Now... onto "Do THIS, not THAT." I came up with this concept when I saw a book at Barnes and Noble entitled "Eat This, Not That." It's a genius concept because it's not telling you to give up the things you really want (to eat), it's giving you smart alternatives. I'm here to do the same thing for you when it comes to wedding planning.
If there's one thing I learned about planning my own wedding, and in the few months I've been married, it's all about compromise. I know you're probably thinking either "Duh" or "What a cliché" but hear me out.
If you make smart compromises while planning your wedding, you can still remain 100% happy with the final outcome. If you pick and choose just a few of these examples, you can potentially save thousands of dollars.
Do an OFF-THE-RACK Dress, Not a Couture or Designer Label DressMy wedding dress was $450. Yup. And I still felt like a million bucks on my wedding day. A lot of brides develop preconceived ideas of their "dream dress" or insist upon wearing a particular designer. I like to call this "dress prejudice." We all suffer from it to some degree. I get it. It's your wedding dress. But you should still consider trying on some off-the-rack dresses, if only to find the right silhouette for your figure. Who knows - you might just fall in love with one and save yourself some serious cash. I did.
On my wedding day, one of my guests came up to me and gushed over my dress. She asked if it was a Vera (as in Vera Wang). I smiled conspiratorially at her and said, "No, it's a David" (as in David's Bridal).
Average Potential Savings: $3,000*
Do OFF-SEASON, Not Summer
Do you know what the difference in price at popular wedding venue on the Jersey Shore is in July compared to December. Half. That's right - you get a 50% discount around these parts for getting married in the Winter. I know, I know. You always pictured yourself as a Summer bride. Well I've been to Fall weddings, Winter weddings and Spring weddings and they were all fan-freakin-tastic.
Think about it - Fall offers the best color schemes and think of how gorgeous your photos will look with all that foliage. A Winter bride gets to wear one those awesome faux fur wrap things over her dress and can escape the cold on a tropical honeymoon with all the money she saved on her non-summer wedding. Spring offers some of the very best floral arrangements money can buy and the weather is usually perfect for an outdoor cocktail hour. Just sayin'.
Average Potential Savings: $5,000*
Do FRIDAY OR SUNDAY, Not SaturdaySimilarly to the off-season savings, the day of the week you pick your wedding can make a huge impact on your bottomline (that's my former-Corporate-America-self coming out). Venues typically increase their price-per-person by 30% or more on a Saturday night as opposed to a Friday night or Sunday afternoon. For example, if the plate charge is $100 to have a wedding on a Friday night, that same exact meal will cost you $130. Crazy, right?
I know you want a Saturday wedding because it is the most convenient for your guests. Here's what you need to realize - if someone wants to be at your wedding, he/she will stop at nothing to be there. He will take a half day on a Friday or go in late on a Monday. And hey, you might've just given someone a really good excuse to work a little less and party a little more.
Average Potential Savings: $1,500*
Do BEER & WINE, Not a Premium BarToo many brides, and especially grooms, think you need to offer every type of alcohol at your wedding as a courtesy to your guests. Not true. As someone who has been a guest at over 20 weddings, I can tell you first-hand that your guests will be happy with whatever you offer them. Free booze is free booze. Oh but what about Uncle Mort? He doesn't drink beer or wine; he only drinks scotch. He will live; dear old Uncle Mort can get his scotch at the bar at the after-party. There will always be an Uncle Mort. You can't please everybody but the majority will toast the newlyweds with just about anything - including the house Pinot Grigio. Cheers!
Average Potential Savings: $2,000*
Do a DJ, Not a BandBrian and I were pretty sure we'd have a kick-ass band at our wedding. We ended up having a kick-ass DJ. The costs of some wedding bands, at least in the area where we live, is staggering. And the difference in cost between a DJ and a band was a no-brainer for us. Guess what? People still danced and requested songs and drunkenly belted the lyrics to "Sweet Caroline." Just like booze is booze, music is music. And a DJ's playlist is limitless.
Average Potential Savings: $3,500*
Do a BUFFET, Not a Sit-Down DinnerOkay, if you're planning a black tie wedding, then a sit-down dinner is the logical way to go. But if you're planning a black tie wedding, you're most likely not reading a blog called Backyard Bride. For all you brides out there who can't quite afford a gala-esque wedding but still want your guests to be well-fed, let me suggest a delicious buffet.
A buffet allows your guests more options; they can try the chicken and the beef and the fish. Personally, I get a bit anxious at weddings with sit-down dinners when the server comes to confirm my order. I'm always afraid I made the wrong choice and I'll be stuck with it. I usually make Brian order my second choice and then eat off his plate because I'm huge pain the ass. I appreciate options and the chance to go for seconds with no judgment. Plus, buffet spreads can be really affordable since the food isn't being made to order on-the-spot.
Average Potential Savings: $2,000*
Do a CAKE, Not a Full Dessert SpreadI wish I could tell you the amount of dessert I've seen wasted at weddings. Between the good ol' days I spent catering weddings at Jersey Shore restaurants and attending my fair share of weddings as an actual invited guest and now as a wedding planner, I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to excess at weddings.
By the time the cake-cutting ritual takes place, either one of two things is a guarantee: A.) I'm drunk or B.) I'm really full from eating food all night long. Neither of those scenarios is very conducive to eating a whole bunch of different desserts. I've seen huge cookie platters at each table; I've seen the world's most extensive candy bar; I've seen an ice cream sundae bar; I've seen mini desserts passed around on silver trays. But the worst part - I've seen it all get thrown away at the end of the night.
Do yourselves a favor: Pick out a cake (or cupcakes) that will please the masses and then put your checkbook away. You don't need more than cake. That bakery is lying to you.
Average Potential Savings: $1,000*
*Based on average wedding costs in the Jersey Shore area with about 150 guests (and some unscientific Google research).
Oh and this is me in my off-the-rack David's Bridal dress. Not. Too. Shabby.