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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Planning a Cost-Conscious Wedding

Written by  David Egan

There are lots of ways to save money on your wedding. Some work great, others court disaster. The tips below can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars while still giving you and your guests a great experience.

Your ceremony

Consolidate venues – Holding both your wedding ceremony and reception at a single venue can save a considerable amount of money.

Day, time, and season

Choose off-peak times – Booking your wedding for a Friday or Sunday can save you hundreds – and often thousands – of dollars over Saturday evening. On a super tight budget? Monday through Thursday rates are the lowest of all. If you’re comfortable with a winter event, many wedding professionals’ fees are lower in January, February, and March, and some venues offer special winter rates.

Catering

Choose an alternative to dinner – Consider brunch or lunch, or even afternoon tea. Fruit, cheese, breads, cookies, and tea can go a long way.

A caveat: If you’re planning your wedding reception at an hour that most people consider a meal time, feed them a full meal! You don’t want your guests to leave hungry or unhappy.

Keep the menu simple – Talk with your caterer about how to keep the costs down and still have a great experience.

Cake

Consider alternatives to the big cake – If you want a cake for cutting and photography, buy a small cake for that and serve your guests from a sheet cake (which they’ll never see whole).

Fruit tarts, brownies, cookies, and other “regular” dessert goodies can supplement your small “cutting” cake – or replace it altogether.

Alcohol

Provide your own if you can – Some venues and caterers will allow you to provide your own alcohol. You bring it or have it delivered to your venue during set-up time and take what remains home with you at the end of your reception. The Wine Source (in Hampden) and Wells Discount Liquors (in Cedarcroft) are two of several local shops that will allow you to return unused product.

Limit the offerings – Beer and wine can be just fine.

Add non-alcoholic variety – Lemonade; iced tea; hot, cold, sparkling or mulled cider; and unusual sodas can lower expensive alcohol consumption.

Table settings

If you’re on a really tight budget, consider disposables. Talk to your caterer about good quality disposable flatware: it looks just like the real thing. Bamboo or plastic serviceware and plastic cups can save on rental costs.

Table decor

Go for color! If your caterer or venue uses a rental company for linens (and many do), the choices of color, style, and texture are vast. The basic table linens come in many colors, all of which are the same price as white or ivory! Mix and match with colorful napkins, and save the cost of fancier linens or overlays.

Minimize flowers – Use potted plants, candles, photographs in frames, and other low-cost centerpieces. If you’re crafty, doing it yourself can really lower the cost.

Photography

Use an up-and-comer – Assistants to the professional wedding photographer you want but can’t afford can be a bargain. They can bring the skills and eye gained from working with the master, but at a reduced price.

Guest count

Cut the guest list – This is the single most effective way to save money on your wedding. Catering is charged on a per-person basis. This can be a hard one, but fewer guests means less money spent.

My favorite and, I think, the most useful piece of advice about your guest list comes from Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners, who says: “Invite the people you love and who love you.” Really, who else do you want at your wedding?

Next time: protecting your rights to cake (and photography, and food, and more!)

David Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a historic Baltimore wedding and event venue. Visit chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook! Send your comments and questions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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