This post originally appeared on A Little Happy on Nov 7, 2012
Planning my wedding was an exercise in restraint. Staying on a budget was priority number one. In order to achieve that goal I made a strict list of priorities. The top three were, great venue, great photography, and create a big impact on a small budget (the unofficial theme of this wedding was great deals). We achieved all three and more.
Renting our venue cost us about a third of our budget. But not only was it our dream wedding space, it covered the big impact requirement. We picked Race & Religious a beautiful old New Orleans gem. Tucked away in the lower garden district amid former warehouses, its a jewelbox. My husband and I knew immediately when we walked in that we had to be married there. It captured our style perfectly and we knew it would set the right mood, an intimate celebration that felt like a great party at our own home (if our home were a 200 year old eclectic antebellum showplace). The takeway here is, that you may think that a beautiful historic venue, or even a chic modern space are way out of your budget. But when you consider all the money you can save in decor, if the space speaks for itself, you may find that its more attainable than you think.
Photo by Maile Lani
Documenting the day was very important to me. Before I started working in the wedding industry and planning my own wedding, I never realized how many people try to save money by either not hiring a photographer, or hiring a very inexpensive one. A wedding is over in just a few hours, and after all those months of careful preparations, all that is left is the photographs. Take the time to find a photographer with a large portfolio of photos in a style that you love. And trust me beautiful photos to remember your big day, are far more worth it than 150 engraved trinket boxes that your guest are likely to misplace (but that is just my opinion). We picked Maile Lani, and she did an outstanding job. I look at the pictures all the time, and it always bring a smile to my face.
Photo by Maile Lani
Food and drinks are likely the next biggest item in your budget plan. Think about how many people you plan to invite. Remember that this day is about you and your future spouse. Be thoughtful with the guest list, consult parents and siblings to narrow down to the most important people. If you are paying for your own wedding, remember that you can decide who to invite. If your parents are paying, you’ll likely have to concede to their list. But remember, its still your wedding, so speak up about what you want. You may just find that everyone just wants you to be happy. Save money by serving a limited menu of really good food. Choose local specialities, and have an elegant buffet instead of a plated dinner, which will save you a ton and tends to make for a livelier party. We saved a ton of money on beverages, by limiting the selection to a choice of two beers, two red, two whites, and two cocktails. I had a great time with a few cocktail loving friends coming up with the gin based “perfect pear” and a “blood orange old fashioned”. The reality is people will drink whatever is available, and they won’t care if the bar isn’t fulling stocked with every possible option. Keep it simple!
Here a few other tips to save money on your wedding:
- When considering flowers, ask yourself, can I arrange these myself. If that isn’t something you want to tackle, consider simple arrangements. We had 2 or 3 beautiful blooms in inexpensive milk glass bud vases. Clustering a few together with candles, created a lovely arrangement on all the tables. And kept the cost of flowers way down.
- If your venue has a sound system, make an ipod playlist for the cocktail and dinner, and hire a great band for a shorter set to get the party started after dinner. We got to hear all our favorite songs all night without the cost of a DJ, and when it was time to get everyone on their feet a great New Orleans brass band played an hour long set, followed by a playlist of dance party songs.
- Remember that your dress is very important. You should love it and feel beautiful in it. But that doesn’t mean it should cost more than the wedding. A popular wedding planning tv show once taught me that the bride should not be wearing a super expensive gown and then have a cash bar for her guests. Truer words were never spoken! Keep the cost of the dress in line with the budget of the wedding. I found my dress on an email flash sale site, theaislenewyork.com. It was a $1500 designer gown and it cost me $300. It was beautiful and expensive looking and by the end of the night when the bottom was filthy and shredded, I was so thankful that I hadn’t paid $1500 for it. Best decision ever!