Wedding costs are skyrocketing: the national average is $26,444—that may seem like the cost of a new hybrid vehicle, but there are often a lot of items on the “Wish List” (or Pinterest Board) and those wishes and pins add up quickly!
To make life a little easier, we’ve created a cheat sheet of the top 7 ways to help you create your dream wedding without breaking the bank.
Weddings range from the “sky is the limit” high end events to the more budget-friendly trip to the court house window for a quick exchange of “I do’s.” However, most weddings fall somewhere in between and it can be a figurative maze trying to navigate what best fits your taste, your style, and often most importantly, your budget!
1. Your Wedding Dress – SAVE!!
In terms of wedding costs, what you pay for your dress can be all over the map.
When I was shopping for my wedding dress, I wanted something classic and beautiful. But mostly, I wanted a dress I wouldn’t look back on in 20 years and say “What was I thinking?!”
After searching the internet high and low for the styles I liked, the true test came when I went to an actual gown shop (don’t forget to make an appointment – most shops are by appointment only!). I tried on “all the latest styles” and found many were built for a woman with a passion for Pilates and coming in at about a foot taller than myself. With disappointment on the horizon, I perused the sale rack as a last ditch effort with my mom coaxing me to try on a dress I knew I wouldn’t like. Once on, I saw it had all the beading I wanted, the lace, the vintage feel was everywhere.
But it was about 4 sizes too big, way too long, and had a halter top which was a little less than flattering. We spoke to the Alterations Queen and after addressing some of my concerns, she said a revamp would be no problem. She was able to cut the straps of the halter top, turn the straight neckline into a sweetheart neckline, she removed some of the length from the lace skirt to help it fit my frame and made cap sleeves from the extra lace. After all was said and done, it looked like a completely different dress. But the best part was the final sale of the dress: $495 INCLUDING the alterations. It is incredible what you can do with a talented seamstress and a great imagination.
MAGICAL WEDDING GOWNS FROM EVER AFTER BRIDAL
Around the World in 25 Wedding Dresses
2. The Wedding Venue – SAVE!!
Do you or someone in your close family & friends have an amazing piece of property? Put it to use! With venue rentals ranging from $1500 to over $15000 and sometimes being the highest of all the wedding costs, this is an amazing budget saver for any wedding.
We held our wedding in a friend’s over-sized backyard. After stringing up party lights across the dance floor, hanging battery operated chandeliers from the trees, and the white linen tables for the guests, the space was breath taking and a bit of a step up from the classic BBQ’s the backyard had seen in the past. And with all the blooming nature surrounding us, we were able to save HUGE on the florist budget!
Handcrafted Orchard Ranch Wedding
3. Wedding Restrooms – SPLURGE!!
This is typically the last item on anyone’s radar. Everyone needs to use the restroom at some point and if you are in a friend’s backyard they may not want anyone coming in and out of their house—or worse, they could be on septic (if it’s a big rural space, chances are it will be on a septic system)—which really puts a kink in the bathroom works. Plan ahead and bring in extra restrooms.
People—for the most part—will sort of remember your dress, they will recall pieces of the ceremony, they’re likely to remember the meal, and they will absolutely remember if they had to use a port-a-potty or not. Skip the port-a-potty!! Do not let your dream wedding be brought down by a trip to the blue plastic box.
At Luxury Restroom Trailers, we have forever solved the dreaded port-a-potty adventure for a black tie event. With heating, air conditioning, sound system, dimming lights, full vanity, faux hardwood flooring, this will not only be a hit with all the guests, it becomes a party destination in itself. Instead of whispers of, “Ew, have you seen the bathrooms?” you will hear exclamations of “Have you seen the bathrooms yet? You have to go now – they are amazing!”
Check All of the restroom options at Luxury Restroom Trailers by Privy Chambers
4. Your Guest List – SPLURGE!!
Always splurge on the guest list! Sure, it will add to the wedding costs, but you never know when those second cousins from Texas are actually going to show, and you want to make sure you invite the old friends from high school, plus the new friends from work. And the last thing you want is worrying about how so-and-so didn’t get an invitation.
This day is supposed to be a celebration of your love and commitment, and you want the ones that helped you get to this place with you while you celebrate. My mother’s side of the immediate family has over 65 individuals including her brothers and sisters, their husbands and wives, and their children…And that doesn’t include my husband’s side of the family or any of our friends…Insane! So, saving in other ways was very important to us, so we could have all the guests there that we wanted.
A Timeline for All of Your Wedding Stationery Needs
5. Catering for the Wedding – SAVE!!
Every great party needs incredible food! What most people don’t tell you when you’re planning a wedding is that YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT! It’s your party and you can plan it however you like (within in reason, of course). We planned a sit-down dinner catered by one of our favorite restaurants. If I had it to do over again, I would probably still get the same food but I would nix the sit down dinner part. With over 200 guests (aye aye aye), there were so many faces to see and talk to—some were family I had not seen in a while, and some were my best friends I just wanted to spend all my time with.
To avoid the time commitment of a sit down dinner, I would have swapped out the dinner plate for hors d’oeuvres sized portions of all the dinner choices. That way people could still get in a full meal, but the atmosphere would have been more causal, we could have walked around more and talked to all the folks we were so happy to see!
6. Your Photographer – SPLURGE!!
The wedding photos are the best source of memories from the day. Everything happens so fast, most of the time you don’t even have time to eat, let alone finding a quiet moment to take it all in.
Make sure you are comfortable with your photographer. My husband and I can be a bit awkward when the cameras come out, so having someone we were comfortable with was crucial. Every now and then we thought we were doing our “super nice wedding smile”, when in reality we looked like trolls under a bridge with some goofy grin we had never tried on before going full frame with it. It was great having someone who was able to say “…maybe try a different smile…this one isn’t quite fitting…”.
But trust me, some of the troll photos are some of my favorite! It captured the craziness of the day and were great for a laugh!
Finding Your Perfect Photographer From a Planner’s Perspective
7. The Wedding Décor – SAVE & SPLURGE
If you are crafty and have the time, you can make almost anything yourself. My mother and I kept Michael’s Craft Store in business during the lead up to our wedding and hand crafted nearly everything that wasn’t already growing in the backyard.
We had big round tables with white linens, hand-sewn burlap runners made by my mother-in-law, and handmade centerpieces with a “vintage museum” feel with glass domes containing handmade aged scrolls, mossy rocks, and battery-operated candles for a night time glow. We even put together handmade LED twig chandeliers hanging from the trees; they’re still a hit to this day on Pinterest!
We really went above and beyond in the crafty department. Here are some things I would have changed:
I would have rented more items. We purchased EVERYTHING for the centerpieces…now…five years later, I still have all of those centerpieces packed in boxes taking up valuable storage space. Décor companies have so much to offer; they are a fantastic option for renting anything from a fork to a faux boxwood wall. Check out their catalogs and see what works best for your design – Maybe buy one of two centerpieces and rent the rest – save the closet space!
Beyond just renting things, I think I would have opted for more causal seating.
Looking back on it now, I would also have chosen different furniture: rather than tables and chairs for every guest, I would have gone with a more causal lounge atmosphere featuring over-stuffed couches and alternative seating choices. All of which would have gone perfectly with an hors d’oeuvre menu and casual conversation hamlets throughout the evening.
Your wedding is an event you and your guests will remember for a lifetime, but few us can simply afford to ignore wedding costs. Our experience—and we’ve seen hundreds of weddings—has taught us that there places you can can save, and those where you shouldn’t.