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How to Save Money on a Wedding, From a Future Bride

Planning a wedding is one of the most fun, and financially stressful events of my life! I feel that I am constantly balancing traditions, ‘must-haves’, wants, and our budget [1].

I find that if I remember what the day is actually about—love, the union of two people, choosing to spend the rest of my life with someone—and that saying “I Do” is merely the beginning of a long and exciting journey, then it becomes much easier to prioritize spending and get past a lot of the wedding hype. After all, it only takes a bride, a groom, an officiant, a certificate, and some rings to get married. The rest is all extra!

Here are some ways I have found to save money without sacrificing quality to us. 

Unconventional Saves You Money

If you choose any month other than peak wedding season [2]—typically the summer months—then you can save money. We are choosing to have our wedding in April of 2010, and were able to negotiate a 17% discount off of the reception and catering costs solely because this is a tougher month for the venue’s director to attract business. On top of having this discount for our reception and catering, we are also in a great negotiating position for our other vendors, such as a photographer and a florist due to lower demand for services.

You can rent purses, and rent textbooks now, why not rent your bridal gown [3]? Sure, you won’t be the first spring chick to wear it, but the quality will still be impeccable, and there is normally an option to buy it at a discount from what you would pay if it were brand new. If you feel like buying new, I tried on probably around 20 fantastic and gorgeous gowns for under $500 at David’s Bridal [4].

If you do decide to purchase a gown, don’t forget you can donate the dress [5] after the ceremony for a tax deduction.

Buy Hardware Online

There are many online sites with great reputations that sell engagement rings and wedding bands at severely discounted prices, like upwards of 50%! You can try different styles of rings on at jewelers, and have your ring finger measured. Then go online to sites such as Amazon [6] and Sea of Diamonds [7]. If you are squeamish about purchasing fine jewelry online, know that many sites give you 30-60 days to return the jewelry for a full refund (although customized jewelry may not be returnable), and you can use this time to get the metal and gem verified by a jeweler.

Hire Amateur Service Providers

What do Donald Trump, Sam Walton, and Stephen King all have in common? They all began as amateurs in their individual industries. It took people with faith to employ them, and purchase their products for them to develop their talent and evolve into the household names they are today. You can use amateurs in your wedding as well at a fraction of the cost you would pay normally. Check out trade schools in your area, and interview a few seniors in photography to use for your wedding day. Let them know what your photography budget is, and see if they are willing to accept a paid position for a few hours on a Saturday. You can find a florist this way as well.

One of my friends even used one of her friends who had an interest in photography. The form of payment? They bought their friend a nice camera for several hundred dollars in exchange for her taking all of their wedding photography. The pictures were stunning.

Potluck Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal dinners are a nice, informal way to show your bridesmaids and groomsmen how much you appreciate them, and also for everyone to get to know one another and enjoy themselves! Instead of footing a restaurant bill, ask your parents to host a potluck rehearsal dinner at their home. Having this at someone’s home will keep the spirit of the dinner light and joyful, as well as help to create relationships between the two families. If only one or two of your parents is footing most of the bill for the food, offer to pay them for the ingredients and other necessities, which should still save you over half the cost of taking everyone out to a restaurant.

Gift Card-Purchased Attendant and Parent Gifts

One of the best things that you can do to save several hundred dollars is to open up a credit card that earns you points for your purchases [8]. Then, charge everything for the wedding to this card—being sure to pay off the balance each month—and use the points to buy you gift cards. It will take you several months to earn enough for substantial gift cards, so perhaps the best way to use them is to purchase gifts for your attendants and parents leading up to the wedding.

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