Laker Cents: 10 Tips To Help Make Your Wedding Budget Your Friend, Not Your Enemy

Summer is always a popular time for weddings and engagements. Many brides and grooms are nearing the end of their wedding planning journey or just getting started. As fun and exciting as the experience can be, it comes with a pretty high price tag. Here are 10 money-saving tips to keep in mind when planning your special day:

  1. Set Your Budget Early. The more aware you are of your finances, the more targeted you can be in your search for vendors who are within your means. Decide right away what aspects of the wedding are most important to you. Is it the DJ? The food? Maybe it’s the limo! TIP: create a spreadsheet that tracks who you’ve booked, what you’ve paid (ahem, deposits…) and how much you still owe. Keep a running total of expenses so you always know where you’re at.

  2. Shop Around for Save the Dates and Invites. As a recent bride, I know the allure of the $3.00/piece 5×7 glossy, sparkling invite. Try to be realistic – at the end of the day, the invite is an informative vehicle to get your guests vital information. They care more about what’s ON it than what it looks like! TIP: look on places like Vistaprint, Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Etsy for cute invites that don’t cost a fortune.

  3. Use Post Cards as RSVPs!  The stamps you’ll purchase for RSVP postcards are actually cheaper than regular stamps, and it all adds up in the end. TIP: remove RSVP postage costs entirely by having your guests RSVP on your wedding website.

  4. Find a Photographer Who Will Give You Digital Rights to Your Images. Some photographers prefer you to purchase your prints directly off of their website, which is a great way to ensure high quality, pristine images. However, if you find a photographer who releases the digital rights, you’ll have the flexibility to use, save, and print the pictures where you desire. TIP: read the fine print in your contract to see if you’ll receive the digital rights to your images. If you plan on printing a bunch of photos, this is the way to go.

  5. Get the Most Bang For Your Buck with a Buffet. The plated dinner is undeniably eloquent and classy, but a buffet is usually the more budget-friendly option. Plus side? More options! TIP: Ask your caterer or event venue manager if a free food-tasting is involved. Many places offer this just for booking them for your wedding so you and your bride/groom can ensure you love your buffet choices!

  6. Keep Your Rehearsal Dinner Casual. If you’re working with a limited budget, save your funds for the big day. You might be exhausted the night before your wedding, and a laid back, relaxed atmosphere will help prepare you for the festivities to come! Offer foods that are budget friendly and feed large numbers easily, like pulled pork sandwiches, salads, and pasta dishes. TIP: offer light appetizers and do an “open-house” style dinner where family who came into town can stop by, say hello, grab a bite, then settle into their hotels.

  7. Consider Your Favors. Websites and magazines can convince you that you absolutely need to purchase customized coasters, can koozies, bottles of maple syrup, glasses, or any other array of fun items. While favors are a great way to make your wedding memorable, they can account for hundreds of dollars of your precious budget. Remember that there are other ways to show your guests you appreciate them! TIP: have a favor that you can ensure your guests will enjoy. Order late night pizza for everyone, or set up a “Candy Bar” with an assortment of goodies that can be put into cute bags.

  8. Offer a Limited Bar. An open bar all night is a grand gesture, but an unrealistic one for most couples. Consider having more selections during your cocktail hour, then narrowing it down to 2-4 options for the rest of the night. Your guests will still feel special and happy that they don’t have to pull out their wallets for a beverage, and you’ll know your bill won’t include all top-shelf selections. TIP: Ensure that your guests are informed of their drink options by including a sign or drink board near the bar.

  9. Enjoy a Honeymoon Within Your Means. When planning the blissful days to follow your nuptials, keep your overall budget in mind. If you aren’t in a financial place to afford an all-inclusive week long trip to Cancun, decide to take that major trip in the future. Start a savings account to plan in advance for it. Remember, it’s who you’re with – not where you go! TIP: Consider having a “mini-moon.” Find a hotel in a city within driving distance that you’ve never visited, and find adventure without having to worry about debt.

  10. Save (Some) of Your Gift Money. You’re most likely going to be the recipient of some generous gifts from friends and family. Although you might need some of this cash to pay off your awesome vendors or take care of other expenses, consider putting some away. Your marriage is already off to a great start, and you can use that opportunity to lay the foundation for a strong financial future. TIP: Don’t forget to enjoy yourselves! Splurge on something you both want for your new place and enjoy your first weeks and months as a married couple!
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