• Images
  • Text
  • Find a Couple + Registry
GO
Budget Weddings

How can I keep costs down?

While my FI and I are planning on each planning on setting aside $50-100 of each paycheck we get after we move back to our hometown and settle down with jobs to help offset wedding costs so we can pay for some ourselves, I'm realizing that weddings are insanely expensive!

I have a $2000 dress budget (mom said she'll pay up to $1000 and I have another $1000 from my grandparents), so I'm not counting that in my overall budget, but if at all possible, I'd like to keep the cost of the entire wedding under 15k, and it's the reception that's gonna be the killer because having the ceremony at my church will only be about $750 when it's all said and done.

I'm not planning on lots of flowers (my church will decorate free of charge, and most reception venues I am looking at include table centerpieces), and I'm planning on doing my own bouquets and most likely not having bouts or corsages since I'm not that fond of them anyway.

Then of course, there's the catering, the DJ and the photographer. The DJ I want is $300/hour, and I might be able to get a discount on that if I go with one [more expensive] venue, and the photographer I'm thinking about is $2000 for 7 hours, and I'm sure I could get a contracted price for a shorter time frame...

And we're not having a small wedding -- I'm thinking 120 guests minimum, and there's no changing that (FI alone has over 100 guests to invite).

Ideas? Functional budgets?

Thanks!
«1

Re: How can I keep costs down?

  • aliwis000aliwis000 member
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    edited July 2015
    There are lots of ways to cut cost. However, many people do not like them which is why they come asking. The top 2 are below.

    Number 1 - cut the guest list. The initial list for my FI and I was over 260 people. We had to make hard choices. Your FI is going to have to realize that we do not get everything we want.

    Number 2 - have a non meal time reception. This means you have a wedding around 2pm and everything wraps by 5pm. Usually there is less dancing and if you are looking for a "dance club" party this will not be that. But you can get away with cake, drinks (even no alcohol), and a few vegge and fruit trays. Simple and classic.

    Because you mentioned it I will caution you to look on this site about how money comes with strings or how never to count on it till it is sitting in your account. People who never would have thought their family/loved ones would be demanding come here every day to talk about how everything has blown up. Some have even had signed contracts in place they can no longer afford bc money was pulled. So the big rule is ONLY PLAN WHAT YOU AND YOUR FI ALONE CAN AFFORD. I am not meaning to "yell" lol. Just to say we have seen it a thousand times.

    Good luck!

    ETA: Your dress budget might be a bit high if you are looking for a full sit down meal. Now as long as your guests are well hosted you are fine to serve pizza in your designer gown but is that really where you want the  money to go. The knot says your attire budget should be 8-10% - Which out of 15k is only 1500 max, and that is attire. Dress, alterations, veil, jewelry....oh and dont forget about tax on everything. I know I had break out the calculator when I was shopping to remember that even though my attire budget was X considering all the other parts of "attire" and tax my DRESS budget was Y. Obviously once again it is your money and budget so maybe you just cut out flowers and add that to your attire budget. These are just things you and your FI have to work through, you will make it!
    Blue_Bird
  • Thanks for the thorough post. Likes I said, the dress budget it its own thing, not attached to anything, but other than that, great advice.

    I would absolutely love to cut the guest list more (yes, it's already on its second revision), but FI and I really aren't sure we can.

    As far as only budgeting what FI and I can afford...well...not much. We're both just getting on our feet which is why we don't have a wedding account yet.
  • First - DIY DOES NOT equal cost savings - Unless you work as a florist (same goes for baker/caterer/decorator/etc.) for a living, go to a florist (vendor) with an up-front budget and your list of needs, and ask what you can get for the money.  Being up front with your vendors about how much you've got to spend (be realistic - don't expect cake for $1/guest, look at what's an average for your area first, you get paid a wage for work, expect your vendors to as well, but the value of your time the weeks leading up to the wedding more than triple)...  Next, if you can't come to a resolution with a florist and you consider the DIY route, check out Sam's and Costco as they both offer wedding flower packages online that basically you cut the bottoms off and stick them in water bouquets.  It's a little nerve wracking because of the potential to get caught up in customs (order to deliver on Thursday for Saturday "just in case"), but it's an option...  

    Next the DJ - Yea, no... $300/hour - I think not!  That's roughly 6+ hours s/he'll be there depending on how long you plan to have them play.  I don't care how great the DJ is, $1800 when you're short on funds - NOT worth it!  You're willing to spend that on a DJ, but not $500 for a florist - see the balancing act here on priorities.. 

    Dress budget: Tell the shop your budget is at the less than half-way point because you've still got to account for the cost of...  veil, headpiece, undergarments, petticoat, and the one that really adds up - alterations!!!!  All of that can easily double the cost (DIY the veil or purchase one online - these are notoriously overpriced by bridal shops and one of the cheapest/easiest things to DIY out there provided you want a simple one)...  Again, no reason to go over budget if you don't have to!

    Photographer - at the end of the day, this is the one thing you have left and will reference the most from your wedding...  Budgeting reasonably here is a good idea...

    Next, you don't need to go over budget, you really can spend less than your budget and still have an awesome full meal dinner for all of your guests without DIY anything!  Having extra money in your bank account before you leave to go on a honeymoon is a good thing.  As the PP mentioned, unless it's in your bank account or you've got a CC to put the items on, assume you don't have the money and it comes with strings if it's being given to you from someone else.  FAR too often brides come on here after they realize that there's strings they can't agree to or a parent hits hard times and suddenly can't afford to, or the parent gets sticker shock when they discover just how much it'll be to pay for that open bar/caterer/venue/vendor/etc.  Plan the wedding you can afford, not the one that'll send you into debt or make anyone resentful if they're paying.  If someone's paying, they get a say in the item their money is going toward!  Choose your "hill to die on" carefully!! 


    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • Other suggestions: 

    - Buffet dinner instead of a plated dinner. 
    - Cash bar.
    - A less expensive photographer. Get a reputable one, but you just don't need the most popular photographer in town.
    - Reduce the time you use the DJ. You didn't provide a timeline of your day, but assuming you're getting married in the middle of the afternoon... you can have iPod music during the cocktail hour and then dinner, and have a DJ at the dance only. And find a less expensive one.
    - Find a cheaper venue. Hunt around more locations. You can look into museums, hotels, restaurants, etc.
    parkera92
  • I'm having a short (3 or 4 hour) reception, so the DJ won't be there for that long. And unfortunately, his prices are pretty typical for my area. 

    Our only options for venues that are indoors and large enough for our wedding are this one banquet facility and a few hotels. I wish my church's Parish Hall were bigger because then I'd so use it, but there's no way we'd all fit there!

    And believe it or not, buffets (the ones available to us) are pretty much the same cost as a sit-down meal! 

    My photographer is definitely not "the most popular in town" -- in fact, she's only just gotten started in the past few years, but she's my friend and her work is simply stunning.

    I would be okay with an iPod for some parts, but not the whole thing because the DJ helps the atmosphere.

    As for planning what we can afford...well, at this point, that would be nothing. Hopefully we'll have at least $6000 in our fund by the time our wedding rolls around, but that's not nearly enough!
  • My parents have said time and time again that they're going to pay for my wedding which is why I have a budget higher than what my FI and I will have ourselves.
  • There are regional variations in etiquette. Up where I'm from, cash bars at country wedding dances are commonplace, and so are huge guest lists. I'd sooner have 200 merry guests at a dance, just what I'm used to.
    MesmrEwesunflowersandcurls
  • My parents have said time and time again that they're going to pay for my wedding which is why I have a budget higher than what my FI and I will have ourselves.
    It's thoughtful of the two of you to start saving and budgeting anyway. Your parents will surely appreciate it. You can approach them with some realistic ideas, instead of going on a spending spree and then presenting them with a big bill...
    MesmrEwesunflowersandcurls
  • My parents have said time and time again that they're going to pay for my wedding which is why I have a budget higher than what my FI and I will have ourselves.
    It's thoughtful of the two of you to start saving and budgeting anyway. Your parents will surely appreciate it. You can approach them with some realistic ideas, instead of going on a spending spree and then presenting them with a big bill...

    Definitely. And we just cut our guest list by quite a bit which will also help!!
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    My parents have said time and time again that they're going to pay for my wedding which is why I have a budget higher than what my FI and I will have ourselves.

    So what exactly IS the budget? You can't just be planning a wedding not knowing how much your parents are contributing. You said you would like to keep it under 15k. Is that the amount your parents have told you they will give you?
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
    image
    Maggie0829[Deleted User]Blue_Bird
  • AddieCake said:
    My parents have said time and time again that they're going to pay for my wedding which is why I have a budget higher than what my FI and I will have ourselves.

    So what exactly IS the budget? You can't just be planning a wedding not knowing how much your parents are contributing. You said you would like to keep it under 15k. Is that the amount your parents have told you they will give you?


    My parents have said not more than 10k, and FI and are are planning to save up around 6k if not more which is where I came up with 15k.

  • AddieCake said:
    My parents have said time and time again that they're going to pay for my wedding which is why I have a budget higher than what my FI and I will have ourselves.

    So what exactly IS the budget? You can't just be planning a wedding not knowing how much your parents are contributing. You said you would like to keep it under 15k. Is that the amount your parents have told you they will give you?


    My parents have said not more than 10k, and FI and are are planning to save up around 6k if not more which is where I came up with 15k.

    SO - essentially you predict you'll have $6K to work with and $4K of wiggle room (bank any extra money, stop spending it - emergency fund for life, no one ever complains about having the money to cover the unexpected repair/replacement in life!).  Really - don't bank on the extra money unless they're there with you writing out the check to the vendor.  We've seen FAR too many brides come here and are SOL with only weeks to go when all of the vendors need to be paid by.  Just saying, a 2-hour dance is enough for a high school, it can be enough for your wedding too!  You've got cuts to make to your image of your wedding to meet your vision with financial reality!  I wouldn't cut the photographer to the bare bones, but that's a good "splurge" item to upgrade if you're looking good at the end on budget.  Church rates are set, so here goes...

    $600 - DJ (2 hours of service)

    $750 - Church (fixed expense)

    $750 - Dress, veil, headpiece, alterations (David's has their annual clearance sale going on!)

    $500 - Flowers

    $100 DIY invitation kits/postage

    120 Guests @ $21/head for the reception (has to cover the hall rental, NA's, meal, and cake...  The number of guests will fluctuate but budget won't go down)

    That alone puts you in just under your budget without considering your FI's attire, bridal party gifts, nor the photographer, etc.... 

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • There are regional variations in etiquette. Up where I'm from, cash bars at country wedding dances are commonplace, and so are huge guest lists. I'd sooner have 200 merry guests at a dance, just what I'm used to.
    Nope. There actually aren't variations in etiquette. The entire point of the rules of etiquette is that they are universally applicable across all circumstances and all REGIONS and are not subject to interpretation or opinion. Such variability would make them pointless. You will hear some posters claim that etiquette is regional. It is not. That assertion is an excuse to promote bad manners that suit that particular poster. The bottom line is, your reception is meant to be a "thank you" to your guests for witnessing your wedding. You can properly host this on a limited budget and there are many creative ways to do so without asking your guests to subsidize (pay for) any part of your wedding or open their wallets at your wedding. Expecting them to do so is rude and exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding of basic manners.
    QFT.

    You wouldn't offer to host a friends birthday party and then stand at the door asking people you invited for money would you? Don't this to the people you invited to your wedding either. 
    image
    [Deleted User]onefootinthebayouInLoveInQueens
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited July 2015
    My sister had a budget wedding in a city park shelter.  They had a pig roast (Groom's uncle donated the pig.) and potato salad and coleslaw on paper plates.  There was a cooler of soda and beer.  Cake was a sheet cake from the bakery.
    No wedding party.  She actually borrowed a very expensive dress and veil from a divorced friend, who later said she could keep it.  She looked gorgeous!  She carried a single rose tied with a ribbon.  Groom's teenage niece played the flute for the processional.  The Groom wore a suit.  The minister came to do the ceremony.
    My DH took photos with his fancy new digital camera.  All the relatives' kids ran around the park and had a blast.
    Great wedding!
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    [Deleted User]MesmrEweKnottie1430025803
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited July 2015
    There are regional variations in etiquette. Up where I'm from, cash bars at country wedding dances are commonplace, and so are huge guest lists. I'd sooner have 200 merry guests at a dance, just what I'm used to.
    Well, aren't YOU a special snowflake?  So you are used to something, and that makes you think that you are entitled to it, on someone else's money.  Etiquette is standard for USA and Canadian weddings.  There might be a few exceptions, like Native Americans/Native Canadians who still live in a tribal society, but unless this describes you, cash bars are very rude.

    No standard etiquette guide recommends cash bars or potluck, either.  It's a wedding, not a church supper.  You cannot just make up the rules.

    I suggest you read a good etiquette wedding guide book.  I like Miss Manners Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding.by Judith Martin.  There have been hundreds of posts about cash bars on The Knot, and they are not acceptable.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    [Deleted User]onefootinthebayouInLoveInQueensadwks
  • There are regional variations in etiquette. Up where I'm from, cash bars at country wedding dances are commonplace, and so are huge guest lists. I'd sooner have 200 merry guests at a dance, just what I'm used to.
    Nope. There actually aren't variations in etiquette. The entire point of the rules of etiquette is that they are universally applicable across all circumstances and all REGIONS and are not subject to interpretation or opinion. Such variability would make them pointless. You will hear some posters claim that etiquette is regional. It is not. That assertion is an excuse to promote bad manners that suit that particular poster. The bottom line is, your reception is meant to be a "thank you" to your guests for witnessing your wedding. You can properly host this on a limited budget and there are many creative ways to do so without asking your guests to subsidize (pay for) any part of your wedding or open their wallets at your wedding. Expecting them to do so is rude and exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding of basic manners.
    That's illogical. There are inarguably many cultural variations in etiquette. The etiquette for a wedding in London isn't the same as the etiquette for a wedding in Tokyo. There's no "universal" code of manners in existence, and regional and cultural variations certainly are important. Who is supposed to be the universal authority who sets down the law on what's proper etiquette or not?.... Is it just you? Or is it whatever's the consensus on an internet chat forum? Lol. 
    AussieCat42
  • Just because other people in your region have thrown crappy parties and been rude to their guests, doesn't mean you should.  Don't charge your guests admission to your wedding reception.  Charging them for any food or drinks is the same as charging admission.  This isn't a nightclub.  You need to host whoever you invite.
    Don't go into give into "peer pressure" from random netizens... hold the wedding that you want to hold.
    Bigwands
  • CMGragain said:
    There are regional variations in etiquette. Up where I'm from, cash bars at country wedding dances are commonplace, and so are huge guest lists. I'd sooner have 200 merry guests at a dance, just what I'm used to.
    Well, aren't YOU a special snowflake?  So you are used to something, and that makes you think that you are entitled to it, on someone else's money.  Etiquette is standard for USA and Canadian weddings.  There might be a few exceptions, like Native Americans/Native Canadians who still live in a tribal society, but unless this describes you, cash bars are very rude.

    No standard etiquette guide recommends cash bars or potluck, either.  It's a wedding, not a church supper.  You cannot just make up the rules.

    I suggest you read a good etiquette wedding guide book.  I like Miss Manners Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding.by Judith Martin.  There have been hundreds of posts about cash bars on The Knot, and they are not acceptable.

    That's all about keeping up with the Joneses. Like the whole expectation that guests "pay for their plate" when they give the bride and groom a wedding gift. Tacky, tacky, tacky... that's nothing but a backdoor way of instituting a cash bar and cash meal.
    AussieCat42

  • CMGragain said:
    There are regional variations in etiquette. Up where I'm from, cash bars at country wedding dances are commonplace, and so are huge guest lists. I'd sooner have 200 merry guests at a dance, just what I'm used to.
    Well, aren't YOU a special snowflake?  So you are used to something, and that makes you think that you are entitled to it, on someone else's money.  Etiquette is standard for USA and Canadian weddings.  There might be a few exceptions, like Native Americans/Native Canadians who still live in a tribal society, but unless this describes you, cash bars are very rude.

    No standard etiquette guide recommends cash bars or potluck, either.  It's a wedding, not a church supper.  You cannot just make up the rules.

    I suggest you read a good etiquette wedding guide book.  I like Miss Manners Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding.by Judith Martin.  There have been hundreds of posts about cash bars on The Knot, and they are not acceptable.

    That's all about keeping up with the Joneses. Like the whole expectation that guests "pay for their plate" when they give the bride and groom a wedding gift. Tacky, tacky, tacky... that's nothing but a backdoor way of instituting a cash bar and cash meal.
    No one on here expects guests to even bring gifts. No one has suggested that guests bring a gift to "pay for their plate" and I've only seen the people giving advice here shut down that way of thinking. So yes, guests bringing a gift to "pay for their plate" is tacky and so is your cash bar/cash meal (are you serious) idea.

    Not a signle person said you have to "keep up with the Joneses" only that you treat your guests like a host and host them properly.  
    image
    Liatris2010
    • Make sure when dress shopping you don't tell them that budget for a dress is $2000.00 Tell them that your budget for your dress, veil & alterations & tax is $2000.00 max. Veils & alaterations & tax can add a lot to the cost of a dress. So make your final budget the $2000.00
    • Unless you have a lot of OOT guests, consider skipping save the dates. If they are a must, consider going simple with a postcard that you can do at home on your own printer. It will be less to make & postcard stamps cost less.
    • Keep your invites simple. Skip the boxes and lots of extra inserts, all they do is add cost to have done & add weight to the postage. Try to go with a simple 5x7 card invite (you can get diy kits every where for these) and a RSVP card. If you feel the need to do an insert for hotel & stuff, consider doing a website & make your own business cards with your wedding website address on it and people get get directions, hotel info, etc then off website. By doing this I was able to send each invite out for only $.47 a piece. My manager who got married shortly before me, did a heavy card stock & inserts & her's cost $1.50 a piece to send. So basically $1.00 difference an invite, for 120 guests, that's $120.00 in postage alone, and that doesn't even count for the difference in costs in doing them
    • Keep wedding party small, remember for every wedding party member you need a gift, invite to reheresal (plus SO), flowers & if you are renting a limo, the more people in bridal party the bigger veh you have to rent
    • To save money on photographer, really think about, do you really need photos of you with your hair and makeup being done or can the photographer just show up as you are getting dressed (which will save an hour of time that you can use to get more reception photos of you and your guests)
    • If you have places like Michael's crafts or JoAnn Fabrics, check to see if they have anything you want and then download their apps, they have weekly coupons on their apps.
    • For DJ & caterer, shop around. For venues, compare them to see what you get for your bang. I saved $30.00 a head by going with a very reputable and beautiful venue, but it wasn't one of the fancier venues in town. But it was beauitufl and my per person price included linenes, cake, a great family style dinner, open bar, gift box, app table and dessert table. Oh yeah, and centerpieces too.
    • Don't go crazy on things, my motto was simple & classic. I kept thing simple but it was beautiful thanks to doing just the right things.
    • With planning and shopping around, there is no reason you can't have a fabulous wedding with your budget. Just realize what is important to you and what you can live without.
    onefootinthebayou
  • lembasloverlembaslover member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    edited July 2015
    Other suggestions: 

    - Buffet dinner instead of a plated dinner. Not always... For us it was much cheaper to do plated because with buffet they need to prepare extra food since someone might take chicken and steak or 2 chickens etc...

    - Cash bar. Don't do this, it's rude, guests shouldn't have to open their wallets. If you cant' afford alcohol don't have it, that is perfectly ok.

    ----Box--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Keep in mind when getting money from people don't count on it until it's in your bank account!

    Also there are a lot of little things that add up that I wasn't counting on at first. Under the dress accessories, stamps for invites, required 20% gratuity from venue just to name a few... It all adds up.

    ETA box
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    onefootinthebayou
  • Just because other people in your region have thrown crappy parties and been rude to their guests, doesn't mean you should.  Don't charge your guests admission to your wedding reception.  Charging them for any food or drinks is the same as charging admission.  This isn't a nightclub.  You need to host whoever you invite.
    Don't go into give into "peer pressure" from random netizens... hold the wedding that you want to hold. can afford.  
    FTFY

    OP, PPs gave great budgeting suggestions.  You can absolutely hold a well-hosted wedding that you can be proud of on a budget.  We always tell people, determine your budget first, don't count on help from others unless it's been deposited in your account (and that other's $ often comes with strings), and don't go into debt over throwing a party.   
    [Deleted User]
  • julieanne912julieanne912 member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    edited July 2015
    Ok my wedding is in less than 2 months, and so we aren't quite done spending yet but we've got a good idea.  My original budget was 10k, but I saw early on that wasn't happening.  I think we'll come in around 17k-18k, including my dress/alterations.  Our guest list is 198 people, assuming 175 to actually come.  I'm on the very north end of the Denver metro area, and found I saved money by using vendors from Northern Colorado instead of Denver.  Here's what I've got going on:

    Dress+accessories+alterations: $2100

    Hair/Makeup: $400 (I'm paying for my mom and for my MOH hair and makeup also)

    Venue: $3900 - includes table and chairs, and we get the use of the property all day starting at 8am, so we can do all set up ourselves.

    Catering: $6000 - we are doing snacks for cocktail hour and BBQ food buffet style for main, and this also includes waitstaff and a bartender.

    Photography: $1650 for 8 hours, 2 shooters

    DJ: $600, unlimited time

    Cake/Desserts: $450 - I chose a bakery that is close to the venue so no trip charge, and we're doing a small cutting cake with simple buttercream on the outside (fondant designs get pricey), with an assortment of mini desserts.  Cake was $5/slice.  Desserts are $1-2 each and I already know a lot of our crowd aren't big dessert people.

    Invitations including postage: $200 - this is cheap because my MOH made most of the invitations as her gift to me.  I just had to buy postage (70 cents for each invite, plus 30 whatever cents for RSVP postcards) and for some paper and printing costs for inserts she wasn't able to complete.  You can do completely nice invitations yourself at home on your printer though.

    Alcohol/beverages - $1000?  This is an unknown as we haven't bought any yet.  Venue allows us to bring in our own.  We plan on doing keg beer, wine, and a few liquor selections with mixers.

    Table linens - $200  I just purchased tablecloths online at www.smartyhadaparty.com.  I bought their wholesale 24 pack so they were very affordable, even after shipping costs.  The caterer supplies plates, utensils, and napkins.

    Flowers - $500  This is another unknown and a complete bargain as my aunt is a florist, and is gifting me her services.  I am buying the containers and the flowers.  The ceremony is outdoors so not much needed there, and I just have a MOH so not much for bouquets.  My MOH also has a huge supply of mason jars she's letting me borrow for the centerpieces.

    Other "stuff" - $500-1000.  This is another unknown, but it's for items like the guest book, tips, table numbers, signage, lights etc etc.  My mom purchased and is making the table runners and bunting flags (wedding's in a barn).  Almost everything in this category is DIY. 

    We also just got engaged in Feb, and wedding is in Sept.  If I had more time I could probably save even more money.  By planning a more casual wedding, we're able to do it for a lower budget.  Would I be able to do it for this cheap in a fancier venue with a more formal vibe?  Absolutely not.  I also made sure to steer clear of venues that required us to use their preferred caterers, as I knew that would increase costs.  Some seemed like a bargain until I factored in their catering costs for what is probably mediocre food.  

    Married 9.12.15
    image
    onefootinthebayou
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards