This goes to all the lovebirds who got engaged during the holidays and are now leaving wedding planning with no experience in event planning.
In a way, you are expected to make a day both traditional and modern. Well attended, but intimate. It’s about the two of you as a couple, but it also shouldn’t offend any of your guests. And most importantly, do not overspend, but make sure that it looks expensive.
Sure, weddings are fun, but the most important part of any wedding is everything that happens next – your real life together. That life doesn’t start with credit card debt that lasts until your fifth anniversary.
If you focus your spending on what you and your guests will actually notice, and skip over expensive things that no one really cares about, you’ll have a beautiful debt-free wedding.
Set your budget
Before you plan anything, set a budget based on what you (and your family, if they’re contributing) can afford. Make every decision with that number in mind, whether it’s $250, $5,000, or $50,000.
In essence, says Jane Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and an email newsletter called The First Years of Marriage, a wedding is simply a “celebration of love.” “In this celebration, there are no rules. … Look at your wedding as a blank canvas, an empty room. What do you want to fill it with? With what can you fill it?”
Reassessing the traditional “essentials”
“This is the most important thing I have to tell everyone when they’re planning a wedding: You don’t need anything in your wedding to get married,” says Glantz. “If you don’t want a bun, don’t have a bun. If you don’t want to wear a dress or a tuxedo, don’t do it.”
Here are some other ways to save:
Guests remember the general feeling, not the minute details. “People at weddings are busy,” says Glantz. “And when you’re busy, you don’t see things.” Save on decor by renting it or searching for Buy Nothing groups on social media. Friends who are already married may have things left that they would be happy to lend or pass on. There are even services where you can share flowers with another couple who are getting married in the same week.
“We’re committed to the idea that a big stretch limousine will get you to church or drop you off,” says Shivonne Harris, owner and principal coordinator of Events by Sheavonne in New York City. But your guests will be seated inside when you arrive, so that car is not part of your grand entrance. Car services also require you to book for fewer hours, according to Harris, so you’ll end up paying for the time you don’t use. And she recommends booking a car rental – yes, just like when you need a ride to the airport.
Invitations, programs and menus
All your hard-earned paper items will go in the trash. Programs are left on chairs after the ceremony, and menus are placed under plates after a quick scan. Even your invitations will only have a few months on guests’ refrigerators before they head to the landfill. “They just threw a $10 bill in the trash,” Harris says. If you want to imitate paper at a lower cost, skip the menus and programs. You can also find great paper invitations at some online retailers for a fraction of the price. Many printing companies offer seasonal sales as well.
Please make 2022 the year we cancel party favors. Guests leave them behind, and you’ll be stuck with 75 dedicated beer cones for the rest of your life.
Spend on what gets noticed
Long after the wedding, you will be left with nothing but memories and photos. This is not a job to assign it to a cousin who took some photography lessons in college. “If you want to invest money in something, put it into photography,” Harris says. “With photography, you definitely get what you pay for.”
Both Glantz and Harris recommend taking care of the weddings you attend as a guest before your big day. What made you feel so welcome? Guests won’t remember that you got married in a picturesque, historic mansion, but they will remember if that mansion only had one bathroom with a 20-minute line to use it. Reduce expenses elsewhere to focus on food, drink, entertainment, and guest convenience.
Hiring a friend or doing a task yourself can seem like a money-saving move. Harris cautions that unlike a professional salesperson, your friend likely won’t have a backup plan when ordering flowers is late or when audio equipment is on alert. And book a professional at the last minute because that friend’s retreat will end up costing you more.
Use rewards credit cards
Many self-employed sellers do not accept credit cards, but whenever possible, pay wedding costs with a rewards credit card. Not only can you earn cash or travel rewards (hello, discounted honeymoon!), but if the seller doesn’t honor their commitment to you, you can dispute the fee.
This article was written by NerdWallet and originally published by the Associated Press.
The article How to Get the Wedding You Want for Less originally appeared on NerdWallet.