When Jennifer Piercey and her husband Chris Piercey were planning their wedding two years ago, the couple was on a tight budget.
They were paying for the wedding mostly themselves and so needed to be meticulously organized. To avoid going into debt, they started crunching numbers early and vowed to pay for their wedding with cash. This would guarantee no honeymoon regret.
“Like a lot of couples, we were getting married later in life and knew we were going to be paying for it,” said Jennifer. “We had to be realistic with what we could afford, so the wedding wouldn’t stick with us for years.”
The couple did their own planning and managed to stay within budget. Here are some tips:
The Piercey’s wedding was basically credit card free. When the couple first got engaged, they created a budget. To ensure they weren’t relying on credit, they built a kitty and used the cash to pay suppliers.
“It made sure we weren’t tempted to give into the extras,” said Jennifer.
Celebrity wedding planner and host of TLC’s Rich Bride Poor Bride Angelique Sobschak tells all of her clients that weddings aren’t a time to go into debt.
“It’s never worth it to spend more than you can afford,” said Sobschak.
Plan for Everything
When the Piercey’s were making their wedding budget, they planned for everything, down to the bride’s underwear. This level of detail made sure nothing went unbudgeted.
Try Alternate Vendors
There’s no doubt about it that weddings are a business. Vendors often mark up their prices for weddings, knowing most couples will pay the price. To avoid the cost of renting a limo for their big day, the Piercey’s rented their wedding car from a local Hertz. As a result, they pocketed several hundreds of dollars.
Jennifer went to a local dollar store and bought vases that cost a dollar each, and dozens of tea lights. With some creative flair, she made her centerpieces look elegant and stylish. She struck up a deal with a bride-to-be friend, who wanted to use the centerpieces for her upcoming wedding. In the end, they split the $200 cost. The brides sold the centerpieces following both of their big days.
Many couples feel pressure to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts for their guests, on top of an open bar, a meal and a great party. Jennifer and her husband did something different. They made a donation on behalf of their guests to the Heart and Stroke Foundation in memory of Jennifer’s dad, who passed away from heart disease.
“I had been to a lot of weddings, but couldn’t remember what the guest gift was,” said Jennifer. “It made me realize that they aren’t necessary, and this was something we wanted to do to instead.”
Book Off Season
Weddings have a high season and that tends to be the summer with the busiest times between May and October. If you’re not set on a specific time, you can save by booking in November or January, or choosing the mid-week over a weekend.
Many people think they can save money by making their invitations. In a lot of cases, this turns out to be a messy and expensive affair after you factor in the paper, craft tools and your time.
Many wedding planners recommend using a local printer. They often have competitive and surprisingly cheap pricing. In the end, it can save a lot of headache and a well intentioned but potentially tacky arts and crafts project.
Opt For A Brunch
Instead of serving guests dinner, many couples are choosing a brunch. While mimosas are a menu staple, couples can save a bundle on alcohol and food costs. Renting a venue for a morning is usually much cheaper than for an evening reception.
How to Be Kind to Your Guests
Last year Karina Von Stedingk and her boyfriend went to a dozen weddings, two of them out of the country. While the festivities were great, they can be draining on the pocket book.
“People always think about the price of the wedding, but not the price guests pay to attend all of the events leading up to the big day,” said Karina.
To keep your guest’s budget intact, Karina recommends:
• Take the pressure off. Weddings typically have more than one shower, event, or dinner. If your budget is tight, make a commitment to one pre-wedding event, and send regrets for the others.
• Attention brides and grooms: choose affordable venues. For pre-wedding events, couples should consider how much their guests need to pay for dinner or drinks. Choosing to have a potluck or mid afternoon event can cut costs and allow more people to attend.
• Choose your wardrobe carefully. With 12 weddings last year, Karina bought three ‘wedding outfits’ that could be recycled or restyled for the various events. While many people don’t think about this, getting dressed for these events, for both guys and girls, can get expensive. Choose attire that can be versatile. If you’re a guy, choose several ties or accessories that can go with one suit.
Good luck with your planning and budegting!
Elizabeth Johnston, Creative Director