Wedding Budget Tips: When to Splurge and When to Purge…

Planning a wedding is all about compromise…usually within yourself! You have to tell the good angel and the bad angel when to break out the checkbook and when to put it away. You have to find the balance of splurging on the things that matter most to you and knowing when to cut back on others. Financial priority should be assigned to the elements that are the most important and representative of you as a couple. However, there are some general guidelines, I believe, that should be used for spending to ensure that your day is not only memorable for you but for your guests as well.

 

WHEN TO SPLURGE: I can pretty much guarantee these are the items your guests will be walking away remembering the most. I an also say with full confidence that the following details are things that you and your beau will be glad you invested extra cash in later!:

 

cartoon courtesy of toonpool.com

1. The Food- Food is everything! That doesn’t mean it has to be overly expensive and fancy though. You don’t have to serve French cuisine at your wedding but you do want to make sure it tastes good! You also don’t need to have enough food to feed a small country. Keep your menu simple if needed but just make sure everything tastes good and that there is enough for the guests to be satisfied. I have been to fancy venues where the food was okay. I have also been to backyard weddings that served the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches and homemade wedding cake! You can have family help out with the food if your budget is strict. Nobody will miss the filet mignon if the food you serve makes them sit back and say, “Man this is good!”. If you are using a venue or a caterer, you MUST have a tasting first! This ensures that our selections are just as tasty as they sound on paper!

cartoon courtesy of Cartoonstack.com

 

2. The Music- Music sets the tone for the night! You will want a DJ (cheaper than a band by far…although bands are awesome!) that can balance a variety of music and keep the crowd hyped and happy. Good music pumps energy into your crowd and keeps them there till the very end. Here you show your personality through song selections (see my previous post about using music to customize your wedding) but you also want to make sure that the music reflects your crowd so that there is something for everyone. You don’t need a DJ with a crazy lighting system and lots of bells and whistles. You do need a DJ with a great song selection and personality!

cartoon courtesy of Cartoonstock.com

3. The Photography- Yes, you can save money and put disposable cameras out on the tables and have guests take pictures but you may be taking a big risk! It will be impossible to use those in digital a;bums plus you are risking a plethora of shots you will never want or need! Your best bet is to find a PROFESSIONAL wedding photographer. Perhaps you can work out a deal where you only get the rights to the digital images and you can create your album yourself using sites such as Shutterfly or Snapfish. It pays to have good pictures though. You want these to be timeless. Wedding photographers can capture the emotion, beauty and subtle important details of one of the most important days of your life. Great pictures are worth every penny!

cartoon courtesy of Cartoonstock.com

 

 

4. Service- Read reviews of your venue! Good service makes a huge difference. Nobody wants to wait for orders, have their tables overcrowded with dishes and use dirty restrooms! You can utilize a buffet or cocktail style dinner but make sure that the food is easily accessible and that you have a plan in mind for getting food on and off the tables. Good service doesn’t have to be expensive but it’s worth paying for a couple of hands to help you out even if you are doing a DYI backyard wedding (and those usually have awesome service!).

 

cartoon courtesy of NewYorkette.com

5. YOUR DRESS!!!!- That’s right! Get selfish! Everyone remembers what the bride looked like, very few remember the groom’s tux, hair…etc.! This is your night to be a princess and feel like a star! You can splurge on a dress that makes you feel beautiful. If you happen to find one for an amazing deal, even better! However, make sure the dress makes you feel confident, romantic and stunning. You deserve it!

 

WHEN TO PURGE: Here are some of the areas I think it is easier to cut back without lessening your experience and the overall guest experience.

1. Invitations- Most pieces wind up in recycling no matter how expensive or fancy! Pick something you like and that is affordable!

2. Centerpieces/Flowers I have attended two weddings recently that used the centerpieces that came in the venue package. Nobody cared! The centerpieces don’t make or break the experience! Save some major money here!

3. Favors- Pick something useful, fun and inexpensive! Most people don’t “need” their favors so don’t think you have to choose something over the top and expensive. One of my favorite weddings favors I received was a one dollar scratch off ticket with a penny!

4. Videography- Here you can have a friend film the most important parts only (such as the ceremony, cake cutting and toasts). You won’t sit down and watch a 12 hour video of your wedding…EVER.

5. Your Accessories- That means your shoes, hair accessories and jewels! No one is staring at them as much because your dress is the focus! The best accessory for a dress is great hair and make up! Invest in those and consider costume jewelry and sale items for the rest!

Top Ten Tips for Saving Money on a Wedding!

 

 

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1. Create a budget. The Knot has an awesome budget tool where you can put in your total budget and it allocates how much should be spent in each area. You then can adjust the areas to emphasize which take more priority than others. As you enter amounts, the budget tool automatically adjusts your remaining balance and totals for you. This is a must!

2. Plan ahead! Pick your theme, color and date at least one year ahead. This way you can shop season end clearances for your wedding’s seasonal items AND have time to wait for things to go on sale!

3. Don’t use Save the Dates: You don’t need them! If you want them, they can be fun and cute…but you don’t need them!

4. Make your own invitations: Really beautiful invitations can be made with a simple word processing or scrapbooking software. You can make 100 invitations for under $80 and still have them look customized and beautiful! Embellishments from craft stores and computer graphics can be used to inexpensively design memorable invitations with little experience!

5. Look for favors, shoes and jewelry outside bridal stores. You can usually get these items for almost 75% outside bridal shops because they aren’t tagged as “wedding” but they can still be used perfectly as wedding items. For instance, wine glasses in a favor shop may run $4-$8 a glass. However, you can buy painted wine glasses in your theme for about $1.99 at a non-bridal shop.

6. Check out Craigslist! Many brides sell items they won’t want to keep forever (such as flower girl baskets, aisle runners, extra favors, extra centerpieces, ring bearer pillows) for half the cost. You can also rent centerpieces from former brides!

7. Choose your items and wait for the sale. Everything goes on sale at least once…I am convinced…If you wait for it, it will come.

8. Plan a black and white wedding. This color combination is classy, varies the least and can be found everywhere even beyond bridal shops …which means you save money!

9. Register and use the rewards. Many registries offer incentives such as jewlery discounts, bridal salon discounts and cash back on your total registry purchases (ahem Macys!). Many also give you coupons that will help you save on things such as your honeymoon clothing and wedding jewelry.

10. Delay your honeymoon. Plan it for the off peak season and save some serious dough! Plus it will give you something else to look forward to in the future!

 

And now for a couple of bonus tips!

* Visit bridal shows and expos. The entry is usually free and they are a GREAT opportunity to comparison shop, find inspiration (that you can later adapt to your budget or own handiwork), win prizes and score some exclusive discounts and freebies. Plus…they are fun! Enjoy being bride and soak up the attention and perks!

 

** Have you tried Ebates yet? Ebates is an awesome program where you earn money back in gift cards for things you are buying online! It is free to join and you earn for every purchase you make. There are also special days where you can earn as much as 10% back! You also get special access to coupon codes. Stores such as Nordstroms, Macys, Vistaprint and Jo Ann Fabrics (plus thousands more!) are all included! I used Ebates while Christmas shopping this year and I made an additional $30 on things I was buying anyway! You get to choose your payment options too and receive bonus payments of $5 with any first purchase through Ebates. You don’t need a credit card or anything to join. You just sign up! When you are going to a site to make a purchase, go through Ebates first to search for the store and then continue to the store’s site. It’s that easy. If you are printing your own programs and invitations, you should check out some of their online ink dealers. I get my ink for 55% off through Ebates and their ink supply store partners! You can use the gift cards that you earn to buy gifts for your bridal party or even more things for the wedding! In the bridal planning world, it pays to shop online!

 

Sign up and check out Ebates here!

 

 

 

* Another great site for brides to be is a spot called Wedding Wire. Wedding Wire allows you to research reviews of your vendors, venues, salons and more from real brides in your area! You can search by name or by location. I found this really helpful when researching a salon and our photographer. Check them out here!

         If you are looking for FREE printables and how-to’s for your wedding, check out the DIY Bride site! This site offers free water bottle labels, booklet templates, wedding clip art and more! Every little bit helps! Plus there are also tutorials on how to make inexpensive items such as tin can luminarias, a list of popular wedding songs, templates for favor boxes and more! I love the wedding coloring book that you can print out for the little kids! Check out the site here!

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