The road between engagement and "I do" is paved with as much effort and expense as your time and budget allow. Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated wedding planners on how couples can save money.
Angie's List: Budget-friendly wedding tips
- Guest list: If you haven't seen someone, even a relative, in more than a year, consider whether you must extend an invitation. At $100 a person, taking 10 guests off the list saves $1,000.
- Wedding date: Pick a day other than Saturday. For example, Friday or Sunday food and beverage minimums are considerably less. If planning a destination wedding, consider marrying on a Wednesday or Thursday.
- Venue: Have the wedding at a location that has a caterer, chairs, tables, silverware, glassware and table linens. If you rent a space and have to bring in everything, it can add up quickly.
- Wedding dress: Consignment boutiques and department stores may offer deeply discounted dresses. Don't be afraid to ask to see samples that have been in inventory for a long time. If you find one you like, ask for the best price.
- Men's outfits: Forgo tuxedos in favor of similarly colored suits or themed outfits.
- Favors: They're not necessary, and in most cases are tossed out at the end of the night.
- Flowers: Pick flowers that are in season with your wedding. Choose blooms that are open and fuller; this will cut down on the amount needed. Re-use ceremony flowers at the reception. Large dramatic centerpieces can cost $500 or more; consider varying centerpieces, such as florals for a third of the tables, candles for another third and a smaller combination of flowers and candles for those remaining.
- Cake: Wedding cakes can range from multi-tiered fantasy confections to iced Styrofoam imposters that look great but save money when guests are served less-pricier slices out of the reception hall kitchen. Cupcakes are a popular option, as well, and can be arranged in towers.
- Food & drink: Provide one main entrée rather than multiple choices. Offer two or three hors d'oeuvres, rather than five or seven. Offer a plated meal rather than a buffet, which can cost more per person because the caterer may fear running out of food. Provide beer kegs rather than individual bottles. A $350 keg provides about 160 glasses, compared to $815 for 160 bottles.
- Go with a pro. Consider hiring a professional wedding planner. They typically know the best professionals for the budget and will negotiate discounts or complimentary upgrades.
Here are four reasons why engaging a pro might be a good idea:
- Experience. There are many details to iron out before you walk down the aisle, from picking a venue to getting a marriage license. A wedding planner has been through the process and can guide you, step by step, so your big day is the one you've always imagined.
- Staying on budget. After an initial consultation with your wedding planner, he or she will map out a plan to keep the event at the price you set. The planner will find vendors to meet your price point and help with negotiating.
- Vendor relationships. Good wedding planners typically have a lineup of quality, reliable vendors they use regularly. Considering these vendors, along with checking reviews on Angie's List, will give you peace of mind.
- Stress reduction. Taking the leap into matrimony is a life-changing event in itself. A good wedding planner will confirm that all vendors are ready for the day, and will handle any surprises, so you can focus on the big day.
Angie's List Tips: How to hire a wedding planner
- Whether a wedding is planned to be a modest ceremony or a big-budget blow-out, a professional planner's main job is to sweat the small stuff so you and your family don't have to.
- How soon? Consider hiring a wedding planner at least nine months to a year before the big day.
- How much? There are planners who cater to couples on all budgets in needs of various services. Most prices start around $1,000. Be aware that fees can vary greatly, from a percentage of the total wedding cost, to an hourly rate, to "day-of" or "month-of" fees. Also, expect that after your first planning session, you'll be asked to meet again at crucial points, such as for purchase and approval times, the rehearsal and, of course, the wedding day.
- Do your homework: Be sure the person you hire is a good communicator and has a personality and style that match with yours. Be honest about what you can spend, and set realistic goals.
- Read the contract: Have a contract that covers all details so there's no room for misunderstandings. Read all of your wedding vendor contracts carefully. Angie's List is hearing about contract provisions that prohibit consumer from posting online reviews unless they're positive. All any service company has to do to avoid bad reviews is deliver good service. If you find this kind of gag order language in a contract, just end the relationship right then. No one has the right to take away your right to free expression.
There are a lot of things you need to do before the big day arrives. Check out the Angie's List 12 month wedding checklist.