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Your wedding will be a defining moment in your life and, like other life-changing events such as graduating college, having a baby or buying a home, it won’t come cheap. The median price for a wedding in the US is about $25,000, but with a solid approach and plan, you can pull off an epic wedding for much less.
Regardless of the final cost, someone has to pay the bills. If you and your betrothed are under 25 years old and, either don’t live together or haven’t lived in sin very long, you might expect financial help from your families. However, the older you are and the longer you co-habitate, the more of the wedding expenses you should expect to shoulder. Also, if either of you has been married before, expect to pay for most of your wedding, unless one of your parents is loaded like a freight train.Consider adopting these goals for your wedding:
Following these steps will help you achieve those goals while staying within budget:
The more you plan to spend, the farther in advance you should set the go-date. There are several reasons why:
Directly related to buying items on sale is paying for them as you go. The more you can buy before the wedding, the lower the final tab will be.
To help you decide where to focus your budget, we have included a list of the most common wedding expenses at the end of this article, indicating which member of the wedding party traditionally pays for each. Pop this list into a spreadsheet and go through it together, prioritizing each item, deleting what you don’t need and adding others.If your family is helping with the expenses, get their feedback after you make a pass on the list.
The biggest wedding expenses are usually the venue, the photographer and the food. So here are some areas where you may be able to save some money:
Non-Saturday wedding. Many wedding services are the most expensive on Saturday.
Off-season location. Having your wedding off-season reduces many expenses. To keep the event special, is there any meaningful date in your relationship that didn’t happen in late spring or early summer—for example, the anniversary of your first date or first “I Love You?”
In-season flowers and food. While many flowers, such as roses, are available all year, others are seasonal. Choose in-season flowers and food, as they’ll have a lower price and higher quality
One Location. Having your ceremony, rehearsal dinner and reception in one location cuts everyone’s travel time, both guests and vendors. You can also negotiate a better price with one venue manager than with two or three. Renting a huge house for the entire wedding can be a great option.
Use the flowers from the ceremony at the reception. Another benefit of having a single location.
Use the same DJ for the ceremony and reception. Yet another benefit to a single location. You can also make a playlist and be your own DJ. Someone in the wedding party can be the MC and tell people when the dinner is ready.
Provide select entrees. Offer only two entrees for the rehearsal dinner and the reception.
Provide selections of beer, wine and cocktails. Offer only beer and wine at the rehearsal and add one or two signature cocktails rather than hosting an open bar at the reception.
Two cakes. Splurge on a small cake for the cake-cutting, and serve a larger sheet cake for dessert.
Crowdsource your photos and video. While you should still have a professional photographer at your ceremony, set up a website where people can post photos during the rehearsal and reception. It’s much more fun because guests can view photos during the evening, and they will tend to reveal more of their personality if a friend is taking a photo rather than a professional. Pick up a Bluetooth remote and a tripod, and set up a simple photo booth area.
DIY the invites. Create your own invites, menu cards and escort cards rather than buying them from a vendor. Splurge by having them professionally printed on quality stock.
Think inside the box for the tux, wedding dress and accessories. There are many websites (such as this one) that offer excellent values for renting or buying tuxes, wedding dresses and accessories. You may find better prices and more selection than in brick and mortar stores.
Do you really want blankets, blenders and gift certificates, or would you have the cash to help you emerge from this event with pleasant memories rather than an annoying Visa bill? I thought so. Get the word out to close family and friends (NOT on the invitation) that you are celebrating a major life milestone and would rather have money to celebrate with them than a set of china. The more people you can get to give you cash, the larger the invitee list for the reception.Be aware, though, that some members of your clan will sincerely prefer to give you a gift, so register accordingly.
Bride: Bridesmaids Gifts, Groom Wedding Ring, Gifts for Parents, Wedding Announcements
Groom: Bride’s engagement and wedding rings, Groomsmen Gifts
Bride’s Family: Ceremony Venue, Engagement Party, Venue Flowers and Decorations, Photographer, Transportation, Wedding Cake, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Dress, Wedding Favors, Reception Food
Groom’s Family: Bride’s bouquet and going-away corsage, boutonnieres for men, and corsages for mothers and grandmothers, Groom Tux, Honeymoon, License and Officiant’s Fee, Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding Night Accommodations, Reception Alcohol and Music
Groomsmen: Bachelor Party, Groomsmen’s Tuxes
Bridesmaids: Bridal Shower, Bridesmaids’ Dresses