Today we have a guest post from Katie. She’s getting married this year and is the owner of Venues and Vows, a venue rental company for all things wedding. As a wedding professional, today she’s sharing her tips on how to save money on wedding costs across the board!
Weddings Are Expensive
This year TheKnot.com came out with their bi-annual survey revealing the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. The 2016 average came out to an eye-bleeding $35,543. It’s important to note that they did *not* include wedding rings, the engagement ring or catering costs. While the rings may not be as important, I’m assuming your guests probably want to eat.
If you add in the cost of food and drinks for 100 guests, that total rockets up to $42,643! This was not great news for me as I got engaged over Memorial Day in 2017 and the thought of spending that kind of money was nauseating.
Determined to save money on wedding costs, I became a wedding research ninja, comparing/contrasting options and defining what we really care about vs. what we couldn’t care less about. For us, the venue and the experience we can have there is of utmost importance, so I broke it down like this:
|High Importance||Low Importance|
Knowing what we did and didn’t care about shaped our approach to planning the wedding. Sticking to our value system has been so key! Here are some specific ways I’ve found to save money on wedding costs.
I just don’t care about invitations and I’m fairly certain most people don’t hold onto paper invitations. Instead, I decided to use a Google Form that asked if they are attending, when they’d be arriving, and any food allergies they have.
My Mom was not pleased with my approach because she felt strongly that invitations were important. To appease her, I ordered 25 invitations and RSVP cards for those members of our families that are a bit older and may, or may not be accustomed to filling out a Google form.
I ordered from Minted.com and was able to get something I really liked. I also took advantage of a random sale they had which reduced the price by about 15%. If you sign up for their emails, you will eventually get a coupon.
The Knot’s Average Cost: $462
My Cost: $220
Savings: $242, ~50%
The reception venue is a high-ticket item coming in at an average of $16,107. However, if you add up the ceremony venue as well as the rehearsal dinner, you’ve got three different venues that add up to $19,672!?!
An ideal way to save is by using an alternative venue instead of a hotel or golf/country club. Some people use their local park, an art museum/gallery, or their favorite restaurant.
We opted for a place from Venues & Vows that allows us to have our rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception all in one place. We’re also staying at the property so we don’t have to not rush in and out of the venue in 6 hours (we get it for three days!). Our wedding party will be staying at the property with us instead of staying at a hotel (and able to help out!).
The Knot’s Average Venue Cost/s: $19,672
My Cost: $3,000
Venue Savings: $16,672, 85% cheaper
Since we’re having our wedding at a private vineyard, we’re not confined to using any particular bartender or alcohol. That means we are going to save a TON of money on alcohol. When we looked into using a bartender and their alcohol, the bottles of wine were marked up from $15/bottle to $38/bottle. Call me crazy but…I think I’ll just buy direct from a distributor.
I also recently found this super helpful “wedding alcohol calculator” that helps us estimate how much we’ll need for the guests we are having.
The Knot didn’t have an average for alcohol and bartenders but according to Wedding Cost Helper, the average spend is approximately: $5600
My Cost: $2800
Alcohol Savings: $2800, 50% cheaper
I love sugar. I wish I was one of those people that love salt, but I’m just not. Once, I tried a 21-day sugar detox once and devoured figs and raspberries to get as much “natural” sugar into my system as humanly possible.
However, I don’t love cake. We’ve opted for a smorgasbord of cookies, pies, cake pops, and what I consider a “ceremony” cake. My fiancee and I will eat a bite of cake (and save/freeze two slices for our one-year anniversary because I’m uber superstitious!)…and then pig out on coconut cream pie.
The Knot’s Average Wedding Cake Cost: $582
My Cost: $225
Dessert Savings: $357, ~60% cheaper
Flowers and Decorations
I completely respect floral design and the amount of time and thought it takes to create magnificent center-pieces, bouquets, and boutonnieres. After I researched the cost of flowers, I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to create the motif I wanted on my budget. I’m also drawn to candlelight, so I’m incorporating that into the design. We’ll have a few bouquets that will double as center-pieces on the tables and then many, many candles.
I also thought about all the weddings I’ve been to over the years and I have absolutely no idea what the tables looked like! Flowers are beautiful, but they aren’t something you or your guest will talk about ten years from now.
The other really fun way to save money is to do a workshop with your bridesmaids/family. The day before our rehearsal dinner, I’m taking my Mom, future Mother-in-law and Stepmom to help me create my bouquets. Working with local florist Mel Frontino and her shop, The Wild Florette, she will be helping me identify the flowers that are in-season, more cost-efficient and that aesthetically fit together. Then, she provides a couple bottles of champagne and a lovely space to create bouquets for our wedding day.
The Knot’s Average Floral and Decorations Cost: $2534
My Cost: $1100 for flowers and $300 for candles and other decorative items
Floral/Decoration Savings: $1134, ~48%
There are many ways to save money on wedding costs: research the different options, ask for favors, get creative! Using the strategy/tactics laid out above, you could save a boatload.
The Knot’s Average Cost for the Above 5 Items: $28,850
My Cost: $6245
Total Savings: $22,605
|Wedding Component||Average Cost for Items from The Knot/Wedding Cost Helper||Cost of Items for Our Wedding|
|Rehearsal Dinner Venue||1378||0|
More Tips to Save Money On Wedding Costs
- Catering: If you’re not going with a traditional caterer, food trucks will save you a ton of money! If you go with a traditional caterer, buffets are the most cost-efficient option.
- Rehearsal Dinner: I was blown away by rehearsal dinner costs. It was way more expensive than The Knot’s average and we didn’t place a high importance on this item. Additionally, our wedding venue is a 12-acre estate that has a beautiful setting; we’re going to have a low-key celebration and make sure everyone is on the same page for the “big day”. I’m very seriously considering ordering pizza or making lasagnas for our rehearsal dinner. Add a case of wine and everyone will be happy 🙂
- Officiants: Our friends are marrying us…who better to do it than someone who has known you for the last 15+ years? It’s FREE!
- Wedding gowns: I didn’t do this but a friend of mine ordered from dhgate.com. Apparently they can create pretty much any gown you want if you provide them with a picture. I looked at the prices and my jaw dropped – check it out!
- Wedding Planners: They’re expensive so it’s understandable if it’s not in the budget (it isn’t for me). However, we do have a Month-Of Planner who is helping to ensure all contracts are signed, payments are received, directions are understood and will be the go-to contact for all vendors on the day of the wedding. They will save your life and your sanity.
- Linens: Don’t spend a lot of money on linens – no one cares (promise). What was the color and fabric of the last cloth napkin you used? Don’t remember, right? Get polyester.