How We're Saving on Our Wedding

May 30, 2013

This spring, I asked my girlfriend to marry me. After a delayed response (because she was crying and couldn't breathe), she finally said yes.  Once we made all of the appropriate phone calls, some friends decided to join us to celebrate. My fiancé and her sister promptly went out in a snowstorm to buy champagne and bridal magazines.

Over a few glasses of bubbly, we began wondering out loud about the possibilities of our wedding.  We started with the grand idea of having a 20 person wedding party (10 each side). The ideas that followed were just as extravagant.

As I would soon learn in the days that followed, planning a wedding is rarely quick or easy, and it is never cheap. It was at this point in the conversation that the most unromantic word on earth crept out of my mouth - budget. If we were going to make it through this process together, we had to develop a plan. We knew we would be spending money - we just wanted to do so wisely.

From me & mine to you & yours, here's how we've managed to save.

Determine Your Priorities
My fiancé and I decided that there were three things that we were willing to spend larger amounts of money on (i.e. our budget priorities):


  1. Venue
  2. Music
  3. Photography

I created a “Wedding Budget” document using a template from Microsoft Word. Since these were the areas that we were willing to put most of our efforts, we had to make sacrifices elsewhere.

We planned on looking at just two Colorado venues: one in Loveland and one in Bailey.  We pictured a fall wedding in the mountains.  We loved the locations, but were concerned about how unpredictable Colorado weather can be in the fall, and nothing could be worse than snow on the day of your outdoor wedding.

Be Aware of Hidden Costs and Budget Accordingly 
One thing that I never realized about wedding venues until we starting visiting is that some require that you use their outside vendors, meaning you could be paying more than you budgeted for. Also, venues will have some “hidden” charges. The price they quote you may just be the price to book the venue, then they may charge you for other things, like setting up chairs.

Be Open and Flexible 
We were fairly certain we wanted to have our wedding in Loveland, but we looked at one final location 5 minutes from my house on a whim anyway. It wasn’t technically a mountain wedding venue like we hoped, but it was perfect in every other category. It had one price that included everything, allowed us to bring in our own vendors, and even let us supply our own alcohol (this alone saved a significant amount of money). As a final venue cost-cutting step, we decided to move the wedding from October to November and from Saturday night to Friday night. Moving it from the peak wedding period saved a whopping $1,300. Those savings are even more considering what we would have spent in Loveland.

Shop Around and Ask for Discounts 
For a brief period, my fiancé worked in the wedding industry, so she already knew what vendors she wanted for the music and photography. Unfortunately, both options she chose cost more than we anticipated, and my supplemental idea of using our own iPod/iPhone was shot down. Finally, after we explained our situation, the DJ she had chosen gave us a nice discount. We also managed to get two photographers to offer us discounts after their initial price quotes, and ultimately saved $2000 on photos. The lesson? It doesn't hurt to ask for discounts, and a lot of vendors are actually willing to work with you on the price.

Other Ways We're Saving
  • Cutting our wedding party down to three each.
  • Keeping our guest list relatively small (saves on both catering and invitations)
  • Making centerpieces and invitations ourselves
  • A family friend will be gifting us a wedding cake.
  • We've opted for a honeymoon registry since we already have all the kitchen gadgets anyone could ask for.

So far we have saved over $4,000 on our venue, music, and photography by planning our event during the off-peak wedding time. We will also have additional savings by performing some of the work ourselves. Since we took the time to develop a plan and a budget, I sleep much easier at night.

Do you have tips for cutting wedding costs? Share them below!

This post was written by Chris Kamp from Colorado PERA.
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