Wedding sticker shock isn’t anything new. Typically you aren’t throwing a huge party, renting a venue, hiring a professional photographer, catering food, hiring a bartender, providing live entertainment, and gifting favors for 200+ of your closest friends. Don’t forget that gorgeous dress, shoes, jewelry, makeup and hair. THEN all things groom. THEN all things wedding party. We haven’t even talked about the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon. Yes, weddings can be very expensive.
What if I told you there are ways to cut some expenses without missing out on any of those fairytale wedding dreams? I was just like any other girl getting married. I wanted the dress, the entertainment, the photographer, and a gorgeous venue. The only thing that my husband and I disagreed on was the guest list. I’m a small crowd kind of girl and my husband knows EVERYONE. My budget was $5000 for our wedding day and to give you some context the average amount spent by brides at that time was $10-15,000. I have also worked in the wedding industry for 9 years, so I can confidently say that I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve that will help you plan and budget your wedding. Here are my top 3 easiest ways to save money for your wedding.
There are some GORGEOUS venues in Tennessee. I would have felt like a real princess if my wedding was on a mountain top or in a castle or historic home, but any of those options would have completely eaten up my budget if not taken more than that. We stuck to a quaint location in Norris Dam State Park by renting the Tea Room. At the time it was a total of $450 to rent the Tea Room and we had it for 3 days. We set up on Friday, the wedding was on Saturday, and cleaned up on Sunday. It. Was. Amazing! No rushing around, staying after the reception and cleaning in my wedding dress (which looking back wouldn’t have mattered because it had gotten dirty anyhow). It cut so much stress out of that weekend and that was important to me, too.
Today the weekend price is $1200 which is still a steal when it comes to wedding venues. Sister, it is worth every penny to have the place to yourself and take your time preparing and enjoying and cleaning. Trust me, your friends and family will thank you.
2. Guest List
I know it is hard picking and choosing who to invite and not wanting someone to feel left out. A good rule of thumb for me was, if I had not spoken to that person in over a year then they were not invited to my wedding. As I mentioned above, my husband basically knows everyone and, in his eyes all, were invited whether there was an invitation sent to them or not. Okay… maybe I’m exaggerating but… you get the point. 🙂 The Tea Room helped us to narrow the guest list down. The Tea Room holds up to 100 people, so we invited around 150 people knowing some would not be able to make it.
Why would the guest list make such a difference? Think about your catering budget. Average cost per person for food only (no cake or drinks) is about $15. If you have 200 people show up at $15 per plate, then you are at $3000. If you budget for 100 people, then you are at $1500. That’s your wedding dress budget, sister! Whew! Our cost per plate was about $8 per person. We opted to use Buddy’s BBQ for catering because who doesn’t love barbecue?? We had them bring plates, silverware, and napkins because one less thing to worry about. Just remember, this is for food only. Then there are drinks, adult beverages, wedding cake, and grooms cake to think about. Per person.
Since I’m a photographer I really feel like I can speak to this. You get what you pay for. Let me say it louder for the people in the back: You. Get. What. You. Pay. For! I am not going to tell you to grab your best friend or uncle Bob to get your photos because you will end up not liking your photos if you have been swooning over photographers who charge over $2000 for their skill and work. If photos don’t matter to you then by all means call your bestie up and ask her to help. However, I’m sure you wouldn’t be reading a photographer’s blog if that was the case, so here is my advice: if you love that $$$ photographer, talk to them. Maybe they could come to your wedding for an abbreviated amount of time that works with your budget.
I offer one such package because I know what it is like to want the best photos, but have a limited budget. The bride and I work out what the most important parts of the day that the bride wants documented and then build the 3 hour time line around that. More often than not, the itinerary looks something like this: mock getting ready (fixing the veil, finishing makeup touches, etc.), the formal photos (bride, groom, bride and groom, full family, bride + groom + bride’s family, bride + groom + groom’s family, full bridal party), the ceremony, then a short amount of time at the reception (the father and bride dance, mother and groom dance, and cutting cake).
It seems like a whirlwind, but honestly… friends and family are taking photos during the whole reception and no one likes photos of themself chewing their food. True story.
So there you have it! These are my top 3 ways to save some major moolah on your wedding. I know that I have some budget savvy friends, so I would love to hear how you saved money on your wedding. And if you are getting married and looking for a photographer who offers mini wedding collections, I still have weekends available for booking. You can contact me above to get started booking your day!