book as early as you can. This also allows for heaps of time to do as much research as you'd like, making for a perfectly cohesive and beautiful day. Of course, with two years comes two rounds of Christmas and birthdays—which can absolutely mean monetary gifts that you can also put towards your wedding. Get ahead of the game and save!
Your wedding day may be the most perfect day of your life, but it doesn't need to be the most expensive! Watch your budget carefully and be realistic about the things you need versus the things that would just be nice to have around. Do you have any other money saving tips? We'd seriously love to hear them. You can never have too many!