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Battling the Budget Part 2: Inexpensive Alternatives

Nothing ruins wedding vibes like price-tags that say "no." In the same way, price-tags that scream "YES!" can really make a difference in the planning process, which is why I love my job. I have kind of an obsession with finding good prices and using creativity to come up with lovely alternatives to things such as standard wedding fare. (Don't believe me? I once developed a month-long meal-plan for myself that priced out everything with recipes, shopping lists, and all organic ingredients for three square meals a day with a budget of $100.) 

In the previous blog-post, I pinpointed the five common large expenses that nearly all weddings struggle to escape. In this blogpost, I'm going to return to those same five things and and share my ideas on how to avoid the price-tag with some creativity and extra thought. Ready to learn how to keep your wallet from emptying?

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PC Venuesafari.com

1. Ways to Save Money on Your Venue(s)

a) Just rent out ONE venue. Think about it: renting one area at a ceremony location costs, say $1,000. Later on, you decide you want to rent a second area at that same location for the reception as well. However, instead of that second area also costing $1,000, it costs $500, because you've already rented another part of the venue. So you're at $1,500. Now, let's suppose you rented a second location instead of an extension of the first location. Is that second location going to cost just $500? Probably not, because many venues have a minimum rental requirement, or they simply charge a higher minimum for rental of any area at their venue. So it's likely that the second venue will also cost around $1,000. So now you're at $2,000, instead of the $1,500, for the SAME purpose! Renting two different venues is also a lot more trouble, because sometimes you have to take into account the transportation of your guests, which might also come out of your pocket. 

b) Get hitched on a weekday. Most weddings are on Saturdays or Sundays because it's most convenient for guests to attend. However, because of their popularity, venues generally hike up the prices of venues on weekends, a lot like how airfares are three to four times the price on holiday weekends. They do it because they can. On weekdays, however, very few venues get weddings booked, so their prices generally go down. If your guests can get off work a few hours early, consider having your wedding on a weekday, such as Monday, to save some bank.

c) Have your wedding at a private venue, such as a friend's property or large house. This can save you thousands of dollars, and often does not compromise the quality of the location. It really does pay to know certain people!

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PC theweddingspecialists.net

2. Ways to Save Money on Catering

a) Plan your wedding around a lighter meal, such as brunch or lunch. Serving coffee, fruit salad, muffins, and deviled eggs for a light brunch is much more cost-effective than almost any dinner will be. Even a lunch of fruit, veggies, and tea sandwiches is cheaper than the dinner plates that most caterers will offer for evening meals. Including a brunch or lunch will change a wedding schedule around entirely though, and will only work if your vision includes a day wedding. 

b) Have a Potluck Wedding. This is more styled toward country weddings, or small church weddings where this kind of meal is common. It can certainly save a lot of money, though. 

c) Have the family provide the meal. This is similar to a potluck wedding, but it puts the provisional responsibility on the bride and groom's family members instead of on the guests. It is best suited for more intimate weddings, and is very convenient for weddings located at a house. 

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PC romanticdecorationnow.blogspot.com

3. Ways to Save Money on Guest Seating and Details

a) Move those chairs! When you have a ceremony as well as a sit-down dinner, you need twice the amount of chairs--unless you MOVE the ceremony chairs during the cocktail hour to the banquet hall! This can cut your chair bill IN HALF, and won't be noticed if your guests are distracted during cocktail hour.

b) If it is appropriate, consider paper napkins and plates, and plastic cutlery. Especially if your meal is potluck style, this won't be surprising or distasteful, and will save money the caterer or venue would otherwise charge for dish usage. It also eliminates the possibility of paying for damaged dishes, which is almost guaranteed to happen at least a couple of times at a wedding.  

c) Consider DIY wedding favors, such as cute baggies of Jordan almonds, prettily-packaged flower seeds with a reference to "growing love", tiny jars of homemade seasoned salt, infused olive oil, jam, or honey, servings of wedding cake, boxed truffles or bonbons, miniature s'mores kits, or homemade bath salts. Pinterest has about a million ideas!

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PC britishschoolalex.org

4. Ways to Save on Your Wedding Gown

a) Make your own wedding gown (if you know how to sew), or hire a friend or relative who knows how to sew. This gives you complete control over how you want it to look, but is a very time-consuming process. My mom did this, and saved plenty of money on the labor and alteration costs that she instead did herself. Fabric will be your largest cost--and it WILL cost something. But only a couple hundred dollars, as opposed to the thousand or so you'd pay otherwise.

b) Alter your wedding gown to fit you and your tastes. Whether it's your mother's gown or one you found at a thrift-shop, altering a gown allows you to keep the parts of it you love and jazz up the areas you're not so excited about. It's a money-saving, much less overwhelming process than creating a whole dress out of nothing but fabric yardage can be. 

c) Find a used wedding gown. Online stores such as www.preownedweddingdresses.com have dresses in all sizes, styles, and price-ranges that have been cherished by brides already, yet are still in tiptop condition. They are marked down considerably, and are a very lovely option that won't compromise your tastes at all. 

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PC portlandweddinglounge.com

5. Ways to Save Money on Entertainment

a) Replace a DJ with an iTunes playlist. You can make this yourself, hook it up to a speaker and have your wedding party members tweak it from time to time during the night. Have someone from the wedding party MC the evening instead of hiring a DJ to do this for you. 

b) Ask a friend who DJ's on the side to DJ as your wedding gift, or offer to pay him a fee. Be tactful about this, as you don't want to insult your friend or his side-business. If his business is too big, this might not be a good option. However, if he is a close friend and is invited to the wedding anyway, he may volunteer to DJ, or offer it as a wedding gift anyway. If you do pay an amature to do it, it is very likely that he won't charge commercial prices. 

 

No matter what your wedding budget is, at least a few of these fifteen suggestions can be applied to your wedding to free up money that can be put toward the most important details so that you get the day you've already imagined.

Have a money-saving tip of your own? Post a comment below!

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Battling the Budget Part 1: Bulky Wedding Expenses

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PC bettertogetherweddings.co.uk

When planning a wedding, money is often seen as the enemy; there just never seems to be enough of it! In today's wedding industry, $20k is generally shrugged at as merely a "doable" budget, and $10k is reacted to with disappointment and head-shaking. Today's weddings are expensive, but it is my firm belief that they don't have to be. 

Almost no other celebrations are allotted $10k-20k in expenditures, and any celebrations that are are sure by nearly anyone's standards to be incredible successes. Why is it that weddings seem to cost so much for so little in exchange? In this series, I will pinpoint the most expensive aspects of weddings, explain how they can be substituted with affordable alternatives, and highlight some useful wedding hacks that can save you money and make your wedding more personal at the same time. 

So let's get to those bulky wedding expenses! Here's one thing I'd like to mention about the expenses of weddings. A bride's outgoing wedding expenses are her vendors' paychecks. They deserve to charge their fees because that's how they make their living. The wedding industry is an incredibly big, lucrative business, but it's almost never a business's intention to take advantage of their client by charging much more than they are worth. Cupcakes a delicious morsels that can sometimes be gone in three bites, but they cost what they do (between $2-10 apiece) because they took money to create as well as time to mix, bake, decorate, and sometimes transport. That little cupcake is a labor of love--labor that deserves to be paid fairly for. 

As a budgeting specialist, I must clarify that I by no means am encouraging that vendors be taken advantage of for their services. Instead, I am recommending that the budgeting bride and groom engage with vendors for the most important details of the wedding, and the compensate for other services that are less important when the budget says "no". I am an expert at finding creative alternatives, not at conning vendors into providing products and services for next to nothing. 

That being said, let's get down to it: The most expensive aspects of today's wedding.

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PC partiesbyme.com

1. The Venue(s)

Whether it's a church or a 5 star hotel, venues have high prices, prices that directly correlate with the location, the event date, the time of day or night the event is being held, the length of the event, and how many services will be used. Typically, if your wedding's ceremony and reception are located at different venues, the cost will also increase.

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PC byrkristi.wordpress.com

2. Catering

Food gets expensive when you take into account that its preparation and service presentation also have steep price-tags--not to mention expected service tips! Knowing the guest-count is vital to nailing down the exact catering bill, and knowing that it will prove very challenging to adequately feed each guest on less than $12/head is key as you budget for the meal. At $12/head for 100 guests, you're already at $1200!

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PC weddinglocation.com

3. Guest Seating and Details

Chairs are often an extra charge if the venue does not provide them, or charges an extra fee for their use. Cost per chair ranges from $1.50-$10, and if your reception and ceremony are at different locations, sometimes you'll be buying two chairs per guest! Other details that come at a cost are things like table linens, glassware, and favors. 

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PC the weddingspecialists.net

4. The Wedding Gown

Finding the dream wedding gown at a "reasonable" price is THE task, and while possible, takes a lot of hunting, and possibly self-alteration. Expect to shell out at least $1,000 for your gown if you're shopping at regular wedding gown stores. 

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PC metrospectevents.com

5. Entertainment

Commercial DJ's, singers, bands, and other entertainment you may want to spice up your ceremony or reception charge hefty prices that should be planned for early on in your budget. Often, their charge includes their travel fees and equipment usage. Keep in mind that these sometimes "starving musicians" are trying to make a living with these prices, and their intention is not to empty your pockets.

Speaking of emptying pockets, weddings sure do it, don't they? Next week we will go over alternatives to these five expensive aspects of the wedding industry that will clue you in on how to save BIG time--without taking advantage of any vendors, and without compromising on the unique and beautiful ambiance of the wedding you're dreaming up. 

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