And, no matter what article you read hoping to see some relief, they are all the same. The average spent on weddings in the US is somewhere in the ballpark of $26,000. That is a lot of money to spend on something (I hate to admit, ladies—or gents—but it is so true) that no matter how beautiful, and how much work you put into, goes by in a flash.
I swear, I don’t mean to depress you! So, to lift your spirits, I have found 8 things you can cut to save you some major moolah on you big day.
I am not a fan of tall or huge centerpieces. I worked in catering for 4 years and on more than one occasion I saw some top heavy, 2 foot tall centerpieces fall over—on guests. Not to mention the hamper they put on guests socializing. In order to have a conversation with someone on the other side of the table, guests have to sprain their necks or sit in their date’s lap, to see around those mammoth things.
Jenny Orsini, of Jenny Orsini Events in Berkeley Heights, NJ agrees. “Tall centerpieces on average start at approximately $150. You can easily save 50 to 60% by eliminating height, and adding an intimate feel with more candlelight than florals.” And if you read my last blog you already know I am a huge fan of mood lighting. It is inexpensive, but looks like a million bucks!
And Hey! Who’s to say you have to use flowers at all for your centerpieces?
Save the $500-$1000 dollars (or whatever you were planning on spending) and forgo the favors. No one remembers to bring them home anyway. And, really who wants some little knickknack that has your names or faces on it. People are not even going to notice that favors were missing. They will be too busy raving about all of the thought and detail you put into making sure they had a good time. But, if you absolutely have to have them, go for the edible kind—cookie table with boxes so they can bring some home, chocolates, or a candy table. Making the favor part of the wedding experience is more impactful then sitting something at their table. Plus, who doesn’t like food!
Ugh. People HATE that awkward gap between the ceremony and the reception. It is not kind to your guests or your wallet. With proper planning you can have a seamless transition from the ceremony, to cocktail hour, to the reception (ask your photographer for help with the timeline—they go to a ton of weddings. If anyone knows the best timeline, it’s them).
If you think about it, during this “down time,” you have to pay your photographer, your videographer, the hall (if you are kind enough to have it open for your guests), your DJ/Band (if you are kind enough to have entertainment for them), your transportation (that is probably just driving you around wasting time)…you get the picture. It’s a money pit.
Instead, take as many bridal party photos before the ceremony as you can, and hey why not do a first look if you are up for it. *Added bonus: your hair and makeup will be fresh and fierce. Have the ceremony, followed immediately by the cocktail hour, which is the perfect opportunity to sneak out and get the shots of the whole group as well as some more of you and your hubby. And you will be back in time for your grand entrance to the reception.
There can be a lot of planning that goes into the perfect wedding day time line, but by cutting out that terrible lag time, you can contract your services for fewer hours saving you a boat load, while also keeping your guests happy.
"By cutting out that terrible lag time, you can contract your services for fewer hours saving you a boat load."
4. Separate Venues
This also helps with what I was talking about above. Having your ceremony and reception in the same place is a huge time saver, but it is also a huge money saver. Though there may be an additional fee for having your ceremony at the same site, it is probably way less than paying two separate venue fees. And again, your guests will be happy that they won’t have to drive all over the place.
The Grand Barn at The Mohicans has 2 different ceremony sites that are both just a few steps away from the gorgeous reception all.
Who says you have to have a “traditional” served meal? And who says its tradition? Odds are, if you ask your parents what they had at their reception, it was nothing like what today’s standards are.
“Buffet style can usually be more cost-effective than formal, sit-down service, saving approximately 20 to 30%,” Orsini notes. But if that still doesn’t persuade you, kick it up a notch. Opt to have additional “stations” or a ______ bar. You can have a chef-attended roast beef carving station, and a potato bar that has a couple different types of potatoes and all the toppings. There really are a ton of options with this.
My advice is to pick something you and your significant other really like and play on that. Guests will love the personal touch. This also allows for a little more interaction, and no one has to stare longingly as delicious plates of food pass them by intended for other guests, while they wait for their own. Plus, it cuts down on the wait staff needed, which can save you around 15%, adds Christopher Confero, of Christopher Confero Design in Atlanta, GA.
I’m not saying don’t have a bar at all, and I am definitely not saying to have a cash bar, but serving specially selected (or your favorite) beer and wine, with one or two specialty drinks is an awesome alternative for those who are hoping to save a little. You can even limit the time the specialty drinks are served. Confero’s advice is to, “Plan a cocktail hour where you pass champagne or offer one signature cocktail, but then switch to just beer and wine at your reception. That will easily save a good 30% or more on your bar tab.” This is great if you have a venue that allows you to bring your own alcohol. You get to choose the exact brands you like. For me, I LOVE Barefoot Moscato and Verdi Champagne. They taste soooo good, but they are also quite inexpensive.
I always knew I just wanted a small, two tiered cake, with sheet cakes to serve in the back. And when my husband and I found our bakery, and they quoted us way less than we budgeted, I was all like, screw it! Let’s make it three tier and up the size of each tier, keeping the sheet cakes we had in the back.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
We had soooo much cake left over. It was delicious—but you can only eat so much cake! The third flavor of cake we had was never even served!
Less than 75% of guests will probably eat cake. Heck I tried to eat three different pieces of cake on my wedding day and they all got put aside for one reason or another. So save the hassle (and the huge delivery fee) and go with a small 2 tiered cake that you can do the ceremonial “cake cutting” with, save the top tier for your one year anniversary, and serve up some simply decorated, but still delicious sheet cakes. Your caterers will also love you for it, since sheet cakes are so much easier to cut. The best part is no one will ever know, well also that you will save a bundle.
Or, if you are the unconventional bride, skip the cake all together and serve pie, cookies, or even ice cream!
A small band is nice, especially if you are just having one at your ceremony. But for receptions, to me it isn’t even a question anymore--go for a DJ. They are so much more cost effective (since each member isn’t getting a cut), and you get a wider selection of music. If the DJ is good, they will know they right music to play to keep the crowd having a good time. And really that is one of the most important things about a great reception.
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There you have it. Eight ways that are sure to save you some dough, and maybe even a little headache too. Comment below if you have any of your own money saving tips, if you agree, or if you have any questions.