This is the part of wedding planning that everyone is waiting for: How to save cash so that you can stay within your budget but still have a fabulous wedding. There is no end to the number of ways that you can save for your wedding and cut costs during planning. Think that Vera Wang gown is out of your budget? Can't stand to not have a hundred white roses? Feel like your top of the line wedding invitations are just a bit over the top? There's no reason why you can't have your wedding cake and eat it too.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started saving cash so that you can have the wedding of your dreams without skimping or breaking the bank.
* '''Timing '''-- Changing when you marry can drastically reduce costs.
** ''Time of Day''
*** While dinner may run up to $200 per person, a brunch or lunch may only run around $150. Multiply that by 100 guests and you've just saved yourself another $5,000.
*** See the guide to Reception Food and Drink for some inspiration for having a morning or afternoon wedding.
** ''Time of Year''
*** May through October are the busiest months. November through New Year's Day are the runners up.
*** January through April are the least expensive (minus the weeks around Valentine's Day).
*** A March wedding can save up to 20% on ceremony and reception costs.
** ''Day of the Week''
*** Saturdays are highly coveted days to get married.
*** Choosing a Friday or Sunday reception will save another 20% on your bill for the reception and ceremony.
*** Choose a day during the week and you'll rack in even more savings.
** Be sure to see the guide on Choosing a Wedding Date for more useful tips.
* '''Downsize the Guest List''' -- At $100 a head, imagine cutting 50 people from your guest list, such as people you don't know, distant relatives, and other people who aren't directly related to your closest group of friends and family. You'll save $5,000 right off the bat.
* '''Downgrade the Affair''' -- A black tie sit-down dinner affair will cost the most. However, getting creative with less formal options that will save you bundles in the end.
* '''Reception Length''' -- Partying until dawn may be great fun, but it doesn't help cut costs. By reducing the time you spend at your reception, even by an hour alone, can help cut catering charges by 10%.
The Food and Drink
* '''Supply Your Own Alcohol. '''Not only can you keep opened bottles, but you can be picky about what's served and where you buy it from (think buying bulk from a wholesale club, for example). Keeping a limited stock means that you can curtail your costs before they start to soar. Plus, you can hire your own bartender, which will usually cost much less than the one supplied by your caterer. One warning though about BYOB weddings. Some reception halls charge a "corkage fee". Always double check on their rules beforehand.
* '''Choose a Theme.''' A Mexican wedding and serve only Coronas, tequila, and margaritas; a beach barbecue means buckets of beer and sangria are the options; Italian thoroughfare is strictly kept to wine and after-dinner liquors; or, make the wedding Asian themed and only serve Japanese beer and sake. Check out the guide on Reception Food and Drink for more ideas.
* '''Nix the Bubbly.''' Serve the pricey bubbly for the toast only or don't serve it at all since most guests won't even drink it. Swap out expensive champagne for prosecco or cava and you'll save $20 a bottle.
** Check out these two articles from USA Brides about stocking your own bar and liquor guidelines.
** Also see the guide at ShopWiki about Stocking a Bar for a Wedding.
* '''Alter the Menu'''. By slightly tweaking the menu, you can keep guests happy and stay within budget.
** Instead of filet mignon and greens, opt for something that is geared to a theme, as mentioned above.
** Cut the options. Having chicken, beef, and fish to choose from significantly increases costs.
** Reduce the number of courses from five to three and make them spectacular.
** Stay seasonal and regional. If you are having a wedding on the coast take advantage of fish, but enjoy beef in the Mid West.
** Serve cold dishes versus warm ones. Less hot foods to be prepared and served means less staff is needed since foods can be set out before the guests arrives.
** Have waiters pass appetizers instead of having appetizer stations. Not only will people east less so that they can enjoy the main meal, but you can also control portions and costs.