Wedding on a budget

Getting Married on a Budget

If the most important wedding question is “will you marry me,” then coming in a close second is “how much do we want to spend?”

Wedding websites, such as TheKnot.com and Brides.com, are in agreement that in order to save money on your wedding, a budget must be established first. On thebudgetsavvybride.com, economical weddings, submitted by the couples themselves, ranged in price from $1,000-$20,000, so the term “frugal” is subject to interpretation.

In The Wedding Report, the average cost of getting married in 2013 in the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale metro area was $25,846. Almost 25,000 local couples got hitched during that time, generating a market value of $637 million. If you don’t want to be a major contributor to that revenue stream, here are a few expert tips for holding your nuptials on a budget.

When to Marry

Financially savvy fiancées should learn what the off-season means for their locale and how to leverage it. For ring shopping, avoid October, November and December, when the demand soars and so do the prices. Warm weather climates, like Arizona, experience their wedding off-peak season in the summer – a better time to bargain-hunt because demand for venues is falling, advises Brides.com. If you plan to bring wedding guests to a hotel or resort during a slow time, point this out and negotiate for a reduction in the total cost.

Also consider moving your wedding from a weekend to a less expensive weekday.

Where to Shop

When it comes buying a wedding gown, sipping champagne in a swanky boutique is for fun, but not for saving money. On Learnvest.com, bridal consultants suggest checking out mass retailers, such as J.Crew, BCBG, Anthropologie and Ann Taylor, for gowns ranging from $500-$2,000. Sample sales on designer gowns can be researched at www.bridepower.com. Saving thousands by buying a gently used Vera Wang or Monique Lhuillier bridal gown has become much more accessible and acceptable, thanks to sites such as PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, OnceWed.com and RecycledBride.com.

If the guests haven’t seen the dress before, then it’s new to them, right?

What to Eat

A wealth of recommendations is available when it comes to feeding your guests on a budget. Consider the following our top 5:

  1. Limit the number of choices on the dinner menu. Each additional choice can add upwards of $15 more per person, according to Brides.com. Be sure to include a vegetarian option.
  2. Let the chef choose the fish and vegetables. Trust him or her to select the best, and less expensive, options for the location and season.
  3. Offer beer, wine and a signature cocktail, instead of a full bar.
  4. Skip the champagne toast.
  5. Order a small one or two-tiered cake, and supplement it with a larger sheet cake.

How to Read

Read the contractual fine print slowly and carefully. Sure, this takes time, but understanding in advance the cost of serving, corkage and cleanup; extra music equipment for a large hall; and overtime for the photographer and band will be beneficial when the wedding is over.

In this age of online reviews, couples can even get fined for a bad write-up, which is in the contract for weddings held at The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York. If wedding guests post a less-than-favorable review of the historic inn and its vintage accommodations, the couple can be fined $500. According to Brides.com, more vendors are including this image protection clause, which means read all the paperwork and negotiate accordingly before signing.

It’s not as difficult as you think to hold your dream wedding on a realistic budget. Several websites document the success of couples who were married on a tight budget. You can also purchase a wedding budget planner online or at your local bookstore to help keep your nuptial expenses in check. With tools like these — and a little creativity! — you can look forward to hosting a wedding that won’t break the bank. Congrats!