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Start Planning Your Wedding Now How to get the most out of your budget and ceremony

wedding saving money tips

Start Planning Your Wedding Now How to get the most out of your budget and ceremony

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For most brides-to-be, the chilly fall season doesn’t evoke visions of fair-weather nuptials. But fall can be one of the best times of the year to plan a classic spring or summer wedding, says David Caruso, a Milwaukee-based wedding planner and spokesperson for the National Association for Catering and Events.

“When it comes to planning a wedding, timing is critical,” says Caruso. Ideally, a couple will start at least a year in advance, though five or six months is usually plenty of time to secure venues for the ceremony and reception as well as other big-ticket items. “You can do it in less time, but it will likely be extremely stressful,” he says.

With some creative thinking and focus on timing, couples can make the most of their limited budgets. “The most important thing is to express your own personal style and make it a unique experience that people will enjoy and remember—not [the type of] wedding everyone has already been to and doesn’t want to go to again,” Caruso says.

Here are 9 tips for getting the most out of your wedding budget:

Streamline the day. Seek out venues where you can hold both the ceremony and the reception. Not only does this cut down on venue expenses, but it also eliminates costs on decorations and transportation between the two locations.

Negotiate. Just as you would with a car or salary, ask for a better deal. This can be effective if you’re planning many months out, as caterers and venues like to book their calendars early. Also, if you’re hosting the event at a hotel, the property may cut you a deal if you can promise to fill a certain number of rooms with your guests. You can also negotiate a discount rate for family and friends by agreeing to a certain event fee. Get creative when working with the caterer. Ask if you can bring your own wine and beer, or if you can serve a family-style meal. This will save on the expense of servers.

Slim down the menu. Another benefit of hosting a wedding that flows swiftly from the nuptials to the party is that you can save on catering. For example, Caruso suggests an afternoon wedding followed by heavy appetizers and drinks. As an alternative, he recommends an evening ceremony trailed by dinner, so that expensive hors d’oeuvres aren’t missed.

Decide what’s important. Each couple has things that express who they are. Focus on yours, and skimp on the rest. For example, if you are foodies, make a big deal out of the menu. Mention the food theme on the invitation, showcase the buffet in the reception hall, and make attractive baskets of artisanal bread and oil-cured olives part of the table centerpieces. Then, forgo live music and scale back on floral arrangements.wedding reception centerpiecesChoose local or seasonal flowers for table centerpieces.

Do double duty. The foodie couple can get twice the mileage out of their appetizers by using them as decorations; others might have centerpieces made of potted succulents that then double as guest favors.

Keep stationery simple. The time, date, nature of the event and address can all fit on a single card. Additional details can be spelled out on a wedding website like MyWedding.com or Wedding Jojo.

Reconsider what you think you need. “On average, weddings have become very extreme,” Caruso concedes. “If you focus on the core components, your guests will have a memorable experience.” Expenses can be dramatically cut if you get over the idea that you must have:

● Favors. “If you’re giving people heart-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers, you’re wasting your money,” Caruso says.

● Pre- and post-celebrations. Elaborate rehearsal dinners, after parties, bride/groom/bachelor/bachelorette parties, showers and next-day brunches are all relatively new trends that can add up to beaucoup bucks.

● Champagne. It’s expensive and not required.

● Exotic flowers. Ask your florist to recommend local and seasonal blooms.

● Full open bar. Booze can be a huge expense, especially if you offer a fully stocked bar. Consider limiting the options to beer and wine, or perhaps add a single signature cocktail.

● Saturday-night date. That slot is always the most popular and expensive wedding time. Daytimes and Fridays and Sundays are perfectly respectable wedding days, too.

● Live music. Unless tunes are your main jam, consider canned music.

● Steak and seafood. Go for ethnic dishes or chicken prepared in an interesting way.

● Elaborate decorations. While filling the banquet hall with an abundance of intoxicating peonies may be a dream, a few gorgeous arrangements strategically placed can make an equally dramatic impression.

● Springtime wedding. Fall and winter are also romantic seasons for tying the knot and are 20% to 30% cheaper to book than their warmer counterparts.

● Released butterflies and doves. ’Nuff said.

Shop seasonally. If you do have enough time, hit up craft purveyors and big-box stores for items like ribbons, candles and silk flowers. Those with fall colors like burgundy, copper and forest green will be dramatically discounted in November.

Get out of the city. Major cities charge a premium for events. Meanwhile, small-town or suburban locations offer unique experiences for a fraction of the cost.

Ask for help. Friends are happy to haul the floral arrangements from the temple to the restaurant, and your cousin might be delighted to lend you her vintage Corvette, which will eliminate the cost of renting a limo. Got a musician or singer in the family? Invite him or her to perform during the ceremony.

 

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