Before starting this post, I asked Ryan how we thought we saved money planning our wedding. His response: We didn’t. It’s true, ours was definitely not a budget wedding. We looked at it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I don’t regret a single dollar spent on those memories shared with family and friends.
But we didn’t burn Benjamins just because; we were thoughtful about how we spent money. We were intentional to use it in ways that were meaningful to us or provided a great experience for our guests.
Here are a few ways we were able to save or maximize spending on our special day:
Save (on) the Date
Ryan took the leap on Leap Day and about five minutes after he dropped down on one knee, he also proposed a date in March the following year. Giving ourselves a year to plan gave us an opportunity to take our time and shop around. Like any shopping, last minute always equates to more expensive.
March is also considered off-season for weddings, which meant a savings of more than 25% off our reception venue as well as better deals from other vendors. Choosing a date between November and March could mean more money in your budget for a top shelf bar or that swim-up suite on your honeymoon.
Spend Your Way to Paradise
Any big ticket spending is a great opportunity to churn credit cards for hotel points and frequent flyer miles. Before you drop a single dollar on your nuptials, do some research on the right card(s) for getting you where you’d like to go on your honeymoon, for free. In my post We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, I detailed my experience travel hacking my way to Oahu and Maui.
Since most of our wedding party came from out of town and out of state, we wanted to decrease their financial burden by picking up the tab for their attire. By looking around online we were able to find a tailor who sold a quality suit for the same price as a rental. With a little negotiation, we were able to get him to include ties, give us a group discount, and also have him provide on-site alterations the day before the wedding.
I’m already a J. Crew devotee, so that’s where we purchased my matron of honor’s dress. She and I both looked on-line and identified our top choices. Timed to arrive around her family coming for a visit, I ordered the ones we liked best using a portal for cash back (my current faves are Ebates and Mr. Rebates.com). She tried them on while in town, and then I returned the rejects to the J. Crew store down the street.
Be strategic about making wedding purchases around major sales. I was obsessed with Hey Lady shoes, which are pricey but insanely comfortable and rarely on sale. I followed the brand on social media, and then placed my order when they offered a great Cyber Monday discount.
And stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby regularly offer 50% off coupons that can be used on paper goods or wedding décor items. And there’s currently a rebate for Jo-Ann on the Ibotta app.
Get the Most from Your Vendors
Find vendors who multi-task or offer package deals. Our reception DJ was also an acoustic guitarist who played before and during our ceremony. And the salon where I had my hair and make-up done offered a complementary pre-wedding cut and color when you booked a bridal up-do and make-up with a practice session. The same is typical for photographers. Ask if they’ll include a free engagement session or throw-in an hour at the rehearsal dinner.
Early in our planning I had a consultation with a high-end florist. During our conversation, they shared that they secure their rentals through BBJ Linen. I used that information to order specialty linens direct, without the middle man mark-up. I didn’t end up with that florist, but I was able to save additional money with our florist of choice by ordering vases online through a discount retailer.
Icing on the Cake
Add the word “wedding” to any purchase and it immediately increases the price. One big way we saved but provided a high-end experience was by skipping the traditional tiered wedding cake and ordering party cakes in ten different flavors from a local gourmet bakery. This shop advertises the base cost of its wedding cakes at $10/person, and we were able to serve our guests the flavor(s) of their choice for a fraction of that cost.
Don’t be afraid to skip the traditional. We had a short ceremony without any readings, songs or crowd participation, so we didn’t bother with paper programs. We also skipped toasts and tosses, so we didn’t spend money on special glasses or a garter.
Like every other way you choose to spend your money, your wedding day is a reflection of your values and who you are as a couple. Whether it’s a full Catholic mass with 350 witnesses or a barefoot beach ceremony with only an officiant, make the day uniquely yours!