You’re newly engaged, walking on air, gazing at your left hand to admire the bedazzled band that now sits on your fourth finger for all the world to see. And then, eventually, the clouds part, and it’s time to start planning.
We all start the process with a set budget in mind, but it’s easy for costs to get out of control very quickly, unless you go in with a plan. Those Pinterest pictures you’ve been collecting sometimes take a fortune to pull off. So, what’s a bride or groom to do? After having planned (and attended) many weddings, we at Revelr share our top 10 ideas for saving money on your big day.
1. Consider Creative Décor: If you can find a venue that doesn’t need a lot of décor, you’re already off to a great start; but you’ll still likely need table décor or centerpieces of some sort. One of our Event Architects did her own wedding by utilizing feathers in lieu of flowers for arrangements, saving her thousands relative to what she would have spent on flowers. Another Revelr Event Architect simply used candles in varying heights and floating votives in water to create an elegant mood. If you’re dying for flowers, consider a seasonal single bloom, using flower petals in water with votives, or even just petals on the table with mood lighting and candles. These ideas can make for a romantic feel without breaking the bank.
2. Have a Signature Cocktail: We adore a signature cocktail. Not only is it a great way to infuse your own personality on the wedding without much work, it is also a huge cost-saver. You can forego a fully stocked bar and simply offer one or two signature cocktails that echo your tastes. I once attended a wedding where a Korean bride offered a twist on a Mojito, using Soju in lieu of rum. I’ve also been to a smashing wedding in New Orleans, where the couple served Old Fashioneds as a nod to their Southern heritage. And I’ve been to a wedding where Pisco Sours were the drink of choice because the groom was Chilean.
There are even ways to add signature drinks if you forgo hard liquor altogether. Why not serve a type of beer or wine that you discovered on a trip together or at your favorite restaurant? I always remember signature drink details because they feel personal and thoughtful. And no one will know that having one might’ve actually saved you money.
3. Get Creative with Dessert: Some of my best memories of attending friends’ weddings are of making huge sundaes at an ice cream bar, getting to eat fruit dipped in a chocolate fountain, or even filling bags with sour candy after dancing. These types of desserts are fun, interactive, memorable, and can end up being more budget-friendly than you’d think. If you’re emotionally tethered to a cake, you can always have a small sweetheart cake reserved for the couple, while guests can enjoy other options, like ice cream, doughnuts, or even pie. While cakes can be forgettable, I never forget when couples try to get more creative.
4. Scour Secondhand Wedding Items: Scour thrift stores and eBay for everything from vintage floral containers to antique postcards to use as table numbers. Ruffled, one of our favorite wedding blogs, even offers an entire marketplace centered around recycled wedding items. There, you can find everything from lanterns to stationery that people have gently used. It’s easy to find great deals if you’re willing to do the work. Better yet, be sure to take advantage of these sorts of resources even after you get married and sell some of your stuff once you’ve sealed the deal.
5. Repurpose Items Between the Ceremony and Reception: It’s common practice for bridesmaids to don their bouquets on the cake table, but nowadays, there are so many more ways you can leverage your ceremony décor for the reception and after-party. I got married in a church and used large arrangements to flank the altar, but then those same arrangements were reused behind the bars during cocktail hour. The small lanterns you use to line the pews and ceremony seating? Use them to add pizazz to your bathrooms. Even small arrangements can be repurposed as centerpieces if done thoughtfully.
6. Buy Your Own Booze and Use Your Own Bartender: If this is an option (and you should ask your caterer), this strategy can cut costs wildly. Supplying the beer, wine, and spirits yourself can save a lot on labor and costs. Note that this isn’t for the fainthearted. You should put a seasoned bartender in charge so that they can ensure ice is delivered, lemons and limes are ready to go, bitters are procured, cutting boards are ready, and the beer is cold. But so long as you have ready hands to receive the goods and a place to store them, this is a really smart way to save money.
7. Pay in Cash: Most vendors are willing to cut a deal if the payment comes in cash so that they can avoid credit card processing fees. And fewer fees for them means less markup for you!
8. Simplify Your Invitations: I am a paper fanatic at heart, so trust me, I’m that one weird wedding guest who actually pores over the wedding invitation. However, even with my obsession, these invitations invariably still (eventually) end up in the garbage. With this in mind, you can save a lot by going with single-page invitations or save the date postcards to cut printing costs. Remember, simplifying content to one single mailer doesn’t mean it has to feel any less elegant. Etsy, Hello Lucky, and Minted all offer amazing ideas that are wallet-friendly.
9. Pick An Off-Season Date: Think about picking a date that’s not in the spring or summer. If you get married in the off-season, not only will your venue/vendor pricing be less expensive, but you’ll also find that many of your friends will welcome the additional benefits that come with off-season events (e.g. the novelty of attending an event during a slower period, getting cheaper airfare for those who have to travel from out-of-town, reduced pricing on hotel blocks, etc.).
In the end, you’ll save money hosting, and attendees will be able to reap the benefits as well. Furthermore, given that demand is likely slower during months like January and February, you’ll have more negotiating power with individual vendors and will be able to work out a much better deal.
10. Use Revelr: If you want to cut even more costs, find someone to assist you in implementing the above strategies (and help you come up with even more!). Hiring a traditional planner can cost you thousands of dollars. But at Revelr, we’re here to help you for a fraction of the cost. Our planning tools, like our Wedding Budget Calculator, simplify the process. And our Event Architects have a breadth of experience and lots of other great ideas to pull of that Pinterest-worthy wedding, even on a shoestring!
It often feels rather unromantic to think of wedding budgets and cost-cutting strategies, but if we’ve learned anything in our years of hosting and planning events, it’s that every event, no matter how fancy or low-key, can be elegant and unforgettable, regardless of budget!