The modern bride and groom reasonably expect to pay $30,000 for their wedding day celebrations. Venue, food, entertainment, flowers, dresses, rings, cars, favours…it all adds up. The ‘Bridal Magazine Mentality’ convinces you all this stuff is essential if you’re to have any kind of ‘proper’ wedding.
But what do you really want? Do you need all this wedding stuff? Is there any reason it has to be this way, other than ‘Bridal Magazine Mentality’? I know expectations of family and friends often influence wedding decisions, but the frugal bride and groom should stand their ground.
Decide what’s important to you and your partner, and scrimp and save on the rest. No one will notice and you’ll feel financially safer and more secure. Here are five ideas for simple and alternative ways to carve the wedding budget to shreds.
1. BYO Alcohol
Find a venue that allows you to bring in your own alcohol. You’ll save thousands. The venue mark up on beer, wine and spirits often exceeds 200% of the retail price, and some venues will charge a corkage fee per bottle as well.
Community halls and historic homes often allow you to provide your own alcohol. If you keep an eye on booze specials throughout the year you can stock up in advance, and the cost won’t seem nearly as high. If you order in bulk from a local bottle store they often allow you to return unopened drinks for money back.
2. Skip the Full Meal
A full sit down dinner can cost anything from $20-200 a head. Instead, why not have a lunchtime picnic reception with cold cuts, sandwiches, cakes and scones? What about a classy cocktail and nibbles party? I’ve heard of some couples who’ve had a late ceremony – 8pm or so – followed by a desert reception. Trust me, in the midst of all that chocolate, not one guest complained about not having a full meal!
3. Buy Dresses Online
I found my dream wedding dress in a bridal shop for over $2000, resisted the urge to fork over half our wedding budget for it, went home and brought the exact same dress online for a few hundred dollars.
When buying online I can’t stress enough to have your measurements done BY A PROFESSIONAL. Also, it’s helpful to visit bridal shops and try on several styles of dresses to see what suits and what doesn’t. Try on dresses even if you hate them, because you never know what you’ll fall in love with.
4. Enlist the Help of Friends
I know you’re an independent bride (or groom) and you want to do it all yourself, but your friends and family want to help. Honestly. Your aunt the cake maker would LOVE to make the cake, your friend the fashion designer would be honoured to sew the bridesmaids dresses. Your brother’s band can’t wait to play the reception.
One of the coolest things about weddings is how everyone comes together to pull the event off. They’re much more fun as a team effort. Your friends and family love you and they want to help. Be gracious and thankful, and they will feel proud to be part of your day.
5. Look for Student Photographers
Ring up your local art school and place an ad for a student photographer. Many students relish the opportunity to shoot for their portfolio. They have access to professional equipment, darkrooms and image manipulation software. They’re enthusiastic and keen to prove themselves.
Ask to see previous work before you hire any photographer. Look at how well the photographer captures people and portrays emotions. Look at their use of colour and composition. Discuss your ideas and sign an agreement. Make sure you have all the details in writing.
When I hire any student and they do good work, I give them a letter of recommendation as a way of saying thanks. These letters are often worth more to them than money.
I hope I’ve given you some creative ideas for slicing your wedding budget. I’m sure you’ll think of hundreds more once you release yourself from the ‘Bridal Magazine Mentality’. I wish you and your partner all the best for your celebration!