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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Be prudent About Your Wedding Plans

Your Dream Wedding

Have you discovered that your dream wedding is financially out of reach? There are many ways you can incorporate your dreams into your special day even if you are working with a smaller budget. I will start with general ideas on saving money on this big day, and then move to specific choices in picking a date, location, flowers, invitations rings and transportation.

General Cost Cutting Ideas

Getting organized: 

Being organized is the number one way to say money. Buy a wedding organizer (or ask for it as an engagement gift) or set up a filing system to keep track of all receipts, contracts, and estimates. Having all of your paper work organized will help you when the time comes to make those big decisions, and to follow up and confirm services when necessary. Keep a master list of phone numbers. If you are using a computer to help you, check out for free worksheets and tabulators.

Consider the size of your guest list:
Obviously the larger your guest list, the more expensive your event will be. You can consider excluding children, not allowing teenagers to bring uninvited guests, or having a less formal reception to cut the costs per person. Keep in mind that for every guest there is more than just the cost of the meal. More guests will increase the cost of wedding favors, invitations and flowers (more tables of people means more centerpieces). Consider cutting people from the list who you know you will never see again, and people you don’t know well. Encourage your parents and fiancĂ©’s parents to do the same.

Consider the size of your wedding party:
Every one who participates in your wedding party will be spending a lot of their own money. It is a good idea to take this into consideration when asking someone to be in the wedding party. Consider scaling down the number of your attendants. You won’t have as many people to feed at the rehearsal dinner, as many gifts to buy your attendants or as many limousine expenses on the day of the wedding. You will also save a lot of time in organizing fittings, and following up to make sure they have handles everything they need to have prepared for the your big day.

Go to a wedding show.
This will give you a good idea of what is available to you in your area and allow you to collect brochures, business cards and free samples. This may also enable you to see a few bands or DJ’s and get prices on their services, saving you time.

Choosing a Date
Saturday night galas are still the most popular, and therefore the most expensive. If your dream location is out of your range for a Saturday night, consider scheduling the event on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon to save on the cost per person, as much as $50-$100 per person, in some areas.
Also consider the season. Many brides don’t want to compromise on this, and that’s okay, but holding your event during an unpopular wedding month is a way to save money with out sacrificing quality. You many even find that you get better service from vendors in the less popular season.

Time of Day
Some facilities may charge a different price according to the time of day, so an earlier wedding may cost a little less. The earlier in the day, traditionally, the less formal the event is considered. An elegant luncheon can be beautifully done and cost thousands less than a dinner event. An earlier celebration can also limit the alcohol consumption, or you may simply offer champagne.

The Location
Start early and book early. This is the best way to ensure the best price.
Note: If you are planning a rush wedding (less than two months to the date) there is a great opportunity to save and negotiate because they will be anxious to book the date.
Evaluate the additional costs of every particular location. Is ample parking available or will your guests have to pay for parking? Will you have to rent tables, linens, and chairs?

Invitations should match the formality of your wedding, so don’t choose a different style just to save money. Finding a good price on invitations will require you to comparison shop. Don’t order too many extras. Ten should be enough to cover any mistakes;
* Get small or regular sized invitations. They will cost less and may save money on postage;
* Choose thermo graphed rather than engraved. You will still get the style and look with out the additional cost. Thermographed can be as much as 50% less;
* Be sure that they can be returned if the printer makes any mistakes; and
* Make your own on your computer, if you have a flair for design.

Start by looking in magazines and catalogs to get an idea of the styles you like. Take the time to educate yourself on quality and terms used to describe diamonds. Your rings are an investment, so choose carefully and be sure to have them appraised and insured.
* Jewelry stores in the mall are probably not your best bet for saving money. Go to the diamond district in your city for the best prices;
* Use an heirloom ring, or reset an heirloom gem in a setting of your choice;
* Check out antique stores for good prices on more eclectic styles;
* Ask a jewelry design student or local artisan to design and craft your rings;
* For a really tight budget, choose something simple or go for silver instead of gold or platinum; and
* Check on engraving and sizing policies before purchasing your rings. Some retailers will include it for free.

This is one place where a bride really shouldn’t sacrifice style for price. You can create many beautiful looks with flowers that are in season to save money. Look through magazines to get ideas and try to decide what you want before you start shopping. Tell the floral designer what you are looking for and what your are willing to spend up front, so they know what you have to work with and can make suggestions on how to get the look you want for less;
* Look for a moderate level supplier. Don’t go to a fancy specialty bridal florist with elevated prices;
* If your family has a florist that you know is dependable, go to them;
* Comparison shop in different parts of town;
* Find a new-to-the business designer. They are usually lacking in experience, but not talent, and will give you their best effort and prices to get your business;
* Order flowers that are in season. Prices go up dramatically when blooms have to be shipped in for your event;
* Some inexpensive flowers that look great in any arrangement are Gerber daisies, tulips and bright colored zinnias;
* Consider ordering miniature versions of your favorite flowers, for a fraction of the cost;
* Corsages can be small. Most women (mother or the bride / groom) would prefer a smaller corsage that won’t overwhelm their carefully picked attire; and
* Send someone from the wedding party to pick up the flowers, if possible, to save on the delivery charge.

Quick Tips for Saving on Transportation
* White limousines will cost you more than black;
* Consider just getting transportation for yourselves, not the entire wedding party and family;
* Choose a regular, not a stretch limousine for the two of you;
* Prices will vary widely, so be sure to comparison shop; and
* Have your parents or someone from your wedding party drive you to and from the airport for the honeymoon instead of a car service.

The Photographer and Video recording
These two professionals are an essential and expensive part of your wedding. Your goal should be to get a fair price for excellent service, because skimping here will leave you with regrets later.
* Ask friends and family for referrals;
* Hire a photographer with experience and be sure to check their credentials and portfolio of wedding work;
* It will cost less to hire a photographer for the ceremony and start of the reception only. Many will be paid by the hour, so having them for the length of the reception may be costly. You can include disposable cameras at each table for guests to take pictures;
* Ask for your proofs to be delivered on disk, rather than printed. You will still be able to see them clearly, but you won’t have to spend extra on the full set of proof prints;
* Skip the photographer’s expensive editing fees;
* Comparison shop for the video recording person and photographer, for quality, price and a package that you are happy with;
* You can save several hundred dollars by choosing not to have the raw footage video of your wedding edited; and
* Skip the option of having multiple cameras placed throughout the event.

There are many more ways to save money on your wedding and still have a beautiful day. Set your priorities and stick to them. If something is important for you to have, find a different place to cut back on spending. Wedding planning can be stressful and demanding or your time and financial resources. Keep in mind the more important aspect of this entire event: the love and the marriage that will follow.

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