Budget Wedding with Zero DIY
Not everyone who wants to save money on their wedding wants to do it all themselves. This blog is for those who want to save money without sacrificing the service that comes with hiring great professionals. That’s right nowhere in this blog am I going to tell you to make your own flowers, deliver your own cake, or ask your aunt to coordinate your processional. What I am going to tell you is how to have excellent service at your wedding without breaking the bank.
It’s ALL in the SERVICE.
Yep, the way to have the best possible wedding for the best possible price, is to focus all your energy on the level of service you’ll receive from every aspect of the day.
Time of Year
Start your planning by choosing a time of year with excellent weather. In New Orleans, I’d pick October. Then decide on a less popular but still somewhat convenient date. Let’s say Friday during the day. Choose a time where your hired professionals could potentially book a second wedding after yours. This gives them the flexibility to offer reduced prices for you. Start in the late morning and do the reception in the early afternoon.
Choose your favorite florist in town. Ask her to design the bouquet of your dreams and choose a single stem (that you also love) for your bridesmaids and moms. Ask her for an economical option for the boutonnières for your fiancé and dads. Then skip the delivery fee and pick up the flowers the day before the wedding during regular business hours. Put the bouquet and stems in water and refrigerate the boutonnieres. (or ask the florist if she has special instructions for keeping them.)
Reserve the cheapest, most discounted room at your favorite hotel for 2 nights. Remember it’s not about having the biggest suite on the property. It’s about utilizing the exceptional service of the hotel. You can get that with the penthouse or with the most basic room. And you’ll probably save a little cash since you are checking in on a Thursday.
Rehearsal & Pick Up the Tab
Have a rehearsal and then informally treat your attendees to a round of drinks and apps at a fun bar. But retire early so you can wake up early!
Hair and Makeup
Make a trial and wedding day appointment at a nearby salon. Spend the money to get it done twice, because remember on the wedding day, you want to know this service is exactly what you want. Let your wedding party know they are on their own for hair and makeup but to meet you at the hotel lobby for pictures.
Make sure you hire a great photographer, and that you choose the package that covers the most important moments. Ask them to photograph getting ready, an amazing first look, the ceremony and at least 1 hour of the reception. It’s better to have a great professional photographer for 4 hours than a friend with a camera for 12, or a photographer that you are not thrilled about for 6. Again you are focused on the service you can receive from a photographer you love and trust.
Getting Ready Pictures
Get your mom or closest friend to help you into the dress in your room and then meet your crew in the lobby for the rest of the pics. Treat everyone to a glass of champagne at the bar and uber XL to your 1st look and ceremony, photographer in tow.
1st Look Location
Remember that many popular public parks require a permit to photograph. Skip that cost by choosing a place without this requirement.
Ceremony Venue & Guest List
If you are open to it, check with your own church or your mama’s or your grandma’s and see if a ceremony there is an option. If the fee is high, ask if they have a smaller chapel, a rose garden or another intimate setting for less. If a church is not an option, consider a pretty place that has meaning to you. A park, a bridge, a backyard, an open field, a gazebo, on a dock, under a tree. Invite only your closest family and friends to the ceremony.
Hire one musician to play. A live musician, because again you want the service of this musician who will arrive with her violin, play, pack up and go. You don’t need an amp, an iPod and someone to cue the music. Pay for the service and the experience of live music. This is where to put your money.
Choose a reception location that is indoor or covered and save yourself the cost of a rain plan. For the most economical option consider a public park with a covered pavilion. Avoid having both the ceremony and reception in exactly the same place with this option, because you won’t have the staff to flip the space. Remember, if you choose a public space, the park remains open to the public. There may be more venues within your price range if you are choosing a Friday afternoon.
Hire a caterer that knows the venue and regularly caterers weddings. They also need to do your bartending. Some places will have onsite caterers, some will not. Most will offer economical packages if you ask. You can choose a basic bar and catering package and still receive the same level of service. For example, ask them to serve a signature cocktail, along with your favorite beer and wine, and something without alcohol. Request a water station to be available throughout the night. Serve less expensive dishes that you love.
Biggest Budgeting Mistake
Here’s the mistake people make when they are trying to stay on budget. They try to have it all and, in that attempt, lose out on the experience. If you have caviar at your wedding but your guests have to wait in a 20-minute line to serve it to themselves, is it really that great that you have caviar? Or would it be better if an experienced server passed hot crispy fried shrimp and beer battered French fries as your guests mingled on the dance floor? Biggest thing is this, you must have a full service caterer. Do not opt for food trays or reduced staff or some other half way version of catering. It’s your wedding, if you want to treat your guests give them great service. It’s all in the service.
Choose either a wedding cake or a groom’s cake, and budget for the delivery just before the reception starts. This should be possible since it will be during regular business hours. The delivery fee is worth it when it comes to cake.
Hire a reasonably priced DJ that is an excellent emcee and give her some guidance on what type of music your crew loves. Give her enough freedom to read your crowd. Make sure she’s bringing her own table, and tablecloth unless the venue has already accounted for this. Do not add little odds and ends like securing a table to your to-do list. It’s a detail that is just not worth the hassle.
If your venue doesn’t include tables, chairs, and linens, rent them and pay for delivery. Don’t buy tablecloths online, don’t borrow furniture from a million different places to save a few bucks here and there. No, hire one rental company that has all the things you need. And if no one has the things you need, then decide you don’t need all those things! For your wedding day, allow yourself, your family and your friends the convenience of someone else doing the heavy lifting and the cleanup. It’s better to have a basic white chair that is delivered clean, set up as expected, and picked up at the end of the night than it is to have items you cannot afford to have delivered, setup and picked up. Pay for the service!
I’m a wedding coordinator, so maybe you’ll think I’m biased by saying this. But this is the truth, you cannot do a budget wedding and have no hassle unless you include a wedding coordinator. Either you get a coordinator, or you deal with a ton of details and logistics on your wedding day. You need someone who is trained, and 100% focused on getting the job done.
Biggest Budgeting Tip
Of course, I saved the best tip! Here it is the best budget tip I have is to splurge on an experience. Notice I didn’t say something. I’m saying splurge on a service. For example have a bus to take your guests to an after-party, hire your favorite entertainers for the last 30 minutes, have a surprise bananas foster station, get a salsa instructor, I don’t care what you choose as long as it’s so you! Pay a professional to bring something to your guests that they’ll remember.
Enjoy planning a day where you will be completely pampered and stress free! It is worth it!