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!
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!