Have you ever wondered why people are willing to spend $10,000, 20,000 or even 30,000 (or more) on their wedding? As Seattle Wedding Officiants, we at Forever, Together are constantly asking ourselves the same question. When does the focus shift from the marriage (where it belongs), to the wedding? When is a wedding more about parents shelling out a fortune on glitz and glamour, then about two young people in love making a lifetime commitment? More to the point: does a $20,000 venue really offer anything different than a $2000 venue…other than status?
These are decisions more and more young couples are facing, as the price of wedding venues and vendors are on the increase, especially when their parents are footing the bill. It may be true that “no one is more important than daddy’s little girl,” but sometimes it seems that the only people who are not consulted on wedding decisions are the couple, themselves.
Forever, Together would like to make the decision to “do it yourself” a bit easier by listing some of the many creative and stylish money-saving wedding ideas we’ve come across during our six years of providing affordable Seattle weddings. Be honest: wouldn’t you really rather spend an extra weekend in Puerto Vallarta?
- Have a smaller wedding with fewer guests. Okay, we know this is a tough one. Who gets invited and who gets left out? It’s a tough choice, but by being selected, you can significantly lower your total wedding cost. The fewer guests, the fewer invitations, the fewer tables, the less food and beverage consumption…and the more personal the interaction. In our experience, smaller weddings are more relaxed, more intimate and a lot more fun for everyone. These days, the average guest list is over 150, but friends and family who attend big weddings complain that they often feel more like “benchwarmers,” invited just to fill out roster! Is this really the feeling you want them to take away from your wedding?
- Make your own invitations, or stay simple by using a single sheet of paper. Don’t waste money on engraving if you’re on a budget. Invitations can be done for much less and still send the same intimate and beautiful message to recipients. If you’d like to take a crack at designing your own, visit http://www.vistaprint.com.
- Avoid the high season. Venues and vendors can be scarce and prices on everything are higher. Washington state has three other seasons, and they’re lovely. Spring brings a freshness infused with new hope and optimism. Autumn carries with it the beauty of seasonal transition, the chill in the air that speaks of Winter’s approach. Winter in Washington comes with cool, crisp days and sharp, clear nights. Venues and vendors are easier to book and typically offer lower prices during the off-season. Choosing to get married during the off-season will definitely save you big bucks and a lot of unnecessary hassles.
- Consider sparkling wine instead of champagne. It’s an open secret that most people hate champagne, and only drink it out of obligation at social gatherings and celebrations. Buy a couple of different varieties and you may discover that there are other bubbly drinks that actually taste great, for a fraction of the cost of Dom Perignon!
- Simplify the Reception menu. If strawberries are in season, have a get-together with friends the night before and dip strawberries in chocolate. For $30, you can make enough for at least 50 guests. And what about filled chocolates? Shop for chocolate early and you’ll find some amazing prices on the good stuff, which you can offer with coffee at the reception. This also allows you to save the wedding cake for the dessert!
- Buy flowers in season. In Washington, beautiful flowers bloom year round . You should always be able to find something that fits with your color scheme. Choose the less expensive blooms in your color scheme and keep the selection down to a couple of different varieties.
- How about making your own table decorations? It’s not as tough as you may think. Check out YouTube or your local library to develop or perfect your skills for simple flower arrangements and other low-cost decorations. Big and tall centerpieces detract from the social interaction by blocking the view across the table and making eye contact between guests problematic, if not impossible.
- Have the wedding and the reception at the same place.This makes it much easier, and less expensive, to transport you, your guests, decorations, etc., and will cut down your decorating costs as a whole.
- Use fewer, larger tables. This allows fewer table decorations, utensils, table cloths, etc.
- Think ahead! Shoe for decorations after Christmas. You’ll find the candles, lights and decorations you want available during the holiday months, and usually for a lot less money.
- Be smart when you shop for wedding favors, especially if you have a large guest list. Go for something inexpensive or homemade: chocolate-chip cookies, sugar-coated almonds, See’s chocolates (instead of Godiva)!
- One favor per person (or even per couple)!
- Buy fewer flowers. Lanterns and candles are very popular and are wonderful for creating atmosphere. You can find them for amazingly low prices, and especially at the end of summer. Garden torches are also great alternatives to expensive floral decorations, especially at the end of the high season, when they’re on sale dirt cheap!
- Are you a “desktop publishing” wizard? Then why not make your own menu cards? The Internet is loaded with great ideas on design, content and layout, the materials don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and it’s fun!
- Simplify your food choices. Stick to seasonal purchases and look for inexpensive alternatives. How about aperitifs and snacks instead of a sit-down dinner? Or, if your guests have come long distances to attend and you feel like you should spoil the a bit, save money on the starters: fresh, locally smoked salmon, arranged on a bed of salad for each guest. For those guests who don’t eat animal products, how about quiche, or a salad bar? Good food doesn’t have to break the bank.
- Order a simple wedding cake and decorate it with real flowers. Costco makes great wedding cakes for a fraction of what you’ll pay a “dedicated” baker. Skip the tiered cake and serve a large sheet cake instead. You can poll your guests ahead of time and provide the majority favorite. Or forget the guests. Buy the cake you had the on your first date!
- Use candles on the cake table instead of flowers, or reuse the flowers from the reception.
- Brides, go dress-shopping early! This is a great way to save money, especially if you are planning a wedding during the off season. You can save thousands of dollars on a dress by waiting until they go on sale after the high wedding season ends.
- Don’t spend a fortune on shoes, especially if you’ll be wearing a long, wide dress – no one will be able to see them, anyway.
- Select a round wedding bouquet instead of a long, falling one. Traditionally, the groom chooses (and presents) you your wedding bouquet, but if both of you are sharing the finances, you can agree on the shape and size of the bouquet and save money.
- Prune your Bridal Party to a manageable size, and cut down the number of related expenses. Don’t risk losing friends, but be sensible when you consider how many groomsmen and bridesmaids you really need.
- Book your vendors early! This may be your biggest money-saver. Contrary to what many couples seem to think, we aren’t all just sitting by our phones all day, waiting for you to call :-). Many vendors raise prices at the beginning of the high season. If you start signing them up between November and March, you’re certain to come out way ahead.
Remember: this is your day. Do it the way you want, invite whomever you choose, do the planning and decorating yourselves, keep on top of your expenses and don’t be afraid to break from tradition. There’s no reason you can’t have an awesome wedding without having to take out a second mortgage!