If I’ve learned anything from planning my wedding, it’s that weddings are expensive. Want a box to put your cards in? $50. A cute flower girl basket? $40. My budget isn’t big and my last name isn’t Hilton, so I quickly realized that if I wanted the wedding I envisioned I needed to cut some serious corners. The problem though is that I don’t want to cut corners. I want an extravagant Cinderella affair on a shoestring budget! So, I had to find a way to cut corners but make it virtually invisible – quite the tall order! Keep reading for the 5 tricks I’m using to stay under budget.
Be strategic about your food
We want our guests to be well fed throughout the night but one of the most expensive parts of our catering was offering multiple entrees. To make it so everyone had a choice of two entrees we would have to pay an extra $8.99 per person. Though that doesn’t sound like a lot, even at a wedding with 50 people that’s an extra $500. Instead, we are giving all our guests the ability to choose their entree when they RSVP, avoiding the extra $8.99. This allows us to give our caterer exact numbers of how much of each entree to make, keeping our costs low because no food is wasted. We used some of our savings to add two extra sides which cost us $2 per person for a total of $100.
Total Savings: $600+
Keep the guest list small
The easiest way we’ve been able to cut costs is to have a limited guest list. We’re inviting around 120 people but are really only expecting around 50-60 since the bulk of our guests are out of the country. At first we were tempted to invite everyone we know, but after giving it a little thought we decided to just invite our close friends and family. As a rule of thumb if we aren’t willing to take that person out to a $100 dinner then they aren’t getting an invite. Putting it in terms of how much each person would cost us individually gave us a clear metric to evaluate how important it was to include certain people. Using this method helped us leave off quite a few friends from high school we’ve fallen out of touch with as well as co-workers we aren’t particularly close with. It might be tempting to ‘make numbers’ but if you’re working with a small budget keeping the guest list small is the number one way to keep costs down.
Total Savings: Each guest is costing us around $150 per person including food, gifts, drinks, etc. Cutting just 50 guests saved us $7,500
Aside from keeping stress down, planning early has the advantage of helping you save some serious cash. Once I had compiled a list of the items I needed to buy I created an excel list with links to various stores that sold what I needed. I signed up to be on alllll the email lists (yuck, I know) and reviewed them every day to see if anything I needed on my list was on sale. By knowing exactly what I needed and how much I was willing to pay, planning early allowed me to buy everything on sale. For example, I got my chargers which were usually $2.50 per piece for less than $1 each. What would have normally cost me $188 ended up costing me $74.25. Since I bought the chargers instead of renting them, I’ll also be able to resell them for $1 each, making them absolutely free! Had I not planned early and meticulously shopped the sales, I may have had to rent them from my caterer, who charges $1 per guest.
Total Savings: $500+. Between chargers and reception decorations I haven’t bought anything for less than 50% off.
Filler flowers are your friend
Going into my planning I knew I wanted a lot of flowers everywhere. I also knew my floral budget was a meager $400. I got a quote from a variety of florists and the cheapest one was $4000. Four. Thousand. Dollars. It took a lot out of me to not anxiety-puke everywhere. When it was clear I wasn’t going to be able to afford a florist, I knew I had to get creative. My flowers are being arranged by yours truly two days before and being bought in bulk at Sam’s club. To really stretch the flower budget I’m mixing real flowers with natural touch flowers. Natural touch flowers are flowers made from silicone that look and feel like real flowers. From a distance, it’s impossible to tell that they aren’t real. I spent $150 on my natural touch flowers and plan on reselling them for $100 since they’re white and could be used for a variety of other projects. Real flowers are costing me $300 so while I am $50 over my $400 budget, I will actually only have spent $350 once I sell my natural touch flowers. By using artificial flowers as fillers, my $450 are buying me 7 centerpieces, a bridal bouquet, 6 bridesmaids bouquets, a floral arrangement for the bar, and a small arrangement for our sweetheart table.
Total Savings: $3,500.
This might be a bit gauche for the super formal crowd, but we actually cut a bunch of money by not having bulky RSVP cards in our invitations. Between the extra weight of a card and envelope stuck inside the invitation and the cost of adding postage to all the RSVPs, we saved over $100 by having an online RSVP form on our wedding website. As an added bonus, since everything is digital it’s much easier to keep track of RSVPs since everything can be exported into a list with the click of a button. We haven’t sent our invites out yet, but I suspect our online RSVP will also get a much better response since it doesn’t require any effort from the guest’s end to respond.
Total Savings: $100 by not having an RSVP card that needed to be mailed back.
These 5 tips alone were able to save us $12,200! What are your tips on saving cash on your wedding? Let me know in the comments below!