A wedding without
frills still keeps the thrills
(Zawaj.com Editor's note:
this article was originally written for a non-Muslim wedding
site, so some of the advice may not be appropriate for Muslim
weddings, but it still has lots of great ideas about how to save
money on a wedding.)
Marrying is pricey, but creative couples
can reduce expenses without cheapening the big day. These tips
can help you beat the averages as you map your matrimony.
By Adriane G. Berg
The average wedding in the United States now costs more than
$15,000, according to Bride's magazine. But the two of you can
beat the averages, if you're willing to be creative and do your
homework. Here is a quick guide of strategies and sites to get
Use the Web to plan your wedding
There are now dozens of Web sites that offer everything from
tips to worksheets to links to professional consultants who can
help coordinate your wedding for far less than the going rates.
Here are some of the best sites that we found, with short descriptions:
Planner and gift registry site
Allows couples to create a website
Wedding planner site
Budget worksheet and help on creating calendar, gift registry
and cost estimates
Tips on all aspects of weddings
Best site for general wedding advice
Planner and gift registry site
Planner timeline and honeymoon ideas
Gowns and an online planner
Online wedding planner (checklist)
You also can use wedding software (which costs $30 to $75)
to get a realistic idea of the total cost of your dream wedding.
The best programs take you through each component, as would a
high-priced wedding planner. The programs allow you to plug in
costs in your area, and then calculate taxes and gratuities.
They also allow you to print out the invitation list and prepare
your thank-you notes. You can track gifts, register RSVPs, track
accommodations and transportation for out-of-town guests and
even plan showers and bachelor parties.
What these programs can't do is make your wedding truly individual
and special. You have to supply the personality. Memorable weddings
are all about themes, colors and surprises. The more unusual
your concept, the less you'll have to spend to make the day a
Know how to cut costs
Here are a few quick ideas on how to trim costs without making
the event seem "cheap":
- Think carefully about whom you need to invite. Make
two lists, with "must-haves" and "maybes."
Cut silly frills and invite more guests. Those imprinted napkins
that cost 70 cents apiece go right into the garbage.
- Keep the wedding dress simple. The more ornate, the
more you'll have to pay for your dress. An off-the-rack wedding
dress (yes, they do exist) can cost less than $200. You could
use the same philosophy that the grooms and ushers have followed
for years: Rent the dress. Check out the local consignment shops.
At a shop in New York, I recently bought a Bob Mackie wedding
dress that originally retailed for $6,000 and I had it altered
to be a formal gown. I paid $55.
- Plan the wedding for any day but Saturday. Saturdays
are the most popular -- and expensive -- days to schedule events
in ballrooms or other reception areas. Think about using a community
center, a university-owned reception hall or some other less-expensive
public building to stage your reception.
- Plan your wedding in one of the off-peak months. Nearly
40% of each year's formal weddings occur in May and June, so
everything from reception halls to catering services are more
willing to negotiate fees during the non-summer, non-holiday
- Carefully select the types of food and drink you'll serve.
Choose less-expensive entrees, such as chicken instead of beef
or seafood. Pasta is a fine, less-expensive dish. On the drinks
side, cases of the same beverage are cheaper than a variety of
drinks. Food with a theme can be more memorable than yet another
trendy buffet or a heavy sit-down dinner. Have a smaller decorated
cake for the formal cutting, but then have a larger, less-expensive
sheet cake to supplement for serving guests.
- Compare prices of photographers and know what you
really want handled by the professional. A professional photographer
or video crew can run into the thousands of dollars. Have the
professional photographer shoot the ceremony and the formal photos,
while you have friends and guests take the candids and reception
shots. If you hire a video crew, shoot only the wedding.
- Consider using a disk jockey rather than live musicians.
Or, if you prefer the atmosphere of live musicians, replace the
expensive wedding orchestra with a chamber music trio from a
music school, for a sedate, formal affair.
- Use flowers that are local and in season. Special
orders can run up a bill fast. Use multiple, less-expensive flowers
in bouquets. If it's an outdoor wedding, you may not need any
flowers other than the ones for the wedding party.
- Use invitation stationery that's light enough when
assembled for delivery that it doesn't require more than one