Stress Free Wedding Planning on a Budget
Preparing for the Big Day
It could be argued that your wedding is one of the biggest days, if not the biggest day of your life, so of course people want to make sure it's as perfect and special as possible! As you can imagine, this could end up costing you a pretty penny. Aside from the financial stressors, all the planning and small details can easily pile up and become a source of tension, especially when circumstances beyond your control are thrown into the mix such as, you know, a global pandemic.
The good news is that we’re here to help you get all the details in order, well, the ones that you do have a say in! Read on to find out how you can successfully plan your unforgettable day without losing your mind nor emptying your bank account.
Figure Out Your Budget and Guest Count
Before diving into any wedding planning, you’ll need to figure out what kind of wedding you’re envisioning, how many people you’d like to invite, as well as how much others can help financially.
Determining how much you'll be spending, and how much your families will contribute, can make for an awkward conversation. Way back when, it used to be common for the bride's family to pick up the tab, but now-a-days, it's common for the groom's family to help or for the newlywed couple to handle all expenses on their own.
Figuring out where you stand in terms of budget and guest count is mostly dependent
on what kind of wedding you're aspiring for. If you'd like a simple, more intimate wedding in your backyard, the budget is probably going to be a lot less than if you opt for a larger, more extravagant wedding at a fancy venue with a large guest list.
When determining your budget, you'll need to take into consideration the cost per head for plates and liquor. Furthermore, the guest list count will affect other details like décor, stationary, and favors you'll need depending on the number of people in attendance.
Websites like Zola include an online suite of planning tools that allow the site to serve as a virtual wedding planner! With this, you can customize and track your guest list.
If hosting guests at a venue seems a bit overwhelming for you, you can consider streaming your wedding via Zoom instead. This will allow your loved ones to share in your special day and witness this beautiful memory without needing to be present in-person.
This became an especially popular option this past year due to COVID-19 and engaged couples wanting to ensure their guests' health, safety, and comfortability. Do know that streaming your wedding via Zoom will require a decent Internet speed so viewers don't have to deal with any lag issues or risks of losing connection. If you decide to explore this option, consider upgrading your Internet or having your venue do so! Your virtual guests will appreciate it.
Save Some Paper!
With social media and texting, it's so easy to keep people in the loop about upcoming events! Use this to your advantage instead of sending out Save the Dates. Chances are, a lot of them will end up lost or thrown out, as people usually end up adding these dates to their iPhone or personal calendars, anyway.
Instead of sending Save the Dates, put that money aside towards your actual invitations and let your family and friends know ahead of time via text or Facebook that your big day is coming up in a few short months!
If you want to help the environment (and your wallet!) and save a bit more paper, forfeit the RSVP cards and make a wedding website instead! You can create one on sites like The Knot and allow your guests to RSVP directly on there.
Cut Costs on Food and Decorations
Regardless of how large or small your wedding is, there are several steps you can take to reduce the costs on décor, food, and liquor, significantly.
As far as décor goes, you can take on your own DIY projects by putting together your centerpieces, such as pretty vases with flowers (synthetic ones as a more affordable alternative) or consider using candles or pictures of you and your beau to place at each table. You can also use these ideas to decorate the rest of the room!
You can buy beautiful, synthetic flowers on sites like Afloral and The Brides Bouquet.
The cost per head can add up quickly from food and booze, so we've got a few ideas on how to reign them back in. When it comes to food, you can price out several catering halls to get the best bang for your buck. An even more frugal alternative is to make some of the food on your own, have loved ones' help, make the day into a fun pot luck, or opt for food trucks, pizzas on the beach or in the backyard, or a buffet style event.
For hiring a food truck, you'll have to search for local ones in your area. WeddingWire has an article about some of the best ones throughout various U.S. States!
Now, let's address liquor! The most affordable option is to cut out liquor altogether. If this isn't a favorable option for you and you want to include it, you can choose a cash bar, cut out some of the premium liquors, or choose beer and wine only.
If you would rather have an impressive variety that boasts expensive liquor bottles like Grey Goose, Patron and the like, but don't want to pay a ton per head, you have another option! Inquire with the venue about whether you can supply your own liquor. Do know that some venues will not allow this, but there are some that will. The benefit of doing so is that you can pick and choose which bottles you want the bar to be stocked with and you can keep whatever is left afterwards.
Get Creative with the Desserts
As you probably could've guessed, wedding cakes can cost a fortune! Not to mention, some people might not be a fan of the flavor you choose, and some people might not like cake at all. For this reason, we suggest maybe incorporating other desserts that are more affordable, and perhaps more likely to be crowd favorites!
When it comes to desserts, you have so many options! You can have a table that incorporates a variety of different cakes, cookies, brownies, or even include an ice-cream bar. And if you're keen on cutting costs, you can include some of your own baked goods! If you're not exactly Betty Crocker, ask for a bit of help from family and friends who have a knack for baking and won't mind lending a helping hand!
Be Flexible About the Date and Time
Weddings are always costly, but more so during peak season such as July-September. As far as dates and times go, people usually prefer a wedding Saturday night so their guests don't have to worry about rushing over from work or having to wake up early the next day. If you want to bring down costs a bit, be open to having your wedding during off season, on a weekday, or opting for a Friday night or Sunday. If you're concerned about guests not wanting to party Sunday night before work, you can even choose an earlier time that allows for brunch or lunch instead of dinner. This should bring the costs of plates down too, especially if it's buffet style!
Find Your Venue
The price of the venue varies significantly depending on the size and the location. As you may have expected, having your wedding in a big city like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles can cause the price to skyrocket as opposed to a small, remote town. Having your wedding in a large ballroom or at a fancy establishment will also run the wedding bill up greatly.
If you're not heart-set on celebrating your big day at a luxurious place, you can choose somewhere smaller and/or choose a venue in a more remote area. If your guest list is small enough, you can even consider hosting the ceremony and reception at a restaurant.
Now, if you want to cut costs tremendously, you can choose a place that’s very affordable, even free, such as someone’s backyard or at a local park where you’ll only be responsible for paying fees mandated by the state.
If you’re interested in using a venue for the day, you can check out local ones and their reviews on WeddingWire or VenueReport.
Choose an Officiant
Believe it or not, getting an officiant for the big day can be pretty pricey. Hiring someone typically costs a few hundred dollars. If you want to forfeit this cost, you can have a family member or friend serve as the officiant instead.
Not only is this option more affordable, but this person most likely knows you and your partner better and can make the ceremony a bit more personal than a stranger would be able to. You also may have an easier time communicating what you are and aren't comfortable with, as well as what marriage traditions or rituals you'd like add into the ceremony.
Be Conscious of Party Favors
Party favors are a fun addition to parties and it shows that you appreciate the guests' attendance. Unfortunately, they often get left behind because people forget to bring them home, or they're just not things that the guests really need.
If you want to keep your budget down, you can consider forfeiting the party favors all together. If you're not comfortable with cutting out party favors, you can offer gifts for each couple, as well as to singles that are also in attendance. You can choose something that would be useful for their homes such as cup holders and wine openers.
If that doesn't tickle your fancy, you can choose something edible that you know guests will probably eat. If you choose to have pastries and cookies on your dessert table, you can have personalized goody bags set aside for the guests to take some desserts home. This will allow you to combine the costs of your dessert and your giveaways together!
Bride and Groom Gifts
You'll find that the bride and groom usually exchange gifts on the big day. If there are no materialistic items that either of you want or need, discuss something more useful that the money can go towards.
For example, if you have been paying rent for an apartment and hoping to upgrade to a house, you can place the money you would've used for gifts towards a down payment or for utilities you'll need once you make the big move (Hello, Cable and Internet!). Unless you're both very generous gift givers, this most likely won't cover your down payment or electricity bills but you can set aside monetary gifts you've received at your wedding towards these things also! You'll find more of Optimum's moving tips here.
Happy Wedding Planning!
We hope these ideas are a big help to you while planning your wedding day! This is arguably the biggest day if your life and we want it to be as fun and stress-free as it could possibly be. Optimum wishes you all the best on your special day.