Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Ways that we’re saving money on our wedding December 8, 2013

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 9:16 pm

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?


6 Responses to “Ways that we’re saving money on our wedding”

  1. janieliz19 Says:

    I saved on my dress (David’s Bridal, not as low as yours but under $1000, which was my goal), but we mostly saved by having our wedding off season, in March in the Boston area.


  2. I’ve always thought that finding a cute white dress would be a great way to save money on the wedding. Still might go to a boutique and try on a few gowns for the experience, but no purchasing.


  3. Sarah Says:

    We did just beer and wine and a bottle of sparkling cider for the two of us for toasts. We got some kickback from my MIL on this (surprise, surprise), but we realized that the vast majority of our family and friends are beer/wine drinkers, and it wasn’t worth it to pay extra for the few fancy cocktail people, even though I’m actually one of them! 🙂


  4. Kate Says:

    I bought my wedding dress at Vows in Watertown… definitely not as inexpensive as yours, but much, much cheaper than those reality tv shows! I could not imagine spending thousands of dollars on a wedding dress either. It’s not as important to me as other things. Good food, good music with good people were my biggest things, and we had a good time!


  5. Amanda Says:

    I also got my dress from David’s, it was <$500 and I still hate that I spent that much. We had our wedding in the small city where we grew up, which turned out to be a much cheaper per-head reception price compared with where we were living in NJ at the time. We didn't do big fancy floral centerpieces, and we chose flowers that were in season. For the cake we had a small nice looking cake to cut, and the rest was a sheet cake of the same flavor in the back – since no one sees it when it's being plated anyway (Our bakery actually recommended this option!) Some friends have used creative desserts — e.g. cupcakes (probably cheaper than the per slice they quote you for wedding cake), and donuts. We printed our own wedding invites.

    If I did it all over again I'd probably skip the limo but be willing to spend more on the photographer. I don't regret the cheapish dress (though my style tastes have changed 7 years later) or the open bar.


  6. LilMysNinja Says:

    This a great post for me to read! Though we are not engaged yet, my boyfriend and I have had some discussions; we’ve talked rings, honeymoons and yes a little about a wedding. Just conversational stuff here and there. The engagement ring was a much longer discussion more so for him to get an idea of my likes and dislikes and what would not stand out a lot on my finger but still look good. (I don’t wear a lot of rings anymore and I’m a runner and sometimes lifts weights so I don’t want anything tall per se that would end up getting banged up.) But anyhow, these were great things for me to think about when the time comes that we will be planning. Cause let’s face it, I’m not wanting to spend thousands of dollars on a dress either! 🙂


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