Stretching your Wedding Budget

Anne Landis's picture
Written By
Anne Landis
September 10, 2010

Whether you are in the beginning planning stages of your wedding, or arranging the final details, a wedding should come down to personal style, at any budget. I have listed some alternative planning strategies that will reduce your wedding budget without sacrificing your personal style. Begin by deciding what is most important to you by selecting your top three priorities and then allocate a little extra money for them (i.e., gown, catering, and band). Next, choose the three things that come lowest on your priority list (transportation, cake, invitations—I am only guessing!) and budget accordingly.




I know it's tough, but one of the fastest and most effective ways to lower your wedding cost is to pare down the invitees. Get out a red pen and begin! At $100 a head, taking 10 guests off the guest list saves $1,000! Also consider the size of your wedding party: Gifts, hair, and makeup are less expensive for two or four than for ten.




Wedding transportation is always a good place to save. Shuttle buses and limousines can inch up your wedding budget by a few thousand. Town Cars will shuttle your wedding party to the reception just as effectively as a Hummer stretch limo. Rented antique cars and horse-drawn carriages are always a romantic touch and can be meaningful for just the bride and groom. Instead, consider calling up a friend who can loan you a nice car for your getaway.


Just record the ceremony. Don't skimp on photographs or you'll regret it forever. Your wedding video is another important keepsake you won't want to pass up; however, taping only the ceremony will save you some cash.


When it comes to your wedding ceremony, many couples agree: saying 'I do' is the most important part of your wedding day. Fewer people at the actual ceremony can mean a more personal celebration. There is more time for the bride and groom to spend with their close friends and family. Intimate celebrations have certain advantages, one of them, of course, is budget. There are so many creative options for locations when you are not trying to accommodate hundreds of guests. There are unique restaurants, rustic ranches, cozy cabins, posh private clubs, settings with exquisite views and gardens, natural or fancy. If a religious ceremony is still very important to you consider selecting a chapel or an alternate venue, as it can be less expensive all the way around. You can create a separate, larger guest list for the reception.




Considering that most brides spend 10% of their entire wedding budget on their gown, choosing a classic gown without embellishments may lower the price tag significantly (often by up to 25%). Alternatively, opt out of some of the ornamentation. Eliminate the lace and embellishments on the hemline, waistline, train, or sleeves to save. Making special changes to couture gowns, such as changing the shape of the neckline or altering a sleeve, can cost up to $300 per adjustment. Alterations can really add up! Keep your budget balanced by choosing a simple silhouette. The more fabric it takes to make a gown, the more it costs. A ball gown made with yards and yards of taffeta or organza can cost more than twice as much as a sheath in the same fabric.

Winter and summer are two times a year when you can luck out and get great savings at a bridal shop sample sale. At these events, buyers attempt to get rid of inventory and may cut prices by as much as 80%. You'll need to factor in dry cleaning and alteration costs though, since these gowns (used as try-on models) are usually sold "as-is." Also, women who fit into a size 8 gown will have the best luck as most samples are made around that size. There are plenty of wedding-related purchases you?ll want to make online, but your wedding gown is not one of them. Online retailers go out of business regularly and can leave brides high and dry. Additionally, once you have purchased a gown, you can be stuck with no recourse for exchange or return. If you are considering purchasing a gently used gown?keep your resources local.

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