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You have your “big stuff” booked.  The venues, caterers, and photographer, whew, you take a deep breath.  It’s organized and maybe even semi-payed for or you have already established payment plans within your budget!  It feels amazing!  You actually still have money!  Except, you don't.

When you’re planning a wedding, there are a ton of little things that cost money that many brides and grooms forget about.  All of these things, even if they are small amounts can add up quickly, pushing past your budget.  Here are three things to think about and how to keep the costs low.  

Stationery and Postage; In the digital age, most brides still want nice invitations.  I share the feeling.  It’s so exciting to pick out a beautiful invitation and send them out!  Yet, there is a harsh reality to the pretty paper. The average number is guests at a wedding is 120 people.  Seems reasonable, right?

Price check: Stationery will vary in cost depending where you get them from. If you opt to order them offline versus getting them through a design studio you can save hundreds.  Yet, whether you order them from a studio or the internet you’re still spending money you could spend on your honeymoon.

Save the dates can run you about $2 per.  For a wedding of 120 that's $240.  

A basic invitation off of the site will run about $220, add in thank you cards (175), response cards (142), and address labels, and you’re looking at a total of $562 with an additional $240 for save the dates.  Grand total: $802.00 not including postage.  

Solution:  Go Digital!  The famous website TheKnot allows you to create a wedding website FOR FREE...FREE...FREE…!  You can put in all of your information there and people can even RSVP online! It will literally save you hundreds of dollars.  If you still must have the physical invitations you can still send them out, but have people RSVP online so it saves you the $140 for response cards.  If some of your older family aren’t tech savvy just send out the invitations to the people you know will need to RSVP through snail mail!  Truth bomb: all of those invites are going to get thrown out after the wedding anyway.  

Wedding Cakes

I knew way before I was even engaged I never wanted a wedding cake (mostly because I do not like fondant), but also because I knew they were expensive.  Also whose idea was it to shove cake in each other’s faces?  Can we just not with this “tradition”?

Price Check: The prices of cake can really vary from $2 per slice to $12 per slice.  Say you only want buttercream so it’s going to cost you $6 a slice.  That’s $720, not including your delivery fee.  

Also, places literally charge you a “cutting fee”.  Seriously?  I bought the cake and you charge me to cut the cake?  Those charges will also vary pending your venues, but it's something to think about.  

Solution: It’s now 2017 and there are so many more options than cake.  Doughnuts, cookies, brownies, pies, cheesecake, candy, s'mores.  Literally anything that you love dessert wise you can have. You can also choose cupcakes which tends to be cheaper than a tiered cake. Talk to your caterer, maybe they have a dessert menu and it would be cheaper to use them than to add a cake from an outside bakery.  Just do your research.

Tips and Timelines

By the time a wedding comes the bride and groom tend to just be ready for it to be there.  Last minute details are just overwhelming and perhaps clouded judgements are made because they have planned so much they are just done with it.  Yet, two big things people forget about are tips for your vendors and the timeline of the day.

Price check; you already paid your vendors but you still need to show them gratitude.  A standard tip is 15%-20% of your total bill.  So if you total catering bill was $3500, and you wanted to tip them 20% after doing a fantastic job that's an additional $700.00.  

Why do timelines matter?  Although you have paid everyone most photographers and entertainment charge by the hour.  So you might pay your photographer $2500 for eight hours, but maybe you end up wanting her there until the very end, so they might have an “additional hour” fee.  Timelines are important to keep everything in order and continuous, but also to not add costs that weren’t there before.

Solution: Think about the tips when you book your vendors and add in that percentage into your budget.  For example if your photographer is $2500 and you want to tip them 20% just put $3000 in your budget, and save the last amount for the day of the wedding.  It’s always better to have more stashed away then less.

When creating your timeline, designate someone you know and trust to really keep you and your bridal party in line.  Someone is always going to be late or always going to be goofing off, but you will need to stick to your timeline.  It will not only keep you from stressing out, but it will keep your costs where you expected them.

Getting married is an exciting time!  You get to create the day of your dreams with the one person you love most in the world!  Just keep in mind that it’s one day., out of so many you will be able to share!

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The first few days after getting engaged are a complete whirlwind.  Your days are filled with phone calls, texts, an incredible amount of love expressed from friends and family, and a billion questions that you probably don’t have the answer to.  Once it settles down, reality sets in, and planning begins.  The average cost of a wedding in the United States is over $32,000.  Like Wut?  Now for some brides, that’s totally reasonable, and if you have the money HEY, why not?  “It’s the most important day of your life!”  However, for my fiancé’ and I, $30,000 could go towards so many other things.  It’s $30,000 you could have for retirement, multiple vacations and so much more.  We just aren’t willing to drop that much money for one, single, day.  Nor are we willing to ask our parents (and neither should you), who are all in retirement to sacrifice their income and future, for our big day.

With a budget well below the national average, my fiancé and I sat down and really thought about what we had to have and what was most important to us, and what we could do without.

So, before you go thinking people who have a small budget wedding can’t pull off an event that is elegant and fun, I have some tips to help you cut costs, but still have “the best day of your life”. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to take on side jobs or odd jobs, and I won’t tell you to DIY everything, but here are five things to consider!

  1. Choosing the date:  Friday weddings are becoming much more popular and for good reason.  Most venues will give you a great deal if you have your event on Friday or Sunday, rather than a Saturday.  Even more so, if you choose a day between January and April.
  2. Finding your venue: I knew I wanted a venue that allowed outside catering because we didn’t want the normal “chicken or beef” selections on the menu.  By finding a venue that allows you to bring in outside catering, you can literally save thousands!   You might have to get creative, but it’s definitely doable! Your wedding is celebrating two people coming together in marriage, personalize it!
  3. Go digital:  Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on Save the Dates, Invitations, and postage, make a wedding website!  You can personalize it, have all the information you need in one spot, and people can RSVP online!  
  4. Cut the DJ: *GASP* Venues usually have all the equipment you need!  So rather than spending a couple thousand on a guy who plays music and announces things, create some Spotify playlists and enlist a good friend or two to MC the reception!  This will make your reception more interactive!  It will also ensure all the music you want will get played, and all the music you don't want (chicken dance) won’t!   
  5. The Guest List: This is by far the hardest thing!  It’s okay if you don’t want to cut anyone or can’t.  This one is truly a personal choice.  However, between the appetizers, main course, dessert, and drinks, one person might run you well over $50.  So, the more people you have the more money it’s going to cost.  Do you really need your second cousin twice removed by marriage there?  Probably not, but if you want them there, then that’s great too!

There are so many ways to save money on a wedding!  If you really do your research and can differentiate the things you must have and the things you can truly do without, you can have the best wedding day, without having to spend a ton of money!  Just, try to remember what is truly important because a wedding is just that, a wedding.

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