Planning A Wedding On A Low Budget

Tips and hints for planning the wedding of your dreams...on any budget!

The majority of weddings today costs between $15,000 and $20,000. A wedding planner can probably save you money, but will usually charge between 15 and 25% of the cost of the wedding. With a little time and effort, you can plan your wedding, or help someone else plan their wedding, on any budget! If your budget only allows for one thousand dollars for your entire wedding, then you must figure what you can spend on each item and which items you can do without.

Wedding budget calculator

The first thing you must do is determine your budget. Since prices fluctuate and unexpected events arise at the last minute, figure in an extra 10 - 15% of your budget for extra expenses. Start a notebook and keep track of all estimates and expenses that you collect. Once you have determined your budget you will need to decide what is the most important aspect of your dream wedding.

Some couples choose to have a fancy wedding with all the trimmings and cut costs by keeping the guest list small, inviting only immediate family and very close friends. Other couples may decide that they want to have a less formal occasion so that they may invite all their extended family and all of their friends and co-workers. Each wedding is different, as is every couple. You should decide what is most important to you, then inform your respective families of your decision and stick to it. Once you have made your wedding budget, don't allow your family members, friends, or co-workers to cause you to feel guilty about not inviting the people that they wanted you to invite. This is your wedding, and it should be done exactly the way the two of you want it to be!

Patrysha Korchinski says, "Listen to your dreams and figure out what is most important to your wedding vision. Once you know what you must have, it's easier to know where you can cut without giving up the most special things about your wedding day."

Cutting Wedding Expenses

Some of the biggest expenses are the reception, the bride's dress, and the invitations. There are many creative ways to save money on all of these items. If you can't spend a thousand dollars on a wedding dress, perhaps your mother, grandmother or a friend has a wedding dress that you could borrow, which could save you hundreds, or possibly thousands, of dollars by not having to purchase a dress. If you do have to purchase your wedding gown, there are many second hand stores that offer great deals on bridal wear. Ask about discounts at your local bridal shops as well, they usually have a clearance rack or off-season sales, but they may not tell you about them unless you ask. Decide what you can afford to spend on your dress, and then don't be persuaded by the sales people to look at dresses that exceed your budget.

You can print your own wedding invitations and programs from your own computer - and have them look outstandingly professional. "For my daughter's wedding, I designed a tri-fold wedding program on a white card stock. I bought several rolls of gold ribbon with wired trim, tied the ribbon into bows and glued the tiny, gold bows onto the front of the programs. They were simple, but elegant. The total cost for one hundred programs was less than twenty five dollars," says Rhonda Dennis, of Lehigh Acres, Florida.

There are many ways to save money on your reception. Having a buffet is less expensive than a sit down dinner. If you are having an outdoor reception or a back-yard reception, it can save you a considerable amount of money if you prepare the food yourself instead of having it catered. If you are having a small family affair, perhaps you can have a pot-luck reception and ask each guest to bring a covered dish.

"I got the wedding I dreamed of, even though we only spent a minimal amount. We could have probably even gotten by with less, but there are some things that we wanted," says Amy Galliard. She saved money by making her own invitations, programs and favors. Amy and her husband-to-be decided on a picnic in the back yard of her parent's home for their reception. They asked their guest to bring lawn chairs, which saved the expense of renting chairs. "There are lots of things you can do yourself to cut the costs of the wedding," Amy says.

Photography is another big expense. Decide how important a professional photographer is to you and then shop around for the best deals. Most brides agree that photos are the one thing that they can't cut out of their weddings. If you absolutely cannot hire a professional photographer, buy as many of those disposable wedding cameras as your budget will allow and hand them out for your guests to take pictures at your wedding and reception. Appoint someone to collect all the cameras at the end of the evening.

Don't overlook family members and friends that have special talents. If you have an uncle that is handy with a camera, ask him if he would consider taking photographs at your wedding. Most people will feel honored that you want them to be a special part of your wedding day. Some family members and friends may offer their services, if they do, take them up on it. I know of couples that have accepted help with their wedding as a wedding gift. Many people know someone with nice handwriting that will offer to help address the invitations, or someone that will offer to take photos or video tape the ceremony. Ask your close friends and family members to do something special for you on your wedding day in lieu of a store bought wedding gift. Having them be a part of your wedding day will be more meaningful.

Mary E. Tyler of Clarksville, Tennessee offers this advice for the bride and groom, "Don't invite a lot of people. It's much cheaper. Buy your dress on clearance. Get the nicest flowers and photography you can find. Have the ceremony someplace pretty. Don't make such a big production that you are too rushed and too stressed to enjoy the day and the people around you."

As long as you are surrounded by your loved ones on your special day - it is certain to be a wonderful wedding - no matter how low or high your budget!

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