Just like a marriage, a wedding is all about balance. Especially when we're talking about budget! To know where you should splurge and where you can save is key. If done right, you can often fool many guests into thinking you spent a lot more on your fete than you actually did. From rentals to catering, I'm spilling all the secrets on how to save on five of the most costly wedding expenses.
Rentals can eat up a HUGE chunk of your wedding budget, but they're an absolute necessity. The quickest and easiest way to save on this expense is to narrow down your guest list. A more intimate guest list also means you'll have the opportunity to chat with more of your guests!
Beyond narrowing your guest list, you can get creative with saving on rentals in other ways as well. Don't feel the need to have traditional place settings with charger and the full set up. Casual elegance is SO in and your guests really won't notice if you've provided them with a fork for every course.
Be mindful of how your table layout can work with your overall budget. Round tables are very common, but most often, are decorated with a centerpiece. Choosing a layout with rectangular tables and family style seating allow you to stretch your budget for things like linens and florals. The above tablescape, for example, highlights a runner of beautiful greenery rather than large, expensive floral arrangements.
Choosing a venue is typically one of the first decisions couples make in the wedding planning process, and one of the most costly. Your venue can really set the tone for your entire day and your style inspiration as well, so be careful about cutting corners on this one. I personally wanted a venue right on the water, which I knew we'd have to dish out the cash for—so we opted for a weekday wedding, on a Thursday. If you're willing to forgo a Saturday wedding, you can save a ton! Having our wedding on a Thursday also made our wedding feel like a super long weekend, which was so much fun. You can also get married in the off-season or right at the end of peak season. Some venues are literally half of the price during off season!
Renting a house is also a creative way to save on your 'venue'. Consider that you'll probably have to bring in your own rentals, tent, catering, etc. which can end up being just as expensive if you were to just do it at a venue. But, if you really do your research and planning, it can work in your favor. Plus, you and your family and bridal party won't have to pay for lodging.
I personally wanted florals to be a big part of the design of our wedding day. But blooms aren't cheap! A great way to save a penny on those petals is to throw tradition out the door. We chose to forgo corsages for our mothers, which they were all fine with (even happy about!). I've also seen brides do special bouquets for the bouquet toss—something we didn't do at our wedding.
Make sure to repurpose, repurpose, repurpose! Work with your floral designer to create move-able arrangements for your ceremony that you can then use in your reception. You can also display your bouquet or bridesmaids bouquets on the welcome table.
Selecting seasonal blooms also helps big time. If you're dying to have ranunculus but they're out of season and suuuper expensive, limit yourself to those special blooms for just your bouquet or your groom's boutonniere, instead of your entire bridal party and arrangements, too.
First things first, don't go into your wedding dress shopping experience with any expectations. Sure, knowing your personal style and having inspiration to support that absolutely helps. But if you're only set on trying one designer or one style, you're most likely going to go over budget on your dress. In short, be flexible. Let the pros give you options to try and in the end if you keep going back to that Oscar de la Renta number, go with your gut. If high-end designer is your dream, you can also scout trunk shows for previous season designs!
Another easy way to save on the wedding fashion budget is to splurge on your dress, but save on your accessories like shoes, jewelry and veil. Your shoes aren't visible most of the time anyway (if at all) and you'll probably only wear your veil for the ceremony.
Here's where narrowing your guest list also helps big time. The dollar signs really start to add up when you've got even 10 more mouths to feed, so take a good hard look at that list if you're finding you're way over budget on catering.
The reality is that your guests won't eat all of the food you provide, but there's a great solution for this: family style dinners. I'm not talking buffets, where your guests have to line up and wait forever with their plates. How awkward? I'm talking about serving your guests larger portions of food in the center of their table. It feels fancy in the sense that they're still getting served, but they'll get to choose what they'd like and less food usually goes to waste—saving you some moola.
Also, don't feel pressured to have an open bar! There are options. For our wedding, we planned to offer an open bar for cocktail hour only and then when we reached out limit, our coordinator let us know and we extended for about a half hour. Your crowd will totally depend on how quickly your booze budget goes. And while signature cocktails are super cute, they can also be costly, so consider crossing these off your wish list.