1. Pick your date wisely. While weekend weddings in the summertime are the traditional choice for many couples, prices in the offseason (for everything from venues to caterers) are much more reasonable. Start considering a snowy winter wedding or an event with the beautiful backdrop of crisp autumn leaves. You could even opt for a rainy-day ceremony in the spring, complete with token rainboots and fresh-cut flowers. But if you’re set on a summer wedding, then opt for a Sunday (or even a weekday) affair, when prices and venue availability are less competitive. Deviating from the norm can save you thousands of dollars!
2. Take the time to pick a time. Evening weddings tend to indicate a more formal affair, and therefore, expectations in terms of food and beverage can be high. Instead of a big dinner reception, ponder the option of a brunch or luncheon with hors d’oeuvres. This allows you to get creative (think, mimosa bars and cocktail sandwiches) while also saving money on a larger meal.
3. Consider an untraditional menu. Instead of the classic multi-course meal with the generic “chicken or fish?” entrée, don’t hesitate to go off the grid. From potlucks, to barbeques and quirky sides, to build-your-own appetizers, there are thousands of less-pricey options that are sure to impress your guests. And for dessert? Ditch the fancy cake, and opt for something unique: milk and cookies, cupcake towers, or simply a fun assortment from your favorite local bakery.
4. Don’t cave to the pressure for an open bar. Drinking is a fun aspect to many wedding receptions, but the cost of an open bar is often outrageous. A great alternative is to stick with beer and wine. Get a few kegs from a local brewery, buy a few cases of wholesale wine, and let your guests enjoy! (If you do want to include liquor, consider providing just one or two simple cocktail options.)
5. Choose a pre-decorated venue. Flowers and embellishments can cost a fortune. Instead of picking a basic venue that requires lots of time and money to spruce up, hunt for a place that doesn’t need much work. Many outdoor spaces like Japanese gardens and local nature preserves are naturally beautiful (and incredibly affordable). If you prefer an indoor wedding, look for options with aesthetically-pleasing architecture and historic value to set the scene for your special day.
6. Rethink centerpieces. Dressing up tables with extravagant flower arrangements can quickly hike up the bill. So cancel that appointment with your florist and consider one of the many alternatives. Unique centerpieces include small succulents in mason jars, baskets of origami figures, or even piles of old books for the bookworm couple. There are plenty of amazing and cost-efficient ideas out there.
7. Beg and borrow (but please don’t steal) from your friends. The little things add up: chalkboards, string lights, movie projectors. But before you break out the credit card, hit up your friends. Did your recently married friends play a must-have party game? Or maybe your music-loving pal invested in a great sound system? Ask if they’ll let you borrow it for your event.
In the end, this is YOUR special day, and your guests are present to show their love and support, not to judge the décor or dining options. Make smart choices that reflect you and your partner’s personalities, and the rest will fall into place. Congrats, and best wishes to the happy couple!