Anyone want to share their budget?
I can be transparent...our budget is $7,500. Each parent will contribute $1,500 and my FI and I will contribute $1,500. We are looking at a guest list of about 130, 150 max. I have been planning since November 2012 (engaged on 11/7/12) and know a couple of things about attempting a budget wedding...I will share below. I have read and read, pinned and pinned (from Pinterest) and have asked a million questions. Please ask me, I'm sure I can shed some light or direct you to where you can find some info. I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments.
Determine what matters most to you...the venue, the food, the entertainment...place a dollar amount on it and work your budget that way...once you determine the total cost...start reviewing each area on ways to save if over your initial budget amount. From experience, I started out thinking we could do it for $5,000, but once we started looking at venues, we realized that $5,000 could very well be the cost of the venue alone!
Opt for upscale disposables instead of china...way cheaper.
Watch out for outside catering fees. Sometimes it is more cost effective to pay the fee and use your caterer. From experience, the caterer I am considering using would give me a full BBQ (BBQ chicken, mac & cheese, green beans, rolls, sweet tea, fruit trays, crack and cheese display) dinner for $10 per person, the outside catering fee at the venue is $1,000. The preferred caterer charges at minimum $40 per person (without alcohol)...for me, it was cheaper for me to pay the $1,000 catering fee and use the caterer I chose for $10 a head...do the math! Also consider removing alcohol altogether...not worth the extra $40+ they will charge you. You can have an excellent time without alcohol (IMO...but see, I don't drink). A side note..my wedding coordinator got the catering fee down to $250 for me...use your contacts!!!! The caterer delivers to my job once a month and considered this good business...now another bride at my job is getting married and using them as well; as a result, we both are utilizing a referral discount because my job referred me and I referred her...everyone wins...I'm serious...use your contacts and don't be afraid to ask for discounts or use coupons. Another side note...we purchased some gift cards that can be used at almost any restaurant for $16 (value of $100 in food)....we are going to use those for our rehearsal dinner. Think ahead when kids start doing fundraisers...my nieces do not know how much those $16 gift cards will come in handy. Deals show up in the oddest forms.
Choose a Friday or Sunday...rates are almost half the cost of Saturday rates. I have been reading online that people are choosing days during the week too...a bigger cost savings that your already reduced rates for Friday's and Sundays. This will only work if your guests live in town. My family of 60 or more that are invited are coming from California...I have to consider their work schedules so we are pushing for a Sunday.
Have caterers give you two quotes, one for a buffet dinner and another for a cocktail reception. Determine what best fits your budget. Oh, and you can remove stuff from the menu to cut down costs. Don't let them muscle you into thinking you have to have three appetizers...you may get away with two depending on the dinner to be served. Go generic and opt for punch or sweet tea...don't request specialty blends or wedding punch....people just want something to wash their food down with...it could be water for all I care (just kidding). But for real, you are in control...control the situation.
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate...most venues will reduce the cost...just ask! I am a living witness in this area. One venue we wanted had a facilty rental rate of $4,500 for a Sunday...my wedding coordinator got her down to $3,000. Start out making them an offer...people won't turn down money. One thing I have learned...pick a date or time that the venue would not ordinarily be rented...this will help your negotiating power. Who would have thought a Sunday ceremony starting at 4pm would be a perfect wedding time?!?! Me...because it saves me money! $1500 dollars...that is the rest of the food right there. Considering my budget...$3000 on the venue, $2000 on food....$2500 to spend elsewhere.
Videographers...if you aren't having dancing like me....ask the videographer for a reduced rate for recording your ceremony only. I found somone who is willing to do it for a fourth of the cost and includes editing and a couple of copies. We are not dancers (some of you can cut a rug...go for it). Again, determine which areas are important to you.
Photography...a family friend is taking our photos (they have a photography business). I'm getting their largest package for half the cost.
Just thought of this...be mindful of the deposits that are required to secure vendors...this was a shock to me. I didn't realize how much you have to fork up initially. This could realy send you back to the drawing board. For us, our parents are being gracious and giving us the money now before we book anything. With bills and life...nobody has a real "savings" anymore...at least we don't and it's okay...you can manage. We were originally scheduled for a wedding in August 2013...but hey, life happens and before it is all said it done, I don't want to have to take out personal loans to pay for my wedding. I'm only willing to go in debt for my house and my education...not an 8-hour party...but hey, this is me not you...go for what you know!
Dresses....clearance is just as good. Just think about it...you will wear this dress for all of 8 hours and hang it up and never see it again. Unless you want to wear it every year on your anniversary...that's if you can get into it (just kidding). For me, the clearance rack it will be. Don't think about saving it for your kids...there will be some new fad out by the time they get married and they won't want your old "played out dress."
Reduce your bridal party...this cuts down on attendant gifts. My FSIL had about 20 or so members to her bridal party (7 or so bridesmaid with 7 escorts and etc)...she brought in a hair stylist and a make-up artist and paid for us to stay in a suite the night before....this may not be in your budget. Consider what you are willing to purchase for your bridal party and work with that...scale back if you have to. Think about their wallets if you aren't purchasing things for them. Every cousin, nephew or niece does not have to be in the wedding...too costly! But hey, this advice is for those budgeters out there. We chose to have my sister, his sister, my brother, his sister's husband, my nephew and his two nieces...that's our bridal party (I did not include parents..of course they are there). Keep it simple...less stress. Oh wait, my cousin will be manning the card/sign-in table and we have three ushers. Again, not that many...keep the bridal party short. This will also reduce your ceremony time and the amount of rental time needed for the facility...a cost savings!
Make sure your venue has free parking or reduced parking for a large group. One place was considering $15 per car and another was $5 per car....check these things out.
If you have out-of-town guests, check hotels for them. My family is from California...people are flying in...my family is willing to share suites in order to save money. Oh, and about flying...I contacted a couple of airlines who would give my family a discount if they all booked their flights within a given time period...bonus for those family members. Make your out-of-town guests feel that you are willing to do what you can to ensure they are spending an arm and a leg to come celebrate with you.
Opt for linen-like napkins...they feel like the real thing.
Check out the chairs that are included in the wedding packages and shop online for chair covers if needed...so much cheaper than getting chair covers from the venue.
Be willing to work on DIY projects. At one point I considered cake pops. I found the "no-bake" cake pops...donut holes from Dunkin Donuts dipped in a chocolate mixture or purchasing ready-made fondut (not sure if that is spelled right)...could take the place of a cake, cupcake tower or be a wedding favor.
Enlist the help of your wedding party for some of this stuff. My family is very close and are willing to chip in. My sister can't wait to make stuff (she is an art major). My FSIL is very creative. The men that are not in the wedding are willing to be servers and are willing to setup the venue how I like...this will cut down on me having to pay the venue's staff for this (oh yeah, watch for this in your contract...some places have a charge for using their staff to set up...they expect the caterer to do it all).
All in all, share your thoughts, inspire another. "In these tough economic times", any advice will help. I just had to throw that quote in there.
Best wishes to everyone!