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Save Money Planning Your Wedding

Weddings are expensive.  We understand that.  The average wedding in Indianapolis costs over $25,000. Want to know what else costs $25,000?

  • 1 – Nicely equipped 2013 Ford Escape
  • 4 – Nikon D4 DSLR camera bodies
  • 125 – iPhone 5’s
  • 27,034 – lbs of dog food (Charles’s contribution to the list)

With that, Kelsey, Charles, and I will show you how to cut costs from your wedding without taking away the fun.  It really is possible to have a wonderful and entertaining wedding day without thinking about how much dog food you could have purchased in place of your big day.  Click ahead to see how you can save money planning your wedding!

1. Reduce The Headcount

The best way to save money planning your wedding is to reduce the number of guests to feed and entertain. Reception costs often consume 50% or more of the entire budget (“lots of dog food, woof!” -Charles), and caterers often charge based on the number of guests you plan to serve.  Therefore, reducing the guest list from 200 to 150 or 150 to 100 can save you several thousand dollars.

Our best advice is to set a budget-based guest list number from the beginning and stick to it.  These parameters allow you to stay within your budget, and you will know from the beginning what you are up against.  Budget-based guest lists also ensure that your reception will be tons of fun, as your guest list will only include those that mean the absolute most to you and will be only your best friends and family.

For friends who don’t make the list, let them know you have a limited budget from the start and they will often be very understanding.

2. Pass On The Filet & Bring On The Sliders

The $15 difference between a $12 meal and a $27 meal may not seem like a lot, but when multiplied by 150 guests, you are looking at over $2,000 in additional costs.  In addition, most wedding guests do not care about having a fancy meal.  The ones who are at your celebration want to sit down, eat a bite to eat, mingle, and get the party started.  Opting for a buffet-style dinner can save a ton, and I guarantee not a soul will be offended if you choose chicken breasts over lobster tails.

3. Get Creative With Your Location

Choosing a wedding location is often one of the first decisions a couple makes in the wedding planning process, which means the first dollar often is spent against this portion of your budget.  You can save money planning your wedding from the start with a few tips.  First, consider combining your wedding ceremony and reception to save on several fronts.  By combining the ceremony and reception you can completely cut out transportation costs for you and your wedding party.  Many venues will also give you a hefty discount for booking the venue for the entire day, versus just booking for a few hours in the evening.

Farm Wedding

Choosing a family farm wedding can save money planning your wedding, and you’re free from any restrictions common with other venues.

As one of our couples from Summer 2012 chose to do, thinking outside the box for locations is another great way to save money planning your wedding. A park, farm, or a friend’s backyard can save you a chunk of money compared with many fancy wedding-specific venues and hotels who take advantage of the captive wedding market.

4. Booze Without The Bar Tab

Signature cocktails are a great conversation starter and can save a ton of money.

Open bars are great, but open bars are also extremely expensive.  Consider the idea of one special signature cocktail.  What is a signature cocktail?  It’s one fantastic way to only paying for the alcohol in that drink, beer or wine combination.  Not only does your signature cocktail this save you money, but it also allows you to be creative and name the chosen drink something memorable (e.g. – “The Miami Merger” from Brett and Lauren‘s wedding, who met at Miami University).  Alternatively, you can serve beer and wine alone and save even more money.  Finally, consider closing the bar during the dinner hour. There’s no need for people to be lining up for more beer when there is water and tea available at the table.

5. Enjoy The Roses Without The Thorns

You can also save more money than expected on flowers just by doing your homework ahead of time. First, as much as everyone loves calla lillies, ordering them for a fall wedding will really burn your budget. By choosing flowers that are in season, you have the opportunity to save money and flowers that are in season will also guarantee that your arrangements will look fresh.  We found a quick-glance chart here on Pinterest to easily select flowers are in-season for your wedding.

Also, many brides often consider using more greenery and less expensive signature flowers.  Tables can be decorated in succulents or greens and still look great!

6. Designer Clothing Without The Designer Price

Yes, the new 2013 Vera Wang dresses are going to be spectacular, but a 2011 or 2012 Vera dress on clearance is going to look just as good and will be a mere fraction of the cost against your budget.  Take into account clearance dresses, trunk sales, and other options to find great deals.

For bridesmaids, please don’t ever limit yourself to bridal stores.  Consider picking a theme color and/or style and letting your bridesmaids choose a dress of their own for the wedding.  If you choose to go this route, just make sure they run it by you first to make sure it meets your criteria.  Not only will this allow bridesmaids to pick a dress in their budget, but it also allows them to choose a dress that best fits their style and figure.

Varied Wedding Dresses

Not all bridesmaids dresses have to be the same style and color from a bridal store.

For the guys, look into purchasing a tuxedo for the wedding.  Although it may not always be the cheaper option, tuxes and suits are often priced very similarly whether you buy or rent.  You will often pay a little more up front, but on Monday morning when everyone is returning their tux, you get to keep it for the next fancy dinner or wedding on your calendar. Plus, the groom will be able to take the suit to a tailor before the big day, which will make him look much more dapper on his wedding day.  From our perspective, every guy knows how rented tuxes fit and they are never good.

7. Additional Ideas

There are many, many more ways to save money planning your wedding.  If you have any we didn’t mention above, please share it with us in the comments.  We would love to hear your ideas so we may pass them along to future brides!


Happy planning!
Jon, Kelsey & Charles

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