Frugal Wedding Tips
Even When You Have a Nice Budget

by Wendy

A Lovely Wedding Venue

A Lovely Wedding Venue

I think planning a frugal wedding is relative. There are ways to be frugal even if you have a moderate or even significant budget for your wedding. I wanted to share some of what I learned planning a wedding recently - a wedding where there really wasn't any budget.

I planned this wedding in less than 2 1/2 months. I wasn't sure it could be done (especially considering I've never planned a wedding before!), but I managed to pull it off. It was a sit down dinner for 230 people in an outdoor setting.

I learned a lot of things that can really help you save money when you're planning a wedding.

First, make sure you shop around. Given our current economic environment (in the US anyway), everyone is looking to save money. On the flip side, vendors are looking to score clients, even if it means they have to lower their price to do so. Negotiation is key. Pretty much anything is negotiable. And if you're wary of negotiating, think of it this way - what do you have to lose? The worst they can do is say no.

Second, make sure you read your contracts. Know exactly what every line item in the contract means. For example, if you are renting dishes, silverware, glassware, etc., you need to know what condition things need to be in when you return the stuff you rented. If it needs to be "clean," what does that mean? Does it mean food simply needs to be scraped off, or does it mean the dishes need to be scrubbed and rinsed? Often, rental companies will charge extra if the dishes, etc. are not returned clean.

And who is going to ensure the dishes are "clean," to whatever extent is needed? Obviously you will save money if you do the cleaning yourself. But if you're going to have the caterer do it, make sure that is written into the contract. In the event the caterer does not leave the dishes in the condition you expect, you have a contract to back you up.

Consider a buffet instead of a full-blown sit down dinner. This saves money at least two ways - you can fit more people at a table if you don't have to set the table for a sit down dinner, and buffet food costs less per head than plated food.

Even more cost-saving, consider only serving appetizers and cake. This way you don't have to have an many tables and chairs for people to sit, you don't need to have as many plates and silverware. You will save on linens and center pieces as well.

If at all possible, have your caterer bring the glassware. A big place where you'll lose money is on glassware breakage. It is inevitable that glasses will break during a wedding reception, especially if you have bars set up with bartenders serving drinks. Breakage also increases if you have servers walking around delivering drinks to guests. It will save you a lot of money if your caterer is responsible for broken glassware, not you because in most cases, it is the serving staff that does the breaking.

If you are hiring a photographer, consider only hiring them for a small window. Then ask your family and friends to bring their cameras, letting them know you're trying to save money on the photography costs. More than likely, you'll get a bunch of really great pictures that you can have printed for your wedding album.

There are a lot of things you can do yourself.

For instance, even with limited computer knowledge, you can print your own place cards. You don't need to go to a professional printer to have them done. Same thing with invitations. You can lay out the invitations yourself and then either print them yourself, or take them somewhere to have them printed. This will cost less than having a printer do all the work for you.

Jane's reply

Lots of wedding details to consider here in terms of wedding contract legalities, handling a wedding budget and ways towards reducing wedding carbon footprints. A great heads up for everyone planning their wedding day.

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