When it comes to wedding planning, one of the most stressful aspects of the process for everyone involved is staying within the proposed budget. Hidden costs and overages seem to crop up everywhere. From services fees, to invitations stamps, to dress alterations, planning an elegant wedding without blowing your budget requires some money saving creativity. Read on to find our 8 tips for easily creating a budget friendly event without sacrificing your dream wedding.

1. Pick your date and time with your budget in mind

Almost every vendor or merchant associated with wedding planning will charge their highest prices during their local peak wedding season. Research the most popular wedding months in your area and avoid excessive charges by setting your date outside of those peak times. Likewise, holding your wedding in the morning or afternoon can save you some serious money by sidestepping the need to provide a full meal for your guests. Creative ideas like a breakfast wedding or a dessert bar are both unique and memorable ways to stay in budget, just be sure to note your plan on the invitation.

2. Negotiate meal prices

While many budget-conscious couples choose to forgo meals in favor of a dessert bar or hors d’oeuvres, there are several ways to negotiate meal prices for those who prefer a fully catered reception. If children will be attending your wedding, ask the caterer for a discounted price on children’s meal, or request more affordable food for the kids. Mac ’n cheese, French fries, and chicken fingers will save you money and make the children’s parents happy. If asked, some caterers will throw in a chocolate fountain, free dessert, or even cheaper substitutions for things like vegetables and bread to keep your business. Arm yourself with research about local rates, and ask if your caterer provides any discounts or incentives.

3. Get creative with your favors

To save money on your wedding day, skip the over-priced standard favors and opt for something unique to the couple’s personality instead. Did the couple bond over long talks and coffee? Wrap up homemade biscotti with a ribbon and note, wishing your guests well. Are you both avid hikers who plan on scaling mountainsides on your honeymoon? Order custom printed water bottles for each place setting. A homemade sketch pad or journal is the perfect favor to showcase the couple’s love of artistry. Let your favors showcase your interests, passions, and love for one another while also trimming down your budget.

4. Pay for alcohol á la carte

Some venues charge a flat rate for alcohol based on your number of guests, even if many guests won’t be drinking. If your guest list includes children or several non-drinkers, consider negotiating an á la carte rate and pay for only what your friends and family drink. By paying á la carte, you may also be able to avoid the tax some bartenders add if you pay their flat rate. To save even further, ask the bartenders to stop serving hard liquor after cocktail hour. Serve beer, wine, and one or two signature cocktails the rest of the evening. Even if you do prefer to pay a flat rate or per head, negotiate the prices and kinds of alcohol served to save big.

5. Get your dream gown for less

Most brides don’t want to skimp on one of the most important pieces of their wedding – their gown. However, many don’t realize that they can find designer dresses for any budget by shopping carefully. Stores like Luv Bridal PerthFormal Dresses offer experience and exclusively designed gowns at affordable prices. Some brides also find success opting for simple wedding gowns with few embellishments, avoiding custom alterations, and buying floor samples. Even if you don’t want to compromise on your dream dress, these cost-saving strategies can still help you save some major cash.

6. Re-use ceremony flowers for your reception

Few things are as elegant as a flower-filled wedding and reception. Unfortunately, flowers are one of the most expensive wedding decorations. Let your flowers do double-duty and brighten up both your ceremony and reception. After the wedding, designate a friend to gather all the aisle flowers and alter arrangements to use as food, drink, and gift table decorations. Likewise, once your photographer has snapped his post-ceremony pics, combine the bridesmaids’ bouquets together at the head table to create a lovely, memorable centerpiece.

7. Keep an eye out for deals

If you’re patient and diligent enough, almost every wedding vendor will offer a deal at some point throughout the year. Subscribe to your favorite vendor newsletters, follow them on social media, and book when they offers specials or discounts. Don’t forget to review offers from multiple vendors to not only get an idea of average cost, but also to negotiate freebies or pricing options. Finally, it helps to remember that established vendors are less likely to offer deals and negotiate, whereas vendors who are working to create a client list are usually more open to discounting their services.

8. Re-sell anything you don’t need

Keep in mind that you’re not the only couple striving to plan their perfect wedding on a budget. Many brides and grooms are happy to buy high quality linens, accessories, tableware, clothing, and decorations second hand, giving you the perfect way to recoup some of your original cost. Make sure your items are clean and in good condition, take clear photos, post them to a reputable online marketplace, and make some money while cleaning out your garage! If your items hold sentimental value, you can always hold on to one or two centerpieces or bowties and sell the rest.

Planning the wedding of your dreams on a budget doesn’t have to be a stressful nightmare. When you incorporate just a few cost-cutting techniques into your methods and negotiations, those little savings can add up without diminishing the experience for you or your guests.

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