Tag Archives: Wedding Budget

Wedding Costs: Where Does All the Money Go?

By: 
Daniel P. Smith

wedding limo
Photo Credit: AveryHouse

Budget Breakdown in the Northeast
 

The Venue: 11%
Looking to capture the city’s picturesque skyline and customize a blank palette, Sojourner Auguste, executive director of New York City-based Erganic Design, says many local couples turn to New York City’s "raw" venues, namely loft spaces, to host their wedding, directing additional capital to the necessary lighting, décor and other rentals. While raw spaces — be they urban lofts or vast country barns — possess a compelling energy, Auguste suggests couples on a tight budget consider a fully furnished space that already claims the style and character they envision for their wedding day. Check out wedding inspiration for an urban affair here ►

wedding ceremony
Photo Credit: Bethalée Photography

Food and Beverage: 55%
Auguste finds many caterers are willing to customize packages at or near a couple’s budget. Her money saving tip: "Beware of too many specialized cocktail hour and dessert stations, which increase staffing and rental costs."

Photography and Video: 14%
Auguste advises brides to map out a timeline of the day they can then share with the photographer and videographer. "From that timeline, you can then determine the moments you want captured and discern how long you need the photographer and videographer on site."

Entertainment: 5%
Rather than booking live musicians for the ceremony and cocktail hour, Auguste urges brides to limit live music to the reception and to add an extra hour or two to the DJ’s contract to cover those segments. "In many cases, you can negotiate a discounted rate for the DJ’s additional time."

Rentals: 9%
Rental fees can add up quickly. Auguste’s budget-friendly tip: "Make sure you see exactly and only what you need from the caterer, so you don’t have to pay for extra utensils or glassware that won’t be used." Check out our ultimate guide to wedding rentals here ►

Flowers: 6%
"Think beyond flowers," Auguste says, and ask florists about "fillers" that will lower costs without sacrificing beauty. "Many florists provide candlelight or centerpiece décor items that will match your theme at a more cost-effective price point."

Next: Wedding budget breakdown in the South 

Budget Breakdown in the South
 

The Venue: 13%
A number of Southern brides turn to distinctive landmarks, such as historic homes or museums, as their wedding venue. By booking in off-peak months — generally, January, February, July and August — Tara Skinner, co-owner of Savannah, GA-based Posh Petals and Pearls, says brides might secure the venue of their dreams on a slimmer budget.

southern wedding
Photo Credit: Kim Graham Photography

Food and Beverage: 33% 
Skinner advises couples to monitor the rental costs required to outfit special locations like mansions and museums. In some (but not all) cases, an all-inclusive, hotel-based reception might be the more economical move. "Do your homework to find out which option is best for you and your budget," Skinner says, adding that, regardless of one’s venue, Southern couples can’t forget to account for another local tradition — the groom’s cake — in their food and beverage budget. Browse 40 amazing grooms' cakes ►

Photography and Video: 16%
Many photographers and videographers offer packages providing complete files of images or raw footage. While that option might intrigue couples with a creative bent, Skinner urges brides to be realistic. "If you choose a disc of images over a finished wedding album, you will save money initially, but will you actually see your DIY album or video project through?"

Entertainment: 9% 
Though many couples view entertainment as the place where they can trim the budget, Skinner advises her clients to consider the entertainer’s talent and service alongside the cost. "It’s essential to have an entertainer who understands a wedding’s flow and tone as well as one who can emcee the celebration with poise and professionalism."

Rentals: 17%
Some of the most unique Southern venues are blank canvases requiring rental of both specialty and basic items, including linens. If you find must-have (but pricey) linens, Skinner suggests using them only on high-visibility areas, such as the cake table.

Flowers: 12% 
Skinner’s tip: "Consider repurposing your bridesmaids’ bouquets for later use at the reception. It’s a great way to save money without sacrificing style." Check out more clever wedding tricks to simplify your life ►

Next: Wedding budget breakdown in the Midwest ►

Budget Breakdown in the Midwest 
 

The Venue: 10%
With a short window to accommodate outdoor weddings, most Midwest brides take the show indoors to places like historic hotels, country clubs or loft spaces that once hummed with machinery. When searching for a venue, Lauren Housley, owner of Chicago-based Ryan Alexander Events, says you shouldn’t neglect key details, such as lighting. "The more natural light a venue has, the better it is for pictures."

bride and groom
Photo Credit: Jai Girard Photography

Food and Beverage: 46% 
Housley calls food an oft-overlooked way to add personalization. "You can work with your caterer to recreate signature family dishes or to create twists on famed Chicago dishes, such as an Italian beef pizza with a giardiniera topping."

Photography and Video: 12%
Creating a detailed shot list is critical. Not only to ensure you get the photos you want, but also to streamline the photographer’s work and make efficient use of his or her time — and yours. (Why pay extra fees if the shots you want are already taken?) Browse 75 must-have photos with your groom ►

Entertainment: 15% 
While many guests love hearing the classics at weddings, you can add a touch of distinctiveness to your day by asking the band or DJ for some interesting songs that are not wedding-day staples. Chicagoans, for example, might request the beloved Chicago Bears fight song or Sinatra’s "Chicago" to add a spirited local flavor to the event. "Add in your favorite nontraditional songs to make your day more memorable for your guests," Housley says. Get wedding song recommendations here ►

Rentals: 8%
You can save on rental fees by asking the venue manager if they would be flexible with the post-reception pick-up time. By arranging a Monday pick-up, for instance, Housley says you can save $100 to $300. And in an effort to minimize delivery fees, "Consolidate tables, chairs and other rental orders from just one or two companies."

Flowers: 9% 
Need to slim down the floral budget? Look to the ceremony location and leverage its inherent beauty as the backdrop. The Chicago area, for instance, is home to some of the nation’s most ornate churches, locations featuring stained glass, murals and other elegant architectural hallmarks. "If you are already getting married at a stunning church, go for a really simple ceremony arrangement that can be repurposed at the reception," Housley says.

Next: Wedding budget breakdown in the Southwest ►

Budget Breakdown in the Southwest
 

The Venue: 5%
Janet Finden, event planner and owner of Cause for Celebration in Phoenix, AZ, urges couples to select a venue that has a food and beverage minimum fitting their budget; When the minimum is met, she says, the site fee is often waived. Couples might also want to consider a non-Saturday wedding, which should result in reduced site fees and, frequently, less stringent food and beverage minimums.

country wedding
Photo Credit: SuthiPicotte

Food and Beverage: 64% 
Since portions are planned out and controlled, plated, sit-down dinners can actually cost less than serving your guests buffet style. When working with venues or caterers, Finden says "You can trumpet the planning and portion efficiencies that come with plated meals to negotiate a lower cost."

Photography and Video: 12%
Finden urges couples to review the photographer’s contract to ensure they are receiving a DVD or flash drive of all their photos with print rights. You can later use that disc to order low-cost prints from any retailer. Find out what to ask before booking your photographer ►

Entertainment: 8% 
Finden says you can maximize your entertainment budget by using a DJ for both the ceremony and reception. She says many DJs can easily add extra sound equipment to accommodate the ceremony location.

Rentals: 3%
By selecting a venue with well-maintained facilities, Finden says rental fees should be minimal because chairs and linens will often be made available to you at little or no expense.

Flowers: 8% 
According to Finden, you can reduce your financial outlay for flowers simply by selecting a venue with eye-catching traits, such as a ceremony location with a beautiful natural backdrop or a reception space with rich architectural elements. The southwest is, in fact, well known for rich and lively natural spaces full of depth and dynamic colors. To further reduce flower costs, "Think about using more candles and fewer flowers for evening receptions."

Next: Wedding budget breakdown in the West ►

Budget Breakdown in the West
 

The Venue: 10%
With water on one side and mountains on the other, West Coast couples enjoy a diverse array of vibrant sites for their wedding, including lush vineyards, ranches and beachfront resorts with endless ocean views. Before visiting any potential venue, Melissa Barrad, owner of San Diego-based I Do…Weddings & Events, recommends that you thoroughly research it online. "Doing so will save time as well as provide key insights on what budget items can be reduced because of the site’s existing characteristics as well as what expenses, such as décor or floral, might need to increase."

country wedding
Photo Credit: SuthiPicotte

Food and Beverage: 50% 
Food and, particularly, beverage can quickly consume much of your budget. Barrad suggests investigating venues that will allow you to bring in your own wine and liquor, either as a part of the rental agreement or through corkage fees. With that go-ahead, couples could then bring in local favorites, such as craft beer from one of the region’s many breweries — Portland, for instance, has more breweries than any city in the world — or wine from Sonoma and Napa Valleys.

Photography and Video: 10%
Barrad says couples on a tight budget might consider hiring a photographer for a "shoot only" package that provides high-resolution images. Then, later, when the bank account bounces back, you can make an album.

Entertainment: 10% 
Barrad suggests looking for multi-faceted musical professionals who can play live music for the ceremony and cocktails — and perhaps even dinner and the first dance — before switching to recorded music for the evening.

Rentals: 10%
"Ask caterers and venue hosts for a comprehensive and itemized quote covering all the necessary materials, such as flatware, glassware, portable restrooms and lighting," Barrad says. In some cases, you might be able to forego or reduce certain items; in others, you might secure items from a different vendor — or even provide them yourself — at a lower cost.

Flowers: 10% 
While flowers contribute to the bride’s vision and the overall wedding-day vibe, Barrad urges couples to embrace novel approaches that can reduce costs. "Hire a florist who is flexible and will even allow you to either provide your own containers or rent his or hers," Barrad says. Find out which flowers are in season for your wedding ►

DIY Favor: Tea Bag Cookies

diy tea bag cookies
Photo courtesy of Elegant Affairs

Ingredients:

¾ pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
3.5 ounces dark chocolate broken into small pieces

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.

4. Empty mixture from bowl onto a surface dusted with flour, and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

5. Roll the dough ¼-inch thick, then use a tea bag-shaped cookie cutter to cut out your cookie shapes (cookie cutter can be found online for a very low price). Make a small hole at the top of each cookie using a skewer. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

7. Put 2.5 ounces of chopped chocolate in a glass bowl, and microwave on high power for 20 seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 20-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chopped chocolate and stir until the residual heat in the bowl melts the chocolate completely. Allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it’s completely smooth. (The more you stir, the glossier the chocolate will get.)

8. Dip each cookie half-way through in the chocolate, and set it on parchment paper to dry. It will only take a couple of minutes for the chocolate to set. After it’s dried, string a thread through the hole.

diy tea bag cookies
Photo courtesy of Elegant Affairs

DIY Favor: Tea Bag Cookies

diy tea bag cookies
Photo courtesy of Elegant Affairs

Ingredients:

¾ pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
3.5 ounces dark chocolate broken into small pieces

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.

4. Empty mixture from bowl onto a surface dusted with flour, and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

5. Roll the dough ¼-inch thick, then use a tea bag-shaped cookie cutter to cut out your cookie shapes (cookie cutter can be found online for a very low price). Make a small hole at the top of each cookie using a skewer. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

7. Put 2.5 ounces of chopped chocolate in a glass bowl, and microwave on high power for 20 seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 20-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chopped chocolate and stir until the residual heat in the bowl melts the chocolate completely. Allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it’s completely smooth. (The more you stir, the glossier the chocolate will get.)

8. Dip each cookie half-way through in the chocolate, and set it on parchment paper to dry. It will only take a couple of minutes for the chocolate to set. After it’s dried, string a thread through the hole.

diy tea bag cookies
Photo courtesy of Elegant Affairs

7 Secret Money-Saving Tricks, Revealed

By: 
Catey Hill

bride and groom kiss on forehead

Look in a "next-door town" for venues and vendors.
If you live in a big city, you should consider looking at venues, caterers, florists photographers and more in "next-door towns," which are just smaller towns outside of big cities. Often you can save 20 percent or more on fees. Here's what to ask before booking your vendors ►

Put a "15-minute warning" into your contract with the photographer.
A lot of photographers and videographers charge big-time fees if your wedding goes longer than the time you've booked them for. To prevent that unexpected bill, put a "15-minute warning" clause into your contract stating that they must give you a 15-minute heads up before they begin charging you overtime, and that if they don't, you will not have to pay for those overages. Learn how to negotiate with vendors ►

Take  a tax deduction — on your wedding.
You can get a tax deduction for donating some of your wedding purchases to a qualified charitable organization (note that "qualified" is very important) or even just by having your wedding ceremony at certain venues.

If you think you'll have leftover food from your reception, contact a local homeless shelter and see if you can donate it. If you're not going to reuse your flowers, contact your church to ask if you can donate them (if you had a church wedding, you may be able to leave your flowers there as a donation) or reach out to a local hospital or nursing home. If you have a wedding in a church or synagogue, or at a government-owned locale like a state park, you may be able to deduct the fee paid for the ceremony (check with the locale to make sure it's tax deductible). 

Consider "business" hotels.
Hotels that cater primarily to business travelers are typically packed during the week, but have lots of vacancies on weekend. (These hotels tend to be located in cities' downtown or business districts.) That means they may offer better-priced packages for weddings than those catering to leisure travelers — and typically they're just as nice! Find out how to prepare for out-of-towners ►

To find photographers and videographers, contact your local newspaper or television station.
Photography and videography can be super-pricey. While it may be tempting to hire a photography student, you may be better off by looking for a more experienced photographer from your local paper (look at bylines on the photos and reach out to those people to see if they freelance) or a videographer from your local television station. Often these pros will provide these services for less than "official" wedding photographers and videographers. 

Skip the wax seal on your invitations.
While a pretty wax seal may seem a classy way to seal your wedding invitations, this can end up costing extra. That's because the wax can gum up the post office's sorting machines, which means you will need to have each invite hand-canceled, at around 20 cents per piece. See more ways to save money on invitations ►

Get a "student" to do your flowers.
You may have heard about brides hiring cosmetology students from nearby schools to do their hair and makeup, but few people think to hire a "student" florist. Big cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have floral design schools. Contact these schools to see if there is a star student who could do your flowers. If there isn't a floral school near you, see if there is a horticultural school nearby (check out GradSchools.com) that offers floral design classes or Google "floral design classes" — then hire the teacher of that class or ask her if she can recommend a great student. Get gorgeous ideas for your wedding flowers ►

Photo Credit: Picotte Photography

the bridal detective
Finance expert Catey Hill is a member of the David's Bridal Style Council and a journalist whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, SmartMoney, Worth, Seventeen, Forbes.com, New York Daily News, and dozens of other publications and websites.

 

 

10 Ways to Maximize Your Floral Budget

bride with bridesmaids
Photo Credit: Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography on Grey Likes Weddings via Lover.ly

1. Use in-season or locally grown flowers. They're a much better value than the flown-in, hothouse varieties. Find out what's in season during your wedding month ►

2. Holidays can affect prices. Around Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, general demand for flowers increases, as do their costs. On the other hand, if your wedding is held on a holiday, the church or reception site may already be festively decorated with flowers and lights and you'll need less adornment.

3. Add greenery — such as ivory or ferns — to a bouquet or the chuppah. Greenery looks lush, and you'll find it's less expensive than flowers.

4. Choose larger blooms for your bouquets, like orchids and calla lilies. You'll need fewer of them. Get 50+ creative ideas here ►

5. Add ribbon or tulle to an arrangement — this sweet, romantic detail will make the arrangement look larger and helps keep your expenditures down. Get more non-floral ideas ►

6. Rent trees to decorate the ceremony and reception sites; they look especially romantic when the branches are woven with masses of tiny white lights. Read more about wedding rentals ►

7. Fill in empty table spots with votives or small potted plants that can also be used as wedding favors.

8. Split the cost of decorating a ceremony site with another couple getting married in your church/synagogue on the same day.

9. Let your ceremony bouquets do double-duty. Most florists can creatively repurpose them into centerpieces on reception tables. See 75+ gorgeous tall centerpieces ►

10. Elaborate arrangements mean more of your money is going for the florist's labor than for the flowers themselves. Check out 30+ impressive low centerpieces ►

30 Unexpected Wedding Costs Brides Forget to Budget For

Sticking to your budget is one of the trickiest parts of planning a wedding — especially because there are so many hidden costs.
By: 
Kristen O'Gorman Klein
backyard-wedding-abby-jiu-600.jpg

To help you out, we checked in with wedding vendors and financial experts across the country to uncover the top items that couples forget to think about when allocating their wedding finances.

snowy wedding photo
Photo Credit: Still Frames Photography

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Why Using a Credit Card Can Help You Save Big

wedding-credit-card.jpg

Before you sign on the dotted line, take a closer look at which credit card you plan to use — one may be considerably better than another depending on where you’re doing your spending. These days, many card companies offer extra rewards for specific types of purchases — which can translate into savings for your wedding expenses. If you strategize your spending to take advantage of target categories such as online or department store shopping or travel, you can end up racking up extra rewards while paying for your wedding. Here, Jeff Hindenach, director of content at NextAdvisor.com, a consumer research website, offers a guide to the best credit cards for different big-day scenarios.

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Wedding Experts Reveal Their Best Cost-Cutting Secrets

We asked top wedding-industry pros to spill their best cost-cutting secrets. Here’s how to save on everything from cocktails to cake, flowers and more.
By: 
Sharon Naylor
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bride-groom-getaway-car-th.jpg

“Ask yourself: what are my top three dream elements? Is the food most important? The band? The dress? Craft your budget around what you know you want, to splurge there and cut back on some things that aren’t as important,” says Christopher Confero, of Christopher Confero Design in Atlanta, GA

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Wedding Bar Guide: How Much Alcohol Do You Need?

Get your booze clues here: what to serve, how much to spend and other toast-worthy tips.
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whiskey tasting bar
Photo Credit: D. Park Photography

Weddings are about love, hope — and toasts! As such, most brides and grooms provide guests with lots of champagne, wine, beer and spirits throughout the night. What do you expect to serve? Here’s how to stock up according to your guests’ tastes — and your budget.

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