Cost-Saving Tips When it Comes to Wedding Planning

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We're going to be honest...planning a wedding isn't cheap, but there are still plenty of ways to minimize the cost but still create something fun, beautiful, and true to your budget. We have narrowed down out top 7 biggest tips of how to save on your wedding...  

Guest Count

Your guest count is the single most impacting factor for your wedding, regardless of how simple or elegant your vision is. To quote Beth S. Bernstein, an Event Planner and author of a "Simple is Not Always So Simple"..."The only way to truly save money on  your wedding is to invite fewer guests. Fewer guests mean fewer mouths to feed, fewer tables to decorate, and fewer invitations to send." Yes, you may be able to save a few bucks here and there with the tips below, but honestly, cutting out even 5 guests will save you more than any type of rental delivery or cash discounts that you'll read about further along in this post. Guest count affects the majority of your big ticket items from venue to catering to bar, so if you are running into a budgeting whoas, reconsider that hefty guest count.

Time of Year + Day of Week

In Southern California, we are lucky enough to have a year-around wedding season. Although Winter comes with more rain and generally chillier temperatures, there is generally more weekend availability in comparison to the rest of the year. For that reason, some venues offer promotions for Winter dates in order to fill the void in their schedules.  Although there is no rhyme or reason when it comes to when these promotions, be on the lookout for "winter rates" when venue shopping. Also look out for reduced rates for weekday, Friday, or Sunday pricing versus peak Saturday pricing.

Nicole George Event Planning & Design // Photography by Fog & Dawn

Nicole George Event Planning & Design // Photography by Fog & Dawn

Vendor Charges + Discounts

Honestly, I'm not a fan of discounts because I find it insulting to ask to devalue a vendor's services. However, there are ways to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to vendor pricing + negotiation.

  • Try to bundle services when possible. Multiple services with one company = less delivery charges. For instance, if you go with one company for lighting, DJ, and photobooth, that is essentially three vendors in one but still one delivery cost versus three delivery costs if you went with three different companies.

  • Some companies offer cash discounts if you decide to pay via cash up front (not credit card, not debit card, not check...cash). It doesn't hurt to ask!

  • If your venue allows, request a delivery/pickup "window" rather than timed delivery for rental companies. When rental companies are given a window to deliver/pick-up at their leisure, it costs less than timed delivery.

  • Similar to a rental delivery "window," consider delivery the day before the event and pickup the day after the event. This can avoid late night pick-up charges and fit into the "window" of the following day.

  • If your rental order is small and you have the time and space, consider will-call orders where you can personally pick up rentals rather than paying for delivery.

  • Utilize the venue's on-site rentals and accommodations. Even if your venue is strictly venue-only with no-inclusions, such as a warehouse, versus all-inclusive venues, such as a country club, it is likely that your venue will have some type of in-house rentals or items for the client or vendor's to utilize. Whether tables, chairs, linens, in-house AV system, lighting, or on-site dumpsters are available... it is a good idea to use what is on-site as much as possible instead of having to bring in outside vendors.

  • Have an honest and open conversation with your vendor if you cannot afford their services. Most vendors are willing to work with your budget, come up with creative ways to repurpose items, and/or where to save.

Set + Prioritize Your Budget

I can't tell you how many times clients come to me that haven't truly discussed their budget or what they can afford before diving into investing in their wedding. I encourage my clients to sit down and discuss together, as well as with those participating finaically, and come up with a reasonable number that they feel comfortable in investing that won't leave them in debt. Although I am happy to provide financial guidance of Southern California budgeting "norms," I will say that The Knot's National Average Report is a good start.

Once the budget is set, prioritizing that budget is not only important, it is pivotal in providing direction of what and where to spend. I encourage you to choose what areas of your wedding are important to you or will have the most impact and allocated the majority of your budget there. For instance, if the atmosphere is a priority, I suggest investing in a killer band, lighting, and specialty rentals over areas such as dessert, photobooth, and transportation.

They key to prioritization it to balance needs and wants. You may want to create an awesome atmosphere, but you also need the essentials, such as venue, catering, and beverage, which always end up being half of your budget.  If your priorities are filled with "wants" instead of "needs," it may lead to budgeting issues later on. Our suggestion is consult with your wedding planner on budget management and the standard wedding costs in your area before diving in.

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Things You Can Do Without...

There are a few antiquated wedding traditions that are being excluded more and more in favor of the couple spending the budget in places that will have more of an impact. Wedding programs, champagne toast, and favors happen to be three...

  1. Printed Wedding programs : Aside from your Grandmother and parents, unfortunately, no one saves these as keepsakes after the wedding is over. I can't tell you how many times, I have had to throw stacks into the trash. If you must include the program, I suggest creating a program board/display instead of wasting so much paper.

  2. Champagne Toast : In the age of customization and Signature Cocktails, most guests prefer to drink whatever they have already ordered at the bar rather than champagne (i.e. my wedding from this past weekend and 2 whole tables that didn't touch the champagne poured in their glasses). If your guests really wanted to sip on champagne, they would have ordered it from the bar already. Ultimately, this can save you a few bucks by allowing your guests to feel comfortable with their own drink in hand.

  3. Favors : Do you remember the last wedding favor that you received that you absolutely loved? If so, you are lucky! Unless it is a photo strip from the photo-booth, this is yet another antiquated tradition to give out useless knickknacks, even candies. I personally feel that hosting your wedding for your guests to enjoy is a favor in itself!

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DIY Projects...

Great for budget, but proceed with caution.

Do-it-Yourself, projects have become increasingly popular with sites like Pinterest where the ideas are endless. At first, it may seem like a great idea to cut corners with the budget, but it isn't always as cost-effective or time-efficient as it seems. Most artisans who create specialty decor have wholesale connections and create in bulk, allowing them to sell for much less... and less than what it will cost you to purchase the materials and the time it will take to create. Also, if you are not a crafty person to begin with, it is unlikely that you will feel inspired or have the day as the wedding day approaches. But this whole article is about saving money, right? If you do decide to go the DIY route, we suggest using stocking up on Michael's coupons or buying in bulk to begin with in  the case that need more than what you originally anticipated. We also suggest tackling those projects at least 6 months in advance when wedding planning is coasting along unlike the last 3 months of your engagement when there is much more on your plate.  Some great DIY projects include welcome bags, favors, table runners (JoAnn's fabrics always has coupons too!), guestbook (think Shutterfly!), and table numbers (think printables). Things that we do not suggest DIY-ing (and instead hiring a professional for) include floral design, calligraphy, DJ (DJ iPod is not acceptable, sorry), and stationery design.  

So again... budgeting is important but there ARE ways to save. It takes some creativity, research, and a little extra time, but hiring a great wedding planner totally helps manage budget direction from the very beginning. We're here to help and share our expertise when it comes to budgeting for your wedding, so post up a comment or send us a message if you need any advice or tips of how to navigate those waters! Good luck!

    Cover Photo by Acqua Photo

Love, Nicole