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How to get the fluff when your wedding budget is not enough!

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

How to get the fluff when your wedding budget is not enough…

Original Photos by MeewMeew Studios

You found the perfect partner and now you want your perfect wedding day. Everyone has a different vision of what their perfect wedding looks like, but I can tell you from my many years of planning experience the most common wedding element is the overall experience. While I have always professed that the most essential elements of a successful and fun wedding are your guest list, food/beverage, and the entertainment, I can now say that the fluff is making a comeback. If your challenge is how to afford the fluff and your wedding essentials without breaking the bank, then you will love these wedding budget suggestions. 1. The Wedding Date: Weekday weddings are typically less expensive than weekend weddings, and Sundays are typically less expensive and Fridays and Saturdays.. This is especially helpful for your destination wedding, because when you are on vacation every day is a weekend! Marry in the off-season (high season is May through October) and avoid the holidays, as an off season wedding date may provide you with discount opportunities on venues, vendors, and travel fees. Consider having your wedding take place during the day instead of the evening. All of these tips place you in a better position to negotiate rates with your venues and professionals. 2. Entertainment: Sometimes a DJ is less expensive than a band. (Sorry, but that playlist on a sound system does not create the fun experience that a professional provides.) Perhaps you have a friend or relative who plays an instrument and wants to play at your ceremony as a gift to you? Contact the local university for musicians for your ceremony. Be sure to learn of all costs involved with hiring your vendors, like lighting and stage requirements. If your wedding is outdoors and you are not tenting your event, you will need to make sure your entertainers do not require coverage. 3. The Bar: Limit your bar options. If you are at a venue that offers a full bar, then DO THAT, even if it is a no-host bar, to avoid guests leaving your wedding to go to the hotel or restaurant bar. Another option is to partially host a bar, where you agree to host the bar to a certain amount and then change to a no-host bar. It is always good to host soft drinks throughout the event. Keep in mind that your vendors are drinking soft drinks from the bar, as well. Hosting per consumption may be a less expensive option instead of per person. If you have a costly signature drink, maybe only offer it during a portion of the event. For your toast, consider sparkling wine in place of Champagne, or have guests toast with their existing drinks in possession. If your venue allows you to bring in your own beverages, limit the options and bring enough of them. Bartenders should be licensed and insured. 4. The Food: The meal you offer does not need to be expensive and elaborate, it just needs to be delicious. Food Stations or Action Stations and Plated Meals are typically more expensive than buffets, basically because they require more labor, rentals and people involved. Family style and communal meals are popular ways of getting enough food to everyone and allowing guests to select what they want. An elegant heavy pupu reception for a couple of hours, offering an assortment of foods served at various times throughout the evening to not go hungry. (Just be sure to tell your guests beforehand that a full dinner won’t be served so they can plan accordingly.) A brunch or luncheon is typically less expensive than a dinner reception. Limit your choices and be sure that you attend to the dietary restrictions of your guests (collect that information from your guests in advance). Limit the length of your reception so that you avoid paying extra fees for the venue and labor. Select seasonal and local menu items to keep shipping costs down on food and ingredients. Vendor meals may need to be included in your food and beverage count, so check your contracts. 5. The Printing: Instead of expensive custom invitations, print your own invitations at home or make your own. Online invitations are a trend, as well as wedding websites where guests can easily RSVP and find everything they need to know about the couple’s wedding at their leisure. Evites are also cost effective ways to invite your guests to the wedding. Combine the purpose of your wedding favors and place cards if assigning seats. When assigning tables and not seating, there are cost effective ways to display your table assignments without paying for printing (i.e. We wrote the names using Gold Sharpie Pen on Palm Leaves and placed them on the table.). 6. The People: Limit your attendants and guest list. You can save hundreds on the personal flowers ordered for your bridal party and VIP’s, as well as the rentals needed, centerpieces, décor, food servers, food and beverage, etc. 7. The Venue: Select a multipurpose venue. When using the same site for the ceremony and reception, you may save on site fees and will decrease transportation costs. When selecting an estate, you will typically have a blank slate to make completely the way you want it, but the costs add up. When you select a venue that offers tables, chairs, linens, glassware, China, lighting, backup coverage for uncooperative weather, and more as part of their site fee, you may have just reduced your costs for essential rental items. Typically your wedding is 5 hours, 1 for the ceremony and 4 for the reception Fees are typically assessed for longer events. Some venues charge for electrical for the entertainment, additional lighting, etc. Be sure to ask all of the questions and check for hidden costs. Outdoor games are a fun trend for the guest experience, such as cornhole, croquet, bocce ball, and Portuguese horseshoes. If you cannot afford a professional photo booth, perhaps you can create your own and also make it your guest book. 8. The Décor: Have dual-function flowers. Use your ceremony flowers at your reception. For example, you can use your bridesmaids’ bouquets as part of the centerpieces. The arch piece can decorate the cake table, sweetheart table, head table or buffet table. Aisle/Pew flowers can be used to decorate the tent legs, head table chairs, etc. Large arrangements can be moved to the entrance at the reception, around the head table, near the stage, near the cake table, etc. Display the wedding cake under the ceremony chuppah if near the reception area. Share rentals and décor by asking if an event at your venue is taking place the day before or after your event. If you are using some of the same items, you can share the rental and delivery costs. Ask local florists about their inventory to see what they can rent to you (possibly at a discount for using their services) like vases, candle holders, candelabras, arches, and window boxes. Online wedding marketplaces offer used wedding items at discounted prices that may fit in with your wedding décor vision. Check out craft and fabric stores during holiday sales for items that you want for your wedding décor. Think colors…if your wedding color includes red, you KNOW that color is going to be sold for the holiday in February and December, so scout out the sales. Local and seasonal flowers are less expensive than imported flowers. If your floral arrangement requires space to be filled, choose larger flowers that take up more space so you require fewer flowers in your arrangement. In place of centerpieces for some of your tables, display framed photos of yourselves on your guest welcome table, cocktail tables, the bar, etc. Recruit crafty friends to help with DIY projects. If your Pinterest dream is too expensive, ask your florist and/or event coordinator to suggest less expensive ways to achieve a similar look. 9. The Cake: If you want the traditional multi-tiered wedding cake, perhaps order a real tier to slice for photos and substitute the others with faux tiers for half of the price. The actual cake that is served will be a sheet cake that is cut and served from the kitchen. Many couples opt for a single tier to cut and then serve cupcakes, doughnuts, malasadas, pies, etc. They may not have a cake at all and just feed each other the dessert option. 10. Your Timeline: Schedule your event wisely to get the maximum benefit from your vendors. Have your florist arrive after your rentals are in place and linens are on the tables, not before. Schedule the important photo moments at the beginning of your reception so that you can reasonably limit the amount of time you need to have your photographer present at your reception. Leave enough time for you to finish your beauty services and get dressed so your photographer is not waiting long for your first look photos, or you miss them entirely. Make sure you leave time to bustle your dress before you do your dances to avoid timeline delays and overage times. 11. Misc: Rent your wedding dress. Have a friend or relative get licensed to officiate your wedding and obtain a temporary license from your state to process your license to save on the officiant and personalize your ceremony. Create a hashtag so your guests can share their photos of your wedding with you. Nice goes a long way, so be nice to all of your vendors and they will go above and beyond for you. © Tori Rogers, 2017

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