The peak of wedding season is just beginning, and couples around the country are busy preparing to say the big “I do” and celebrate with friends and family. But between the life-changing proposal and tear-jerking ceremony, there’s the unique stress – and wallet-draining experience – of wedding planning.
A wedding can be one of the most expensive events in one’s life, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve gathered 12 money-saving wedding ideas that pinch pennies without shortchanging any of the magnificence of your big day. When it comes to buying wedding gear – from dresses to table toppers to wedding party gifts – be sure to shop through Splender.com, where you’ll find coupons and earn cashback on all of your wedding day essentials.
- Take your time.
If you can, have an extended engagement; this one step could save you a ton. You’re likely to see big savings if you book your venue and caterer well in advance when prices will be lower. You’ll also give yourself more time to research the best vendors and less expensive – but still picturesque – locations without sacrificing quality on either. Plus, doing a little research before touring venues can help you avoid falling in love with one that’s way over your budget.
A longer engagement also enables you to stock up on seasonal sales throughout the year for favors and DIY décor items.
- Don’t get married on a Saturday.
Moving your wedding to a Friday or Sunday could help you save a few thousand dollars. Or go the non-traditional route and plan for a mid-week wedding. Getting married on a Wednesday, for instance, can save you an incredible amount. Everything from the venue to the caterers to the hair stylists are less expensive on off-peak days of the week, so you can allocate your wedding budget to other items – or maybe the honeymoon.
- Get married right before or after peak season.
Just before and after the peak wedding season, you are still likely to have pleasant weather but with cheaper prices! Depending on the part of the country, these can include April and May in the spring and November and December.
- Find a venue that doesn’t require you to use their vendors.
Find a wedding venue that allows you to use your own caterer, bartender, DJ or other wedding services. You can save a lot of money when you’re able to select vendors for yourself and find the ones you like for the best prices.
One option that can deliver considerable wedding savings is holding your wedding reception at a restaurant. Instead of paying thousands of dollars to rent a space and then bring in all of the vendors, décor, furniture and the like, you’ll only have to pay for the food and alcohol at your chosen restaurant.
- Choose a venue that doesn’t need much décor.
And on that note, finding a wedding venue that doesn’t need much décor can save you a pretty penny, too. Getting married in a renovated building, a park or garden that is already beautiful on its own won’t require very much decoration.
You could also have your wedding during the winter months when many venues will already be beautifully decorated for the holiday season.
- Consider choosing a non-traditional wedding venue.
Venues often drive the cost of weddings, so you might consider less expensive, community spaces rather than reception halls or country clubs. Places like zoos, public gardens, restaurants or more unique places that have a special meaning for you like a beach or your parents’ backyard can help you stick to your wedding budget.
- Shop for dresses that aren’t specifically wedding dresses.
Beautiful white dresses that aren’t necessarily wedding gowns can be found at many stores. You could even have alterations done or add some embellishments to create a one-of-a-kind dress at a fraction of the cost. For casual or beachy weddings, stores like BCBG and Calvin Klein typically have several chic white dresses to choose from.
Or better yet, buck the white wedding dress trend altogether and opt for a formal gown or cocktail dress in your favorite color. The only thing that matters is that you feel like a bride, no matter the color!
- Plan to hit the big designer or sample sales.
Determine your budget and research the dates of well-known annual sales at places like Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman where you can find designer gowns up to 50-70 percent off! These stores usually plan sales six months in advance, and many hold these events twice a year, usually in April and September. J. Crew also has a Once-a-Year wedding event with wedding and bridesmaid dresses, as well as accessories, for 25 percent off. Members of the wedding party will thank you for helping them save some cash, too – brides and grooms aren’t the only ones who love to save some money at wedding time!
- Consider renting or borrowing a wedding dress.
Buy a secondhand wedding dress—chances are it’s only been worn once! Look at sites like eBay.com for postings, too. You might even score a gown that has never been worn, as brides every so often change their minds about their dress or have to postpone the wedding and will put it up for sale.
- Serve signature cocktails.
Alcohol can be one of the biggest wedding expenses and can rapidly burn a hole in your catering budget. Because most reception sites charge for each bottle opened, even if it was just for one drink, consider offering a limited bar. Choose one or a series of signature cocktails that use only one type of liquor. Then, ask to have a few other bottles stocked based on your wedding party’s preferences (like if your dad only drinks scotch). Another option is to just serve beer, wine and enough champagne for toasts. You’ll be surprised how much money sticking to a limited bar instead of an open bar can save on your wedding budget.
- Make your own favors.
If you have time, whip up your grandma’s famous jam or your own chocolate-covered pretzels. Edibles are often appreciated, especially for evening weddings—a bag of cookies will be gone before your guests reach their car. Of course, if you don’t have an inner Betty Crocker to channel, maybe a member of the wedding party or a family member would want to share their talents and will offer to lend a hand.
- And finally, know what you DON’T need.
You’ll probably feel inundated with emails and phone calls, even friends and relatives asking you to consider personalized napkins or telling you what color your silverware should be. You should consider the opinions of the family members who will be sharing your wedding day with you; however, this day really means the most to you and your new spouse. So don’t stress so much about what everyone else wants. You don’t want to overspend on things you don’t really care about. It’s your day after all!
When it comes to your wedding day, splurge only on the most important things, and don’t stress (and save more money on) the rest. After all, the experience with your loved ones is really the most significant thing. You can save thousands on your wedding budget just by prioritizing the elements of your wedding that matter most to you, taking the time to shop around, DIYing most of your wedding basics and even going the non-traditional route on a few things. Exercising these tactics means you’ll have more to spend on the honeymoon(!) and your future together.