With the current state of the economy, the idea of spending thousands of dollars on a wedding ceremony might seem daunting. This is especially true now that the tradition of the bride’s family footing the bill is giving way to the couple financing the ceremony themselves. With a little creative thinking, a little bit of planning, and some elbow grease, it’s possible to have the perfect day you’ve always dreamed of without breaking the bank. Here are ways to save money with a frugal (but not cheap-feeling) wedding, enabling you to keep some money in your savings account for that first year of marriage.
Sure, that dedicated wedding venue, towering cathedral, or privately-owned mansion is gorgeous, but that beauty comes with a substantial price tag. What’s more, you may have to find a different location for the reception, meaning you’ll be paying to rent two facilities instead of one.
Instead, try an outdoor venue like a state or city park. You’ll pay a lower facility fee, and you can have your reception outdoors as well. For an indoor wedding, try a local fellowship hall or even a V.F.W. Any space can be decorated for a dream wedding, so those cheaper options can still be gorgeous.
Instead of using a dedicated wedding catering business, find a local family-owned restaurant you love and ask the owner personally about catering the wedding. You’ll get food you love at a much lower price than a professional catering outfit can provide. There’s also no shame in having family members or friends prepare the meal–provided there are enough volunteers and sufficient kitchen facilities to cook for a large number of people.
Another option most couples don’t even consider is a potluck wedding reception. It’s definitely unconventional, but in this writer’s experience, it makes for a wonderful dining experience. Each guest is encouraged to bring a dish to share and the couple provides a salad or a few main dish options. The end result is a table groaning with lovingly homemade food, with far more variety than a caterer or restaurant could provide. Even your gluten-free vegan cousin can find something to eat at a potluck.
For chamber music during the ceremony, call up your local university’s music department and see if there are students who would be willing to perform at a wedding. The student will get valuable experience, and you’ll pay far less than you might for a professional musician.
For the reception, rather than hiring a DJ, put together a playlist of danceable songs on your MP3 player and hook it into the venue’s sound system (or rent just a couple of speakers for the dance floor).
Your best resource for planning a wedding on a budget may just be your friends and family. If you’ve got a friend who is an amateur photographer, help him or her build a portfolio by hiring them for the day (don’t ask them to donate their time, of course–but they may volunteer). Those friends who are always posting their homemade decoration ideas to Pinterest? Conscript them to help decorate the hall. Your friends and family will be happy to show their love and friendship by helping make your special day special without breaking the bank.