Save vs. Splurge: The Savvy Way to Cut Wedding Costs
It’s no big secret that weddings are expensive — between per-plate catering costs, venue rental fees and luxury travel, the final price tag can add up fast. Although you may have stashed away savings for this magical day, it’s not uncommon to realize the entirety of your budget will only cover the most basic wedding staples, such as cake and flowers.
But with a little resourcefulness and research, it’s more than possible to check every box off your wedding wish list without going over budget. To do so, it’s important to understand what’s worth the high ticket price and where you can cut costs.
Identify Your Wedding Must-Haves
Start by making a list of everything you want for your wedding, from big-picture items like the ceremony venue to small details like the style of invitations. Get creative here! Don’t be afraid to write down those extras items that you don’t necessarily need but really showcase your personality — the day is about you, after all!
Once you finalize a list of everything you’d like, take a few moments to highlight the things that are must-haves in your mind — perhaps you’ve always wanted doves or a certain type of cake. Making sure you don’t give up the things you hold most valuable makes it easier to cut back on items that don’t matter as much.
Plan Your Wedding Budget Strategically
After you have your must-haves reserved, loop your partner into the planning process to ensure you’re both on the same page about the date, location and estimated headcount. Having these basics down will help you plan a rough estimate of how much you can expect to spend on everything from tablecloths to flowers to food and alcohol.
Next, calculate the cost of your must-have items, then subtract that number from your budget. The remainder of the money must cover the rest of the wedding details. Use these strategic tips to make sure you’re spending your dollars in the right places.
Splurge: Wedding Photographer
Professional wedding photos can get pricey, and they may seem unnecessary in today’s picture-obsessed world, but they are simply irreplaceable. Most wedding photographers provide digital copies of your photos on CDs, flash drives, and even cloud services so you really do have memories that last a lifetime. Plus, iPhone shots from your guests just don’t compare to the beauty of a high-quality, professionally composed photo.
Splurge: Wedding Caterer
Food is another option that is worth the spend. No matter how large your wedding is or how long the reception goes, you’ll want to ensure your guests don’t leave hungry — or worse yet, leave because they’re hungry! You don’t have to have food available at all times, but when you do offer it, ensure you provide satisfying options that please both the eyes, the stomach and the food-obsessed Instagram guests.
Save: Wedding Rings
Of course you want a wedding ring that you are proud to show off, but just remember the ring you wear at your wedding does not have to be the ring you wear forever. If you already spent a lot on a flashy engagement ring, stick to simple wedding bands made from alternative metals like tungsten and titanium, which give the look of silver or platinum without the high price tag. Find rings that you and your partner will enjoy in the short-term and save the multi-karat options for your 5- or 10-year anniversary.
Save: Paper Goods and Save the Dates
Communicating via snail mail can get pricey, especially if you have a lot of guests. Save money by skipping the traditional printed save the dates, wedding details sheets and rehearsal dinner invitations and opt for a wedding website and email list instead.
You can send out as many updates and e-vites as you’d like by simply posting to the site. Many sites also feature an RSVP system that allows you to keep track of your head count electronically. Plus, wedding websites double as a place where guests can easily find important information, such as a link to your registry, local hospitality options and directions to the venue.
Although digital communication is rather standard these days, one area you don’t want to skimp on is thank you notes. These should always include a personal, handwritten note — or at very least, an individual signature.
If you’re recently engaged and beginning to plan your wedding for the following year, take advantage of the fact that wedding season is approaching. Enjoy celebrating the love of your family and friends at their weddings and take some mental notes on clever ways to save on your own.