We budgeted and we decided what was most important to us.
The main things that were absolute musts were:
1) Venue with outdoor ceremony/indoor reception space
2) Good Food
3) A good photographer (we had the best!)
4) A DJ
These were the big ticket items we knew had to happen. So, we budgeted the majority of our money to these areas. Everything else I shopped for, I looked for bargains, and 99% of the time, I DIYed.
The venue will probably be your largest expense when it comes to the wedding. One of the saving graces when it came to being able to stick to our budget and not skimp on our wedding was that we found a venue that did not charge you to rent the area. Instead, you simply had to spend a set amount with them and you could uses the spaces for free. For this particular venue, catering, set up of ceremony and reception, linens, lights, etc. all counted towards that set amount.
Another awesome feature of our venue was that it could be used for both ceremony and reception. This was not only super convenient, but it also saved money since we didn't have to rent two different locations.
When researching your venue, definitely look into places that offer all-inclusive packages like this. This allowed us to have an awesome venue and saved up about $5000 compared to some of the other places we looked at.
I definitely wanted out guests to enjoy the food. Our food was included in our venue price and it was AMAZING. One thing that allowed us to get everything we wanted at a decent price, was I asked the banquet coordinator if they did smaller portions at a cheaper cost for children. They did offer kids food at 60% of adults. Since 25 out of 120 of our guests were kids this actually saved us a large chunk of money...about $400 to be exact.
A lot of venues wont tell you about discounts like this. Ask. It never hurts to ask and could save you a lot of money if you do.
PLEASE, if there is one thing you splurge on, make it your photographer ! Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. You are going to want to document it. Sometimes we trust people to take pictures who...well...are not professionals and you are left feeling disappointed.
Let me just say our DJ was awesome! After hearing stories about weddings that didn't have DJs, I knew we wanted one. I did not want to spend the time on making playlists, or end up having someone play music from their Ipod that I had never even heard (this happened to my SIL) at my wedding. We wanted to have a good time and listen to good music.
There is a myth that DJs are expensive, but they don't have to be. I shopped around for DJs when a friend of mine told me that a kid we went to high school with and his family DJed on the side. We hired him and his family for $300 less than what the well-known DJ in our area charges.
I met with his mom multiple times. They completely customized everything to our taste in music, what we did and didn't want played, and when we wanted certain songs played. They were awesome.
Even my husband who isn't really a dancing type of person had fun.
If music is important to you shop around, ask if anyone you know has a relative that DJs as a hobby, check with college music programs to see of there are students who DJ. You don't have to pay a ton of money for a DJ.
Throughout the rest of this series, I am going to give you tips on how to cut costs so that you can afford all of your must have, big ticket wedding items.
This is day 2 of a 31 day series. To check out the rest, click here
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