Is it possible to be frugal and still have the wedding of your dreams? You bet! Establish a budget, set priorities and be willing to work hard. You can have a $20,000 wedding for $10,000 if you are willing to "earn" (save) $10,000! But make no mistake, that's quite a few man-hours invested! Yet, if you have time and are short on cash, why not work a little to get the wedding of your dreams?
The first step is to make a purchase that will pay off hundreds, possibly thousands, for every dollar spent. "Bridal Bargains" by Denise and Alan Fields proved its weight in gold for my daughter's wedding and it can be bought at Amazon.com for under $10. After overspending on their own wedding, the Fields' did some intense research and came up with ways to save thousands of dollars in every way imaginable - from the dress to the cake, from the reception to the flowers.
In the meantime, here are a few tips to get you started:
1) The date. Choose this day wisely. Valentine's Day, as well as spring and summer seasons, are the most popular wedding dates. This means they are also the most expensive times to get married. To save money on a reception hall or caterer, pick an out-of-season date. Even the day of the week matters - my daughter saved money by getting married on a Friday night rather than on a Saturday.
2) Invitations. There are make-your-own invitation kits with instructions and materials or you can design your own invitations and then take them to a printer to copy. Doing it yourself allows savings that can then be spent on personal touches and elegant materials which in turn gives the invitations a professional and expensive look.
3) The dress. Did you know there are hundreds of wedding dresses on Ebay on any given day? My daughter found the perfect dress - a designer gown that originally cost several thousand dollars - and she paid $200 for it. (Some dresses have never even been worn!) In our case, a minor alteration was needed, which was done by the maid-of-honor's mother for free. We were ecstatic with the purchase.
Also try vintage shops. I know of someone who wanted the antique, yellowed touch and bought a beautiful dress for $100. After sending it to the cleaners, to her dismay, it came out as white as snow! (It was still a stunning dress.)
If you're up to shopping in a crowd, the bridal boutiques have a bargain day where dresses can be purchased for a few hundred dollars.
4) The flowers. In their book, "Bridal Bargains", the Fields' list several online sources of flowers that can be bought at a fraction of the cost of a florist. We had each bridesmaid wrap her own bouquet the night before the wedding. We wanted something a little more detailed for the bride, so we chose a florist for her bouquet. Flowers for the centerpieces at the reception hall were also bought online. Vases, bowls,marbles, stones and any number of craft materials can be found at discount and dollar stores.
5) Don't forget a back-up plan - expect the unexpected. We had hired a reasonably priced professional photographer, not willing to trust the memories of a lifetime to the untrained eye. However, right before the wedding, the photographer had to cancel because of a broken arm and we couldn't find another reasonably priced one at that late date. Instead of paying a ridiculous price we recruited several friends and family to take lots of pictures, both posed and candid, and we really did get some beautiful pictures for practically nothing.
The possibilities are endless for saving money on a wedding when you discover the strengths of family and friends. Do you know anyone who is a master with make-up and hair? What about amateur photographers, musicians or bakers? If they are not professionals, friends may be willing to provide services at far below the going rates. It's up to you to decide on the priorities - where you can cut costs or not take any chances.
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