Most wedding planners charge in three ways. First, there is an upfront fee. Then there is a percentage of the total budget. Finally, there is a cut from the vendors for each purchase. Not all charge all three, but if you decide to have a planner, you should know just how they make their money.
For instance, if they get a cut from vendors, they will probably steer you to their favorite and higher priced ones so that they receive higher commissions.
Also, if they take a percentage of the total budget, they will always be looking for ways to increase your spending because that increases their own bottom line.
You might decide that you have enough time to plan the wedding yourself and spare the expense of a wedding planner.
If not, consider using a stay at home mom who wouldn’t mind making some extra money as your planner. Most would be happy to make a few hundred extra dollars. Stay at home moms know how to cut corners. They’ll save you money rather than urge you to spend more. They are also willing to pitch in and make handcrafted wedding favors rather than have you spend the money on professional ones.
The Wedding Dress
In most weddings, the single biggest expense is the wedding dress. I’m not going to tell you to go cheap on this as this tends to be the part of the wedding that the bride is most attached to. But, I will offer suggestions that can save you money if you are open to them.
First of all, if you are size 6, 8, or 10 and live in a big city, try going to the Sample Sales that happen about three times a year. You can often get designer dresses at a fraction of their price.
Another suggestion is to go to BridePower.com where you can get designer dresses at 50 to 75 percent off. Remember to budget for alterations if you take this route.
Then there are vintage wedding dresses. Some brides have their mother’s or sister’s wedding dresses altered. This tradition of “keeping it in the family” can actually enhance the wedding while reducing the bottom line.
If there is no one in the family whose dress you care to wear, you can always buy a used or vintage dress. Some brides aren’t particularly attached to their dresses and are willing to sell them for not much money. Vintage dresses are often inexpensive and add character to a wedding.
Another option is to rent a wedding gown. In many large cities, there are places where you can rent gowns by the week.
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There are several ways to save on wedding cakes.
First of all, if you are having your reception at a hotel, ask them whether they make cakes. Usually they will. They will taste every bit as good as the bakery you’ve got your eyes on and will look good as well. Even if the cost is the same, the hotel has an advantage. Hotels charge a “cutting fee” of $2 to $5 on outside cakes. If you have 200 guests and the cutting fee is $3.50, that’s $700 in addition to the cost of the cake itself.
Next, consider having a smaller cake. If you want a “big” cake, have some of the layers be decorated cardboard boxes. Then, serve your guests from sheet cakes in the back.
When you go to the bakery to inquire about cakes, don’t tell them it is for a wedding upfront. Get them to commit to a price first. Everything related to weddings tends to get a price inflation.
Finally, consider the cupcake cake. These are popular right now and cost significantly less than traditional wedding cakes.
Wedding invitations are quite archaic. They were designed in a time when women left calling cards when they visited neighbors. They were also designed for a time when there wasn’t technology that allowed people to respond in any way other than mail.
So, the components of an invitation include the invitation itself and its envelope plus a reply card and its envelope. There may also be a variety of enclosures.
While you want to have a nice invitation because this will be a keepsake for you and for many others, the other portions of the invitation are no longer necessary.
You’ll save money on the stationary, of course. You will know that right off the bat. But what you may not realize initially is that you are cutting your postage cost by a significant amount. The complicated envelope will fall to under $1 and you won’t have to put return postage on the response envelope (which most people won’t bother to use anyway).
Ask your guests to RSPV by phone, email, or on a dedicated website.
Most brides these days want to balance their dreams of having a “perfect” wedding with their desire to live in balance with the environment. But these don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, when you choose to have an “eco-wedding,” you may actually be able to save quite a bit on the wedding’s bottom line as well.
For instance, when you “think green,” you are going to do some of the things we already talked about like reduce the number of pages in the invitation.
But you’ll also do things like reduce the number of cut flowers decorating the church, choose to give more sensible favors, and cut down on the paper products. You might also serve a vegetarian entry instead of a meat entry both to show your support for ending factory farming and to save money.
In order to avoid looking “cheap,” you need to integrate the environmental philosophy into every aspect of your wedding. From invitations made from recycled paper to carbon offsets for the wedding itself, be consistent about the day.
If you have all of the “things” you need, ask your guests to buy a tree in your name from OxFam or TreeGivers.
Also, consider taking an environmentally friendly honeymoon as well.
Doing these things shows that you care for the earth and that you are not just looking at the bottom line.