I recently had a conversation and correspondence with a bride who wanted to create a quality wedding for 150 guests and stay within a $15,000 budget near a large metropolitan area.
To me, $15,000 is a lot of money, and I wish I could have told her the magic formula to make that happen for her without any compromises or downsizing.
What follows is a portion of my letter to her in hopes that if you know someone that can be helped with this information, that you will pass on the suggestions:
Actually I think you are doing well if you can have any measure of a wedding for $15,000 even in these economic times. The national average is $30,000 for 150 guests. I know that doesn’t change the reality that you are trying not to spend that much, but I didn’t want you to think you weren’t trying hard enough to lower your costs and be as realistic as possible in your expectations, You are!
Here are several observations and suggestions to consider:
- First ask yourself and your fiancée the following question. You don’t have to have the same answer, but hopefully you both are not off the track too much. What are your top three priorities among the following categories: site, food, wedding gown, invitations, music, photography, and flowers. Whatever your answers are, that’s where you want to concentrate where you spend your money.
- Restaurants tend to be a great place to get the best value for your dollar on a Sunday if they have a patio to get married on or an adjacent room depending on the weather. Restaurants already have the tables, chairs, linens, and a full time staff. They may even have a built in sound system for music and an ipod might be able to be used running the ceremony and the cocktail hour.
- If you can manage a Sunday wedding you will save money. Don’t worry about your friends and family having to leave early in the evening if they have to work the next day. What I have found over time, many of your guests will find a way to work things out in their own life to make the time to be with you. It’s one night for them, it’s been a year possibly of planning for you. Even if some people leave the reception earlier than you would prefer, remember the people left are the ones to care about since they decided to be there with you until the end.
- Use a professional photographer, their eye and their time are the most valuable skills and elements to consider. You can always print an album later, but you can’t retrieve the time or experience again.
- Consider renting your dress or buying a bridesmaid’s dress in white and adding some beading or embellishments like a pretty belt.
- Save on details like favors, escort cards, programs, and menus by skipping them. Just have a couple of alphabetical lists of your guest list in frames and by their name their table # where you would like them to sit next to their names.
- Try not to sweat the small stuff, I know it’s hard to let go of some of the details you may have dreamed of having at your wedding. Even as a wedding consultant, I couldn’t give my step daughter everything she wanted on her wedding day, but we focused on what was the most important to her and her fiancée and in the end she was happy because she had the most important people witness her marriage and enjoy the afternoon and evening together. We had to trim down our guest list, and do without the frills, but we had a great DJ and the party was really memorable.
- The last thing I want to share with you is the importance of having a videographer. No plug here for anyone in particular, and my husband isn’t a videographer either:). I’m talking from my heart to yours. When I see all the trimmings and special effort brides go through to make everything look and have the accessories that individualize a wedding, I hark back to some weddings that I will always remember because they captured the experience on video. In the end being able to hear the voices of your loved ones, seeing them behave, gesture, and interact on video is not only a visual archive but a living memory that just can’t be recreated by photos alone. It’s one of the few times in life where you will have all your relatives together from both sides of your new family you are forming. Some may no longer be with you when the next milestone event happens. The ability to see them at their best enjoying along with you, and hearing their actual voices is invaluable.
- Well I think I’ve said enough, but I hope you know I wish I could wave a magic wand and somehow help you find a way to have your dream wedding for less, but hopefully I’ve given you some worthwhile advice that will serve you well.