Easy Ways to Keep the Costs Down When Planning a Summer Wedding
An average American couple spends more than $26k on their wedding. That’s a huge amount of money, which could be better used as a down payment on a house or a lump sum payment on student loans. Despite the cost, many couples get carried away when planning their wedding. They see celebrity weddings and think “I want this too!”
It’s understandable, of course. Who doesn’t want a glass palace in their back yard or a dreamy ceremony on an idyllic beach in Mauritius? We all do, but sadly, most of us can’t afford to spend a fortune on the big day. We might be willing to pay extra for a ‘design your own ring’ service because an engagement ring is very important, but when it comes to designing a bespoke wedding ceremony, the cost is very much at the forefront of most couples’ minds.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend a fortune on a huge wedding. In fact, evidence suggests that the more a couple spends on their wedding, the more likely they are to get divorced within a few years.
The problem with opulent, expensive weddings is that it is easy to lose sight of why you are getting married. Marriage is a massive commitment. This is your chance to shout out to the rest of the world that you love this person above all others and want to spend the rest of your life with them. Nobody walks down the aisle lightly, or at least they shouldn’t. Whether you are religious or not, marriage is not something you should take flippantly.
Once you start getting carried away with planning a huge wedding, the true meaning behind the ceremony is lost. You turn into Bridezilla and start obsessing over cakes, wedding dresses, rings, and guest lists. A simple wedding rapidly turns into an expensive ceremony and reception for 600 guests, most of whom you barely know from Adam. Is that really what you want?
If money is no object, then, by all means, spend as much as you like on a wedding. However, if you are up to your eyeballs in student debt and struggling to find enough cash for a home down payment, then read on for some tips to help you save money on your dream wedding.
You need three rings: an engagement ring, and two wedding rings. Since your rings last forever, this is not a time to look for a bargain bin steel band. Like many things in life, you get what you pay for, so the more you spend, the bigger the diamond (if that’s what you want).
One way to save money on rings is to look for vintage rings or use a family heirloom. Plenty of couples re-purpose a family ring as an engagement ring. Do you have a beautiful ring passed down from your grandmother? If so, have the ring re-sized and turn it into your engagement ring. The fact it comes with a history only makes it more attractive. You can add your own history to the ring before passing it down the family tree to your daughter or granddaughter one day. How romantic is that?
For a bride, the wedding dress is a critical part of the whole ensemble. After all, all brides want to look fabulous on their wedding day. They want to be the center of attention for all the right reasons. Wearing the right dress is crucial, but with couture wedding dresses costing tens of thousands of dollars, you may be wondering how on earth you can look beautiful without spending a fortune.
The good news is that you don’t need to blow your budget on a dress.
Your first option is to wear a wedding dress worn by your mother or grandmother. Don’t expect a modern style, but depending on the age of the dress, you could end up with a charming vintage gown. The dress may need a few tweaks to make sure it fits you perfectly, but paying a seamstress to carry out alternations is a lot cheaper than paying for a wedding dress from a bridal store.
The second option is to look for a second-hand wedding dress. For this look on eBay or Gumtree. Most wedding dresses have only been worn once; some haven’t been worn at all, so you could snap up a bargain. Check the details of the listing carefully before you buy, to ensure the dress is the right size. If the dress is pre-worn, have it professionally cleaned so it looks and smells fresh on the big day.
If really you want to keep costs down, avoid asking ten of your best friends to be your bridesmaids, or suggest they pay for their own dresses. Alternatively, look for some cheap bridesmaid dresses online.
Bridesmaids don’t need to have matching dresses. Choose a color and look for dresses that suit the bridesmaid’s body shape. Plenty of bridesmaids are happy with simple dresses bought off-the-peg that can be used again, which helps to keep the costs down. Your bridesmaids don’t need to follow you down the aisle in yards of silk and satin. The simpler their outfits are, the more you will stand out.
The Wedding Cake
Wedding cakes are a significant part of a wedding budget. A three tier hand-made cake can easily cost several hundred dollars or more, depending on how elaborate the design is. Instead of paying a wedding cake store to bake you a bespoke cake, ask a relative to do the honors in lieu of a wedding gift. As long as they are handy in the kitchen, you should end up with a tasty cake.
You can also save money by opting for a sponge cake instead of a traditional fruitcake, but you won’t be able to have a multi-tier creation. If you are not too fussed about a traditional cake, create a cupcake tower instead. Frosted cupcakes decorated with flowers will look fabulous.
Booking a wedding venue is going to set you back a lot of money. Most hotels and wedding venues are expensive. The best way to save money is by having your wedding reception at home or somewhere that’s free.
Clearly, that is going to be difficult if you want to invite 500 guests, so to keep costs down, trim the guest list to close relatives and close friends. You need to sit down with your fiancé and work on the list together. Remember the rule: no ring, no bring. Banning kids from the ceremony will also save you money, but be aware that you risk upsetting couples with children, as they might not be able to organize childcare.
Once you have a guest list, start thinking about whether you have the space to have your reception at home. For a small and intimate gathering, a reception at home is perfect. Tidy up the garden, borrow extra chairs and tables, and string up solar lights for when the sun goes down. If there is any chance the weather won’t be suitable for an outside party, look at hiring a small marquee. You don’t need to splash out on a crystal palace like Pippa Middleton. Ring around a few local marque companies and see what deals they have. It will be far cheaper than hiring a venue for the day.
Wherever you elect to hold your wedding, the venue needs to be decorated. Again, there are plenty of ways to save money on table decorations, flowers, and anything else in keeping with your theme. Fresh flowers are expensive, so unless you can harvest a large number of blooms from your garden, consider using fake flowers or dried flowers instead.
Brides often discount the idea of fake flowers because they look cheap and nasty, but if you look in thrift stores for silk flowers, you may find more than enough to create some pretty floral garlands. Use ivy and other greenery to embellish your floral displays. Create small posies for each table using handpicked herbs and dried flowers. If you have children, ask them to help make decorations, such as paper garlands or paper flowers. Weave string lights into your garlands and light candles in the garden. It will look super pretty once the light fades.
Food and Drink
Professional caterers are not cheap, so the best way to save money is by preparing your own food and drink. For a summer wedding, a BBQ is perfect. Alternatively, roast a hog over a spit and provide bread buns, dips, salads, and a range of desserts.
To keep the cost of alcohol down, buy in kegs of beer rather than trays of cans. Make your own homebrew or wine and create some exciting fruit punches using whatever alcohol you have to hand. Throw in some chopped up fruit, and it will be tasty and refreshing. Don’t forget to provide soft drinks for anyone who doesn’t drink.
With the right preparation, you can have a fabulously cheap – and memorable – summer wedding!