If you’re planning a wedding and you’re concerned about your wedding budget, there are several ways to save. The keys to successfully planning a budget-conscious wedding are having the abilities to be creative, flexible, and opportunistic dj-jan.
Think of this scenario: You wake up in the middle of the night with a craving for ice cream. All grocery stores are closed, so you run through the options in your head. You can go to the all-night convenience store or coffee shop and pay a premium price for this craving or you can settle for the granola bar in the back of your pantry. Then the thought occurs that you could have planned ahead while grocery shopping earlier that week and had your ice cream at a fair price. The same shopping options exist for every part of your wedding. Do you pay premium prices? Do you plan ahead? Or do you simply do without? There are no wrong answers, but planning ahead can almost always offer the most bang for the bucks.
The key trick in saving money for your wedding is flexibility. Think about your wedding date. It’s probably a mild Saturday evening in late Spring or early Fall. I’m no Nostradamus, it’s just a fact that the vast majority of couples choose the same dates for their weddings. You can slash your overall wedding costs significantly by changing your wedding date away from Saturday evenings in May, June, September, or October. Go crazy and avoid Saturdays altogether and have a raging Friday night wedding or a relaxing Sunday afternoon wedding. You might not think these date/time adjustments matter, but vendors’ schedules are much less likely to be full on a Sunday afternoon in August or a Friday night in March. This availability can translate into staggering deals if you shop around. I’ve seen $10,000-$15,000 weddings (combined vendor cost) reduced to $2,000-$3,000 with every component of the wedding staying exactly the same, including the venue. The difference? An 11am ceremony time on a Saturday in June versus a 5pm wedding the EXACT SAME DAY. An unexpected perk to avoiding Saturday evenings goes to your guests who can now plan a weekend after your Friday night bash or before the Sunday nuptials. That Saturday night wedding breaks everyone’s weekend in half. Having schedule flexibility is huge for all vendors, but specific savings can also be found for each part of your big day.
Wedding venues: The venue is usually the costliest of the wedding investments, but that only means it is also the biggest opportunity to save money. If you want elegance, maybe avoid the country clubs and golf courses and find a shady park or beach and spend a fraction of your budget on elegant tables, string lighting, and candle-lit centerpieces. If you’re quirky and fun, bypass a regular venue and rent an old theater or local art gallery. Think outside the box. Depending on the size of your guest list, you can find venues that aren’t considered traditional, but will more than fit your needs. Private residences and local restaurants might fit your needs perfectly. With any non-traditional venue, be sure to get all the details. Some places may require additional insurance or have restrictions on attendance, food/drink, etc, so be sure to be thorough in your interviews. If you are looking for a traditional venue, many times finding a location that can host both the wedding and reception is ideal. For both convenience and cost, this option almost always is preferable to separate locations. If you opt for a church wedding, keep in mind that some churches offer weddings a low or even no cost. Call around and you might find a great deal
Caterer: The ideal way to cut food/drink costs is to time your wedding between traditional meal times. Having a 11am or 2pm wedding allows you to escape providing full meals and instead serve small appetizers, sandwiches, desserts, etc. If you opt for this cost-cutting schedule choice, be sure to indicate to guests when type of food/refreshments will be served. Most people will grab a bite to eat before or after the wedding if they know in advance that only snacks will be available at the wedding. If you must serve food, shop around. Some venues require you to use their preferred caterers, so know this in advance. Sample each caterer’s menus and ask them how savings can be found. Many times a limited menu with more appetizer options works well. If you decide to serve a meal, buffet style usually costs less than plated meals. And keep this question in mind: How was the food at the last wedding you attended? Most people don’t remember. Find a balance between quality, service, and price.
Cake: There are reality TV shows dedicated to cakes. Amazing, beautiful cakes are everywhere. Now for the life-changing reality: Its still just dessert. I know, that sounds harsh and emotionless. But its sugar and eggs and flour, and you’re in a market than can charge thousands of dollars for a, yes, dessert. Think about your reasoning behind the cake. Its fun and you want photos of the cake-cutting and subsequent cake-smashing. You can accomplish the same thing with a small but still elegant cake. The photos look the same, and the crowd still gathers around. And when the smashed cake is wiped from the groom’s face, all the guests are served cute little wedding cupcakes or pieces of sheet cake that have been cut and are ready to serve immediately. Buy a pretty little cake for the two of you, or for the bridal party, and ask your baker to make a sheet cake or two, or cupcakes, of the same flavor as yours. Everyone enjoys the cake and you enjoy cutting your cake budget by 50% or more.
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