The average wedding cost has soared well over $20,000 in the past ten years. As ceremonies and receptions get more elaborate, sometimes it seems like your budget is going to be busted before you so much as meet with a florist. If you find the costs spiraling out of control, there’s no harm or shame in scaling things back a bit. You’ll have more money for your honeymoon and starting your married life if you can keep the budget under control. Here a few subtle ways to save money on your wedding that cut costs without cutting corners.
Flowers: Go Green
The most expensive part of your floral arrangements is those big showy blossoms–the roses, peonies, and calla lilies that look great but cost a pretty penny. Instead of trying to wow with overstuffed bouquets, opt for lush greenery with just a few accent flowers.
You can also save by opting for in-season local flowers rather than exotics that have to be grown in a hothouse. And of course it makes more sense to re-use the decorations from the ceremony at the reception than to double up on the decorations.
Cake: Go Small
Instead of a mammoth three-tiered confection that is both a decorative element and the dessert for all your guests, opt for a small fancy cake that you’ll augment with sheet cake kept in the kitchen area and brought out by your servers. You still get your cake-cutting ceremony and a delicious dessert for the bridal party. The guests still get a piece of cake to mark the occasion. But you save hundreds of dollars by not scaling up the fancy cake to feed the entire guest list.
Plan your ceremony in November or January-March (except for Valentine’s Day, for obvious reasons) and you stand to save thousands of dollars. Vendors tend to discount their services during the slow season, as do venues. So plan a post-Christmas winter wonderland wedding or a post-Halloween fall wedding, save big, and use the money to honeymoon somewhere in the southern hemisphere where it’s still summer.
Wedding Favors: Go Thoughtful
Rather than spending a small fortune on monogrammed towels for every guest, you can use a little more creativity to come up with small items that everyone will enjoy. Consider putting paper airplane kits at each table or buying sparklers for weddings that can safely be used indoors without much ventilation to cut down on costs and ramp up the fun.
Food: Think Family-Style
Forget the exquisitely-arranged plates of fancy food. The presentation may wow your guests, but for food they’ll remember fondly that saves you money, go for a family-style meal. Think comfort foods like pastas or barbeque with mac ‘n’ cheese, stick-to-your-ribs fare that will bring to mind the comforts of home. Not only will you save on the food, you’ll need fewer servers to work the reception, which saves even more.
Booze: Go Beer and Wine
After your cocktail hour, it’s perfectly acceptable to switch the open bar to only serving beer and wine. If you know some guests won’t be happy with those selections, you can augment them with a signature cocktail or two without having a bank-breaking open bar throughout the reception. Switching to beer and wine can cut your booze budget in half while still providing the most popular choices for your guests.
There’s no shame in wanting to save money on your wedding budget. Unless you have stacks of Benjamin’s to spare, it makes sense to prioritize your spending and cut costs where you can. With these tips, you can save without appearing cheap or sacrificing the quality of the experience.