Before I start. Yes. This is another wedding post. I’m trying not to include TOO many of these. But some people were curious, so I’m sharing a bit about our decisions.
Also? As with any blog about weddings, please don’t let this make you feel bad about your decisions. I (and many others I’ve spoken with) tend to struggle with the constant comparison to every other wedding blog post. Being not something enough. Not fancy enough, or low-key enough. Not eccentric enough, or not traditional enough. Too big, too little. You get the idea. I’m just sharing some of the approaches we’ve taken to cut down on costs so we’re not finding ourselves spending those crazy amounts every website reports. Do not take my commentary as an attack on your decisions. Everyone has different priorities, I’m just sharing mine!
So, what are some ways we’ve been able to cut costs so far?
–The Wedding Dress: I wrote a long time ago about a few decisions I’d made on wedding spending. One was on the dress. I had no desire to spend thousands of dollars on a dress I would wear for just one day. I also didn’t feel I needed a “boutique” experience. So, even though I’d read some not-so-fantastic reviews about David’s Bridal, I went there anyway. Some reviews don’t like the quality of the dresses, or the general environment at the store. Granted, when I was there, my “consultant” wasn’t always attentive, and I felt crowded in and a bit of an afterthought (at least at the store I went to in MA. The one in NJ had a much nicer feel to it). I tried on a few dresses, and quickly learned that long dresses were NOT for me. I felt silly in them, like I was a girl playing dress up. So that already cut some costs down. I found a really cute, less formal dress for around $250. I might have to spend a little bit on alterations, but as of right now, it fits pretty well, and is sitting in my closet and ready for my wedding day.
Bottom line: Short, informal, and mass-produced dresses really cut down on costs.
–The Guest List: A wedding cost tends to scale with the number of guests. You’re going to have to feed them all, fit them all in a building (or outside, but they still probably need things like chairs or tables), and likely keep them happy with a little bit of booze. This can all add up quickly. When my fiance and I sat down to make up a guest list, we made the longest list we could thing of, i.e. who is every last person we would invite that we know of? We wanted to make sure we wouldn’t forget someone and down the line realize we left them off the list. Then we pared down the list (it’s still a work in progress) but are limiting the list to relatives we actually know and then lots of friends. I know this is not always a possibility for everyone. Third cousins and great aunts and family friends and business associates may end up on your guest list, either out of guilt or obligation. I’m still struggling with who makes the “cut”, so this is still a work in progress. But we’re looking at a guest list of 80-120 people total.
Bottom line: Take a look at that guest list. Also, sometimes your ceremony or reception location might have an occupancy limit. So consider that as well. Which leads me to…
–The Reception Location (and with it, the date/time and the food): Early on in the book A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration (by Meg Keene), there is a suggestion for wedding venues: Is there a restaurant you love that you could accommodate a wedding reception? This got me thinking about a local restaurant that would be perfect for us. It’s laid back, has good food, and not very expensive. This isn’t an option for everyone, but we were able to negotiate a noon-4pm time block on a Saturday (before their dinner rush) at the restaurant. We get the place to ourselves, and lots of really good food and drinks to go with it. The per-person price (for food) will not be very high, since they don’t serve very expensive food to begin with. There’s still some negotiation to do on drinks (full open bar or just beer + wine + signature drinks or some other option), because we do want to let our friends and family have a few drinks! But limiting the drink menu rather than having an open bar might help cut costs. Don’t worry, after the wedding, I’ll share where we had our reception. But for now, that’s our little secret :)
Bottom line: Consider local restaurants or other non-typical locations for ceremony/reception. Try times other than Saturday evening.
These are just some of the ways that we’ve tried to keep costs reasonable. We’ve had to come to the realization that the wedding will cost some money. There’s no way around it, at least for the things we had in mind (i.e. celebrating with our close family and friends).
What are some ways that you’ve found to cut costs for your wedding? Are there any non-negotiables?