By Jeanette Shinn
Depending on the expert you read, recent estimates tell us that the average North American couple's wedding budget is more than $22,000 (and many estimates place the total north of $26,000!) on the wedding ceremony and reception whether they realize it or not. If they have the money to spend on such an event without putting themselves in financial jeopardy, more power to them. With that kind of wedding budget they could do so very much. They could build a wedding event that is much more than most brides ever achieve. However, if the money is not there...
Or if they have the money for that kind of wedding budget but could make better use of it some other way... To buy that first house... to start a college fund for the children... to pay off their own college loans... to have a more memorable honeymoon... to start a business... whatever the reason!
Can you have a memorable, striking wedding for less money?
All that is needed is a little research of the wedding industry, some prioritizing on the wedding budget, and a commitment to planning rather than simply gathering for a dream wedding to come together that is truly as unique as the people involved.
This works because most brides make the mistake of panicking themselves into simply gathering the decorative touches they have seen in other weddings rather than planning. As a result they end up purchasing elements that do not really fit the wedding they are trying to put together.
A second reason this approach to wedding planning works is simply that by not understanding how the wedding industry works they end up blowing their wedding budget as a result. This takes a little time when time is precious, but it is worth it to understand what is reasonable to expect of each wedding professional and what is not. If you work with the wedding professional you will normally end up getting more for your money than if you put yourself in an adversarial role with them.
So take the time to plan out the wedding of your dreams. Think through the different options to make it happen. Some methods will be more expensive than others. Choose carefully. Not all options are equal. Often the less expensive method can work as well.
In the meantime, here are ten simple, yet practical suggestions that can help save a lot of money when planning a wedding:
1) Borrow or rent that wedding dress that will only be worn once
2) Have attendants bring their digital cameras to the hair salon rather than paying a photographer to follow you around all day
3) Reduce the number of guests
4) Limit the number of attendants
5) Hold the wedding and reception on a family member's property to save the cost of venue rental
6) Use locally grown flowers that are in season
7) Resist the pressure to commission both an ice sculpture and a wedding cake - both are designed to be a design focal point for the reception and two focal points do not work in any decor. Choose.
8) Use grazing stations filled with favorite delicacies instead of a sit-down dinner
9) Have an alcohol-free receptions. If you have to have bar, have a cash bar, or close the bar during dinner
10) Consider an off-season wedding (November through April) to reduce venue costs
There is nothing wrong with wanting to mount a wedding that all will look back on with fondness. Plan. Dream. Shoot for the grandest wedding celebration you can manage. But always remember that there is everything right with being wise in the use of your wedding budget.