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Need to Save Some Money on Your Wedding?

The following is a guest post from Jon from Reed Reads.  Check out his site for some great quotes and book lists!

My wife and I got married last October, and our wedding and honeymoon (which, let’s be honest, is basically part of the wedding cost) was paid off by the time we got back from our honeymoon. That’s right, no lingering credit card debt, and it wasn’t like we saved for years for the wedding. We exercised some restraint and cut costs where we could, which was a necessity since we had 200 people attend the reception. We used a basic financial principle preached by many… spend money on the things that are important to you, cut costs mercilessly on the things that are not.

Know What’s Important to You

The first thing we had to look at was deciding exactly what was important to us, and what we were OK with cutting costs on. Like Crystal and her new house, we were happy to spend a little extra money on something if it was something we (or, more specifically, my wife!) had always dreamed of in our wedding.

  • We wanted it in the mountains, so we picked a reception hall that was in the mountains. Obviously we could have gone cheaper there, but it was important to us, so we worked on finding the best deal on a place in the mountains.
  • We wanted our honeymoon to be something we would always remember, so we stayed for a week in a hotel where our room overlooked the ocean, though certainly there could have been cheaper options.
  • At our reception we got an add-in for the milkshake bar, which we thought would be a fun personal touch, and which many people mentioned they really enjoyed.

These were things we identified as being important, and so we were happy to splurge a little.

Know What’s Not as Important to You

There are a lot of things that we saw as being items we could go a little cheaper on.

  • Instead of getting a tux (and making all of my groomsmen rent a tux), we bought suits for half the cost (which had the added benefit of owning the suit afterwards!).
  • Instead of a big fancy wedding cake, we bought cupcakes from Sam’s Club for a fraction of the cost.
  • We were fortunate to find a reception place that also catered (meaning it was a bundle package), and provided things such as tables and silverware, which was a huge cost saver.
  • We didn’t want an open bar or tons of alcohol, because it just didn’t fit our personality, so we just bought a few cases of beer and bottles of wine, so everyone could have a little alcohol if they wanted, but we had no interest in paying for them to drink all night.
  • My wife was amazing with finding thrifty ways to cut costs on things such as centerpieces and flowers… things that I had no interest or expertise in (am I right, guys?) but that she took control over and cut costs very well.

Use Friends and Family

We found that friends and family were very happy to help out, and obviously this would be a lot cheaper than hiring professionals!

Instead of getting a professional DJ, we had a couple of our most musically inclined friends use their IPods to play music for the reception and dance (and they wouldn’t even let us pay for their hotel rooms as thanks!)… not only did we save a bunch of money, but it was a lot more special for us to have them help out. We had one of our friends be the photographer and paid her a bit for the time and effort. It wasn’t quite as professional as, well, a professional photographer, but we were happy to save $2,000 or so. We used a friend to design our invitations, which again cut costs in a large way.

Having a wedding with 200 people attending and coming out of it with no debt is not an easy thing to do, but it is manageable if you really focus on the things that are important to you, and then look for any possible way to cut the costs on the things that don’t matter as much to you. You’ll be thanking yourself profusely if you are able to accomplish this goal!

Crystal’s Comments:  Wow, 200 people?!  I was hard pressed to come up with more than 75 for us to invite to our wedding and only 40-50 showed up, lol.  But I am really happy you didn’t go into debt.  And yes, like everything in life, it’s all a matter of what you value.  Priorities are personal, money is money, so as long as your bills are paid and your future is covered, have some fun!

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9 comments to Need to Save Some Money on Your Wedding?

  • A reception in the mountains must have been beautiful! The total cost for my wedding came out to ~$8k for 180 people (in Michigan). We did many similar things that you listed. It was more important to have everyone we love celebrating with us so we had to find ways to cut costs. Congrats and happy 8 months!

  • I really like the milkshake idea, it’s different and it adds that personal touch.

    What was the cost of your reception?

  • We didn’t go into debt at all. The one thing I wish I would have done is listened to advice and told the place to make less plates than we received RSVPs for, as some people inevitably turn to no-shows. I had faith that my guests would not do this and gave the order for all. Sure enough we had six empty plates that we ended up paying for. A drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things but still something I should have heeded in retrospect.

  • Jon

    The total cost for the reception came out around $10-$12K… not the cheapest for sure (200 people and mountains), but we knew that was what we would be able to afford and made our choices based on that. It was important to identify early on what our constraints would be, because that helped tell us whether we could afford certain things or not!

  • Well done! Weddings can be ridiculously expensive, and some people get caught up in how they perceive society expects them to do things, and in how their friends have done things.

    The reality is that it’s the commitment between two people that’s most important, not the reception or other aspects of the event. You did the whole thing the way you wanted to, and came out with no debt, which is great!

  • Sounds really fun — and that’s what’s important!

  • Love the milk shake bar idea. Personal touches are the best!

  • David Franklin

    My soon to be wife (in about 2 weeks) are keeping things small too. Though we can’t go as nicely as I would like, it’s no big deal to us.