By now, you’ve probably realized that weddings can be expensive. But with a little bit of know-how and some smart insider tips, you can easily save hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars. This doesn’t mean sacrificing everything you want (yes, you can still have fancy-looking invitations, terrific food and lush florals!), but making small, savvy tradeoffs that will keep your wedding looking luxe without blowing your budget. Keep reading for 12 easy ways to save money when planning your big day and still have the wedding of your dreams.
1. Book at an off-peak time.
Many wedding sites—including RiverCrest—offer incentives for booking an off-peak date (like Sunday nights, for instance, or months like February and March when the weather can be iffy). Be sure to ask about any deals your venue might be offering.
2. Read the fine print.
Check to see what’s included in your venue’s site fees. An all-inclusive place (especially one that includes an on-site ceremony location) can add up to major cost-savings. Throwing a wedding at a spot that doesn’t typically host weddings (like a barn) seems romantic and cost-effective—until you factor in the cost of renting everything from chairs to Porta Potties.
3. Choose thermography instead of engraving.
Thermography—a heat-based printing process—lends invitations the same elegant, formal feel as engraving (raised ink), but without the steep price tag.
4. Borrow your bling.
At sites like Adorn and Haute Vault, you can rent luxury jewelry for a relatively small fee. For example: at Adorn, you can borrow a pair of diamond drop earrings for $160. (Actual retail price? Nearly $11,000!)
5. Host your ceremony and reception at the same place.
This cuts out the need for additional transportation between venues, which can save you serious cash—and time.
6. Make it a buffet.
Generally speaking, buffets are less expensive than a seated dinner—and guests will be happy for the opportunity to go back for seconds.
7. Limit the liquor.
To really trim your costs, serve signature mixed drinks during the cocktail hour and beer and wine during the rest of the reception. Guests get the best of both worlds, and you save on a hefty bar tab.
8. Skip the top-shelf.
If you’re set on serving liquor all night, then consider swapping top-shelf options for more basic spirits or “middle-shelf” picks. Your guests won’t mind ditching the Grey Goose for a night—promise.
9. Go naked.
Naked cakes—cakes with minimal outer frosting or totally bare tiers—are having a moment, and for good reason: The refreshingly laidback look is beautiful, and it’s actually cheaper than paying for a heavy slathering of buttercream or fondant. Win-win!
10. Book student musicians.
Looking for a string quartet for your cocktail hour? Instead of bee-lining straight for the pros, look at local colleges for talented, up-and-coming musicians who often play for lower rates that their more seasoned counterparts.
11. Repurpose décor throughout the day.
Let ceremony decor do double duty as decor for your reception, lounge or bar area, and utilize bridesmaid bouquets as additional decor for tablescapes.
12. Choose flowers that are in season and grown locally.
This cuts down on shipping fees, which can render some flowers prohibitively expensive. And talk to your florist about sprinkling in a few fuller, big-headed blooms—like peonies or hydrangeas—in centerpieces and bouquets. They might be a bit more expensive than other stems, but they pack a big punch even in small quantities, so you can make a statement without breaking the bank.