Myself and every other wedding planner will tell you the most important way to save money on a wedding is to PRIORITIZE. Decide what is most important to you and your fiancé before you start spending money. My husband is an avid reader of Lifehacker.com and in his reading he found an interesting article on how a bride saved $21,000 on her wedding budget. He immediately thought of me and sent it to me thinking I could refer to it. I thought it was an excellent article so I would like to share it with my brides.
The two most important things to this bride, Jane, was a live band and a pretty dress; she could care less about the programs and escort cards. Jane was able to always find a way to get everything she needed for less than full price. Whether than meant negotiating with a vendor, waiting for a sale, or using "rewards" points she ended up saving $21,484.00!
Here are the 10 ways she saved:
1. Don't Be Overly Accommodating. Her wedding was originally supposed to be on a Friday night and after she signed the contract the venue coordinator later called to tell her that she had accidentally double-booked her date. Jane didn't say that was okay, instead she said firmly, that she was disappointed and might take her business somewhere else. The venue coordinator then said that she would give her a Saturday evening wedding for a Friday evening price which saved Jane $11,450 less than it would have cost. Wedding vendors juggle at least four brides a weekend and errors aren't that uncommon. So if your vendor makes a mistake remember that you have leverage. Don't throw a tantrum, but don't be a pushover either.
2. Borrow Instead Of Buy. Before you purchase something think back to all the weddings you have been to recently, and think if there was a past bride that wore or used an item that you would want to use and borrow. Jane loved her sister-in-law's veil and so she borrowed it from her, and that saved her $50.
3. Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate. After Jane booked her venue, the next biggest priority was hiring musicians. She and her fiancé wanted a live band but she knew they charged a ton for a Saturday night. She told the bandleader how much she would love them to perform, but that the price was steep, and asked if there was anyway they could cut it down a little. They immediately slashed the price by $2,500. Jane said she would think about it and get back to them. A few days later she called and asked again if that's the best price they could give. They said they could drop it another $2,500 if they paid in cash, and they would throw in a cocktail hour duo for free. That saved Jane another $800. Negotiating isn't always easy and can be scary because you don't want to annoy the vendor and make them not want to work with you, but it can be worth it. Bottom line: Never accept a vendor's first price without trying to negotiate.
4. Work With Your Venue. The wedding business is filled with partnerships. Venues always refer brides to certain vendors. Always ask the venue if there is a list of "preferred vendors." There is always a good chance you'll get a good deal that way. By using Jane's venue's preferred hair and makeup team her total cost of the package for her and her bridesmaids was $200 cheaper than normal.
5. Call On Talented Friends. One of Jane's and her fiancés friends is an ordained minister. They decided to ask him if he would marry them. Of course he accepted, and he didn't charge them. For their appreciation, they gave him a $250 gift, and still saved $250. They have some other friends who are musically inclined and offered to play music for free during their ceremony. They also gave them gifts and still saved $750.
6. Shop Around. When you are choosing a vendor always do your research. The more websites you visit, calls you make, and meetings you set up the more you will know when negotiating prices. Jane visited two florists and liked Florist A better than Florist B, but her price was $1,100 higher. She emailed Florist A and told her she would really love to work with her but she got an estimate from another florist that was $1,100 less. Florist A got back to her and matched her price. Jane got the florist she wanted for the same price!
7. Wait For Sales. The earlier you plan the more deals you will find because you will be able to wait for sales. Jane and her fiancé knew what bridal party gifts they wanted to buy for their bridal party way in advance, so they waited to purchase them. They were on TheKnot.com so they signed up for their newsletter. When December came around they got an e-mail about their "Year-end clearance Sale!" It saved them $120. She was also patient about her wedding shoes. She found some that were $215 from Bloomingdales but got them for $150 because of the big holiday sales that are around Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.
8. Pay Attention To The Fine Print. When planning a wedding you read and keep track of dozens of contracts that happen to be long and detailed. It is easy to skim through them quickly without really knowing what you are signing. Resist that urge, and analyze it to make you sure understand the agreement. Most places give you a copy of what you are signing but if they don't be sure to photocopy it in case you need to refer to it at a later time. Jane's vendor told her that it would cost an additional $180 to use two colors for invitations. She thought that sounded different from what the vendor originally told her so she went back and checked her contract. Sure enough the vendor was wrong. She pointed it out to the vendor and they corrected the error. Had she not spoken up she would have been charged extra.
9. Use Rewards Points. Since her fiancé is a Hilton Honors member they were able to use 160,000 rewards points to get a free hotel room for two nights for their honeymoon to Hawaii. That saved them $800. Remember to think about frequent flyer miles and credit card rewards points as well when making Honeymoon plans.
10. DIY It. Instead of asking a professional company to print her ceremony programs and reception cards Jane printed them herself. This saved her $175 for the cards and $400 for the programs. You can also find DIY wedding decorations, jewelry, food etc. It is easy to get sucked into the wedding spending whirlpool. In the end vendors just want your money they don't truly care about making everlasting memories.
Remember to focus on what's really important: that you and her sweetheart are getting married and starting a new life together. Try and cut back where you can so you can save for a new home together like Jane and her husband were able to do. For more ways to save go back and read my other post titled: Wedding Budget 101.