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From the Magazine

65 Ways to Beat Your Wedding Budget

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📷: Sara Desirey Photography

Maybe this article should really be called “66 Ways…” because we’re already throwing one at you: first and foremost, rank your priorities. Early on in your planning process, determine what is most important to you and what details you really couldn’t care less about. Are you an Instagram fiend dedicated to preserving every aspect of your life? Splurge on a good photographer. Do full blooms make your nose run and your eyes water? Skip to the flowers section of this article and see where it’s acceptable to skimp. No matter where your priorities may fall, there’s always room for savings.

By Kaitlyn Murray, John Kiernan and Grace Kelly

Savings Key:

$$$ = Saves you the big bucks, so go ahead and give out all those plus ones.
$$ = Just modest savings, but enough that it’s totally worth the consideration.
$ = Only skims off the top, but if you add up enough of these, you won’t totally break the bank.

Stationary 

Tips from our friends at Little Birdie Papercraft and Design

1. Layer less. Including decorative backing layers on your invitations is super popular nowadays, but also expensive. Have your stationer print a pretty pattern directly onto a single layer invitation so you can keep the design element but lose the extra material costs. $$
2. Forget Foil. It’s another popular budget buster. However, advances in digital printing now make it possible to flat print in gold and silver metallic. It adds a great shimmer at a fraction of the cost of foil. $
3. Limit your inserts. If you have a lot of info to dole out, create a wedding website. You can then include a single, small insert in your invitations to guide guests to your site and all the finer details it has to offer. $$
4. Go big. Displaying a large sign (think wooden or chalkboard) with your seating chart can cut down your “day-of stationery” (i.e. escort cards). Little Birdie will not only create your chart but rent you the right size frame. $
5. Track your time. Avoid extra costs that come with rush fees or reprints by giving yourself enough time to approve the design before they’re finalized. This will also help you nail your guest count and avoid printing too many or too few invitations. $

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📷: Nicole Gesmondi Photographer 

Wedding Bands

Tips from our friends at Baxter’s Fine Jewelry

6. Consider your financial options. Many stores have special financing, but at Baxter’s they offer a no interest loan for twelve months and a customizable layaway for any financial situation. $
7. Wait it out. Some jewelry stores will have sales depending on the time of year (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.) Baxter’s in particular offers a different deal every week during the month of March, just in time for a summer ceremony. $$
8. Save the engraving. While it’s nice to put the wedding date inside your rings before the big day, you can really get an engraving done at any time. Save this more costly service for later – like a milestone anniversary. $
9. Splurge now. It might seem like we’re saying this in the wrong article, but if you think about it, your ring is the one detail that will still be around and in use long after your flowers have wilted. Go with a high-quality product now and save yourself from repair and replacement fees down the line. $

Dress and Clothing

10. Try on a different pair. If you opted for a long gown, you can skip the super expensive heels. Why waste money on something that nobody will see? $
11. Borrow something like-new. You can save a whole lot if you’re willing to buy a pre-owned dress. At sites like oncewed.com, most gowns were only used once, so they’re in near perfect condition. You can save even more by renting your (designer!) gown from renttherunway.com. $$
12. Save on style. Last season’s fashions and overstock dresses, both of which are available at outlets like Spark Bridal in Cranston and Vows in Massachusetts, are heavily discounted. High-end is high-end, right? $
13. Say goodbye to the long train. Skip the traditional full gown (where costs are determined by fabric length and weight) and go for something shorter. You can even try shopping in the bridesmaid’s dress section.  $$

Hair and Makeup

14. Recruit a talented loved one. If you have a family member or friend who has considerable makeup or hair styling skills, see if they will offer their services for free on your big day (just make sure their wedding favor and thank you note is extra special). To avoid any unpleasant surprises, be clear about what type of look you’re going for and do a trial run a couple of weeks before the wedding. $
15. Get out of the house. Paying a makeup artist or hair stylist to come to your home almost always calls for travel fees. Head to their studio on the morning of instead. $
16. Accessorize minimally. Don’t go all out for something you’ll only really have reason to wear once, instead, try asking your married friends if they have an accent or headpiece that you can borrow. $
17. Clip on. Worried that your hair won’t look full and luscious on your big day? Pass over the $1,000-plus hair salon extensions and purchase some good quality clip on pieces for a tenth of the price. $$

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📷: LeFebvre Photo

Transportation

18. White out. Many limo rental companies charge a bit more for their white models, so think about going with black or silver instead. $
19. Book in advance. If you’re planning to wed during late spring or summertime, or you’re hoping to use transportation that’s high in demand, book as far in advance as possible. More affordable rental companies will run out of vehicles quickly, so start dialing now. $
20. Skip the stretch limo. Don’t be afraid to mix it up! Sometimes a limo just isn’t the appropriate vehicle for your big day. Other options are a bit funkier and can give you more value. A school bus, for example, is cheaper, adds a retro twist to your wedding and can accommodate your entire party. $$
21. Downsize. Bigger isn’t always better. Instead of filling a twelve-person limo, share your (smaller) ride with just your maid of honor and best man. The four of you can still have a great time in a town car! $
22. Try point-to-point service. If you’re skipping the limo and going with a smaller vehicle, talk to your rental
company and see if you can do a point-to-point service rather than an hourly rental. They’ll arrive at a specified time and bring you and your passengers to another location. It’s still classy, and you won’t have to worry about paying more should you get stuck in traffic. $$

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📷: Blueflash Photography

Ceremony

23. Hand-pick your officiant. Having a friend or family member perform the ceremony will give you a more personalized experience than a hired professional could deliver; anyone can easily become an ordained minister online (check out theamm.org) for little to no cost. $
24. Keep it simple. If you’re using flowers at the ceremony, keep them to a minimum. All eyes will be on you and your spouse, so place arrangements at the focal point of the ceremony and forgo putting any on the pews, chairs or along the aisle. $
25. Wed by candlelight. If you’re not feeling flowers, candles can be a much cheaper alternative, and they can give your ceremony a unique, intimate feel­— but remember to check your venue’s fire codes first! $$
26. Use your connections. If you’re a member of the military, a community club or other organization, they may have a ceremony venue available to members to use for free. $$$
27. Marry outside the box. Having your ceremony outside, whether it’s in a public park or your backyard, can cost less than paying for a church or other traditional indoor spaces. Just make sure you have the proper permits! $$$

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📷: Blueflash Photography

Music

28. Go small or go home. The smaller the ensemble, the smaller the cost. If you’re considering live classical music at your ceremony, go for a duet rather than a string quartet. For your reception, opt for a six-piece band rather than an eight or twelve. $
29. Balance your DJ and band. As most already know, hiring a DJ in place of a live band is almost always a cheaper option, but you don’t have to totally limit yourself. Have a band play through dinner and then let a DJ take over for the rest of the night. Your guests will still remember the live music, but you’ll cut back on the price. $
30. Look local. Find non-professional or lesser-known musicians that will give you more bang for your buck: Hire a couple of students from a local university’s music program or check out bands playing at nearby restaurants and clubs who may be willing to play at your reception. Most will just be happy to have landed a gig! $$
31. Be your own DJ. You know yours and your partner’s music tastes best, after all. A lot of venues have professional sound systems installed, so plug in your laptop, start your playlist, and let the dancing begin. $$

Reception

32. Throw a house party. And if your own abode isn’t an option, see if there are any houses in one-of-a-kind
locations that can be rented for a day or two. An added bonus? It will also make the perfect place for out of town guests to lodge. $$$
33. Combine venues. For the non-religious: If you have your ceremony and reception all in one place, you’ll not only cut the cost of renting two venues but also the added expense of having to transport your guests. $$$
34. Be all-inclusive. Some reception venues’ prices include catering, the cake, centerpieces and more, meaning fewer independent vendor costs, so make sure you explore all of your options while venue shopping. $
35. Wander off the beaten path. Whether it’s a hotel or a country club, traditional wedding venues are some of the most expensive. Consider a more unconventional option, like a museum or library. $$
36. Avoid Saturdays. At all costs (hah), if you can. They’re the most popular days for weddings and you can expect a sharp increase in venue prices. Try a (non-holiday) Friday night or Sunday morning instead. $$$
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📷: Brad Smith Photography

Catering

37. Order less. Who says you need to have three or four full courses? If you’ve decided to host a served meal, stick to a single hearty entree (just remember to give your vegetarian friends an option) and then follow up with just your wedding cake for dessert. $$
38. Appease the appetizer lovers. If you want to serve a few nibbles before dinner, make them yourself. Cook them ahead of time, freeze them and then have someone warm them up just before cocktail hour. Also, pass on having them passed; just place the apps on a designated table and save yourself the extra cost of using servers. $$
39. Mix it up. A formal sit-down dinner, while perfectly proper, is the most expensive option. Instead, wed in the morning and serve a brunch buffet, or follow an evening ceremony with a cookout or BBQ. $$$

Bar

40. Change up the Champagne. It may be tradition to toast with the authentic bubbly, but it will cost you the big bucks if it’s the real deal. Go with a cheaper sparkling white wine like prosecco or cava. $
41. Close the bar. Everyone loves an open bar, but if you want to cut down on costs (and hangovers), it’s probably best to limit its operation down to an hour or two before switching to a cash bar — or just skip the “open” part entirely. $$
42. Pass on the hard stuff. Still going with an open bar? Liquor almost always costs more than beer or wine, so think about dropping it from your drink menu. If you can’t bear the lack of booze, include a signature cocktail and avoid using top-shelf brands. $$

Cake

43. Think small. Rather than having an entire three-tiered spectacle, choose a smaller one-tiered cake and pair it with a larger sheet cake. That way you’ll still get the design of your dreams (albeit in miniature form). $
44. Ditch the decorations. The style of your cake can have a big impact on its cost. Cut needless details like elaborate sugar flowers, piping or tall tiers, and opt for something simpler like a naked cake, or find a cute topper on Etsy to take the cake (ba dum tsh). Shape is a factor too! A square cake feeds more people and is easier — and cheaper — to decorate. $$
45. Icing on the cake. While not as easy to work with and shape, a buttercream frosting usually costs considerably less than its fondant cousin. $
46. Piece of cake. Pay attention to those contracts: Many couples have the misfortune of not realizing that caterers often charge a cake slicing fee. But, if you let your guests slice their own, you can save up to ten percent on the cake’s total cost. $

Flowers

47. Buy local and seasonal. Avoid using flowers that are out of season or imported; seasonal, local varieties are
almost always a cheaper option. Some classics, like roses, are available in most places all year long and are much more affordable than exotic alternatives. $
48. Keep it simple. If you can stick to just one or two varieties of flowers, you’ll save on the cost of complex
arrangements. $
49. Replace. Sometimes it can be hard to justify spending the big bucks on something as short-lived as flowers. Have groomsmen wear boutonnieres made from theme-appropriate materials like sailors knots or folded book pages. Instead of floral centerpieces, use sea glass, candles or framed pictures. Or, if you really want to keep the organic look, use inexpensive greenery like succulents. $$
50. Double duty. If you use the same flowers for both the ceremony and the reception you can cut your flower budget in half. $$
51. Paper peonies. Fabric or paper flowers can be a good substitute for the real deal. They probably won’t pass off as authentic flowers, but if you get creative (don’t be afraid of a little DIY!) they can add a stylish touch. $$

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📷: Paul Robert Berman Photography

Honeymoon

Tips from our friends at Destination Weddings and Honeymoon Planners
52. Compare air fares. Popular spots often have more flights and fares to choose from than their lesser-known counterparts. For example, Jamaica and Puerto Rico offer plenty of nonstop flights to and from the U.S. while the smaller Carribean islands require connecting flights at higher costs. $$$
53. Be flexible. Check out alternative travel times surrounding your wedding date, both at the start and the end of your trip. If you marry on a Saturday, fares may be much higher on Sunday than if you wait to depart on the following Tuesday. $$
54. Consider shoulder seasons. Wine-country rates rise during grape harvest season while New England stays are at a premium during autumn leaf-peeping time. Look for months when the weather is still nice but the crowds have dispersed. $$
55. Factor in everything. Airfare plus hotel price does not equal total cost. There’s also transportation to and from airports, meals, drinks, tips and taxes to think about. And don’t forget you’ll probably want a souvenir or two, so budget accordingly. $
56. Hire a planner. Professional travel agents like DWH Planners obviously know all the ins and outs. They can get you deals and even score you low-cost all-inclusive packages. $$
57. Mini-moon it up. Can’t afford a full -fledged trip overseas just yet? Save it for later and take a local, weekend getaway. $$$

Odds and Ends

58. DIY. This one might be a no brainer for some, but wherever and whenever possible, think about doing it yourself. The difference in quality between a detail made by a professional and that made by an amateur is smaller than you’d think. As an added bonus, DIY will almost always add a more personal touch to your day. $$$
59. Expert advice. Planning a wedding is about as easy (and relaxing) as juggling chainsaws. Hiring a wedding planner can afford you more time, make your event run smoothly and save you from added stress, which will offset bills and therapy visits down the line. Most also have close working relationships with vendors which can help get you discounts galore. $$
60. (Browser) window shop. Using sites like eBay, Etsy and Craigslist for decor over specialized boutiques can save you tons. Buying things without seeing them in person first may feel like a gamble, but most have generous return policies. $$$
61. Good credit. Opting for credit instead of cash has a couple of advantages. If a vendor backs out at the last minute, you can get a complete refund. Plus, if your card has rewards you can wrack in some extra savings. $
62. Off season. Because of summer’s status as wedding season, prices for everything from venues to wedding cakes can skyrocket. If you’re planning a wedding between October and March you can expect almost everything to cost a whole lot less.  $$$
63. Sign up for spam. Create a wedding-planning specific email address and subscribe to newsletters (like ours!) to keep you up to date on the latest deals, promotions and bridal events. $
64. Get social. Yes, attending bridal shows and meeting vendors is all well and good, but in this instance we’re talking social media. Instagram basically serves as a photographer’s portfolio nowadays while Facebook and Twitter profiles will be the first to announce sales (think dress shops and jewelers) and date openings (think venues and caterers). Also, we’re pretty on top of our social media game, too (cue shameless plug #2: We’re @EngagedRIM across all three platforms). $$
65. Tackle tradition. Oftentimes the traditional path is the most expensive. The big cake, the full gown and the ornate church are usually some of the most expensive options. You shouldn’t feel obligated to stick to convention. Take the road less traveled! Trust us, it will make for a more personal, memorable (and overall cheaper) wedding experience. $$$

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📷: Sabrina Scolari Photography

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1 Comment

  • Chandirrasekar DCS August 29, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Thanks for the above post. Worth reading. The above tips will surely help me to plan out my wedding within my budget. I would have wasted money on so many unwanted elements if I did not come across the post. Really worth reading this blog. I recommended this post for my friends who are getting married.

    Reply

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