There are lots of ways to save money on your wedding. Some are great, others court disaster. These nine tips can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars while still giving you and your guests a fantastic experience.
The guest list: Invite only the people you love – One of my favorite pieces of wedding advice comes from Miss Manners: “Invite the people you love and who love you.” Really, who else do you want at your wedding? Keeping the guest list tight is the single most effective way to save money on your wedding. Why? Because catering, which is often the single largest wedding expense, is charged per person. The catering cost for each guest, at $60, $70, $80, $100, or more, can add up in a hurry.
The timing: Pick any day but Saturday – Booking your wedding for a Friday or Sunday can save you thousands of dollars over a Saturday evening. On a super tight budget? Monday through Thursday rates are the lowest of all. Or …
Have a winter wedding – Think white furs and muffs, hot buttered rum, hot chocolate with marshmallows, hot apple cider, a roaring fireplace, boughs of holly, and warm candlelight everywhere. Heck, you might even get snow for great pics! Many wedding professionals’ fees are lower in January, February and March, and some venues offer special winter rates.
The venue: Use one venue for your ceremony and reception – Having your wedding and reception at a single venue can save a considerable amount of money. The flow of the experience will be easier, too, with guests flowing seamlessly from your ceremony right into your reception.
The bar: Provide your own alcohol – 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. You trade work for money – schlepping cases of beer, wine, and spirts to and from the venue, usually all on the day of your wedding – but the end result can be worth it. Pro tip: Enlist your wedding party to make this happen!
Limit your drink offerings – Beer and wine can be just fine. if you feel the need for something more, a simple “signature drink”, can add variety and personalization.
Cake: Consider alternatives to the big cake – If you love cake but don’t want to pay for a big fancy one, buy a small cake for cutting and photography and serve your guests from a much-less-expensive sheet cake (which they’ll never see whole). Alternatively, brownies, cookies, ice cream sundaes (guest love building their own!) and other “regular” dessert goodies can make wedding guests very happy.
Table settings: Swap glass and stainless for plastic – If you’re on a really tight budget, consider high-end disposables. Talk to your caterer about good quality disposable flatware. It looks just like the real thing. Along with nice disposable plates and cups, they save a lot 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. Even basic table linens come in many colors, all of which are usually the same price as white or ivory. Mix and match them with colorful napkins and you have a look. You can move up to nicer fabrics, patterns, and textures of linens or overlays for a remarkably small amount of money, typically ten or 20 dollars per table. Linen upgrades give you an outstanding bang for your buck, and minimize the need for other table decorations.
Any one of these tips can save you a considerable amount of money. Taken together, they can mean the difference between choosing the venue or caterer (or both!) that you’d settle for, and the one of your dreams.
- David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit Chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.