Weddings are moments of celebration big and small. Families and friends come together as two individuals proclaim their love for each other, and more often than not, party into the night to mark the occasion.
From the venue to the dinner menu and floral arrangement, there is plenty of planning and organization in the months before a wedding. So many moving variables also come with a big tab.
You want your wedding to go perfectly, but you also want to keep your finances in mind. Here are some ways you can still plan your dream wedding without piling up the debt.
Study the calendar
According to The Knot, a website specializing in wedding planning, and as cited by CNN Money, the average cost of a big day in 2015 averaged approximately $33,000, which can be compared to the cost of one year of college for some individuals.
Just because that's the average doesn't mean you have to spend anywhere near that. The first way to help cut costs is to look at the calendar when picking a wedding date. While summer weddings come with beautiful weather and perfect backdrops, they're also the most expensive because this season is the most popular. It's not uncommon to hear of reception venues booking spaces years in advance.
Fall weddings are also popular, particularly the months of September and October. As such, consider picking a date in an off month. These are November, parts of December and then the deep winter months. Even the early spring represents a good time of the year to cut down on costs.
Your guests may have to wear their winter coats, but your checkbook will thank you later.
Know who to invite
Movies have a tendency to depict weddings as extravagant events where hundreds of guests show up. And while you may very well have an extensive guest list, keep in mind that you will be charged per-person during the reception. After all, do you really want to invite someone you haven't talked to in years?
Review the guest list with your partner to ensure that everyone who is invited is someone who is close and you have a strong relationship with. You may whittle the guest list down extensively to the point where your reception is much smaller, but there's nothing wrong with that. Nothing is more special than getting married as your loved ones look on and are there to celebrate afterward.
The reception is a tricky part of the wedding to plan out. You want to have the perfect decorations while not going overboard. Stick to your budget by utilizing some helpful tricks, such as getting bigger tables to cut back on the number of center pieces needed.
Additionally, The Knot recommended buying one or two flower types that are in season. Buying in season can help save money even though you might not be able to get your favorite flower.
In terms of the food and drink, you may find it more fun to go with non-traditional entrees. Think ribs, macaroni and cheese and chicken as dishes that will fill everyone up but aren't super fancy or expensive.
"Consider a few different drink options."
And then there are the drinks. Most wedding guests expect there to be some type of alcohol to ring in the celebration. Even if you know some of your guests are not drinkers, you'll still want to provide the option.
But getting an open bar is an easy way to increase your tab. Open bars are when you pay for the drinks beforehand and guests are free to get as many as they like throughout the night. Brides magazine recommends you consider a few different drink options:
- Limited open bar
- Providing guests with two cocktails
- Drink tickets
- Cash bar
You can be as creative as you see fit when it comes to the bar. Also, don't let your guests try to persuade you to go for the open bar if it doesn't fit into your budget because you're the final decision maker.
No wedding is complete without live music, photographers and other fun options such as a photo booth where guests can dress up. Of these, music and the photographer are must-haves.
When looking for music, ask friends and family if they know anyone who would be willing to DJ the reception, or if they know a band that can work the reception. You might want to hire a smaller band instead of a DJ, but this will depend on what type of musical entertainment you prefer.
Before hiring a photographer, always ask to see their portfolio. There is more to shooting wedding receptions than having a camera and simply clicking the "shoot" button. But some professional photographers may charge more than you're willing to pay.
To save money but still document the occasion, ask around to see if anyone knows an up and coming photographer who has shown an ability to capture weddings. You never know who you might stumble upon.
Your wedding will be a day you remember for the rest of your life. While you want to plan the perfect, you must still factor costs. Luckily, you can throw an extravagant reception while still saving money.
For more information about smart ways to manage your finances, contact Landmark Bank.
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