Tips to cut the cost of your big day
You fell in love, dated and decided to get married. Congratulations! Now comes the fun of planning the wedding, as well as all the potential stressors and exorbitant costs that can accompany the magical day.
But couples on a budget, take heart – the most romantic day of your life doesn’t also have to be the most expensive. Torontonian Mary Bratko is the founder of the popular wedding blog WeddingGirl.ca, and has planned more than 200 ceremonies, ranging from $3,000 to $31 million. Here are some of her top tips on how to plan the wedding of your dreams for cheap.
Lower the guest count: It’s a no-brainer – the lower the guest count, the lower the cost of your wedding.
“We have this outdated idea that you have to have hundreds of people at your wedding, but that’s not the case anymore at all,” Bratko says. “You can give a smaller guest count an incredible wedding experience – on a budget.”
People often don’t realize that it’s not just food and drinks into the per guest cost, but also the number of place settings, the number of chairs to rent, centrepieces to design and so forth. Cutting down the guest list dramatically slashes all of these expenses. So go for quality over quantity when it comes to invites.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize: Do you want an amazing band or the dress of your dreams? Does the venue matter the most, or is it the cuisine? One of the secrets to making sure you have the wedding of your dreams within your budget is to prioritize your vendors, Bratko says.
“It really comes down to asking the couple to think of their three most important vendors, then resolving that with the wedding budget they want to stick within,” she says. “You have to plan a wedding that you can afford, not a wedding that somebody else can afford.”
Get married abroad: It may seem counterintuitive, but Bratko says destination weddings can actually save couples big bucks, and also make for an amazing experience.
“It’s actually ridiculously cheap to have a wedding on a safari in India or to get married on an island in Thailand,” Bratko explains. “People don’t realize this is actually a really affordable option.”
It’s expensive to get to those countries, she says, but once you’re there, the food, decor, flowers and ceremony itself can be so cheap that you offset the cost of your flights. Plus, guest lists are usually smaller with destination weddings, making it both more intimate and more affordable.
Be time-sensitive: Trends, ideas, guest counts, designs – and relationships – all change over time, making it best to start planning your wedding when it’s less than a year away. Bratko says one of the best ways to be time savvy is to have a short engagement.
“So many things will change. You’re going to change your mind on everything you start spending money on,” she says, noting she’s seen couples lose deposits and waste money when they begin planning years in advance.
“Every couple that I’ve ever convinced to have a shorter engagement has thanked me for it, because they don’t have as much time to think themselves out of financial commitments.”
Buy previously loved items: Don’t let the stigma of second-hand items stop you from saving money.
“Let go of the stigma of ‘Oh, it’s previously worn.’ Nobody cares,” Bratko says, noting that previously loved decor and dresses are becoming “shockingly popular.”
For example, $5,000 dollar wedding dresses can sell for $1,200 in consignment shops, saving you tonnes of money for a dress that’s been worn just once, if at all.
And think about selling your wedding items such as centrepieces after the ceremony, Bratko suggests, because “after you get married and you have 450 cylinder vases, what are you going to do with them?”
Don’t over-research: Weddings are one of the few times knowing too much may actually cost you money, Bratko says.
There’s a seemingly endless supply of wedding ideas and information available online, but couples should research only what’s within their budget.
“Once you make a decision, stop researching. Once you find a dress, stop dress shopping,” Bratko says. “Over-researching will not only make you feel bad about the decisions you’ve already made, but it eats into your budget because you end up spending more.”
And avoid the urge to compare your wedding to others you see on social media (a phenomenon Bratko calls “out-pinteresting each other”) and focus on making it special for you and your partner.
“The financial stresses that come from going into debt for your wedding is really bad for your marriage,” she says. “Weddings should be about couples doing it for the right reason, and not for the show.”
Edited on 17 August 2017