Party Plan: Money Saving Wedding Plans

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I was talking with a young bride just this past week–a young woman who just became engaged and who plans to get married next June. She has been on her own for a few years and with her parents out of town, she and her fiancé will be making most of the wedding decisions. We went over what they would need to think about–venue, guest list, ceremony, bridal party, flowers, cocktails, reception, music, cake and all the many aspects of such an event. Once they understood what areas of event-planning they were facing, budgeting for each area becomes essential.

I told her that she and her fiancé should write down all the details they thought they wanted their wedding to include, and then go over each aspect with an eye to what they could modify. I shared with them some cost-cutting options for each area to consider before they went out into the wedding marketplace to begin what would become the spending process. The earlier you consider money saving wedding plans, the better off you will be as you make choices for your special day. You can have a lovely wedding day without breaking the bank or being indebted for years afterwards.

The national average cost for a wedding is $35,329 according to the Knot, with low costs about $20,000 in rural areas and high costs about $80,000 in East Coast cities. Since most of us would prefer not to spend that kind of money even if we have it, cutting costs is an appealing thought.  Here are a few money saving wedding plans to consider;

  1. Plan to hold your wedding on a different day than the traditional Saturday–Friday nights or Sundays are less expensive.
  2. Plan to be married in the morning or at noon and have a brunch or luncheon for the reception.
  3. Plan to get married in the off-season just before or just after the peak wedding months of April to October.
  4. Plan to have your wedding in a smaller community rather than in a big city which would be less expensive for both you and your guests.
  5. Plan to have a small intimate ceremony at a small chapel, the courthouse, in a beautiful garden or park and then have a larger reception at another venue.
  6. Plan to have your wedding at your college–most universities have chapels and catering services and very attractive spaces indoor and outdoors for receptions.
  7. Plan to have an outdoor wedding at a local campground or state or city park with pavilions or lodges that might work for both the ceremony and reception.
  8. Plan to have your wedding and reception in the same venue–if you are having a non-alcoholic reception, you might use your church’s fellowship hall, or you might have your ceremony in one room or area of a hotel, and move to another for cocktails while the room is set up for your reception.
  9. Plan to have your reception at a restaurant–if you find a nice restaurant that can accommodate your guest list, you would have everything provided, including waitstaff.
  10. Plan to use a venue that allows you to bring in your own caterer, bartenders, alcohol, deejay and photographer.
  11. Plan to keep your guest list as small as you can–at a typical cost of $125 per person, a tight guest list can save you quite a bit.
  12. Plan to use a venue that is attractive in its own right and does not require a lot of decorating.
  13. Plan to ask your reception venue if they are already have vases and mirrors for table decorations that you can use with flowers you bring in.
  14. Plan to use candles for your centerpieces if you have an evening reception–pillars in varying sizes and votives can be found on sale, decorated with ribbons or jewels, and the centerpieces finished with just a few blossoms, shells, or colored glass beads. Candles can also be floated in glass bowls.
  15. Plan to get married when you have access to spring flowers and flowering trees or fall leaves to use for the ceremony or reception.
  16. Plan to use flowers from the yards of friends to your own arrangements if flowers like roses or hydrangea will be in season
  17. Plan to use more greenery like ivy or magnolia leaves from the yards of friends to flesh out your flower arrangements.
  18. Plan to stick to one or two varieties of flowers that are in season and reasonably priced.
  19. Plan to keep your cocktail time short to cut down on food and drink costs.
  20. Plan to have a signature cocktail, beer and wine instead of a full bar.
  21. Plan to serve a champagne or cocktail punch which allows you to use a less expensive brand.
  22. Plan to leave out the champagne toast.
  23. Plan to skip the sit-down dinner and just offer cocktails and pass hors d’oeuvres or have specialty stations like a make-your-own mashed potato bar.
  24. Plan to have a potluck reception if you are really trying to cut costs and are having a casual family-style wedding.
  25. Plan to have less expensive food offerings that are big on presentation.
  26. Plan to use small thematic trinkets or little bundles of candy as favors instead of other more expensive items.
  27. Plan to have a small band or combo or use a deejay to cut costs.
  28. Plan to have a pianist to play background music instead of a band if your guests are not big dancers.
  29. Plan to have a small tiered cake to cut for photos and have a larger sheet cake in the kitchen to cut.
  30. Plan to use fresh flowers on the cake instead of expensive sugar designs and add-ons.
  31. Plan to have a simpler cake without more expensive flavored layers and fruit icings.
  32. Plan to have a novelty cake like a donut or cupcake cake instead of a traditional cake.


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