If you’ve already read my post on “How Many Hours Do I Need for My Wedding Photography” , then you will know that when it comes to planning your wedding, it is all about figuring out what is important to YOU. Some brides prioritize their DJ higher than their Florals, their Photographer higher than their Venue, or their Number of Guests more than their Food,… Once you figure out what is most important to you, you can then begin where to spend the bulk of your budget, and where you can cut back to save money.
So the first step is to create a list and organize it in order of importance to you. These are the typical Big Ticket Items to plan for:
- Ceremony Location
- Reception Venue
- DJ/Live Band
- Wedding Dress
- Wedding Rings
- Transportation/Limo/Horse & Carriage etc.
- Number of Guests
This is just the basics. As you personalize your wedding, you will find there may be other details you will budget for; like a Dove Release for instance. You will notice that Number of Guests is in bold; this is because the number one way to cut back cost on your big day, is to cut your Guest List. I know, I know! But with food and drink costs, on average, one guest will cost you anywhere from $100-200 in north Georgia and Atlanta… and don’t forget their +1! Back to the list…
So, let’s say your order of importance looks like this:
- Number of Guests
This tells me that YOU VALUE your location (venue), how you look (dress), having fun (DJ), and a great photographer that will capture all of those things! A formal venue will definitely take up a good portion of your budget. Also, many venues here in the greater Atlanta area are what we call “all-inclusive” and include food and drink packages. The good news is that you have to book your venue first! So, after you book your venue you then will have a good idea of what is left in your ideal budget and where to invest it.
This is your wedding day! Your Once in a Lifetime Day! If you have your heart set on a certain vendor, allocate extra money for that vendor! There are plenty of ways to cut back elsewhere.
- Many Wedding Venues give discounts for Friday & Sunday weddings and Off-Peak Season dates! Supply and demand at its finest! You could easily save THOUSANDS!
- Formal Seated Served Meals require additional time and wait staff. Consider a buffet option to save per-head costs!
- Invitation Suites can cost up to $15 per suite. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of stamps. The good news is you typically need half the number of invites as you have guests (because many of your guests will be couples or families). Pick something beautiful (I love to photograph the rings on your invitations on the wedding day) but within your budget. Check Etsy (my favorite local GA girl) for complete sets or designs that you can print on your own to save.
- We LOVE florals and centerpieces, but if you have to shave some dollars, spend more money on the Bride’s Bouquet and less on the Bridesmaid’s Bouquets. Also, you can have just the Newlywed & Main Bridal Party Tables with more Elaborate Centerpieces and simpler ones on all of the guest tables. This will allow your photographer to photograph the event in a way that makes it look elaborate, and no one will notice the centerpieces weren’t on every table! Here’s a tip – your bridesmaid’s bouquets can easily be re-purposed! Have empty vases with water waiting on the guest tables and after pictures are done, they can be placed on the tables!
- If you’re having an open bar, use House brands and consider just beer and wine (most venues will store Top Shelf behind the bar just for the Bride and Groom if you ask). This can easily cut your bar tab by 25%!
- If it’s partying you’re prioritizing, consider a child-free wedding… this cuts the guest list significantly!
- If you’re renting a limo or equivalent, choose them for either a grand entrance or a grand exit in lieu of having them wait around the entire 10 hours. Cuts the bill in half or more!
*UPDATE*. You can now read the next post in this series, How to Cut the Guest List to Save Money
These are just a few ways to save! There are endless articles on the web with more ideas. Just remember to relax! The big thing is that at the end of the day, you will both have each other and you will embark on the biggest journey of your lives: Marriage!
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