If you are in the midst of wedding planning and making difficult budget decisions, you were probably really to explore the topic of how to save money on your wedding. But I'm going to be really honest with you...saving money on your wedding is going to be about making some really tough decisions! Where you spend your money on your wedding day should reflect what you value the most. Since I'm being honest...I'm going to tell you first where the idea for this post came from for me. Every year, I meet with many couples planning their wedding. Some of them book me, some of them don't. One of the most common things I hear from couples who don't is "We absolutely love your work, but the package we want is $1000 more than our budget!" And this has happened for years, no matter what my prices were at the time.
Now I am never going to pressure anyone to spend more money than they are comfortable with, but I'm here to tell you that if there is something you really want on your wedding day but it feels a little too expensive, you can easily make some decisions about the rest of your day to find the money. If you decide to spend it on photography, that's great! If it's something else, I'm all for that too!
So here are 6 ways to save $1000 on your wedding:
1. Have a smaller bridal party
This is by far the easiest, quickest way to eliminate expenses from your wedding day...and they are probably things you forgot to budget for anyways. I honestly think this one can save you more than $1000!
Pictured is Kirsten & Dan with their wonderful bridal party. I know that if you asked them, they would say they wouldn't have done it any differently. It was very important to them to have their best friends with them all day. But I also know they would tell you it was expensive! Although your bridal party is usually responsible for their own attire, there are a lot of things you have to pay for that many people don't think about when they start asking everyone to be a part of their day.
Transportation. Unless you have picked a venue where you don't have to leave all day, you are going to have to get people from one place to the next. Kirsten and Dan rented a limo bus to take move 20 people around all day.
Flowers. Even if you are keeping your flowers to a minimum, the different between 2 bouquets & boutonnieres and 6 or 8 is going to big!
Bridal Party Gifts. This is not exactly required, many couples do buy a gift for their attendants.
Photography. It's just a fact that if you have more people to photograph and move around, it's going to take more time. For Kirsten & Dan we scheduled more than 3.5 hours to do all the bridal party and couple photos. The day after their wedding, we photographed another wedding with just a best man and maid of honour. We did their family photos, bridal party and couple photos in less than 1.5 hours!
2. Invite less people
This can seem really difficult, but I promise drawing some boundaries on the guest list will make a huge difference on the bottom line of your budget. If you are paying $75-$150 per plate at dinner, simply shaving 10 people off your guest list can make a huge difference. Plus, the bigger your guest list, the more limited you are in the venues you can look at. If you have a smaller guest list, you can be more creative and find smaller, less traditional wedding venues that might even be more affordable.
Marie-Pier and Thomas opted for an intimate weekday wedding in the mountains with basically just their immediate families. Getting married in the mountains was important to them, but it can be really expensive. By having a small wedding and getting married during the week, they were able to get married in one of the most beautiful locations for much less.
3. Skip the cake
Ok, this one might not always be $1000 worth of savings, but it's one of those traditions I think people do because they think they are supposed to..but it ends up being just wasted money.
First of all, your caterer probably included a dessert of some sort in the menu. And many won't let you leave it off. Plus many people have also started having candy bars at their weddings. So most guests don't even want a piece of cake by the time they get it.
Second, I can't tell you how many times I've gotten to the cake cutting part of the night and they couple just look at me and say: "What exactly are we suppose to do?" I usually tell them to cut a piece together and feed it to each other if they want. When it's all over, they usually look at each other and say "Well that was dumb!"
Dessert was included in Kelsey and Scott's catering package, but they decided they still wanted to have a cake to cut, so they brought along their favourite cake from Duchess Bake Shop. I think it cost them around $30!
4. Pick a venue you don't need to decorate
Sometimes couples pick a venue based solely on the price and think "I can decorate it to make it look how I want." I promise you that the cost of decorating can get out of hand very quickly! If you find a venue that you love from the start and make sure all the costs are included in the initial price, there will be less unexpected expenses down the road.
Katrina & Steven held their wedding at the one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen in Victoria BC. They let the venue shine and only did minimal decorations, which made for much less stress allowed them to spend money on other things!
5. Have a cash bar
This is a sticky one, especially in some cultures. Most people understand the cost of a wedding and do not expect to drink on you all night!
I have seen lots of creative ways to control your alcohol costs, so just choose what is right for you. You can:
Give everyone a couple of drink tickets.
Have a host bar during cocktail hour and then have a cash bar for the rest of the evening.
Have wine on the tables or have the venue fill wine glasses to a certain limit.
Have a toonie bar or some other version of splitting the cost with your guests.
Whatever you decide, make sure it's clear on the invitation if your guests should have cash with them in order to get a drink.
6. Book a smaller photography package
What???? You probably think it's weird that as a photographer I am suggesting you should spend less on your photography! Well here is the thing...sometimes it really is the best place to save a few dollars. If a couple meets with us and says they are totally in love with our work but the package they want is a bit more expensive than they planned, I always try to work them to meet in the middle. This doesn't mean I will just discount the package, but there are some creative ways to make it work.
Maybe there are some parts of the day you don't need professional coverage? Maybe getting ready? Maybe less reception coverage?
Maybe we can help you re-organize your wedding day schedule so you need less hours of coverage?
Maybe then wedding album is something you decide on later?
Maybe spreading the payments out over a payment plan makes the number feel a little more manageable?
At the end of the day I'd rather you book a photographer you love rather than making a decision solely based on price.
Nakita and Maciek planned an intimate offseason wedding last year. They opted to hire us just to come and photograph their ceremony and portraits afterwards. This was a great way to capture their wedding day and still stay within their budget.
No matter how you decide to allocate your wedding budget, make sure that every time you spend money, it's on something you value and not on something you think you are suppose to do!
Do you want to chat with us about how our wedding photography services fit into your budget? Fill in the contact form below and we will be in touch to set up a consultations!
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