The dress, the veil, the shoes, the flowers, the limo, the photographer, the cake, the caterer or country club… not to mention your wedding bands, honeymoon, bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts, parent gifts, and on and on. Don’t be fooled – the list of things to buy and book and do for your wedding is just as endless as you think, if not more so. Here are some great tips for how to save money on your wedding.
When it comes to congratulating you on your special engagement, everyone is there with open arms and beaming smiles. When it comes to shelling out the cash to pay for the big event, everyone points the finger. What gives? You only get married once, right?
Nowadays, there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the question on all our minds – who pays for the wedding. Some of today’s modern couples decide to undertake the bulk of the cost themselves. Sometimes the bride’s family follows the tradition of generations past and foots the bill on their dime. Other times, the bill can be split between both families, and often with help from the bride and groom. But any way you slice it, someone has to pay, and unfortunately, that money isn’t going to grow on the trees lining your backyard.
To make the most of the money that you do have to put toward your special day, keep this one thought in mind. Weddings are to wedding vendors what Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays are to Hallmark, chocolate shops, jewelry stores, perfume makers and other gift merchants.
Weddings mean business. Weddings mean good business – megabucks. The vendors know just how important your special day is to you, and they capitalize on your emotion. They sense the flutter in your heart or they catch the tear glistening in your eye when you try on the dress and there, waiting in the wing, is the veil, the tiara, the shoes, the jewelry…all waiting on an assembly line once you’ve found “the dress.”
Call up anonymously and ask your preferred reception site what it would cost to book a graduation party, or a birthday celebration, or even a family reunion. I dare you. You’ll be sickened at the dramatic drop in price when the “w” word is no longer rolling off the tongue. On second thought, don’t call, unless you intend to book your special day incognito. You might lose your appetite for the whole thing.
To help you save money on the planning of the most special day, I’ve kept some notes on my own adventures in wedding planning. Take it for what it’s worth or leave it for the others; whatever floats your boat. Remember, while your wedding is going to be the happiest day of your life, it will also be the one of, if not the most expensive. Any savings you can rack up do add up, and you’ll be so grateful when your monthly credit card bills don’t supersede your monthly mortgage payments as your deepest debt.
Tip #1: Shop the discount racks, the clearance sales, and the going out of business sales.
I have always been a sucker for a bargain. As long as you aren’t dreaming of a wedding ala Christina Aguilera, you should be able to score some really great deals everywhere from bridal shops and party stores to gift stores, departments stores, even grocery stores, and of course, online merchants.
Keep your eyes peeled for sales and don’t be averse to taking a road trip now and again. You might just find the wedding dress of your dreams at an über discount. It happened to me! I was too lazy to walk upstairs to dig through my mail pile to find a flyer for a local bridal shop that was going out of business, so I searched for it on the computer. Instead, I came up with a bridal shop going out of business in Maryland, about three hours away. My mom and I made the drive, and the last dress I tried on was “the one.” I got a designer gown that I wouldn’t otherwise have considered at a discount of 1/3 off the price.
Tip #2: If timing is an issue, ask for a flexible payment schedule.
I feel your pain. I need an $800 deposit for this, a $1000 deposit for that, just put $1500 on the credit card, and within three weeks, voila, my bank account is the lowest it’s been in four years. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Most of the vendors and reception sites require the deposits in order to protect themselves.
When a photographer or videographer, a dj, or a caterer books with you, many times they are cutting off all other prospects and ties to that date. Once you provide the initial deposit to secure the service, the vendor should be sympathetic to your financial situation, and most times they are willing to work out a special payment plan.
Tip #3: Don’t be shy. Ask for discounts.
If you’ve ever been to an auction, a flea market, or a community market in a vacation destination area, you might have some experience with haggling. Even if you don’t know the first thing about it, now is the perfect time to learn.
I expressed my financial concerns to my photographer, a highly skilled professional whom I chose despite his higher price tag. After a few days without a response, I soon received an email with him presenting us with a free engagement photo session, valued at $400.
Tip #4: Play the vendors against each other, gently.
If Reception Hall A offers you a discount, but you like Reception Hall B considerably better, speak up. Tell the banquet manager or wedding coordinator of your preferred reception hall that you’ve been offered a discount of x% (in my case it was 10%), and that you’d really like to book with her, but your budget dictates your options.
Chances are, if you are booking a wedding within the same calendar year, you might just be able to get that discount and get the reception hall you like best. If you are planning your wedding for a little further out, you may not have the same leverage, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. The costs of the food and banquet services are so inflated that any given reception hall should be able to offer you some sort of incentive, no matter when your wedding is.
Tip #5: Collect coupons. Collect wedding magazines because they contain coupons.
So far I’ve seen everything from 25% off your total wedding purchase at a craft store to free gifts and more. These coupons do add up. Buy the Sunday paper each week and you’ll find even more coupons. (Hey, if you save on your groceries, you’ll save even more money!)
The more coupons you use, the more money you save. The more money you save, the nicer your reception can be while spending even less than you intended.
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Take my tips or leave them. I hope that something you’ve read here helps you to save yourself or your family some money. I’m still learning the ins and outs of this wedding planning myself, but I have to admit, it feels really great to save a buck or two here or there. Plan your budget and hang tough. Find savings wherever and whenever you can. You will make it through and you’ll cherish every moment of your special day.
No matter where you cut the corners or how much money you spend in the end, your wedding day will be absolutely unforgettable as you take those meaningful steps toward the love of your life.