In a perfect world, planning a wedding would provide lots of fun and excitement for you, the newly engaged couple. However, reality often demonstrates that wedding planning can, at times, be quite stressful. You will likely encounter people freely offering "helpful advice" which can steer you away from your original plans, vision and budget! This is why it's crucial to discuss what is most important to you early in your engagement. You must ask yourselves what will you be happy and comfortable with in the long run and where will you be willing to compromise. We hope this article will better prepare you for the wedding planning process and help you avoid some common money-saving pitfalls.
1. Skimp on Your Photographer
Few things will outlast your wedding day. Typically these are your spouse, your rings, your memories and your photographs. Once the blur of festivities are over, your wedding photographs will serve as an accurate record of events. Remember, there are no do-overs when it comes to your wedding day photos. Over the years, memories get fuzzy and small details forgotten. A professional wedding photographer will capture these moments and details for you and your future generations with a high-quality camera and lighting.
The number one regret of many couples is that they wish they had not compromised on their wedding photographer or relied on a friend or guests to take all of their wedding photos. Friends may not be fully "focused" on your day since they may get distracted or pulled into conversations by people they know, etc. You may not need a professional photographer for the entire day so if your budget is tight, consider hiring one for the ceremony, group shots and first hour of the reception, then rely on friends or guests to take photos for anything else. Above all, make sure your photographer is someone you "click" with and who understands your aesthetic.
2. Hire Friends & Family for Important Tasks
Once you publicly announce your plans to marry, friends and relatives may offer to help as a favor or as their gift to you. This is great and can certainly save you a lot of money and stress, but it also pays to be cautious. While hiring a friend or family member is not an automatic recipe for disaster, it can be...
No one should incur excessive debt because of their wedding, but it's wise that you be honest with yourself about what aspects of your wedding are most important to you and what you are willing to take a risk on to simply save money. The following questions will help you decide if the person is right for the job:
- How much experience does the person have with the service being offered and do you consider him/her reliable?
- How disappointed will you be if the results do not meet your expectations and will it affect your future relationship with this person?
- Will this person be a guest at your wedding, and if so, will they be drinking alcohol which can impair judgment?
While help given ahead of your wedding can be redone if needed, services performed on your wedding day cannot, such as photography or officiating the ceremony for example. Also, keep in mind that if your friends and relatives are 'working' for you, will they really be able to enjoy your wedding day?
3. Skimp on Your Wedding Attire & Appearance
With a seemingly endless array of new, used and rent-able wedding dresses on the market today, it can be overwhelming to choose the "perfect" one for your style and budget. You don't need a designer wedding gown to look gorgeous on your wedding day, nor is price always a good indicator of quality, but when it's all said and done, the dress that makes you feel beautiful and confident is going to be the perfect one for you. Reconsider any compromise on this aspect of your wedding.
It's a fact that when you feel beautiful and confident, you'll hold your head higher, look better in photographs and be generally happier. So keep this fact, along with your budget, in mind as you shop. There are beautiful dresses to be found in all price brackets. This thinking also applies to tuxedos, makeup and accessories! Trust your gut. You will know they're right when you try them on.
4. Take on More DIY Than You Can Handle
Let's face it, "do-it-yourself" (DIY) is a fantastic way to save money on your wedding! The secret to successful DIY is to pick and choose your projects wisely and not to bite off more than you can realistically chew before the big day. The last thing that you want to be doing the night before the wedding is fussing with a temperamental printer, stripping thorns from the roses that just arrived or ruining your new manicure with hot glue! Be honest with yourself from the beginning and decide how much time you can reasonably devote to DIY. It's best to select a few projects and leave the rest to your designated friends, family and wedding professionals.
Here are some helpful tips for DIY projects:
- Determine if the cost to make something is actually less than the cost to buy it. Sometimes DIY can be more expensive, especially if you don't get it right the first time and have to repurchase items, or if you run out of time and have to buy it ready-made anyway!
- Choose projects that you actually WANT to do. These are the ones you are excited and confident about doing. Then even if it doesn't end up being cheaper, you'll have had a good time and be thrilled with results.
- Don’t go overboard on DIY wedding details that may be overlooked or that won't wow your guests! Great projects to DIY include handmade invitations, wedding favors, cake toppers, photo backdrops and candy buffets, etc. Basically anything that does not require last minute attention and is critical to the wedding like your fresh flower bouquet or elaborate wedding cake.
- Remember that DIY does not mean that YOU personally have to do it all. Factor in the cost of your time and sanity and if you want to save some of both, enlist the help of others whenever possible.
5. Skimp on Your Officiants
The personalities of your officiant and DJ, if your having one, will have a direct impact on your wedding day. To put it plainly, if your officiant is dry and boring, your wedding ceremony, no doubt, will turn out the same. And if your DJ is cheap and cheesy, the chicken dance, YMCA, or worse will happen. Be sure to interview both of your officiants in advance to determine if your personalities and styles are compatible with theirs. Ask if you can attend one of their events so that you know what to expect ahead of time and/or call their references.
6. Skimp on Food & Drinks
Catering your own wedding can save you 50 percent or more on your reception cost and is a great option for smaller receptions of less than 30 people. If you are having a wedding with more than approximately 30 people, you may want to reconsider self catering and hire a professional.
Basic reception drinks and finger foods can successfully be managed by the couple and their family and friends. However, formal dinners and large weddings can cause added physical and emotional stress for the bride and groom. These types of receptions are often best left to professionals. Remember too that guests often eat more during receptions that occur in the evening and more drinks are consumed at outside summer weddings, due to the heat. Do not under estimate the food or drink and plan for about 10-20 percent more than you think you will need.
If you are having a bar, etiquette wise, it's never okay to ask your guests to pay for their own drinks or bring their own. If your budget is tight, consider limiting the bar options to beer and wine only, plus a signature cocktail. You can also limit the bar hours or ask to use standard bar brands instead of top-shelf liquor. Also, consider hosting an afternoon or brunch reception, so guests automatically drink less. Note: Be sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available too!
Your wedding cake is an important element in your wedding and will be in many photographs, so you don't want to skimp here either. Keep in mind, you do not have to have an elaborate cake to feed everyone. Strongly consider ordering a smaller cake to serve the wedding party but then have more economical sheet cakes for additional guests. Once the cake is cut and the photos are taken, no one can tell the difference anyway and you've saved yourself a small fortune.
7. Not Hiring a Wedding Planner When You Really Need One!
Wedding planners and consultants are not just a luxury for the rich. In fact hiring a pro can actually be a wise financial choice if you are working couple or have little time to devote to the planning process. Not getting help when you need it can affect your health and leave you unable to pull off the wedding itself! Wedding planners let you enjoy your day by keeping you on schedule, keeping drama to a minimum and even keeping your nerves in check. For the busy couple they are worth every penny.
Wedding planners are able to work with various schedules and budgets and, being industry insiders, can often get discounts with other vendors you may need that will offset the cost of hiring a planner. They can also help you avoid common wedding planning mistakes and help you keep your other vendors in check. You can hire them for day-of help or by-the-hour for certain aspects of the wedding planning. Of course, they can plan your whole wedding too if you like!
You may need a wedding planner if any of these factors apply to you:
- You both work full-time jobs.
- You're way behind on your planning schedule.
- It's a destination wedding.
- You have no other outside help.
- You dread the planning process and are feeling overwhelmed with details.
- It's a very short engagement period.
- You need help with pulling off your vision.
- You're expecting family drama.