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 Post subject: How do I minimize costs for a "traditional" weddin
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 7:59 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 7:46 am
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I will be getting married some time late summer of next year (2008) and have been fighting the good fight of keeping my finances in tact. Of couse there are many shortcuts like eloping or beach wedding and what not to keep the costs down, but our circumstances require us to have a "traditional" wedding. In our efforts, we have made the event as simple and elegant as possible, cutting out as much fancy-shmancy elements out of it. But we're still at the very early stages and coming up with ideas to minimize the costs.

For an example, one of the great ideas my fiancee thought of was to replace the big bouquet of flowers at everyone's table at the reception with a simple fishbowl with two gold fishes and lillypads. Nice, simple, pretty, and something the kids would enjoy too. Not to mention way cheaper than flowers, although we'll still have flowers wedding.

So if anyone knows of a way to minimize the costs of a "traditional" wedding, please feel free to post =]. I appreciate all your efforts!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:14 am 

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Here's a suggestion:

Have your ceremony in the morning and the reception around lunch. Lunch receptions are a lost more cost-friendly than supper receptions. Plus you don't have bored guests sitting around for five hours while you get all your pictures done. If you need more pictures, you can run off together after leaving the reception without the pressure of waiting guests.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 am 
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Squished, I like that idea. I don't know that I've ever been to a morning wedding, but I think it sounds lovely. I think the food could be more eclectic, too. Who doesn't love a brunch buffet? :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:59 am 

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I'm getting married in late May! Woohoo! Here's some tips I've used or heard of in all my planning efforts:

- Like squished18 said, having a lunch reception is cheaper than dinner. In fact, something between lunch and dinner will be even cheaper. You can have the ceremony after lunch, and the reception can be light refreshments and snacks. You can still make it elegant with wine and cheese

- Your center piece idea is similar to what we'll be using. We're buying glass bowls that will hold floating flowers. It might be cheaper with floating candles and flower petals sprinkled around the bowl.

- Bought wedding dress at "Bride & Joy" and received a 50% off coupon for all tuxedos at Men's Warehouse. This saved me over $400.

- Ask a friend/relative/college art student to do your photography. If you are good with Photoshop, then all you need is someone to take the shots. We're having a friend shoot for $500, and I'll take my time post-processing and making layouts for a wedding album after the honeymoon.

- Sign up for credit cards to get bonuses for flights and hotels. Both out tickets to Europe and two of the nights at a hotel will be free for us.

- Make your own invitations. Again, if you are decent with Photoshop, you can design pretty nice designs and laser print them. To finish them off, we bought a custom monogram embosser. We are now using the embosser for everything!

- Save the date postcards from vistaprints. You can find a 50% off coupon and get them printed for about 10 cents each. The photo quality might not be as good as shutterfly, but they come on nice thick cardstock.

- Wedding bands. Got ours at http://www.e-weddingbands.com and am very happy with them.

- Shop around for wine at supermarkets. Most places will give you at least 10% off if you buy cases.

- Wedding cakes are cheaper at Chinese bakeries. No joke. And they taste better too.?

If you have questions let me know.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 9:11 am 

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Location: Portland, OR
Excellent suggestions Savvy. I am getting married this summer (August) and will be having a mid-day wedding to save cost and avoid the drunken frenzy of later weddings. How does everyone feel about foregoing alcohol completely? Would coffee, juice, bottled water, etc. be adequate? Is the alcohol needed to lube the conversations?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 9:25 am 
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DC, Kris and I had an alcohol-free reception. Our wedding was rather non-traditional, though. We were married by a judge. We only had one witness each. We had our reception later in the afternoon at the cafe of the college from which we'd recently graduated. We set up a volleyball net, passed out disposable cameras (which were new at the time), and set up tables outside. It was a relaxed time. Kris and I did a lot of the work ourselves. We served no alcohol. (At the time, neither of us drank alcohol and were fairly opposed to it.)

It can be done.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 10:35 am 
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Over here having a completely alcohol-free reception could be seen as making a definite statement about alcohol.

Having said that a cash bar is ubiquitous, the only drinks that are paid for are wine with the meal, a welcoming drink and champagne (sparkling wine) for the toast. Speeches at weddings are seen as pretty important, and people like to have a real drink in a champagne glass for the toasts.

If you wanted to cut down, you could have just Bucks Fizz for the toast, and I'd consider cheating and mixing orange juice and sparkling water if I didn't want to have alcohol at all.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 10:39 am 
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I get married this September

Things that we're doing to keep down costs are:

1) One of my best friends is an excellent Cajun Cook in his spare time. He's preparing our food for the reception. Since these folks are from Virginia and don't know Cajun, they'll be thrilled. Our cost is just the ingredients, he and his wife are doing this as their gift for us (they are frugal folks too). The reception is beer and wine, no liquor.

2) We are having an alcohol free rehearsal dinner.

3) Check with your college! We're having ours at her school chapel, and its free.

4) We did not have a set "faith" to have the wedding in, so through her family they connected with a retired preacher who'll do it for free. Same for our organist.

5) Photographers? Bah! Too expensive. Us young folks all have digital cameras, so we're setting up a computer at the reception for folks to dump their pictures into before they leave. Everyone gets a CD, made by us. Cheap!

6) I booked a cruise out of Baltimore, rather than Florida. We dont have to pay for airfare or hotel accomdations that way. book in advance for savings.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 11:31 am 

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One area I would suggest not being too frugal is a photographer. While anybody can point-and-shoot, it takes skill to shoot under varying conditions. If you value photos much, a skilled photographer can make a world of difference. Yes, it seems that anybody can use Photoshop. However, if you start with a lousy picture, even Photoshop can't save you. You end up using effects to hide defects and in my opinion the pictures still ends up looking cheap. These effects include inappropriate use of sepia and blurring techniques.

If you want to save money on the photos, hire a skilled photographer that you can pay for only their time. In other words, you pay for six hours of coverage and they give you the negatives or files at the end of the session. Otherwise, many photographers like to back-end their packages. It's really hard to say no to a $500 album when your new wife is sitting there and very enthusiastic about that package.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 11:51 am 
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She said no before I even had a chance to process the sheer money. They want like 2K.

We're not picture folks. I don't even have a picture of her, and her only picture of me is me when I was like...3.

Digital photos online from friends is pretty much what we do.

I just don't think, that, to us, we're going to appreciate the differences enough to shell out that much money.
I'll make a thread explaining why we are so frugal at this very moment =)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 12:32 pm 

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See if there's a good photo school near where you're having your wedding. If you can hire an upper level photo student, you can get great quality at a fraction of the cost. When I was in film school, people were always contacting us to professionally videotape their weddings. We had access to great equipment, and we would be entirely happy being paid much less than the local professionals charge.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:30 pm 

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Quote:
We're not picture folks. I don't even have a picture of her, and her only picture of me is me when I was like...3.


This is okay, for you. But if you're planning on having kids someday, I can tell you from experience that having good photos in an album might eventually mean a lot to them. I would rather completely skip the flowers and the alcohol than skimp on photography, if it were my wedding.

Quote:
How does everyone feel about foregoing alcohol completely? Would coffee, juice, bottled water, etc. be adequate? Is the alcohol needed to lube the conversations?


I know people who have had alcohol free receptions. It might be remarked upon, but if you go with the brunch suggestion, I don't think there would be too much grousing.

However, I would make an effort to serve something festive, such as a nice punch or selection of mocktails, and then to offer sparkling juice (taste test apple, pear, and grape) for the toasts, if you have any.

And one final suggestion:

You can make fairly inexpensive favors if you get some organza favor bags (you can find them in bulk on yonder Interweb). Throw a few wrapped candies of your choice inside (I like Baci). You have something your guests might actually use and you should be able to do each bag for under $1. If you and your guests aren't candy people, you could think of other things to put in the bags (hand-monogrammed tea lights?) that aren't expensive either.

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 Post subject: get a pro for photos, but consider making your own book
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 12:37 am 

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Here's another vote for hiring a professional photographer. Find one who shoots digital and will provide you the images.

We did this in fall '05, and our only half-regret is buying an album from him -- it was beautifully designed and produced but cost more than my first car and took months to deliver. In the meantime we made our own Mothers' albums in an evening on iPhoto for $20/ea. Now I'd try blurb.com or other sites that offer hard binding, etc.

We did the disposable cameras (found just-past-expiration-date Kodaks online for $2/ea, developed cheap at Costco); they yielded 99% disposable images. Glad we didn't rely on those, or on the haphazard snapshots snapped by well-meaning friends and family; both were fun & worthwhile but no substitute for the pro's work.

Other recommendations:
1. Keep the guest list aggressively short. This is hard, but you can afford a much nicer wedding with a smaller party. (We paid for our wedding, so we had 100% control of the list. I hear this doesn't fly everywhere.)
2. Use one site for the wedding and reception. This saves money and helps limit the logistics.
3. Find garage operations (experienced pros just starting their own businesses) where suitable. We did this for flowers and cake and found folks who worked very hard, were incredibly creative, and eager to bagain.
4. A caterer who is familiar with your location can guarantee a smoother operation at a lower price; ours also was able to negotiate flexibility on the start time, which we'd been assured was impossible.
5. Buy a nice suit rather than rent a tux - might not be cheaper but can be much better value. And it'll give trigger nice memories every time you wear it later.
6. Family-style dining is more elegant than buffet and less expensive than a typical sit-down meal, while still letting your guests pick what they eat. Con: you can't seat as many people per table.
7. Skip the big thing and just take your parents to Hawaii. My wife insists she said up front that this is what she wanted to do! Men never listen, though we sometimes think we do...


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 5:11 am 
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I still don't understand how you can spend $30,000 on a wedding. Hope I don't come across as rude or anything... can you give us a breakdown?

What do you consider a "traditional" wedding?

Like I said on the blog comments, I got married in January, "traditional", for ~$8,000.

Dress was around $500 (David's Bridal -- ugh)
Photographer was $3,000 for the whole day
Cake and food was ~$900-1,000? -- we didn't do a sit down dinner or anything like that, just finger foods because reception started at 3pm
Flowers were ~$800 including her bouquet, 3 bridesmaids bouquets, 7 boutonnieres, alter flowers, bows for the pews, and two corsages. We used the bridesmaids bouquets as centerpieces at the front table. We bought plates, red glass marble/beads (like at Pier 1), and candles from a hobby store that was going out of business and made our own centerpieces.
Two of my best friends played piano and guitar. CD backup.

We invited 250, but since we were out of town less than half showed up. We had a lot of food leftover so we could've handled 250.

I'd love to see an itemized list of your wedding and help cut corners.

My 2 cents.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 10:01 am 

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I understand that a traditional wedding can be very expensive; I've been married twice and both of my weddings were very small and untraditional -- at home, less than 30 guests, not catered, etc.; each of those weddings cost less than $400. A few suggestions:

1. If it's summer, pick your own wildflowers the day before, or have friends pick them for you.

2. Ask friends to help out with decorating or other tasks rather than give you gifts. We had musician friends who played for our wedding; that was their wedding gift and thus we didn't have to pay for music.

3. Friends can also bring food and drinks: both of my weddings were potlucks; again, we asked friends to bring food and drinks in lieu of gifts. Hence no catering bills. The food was great and everyone was happy.

4. Wedding announcements: we bought postcards and had a rubber stamp printed up text with announcing our wedding. We just hand-stamped the postcards. No need for printing or anything fancy, and everyone loved the postcards; friends told us it was the only wedding announcement they planned to keep.

None of these things felt "cheap" to us or our guests; we were simply being creative and the end result was very festive. I'm sure some people used to a traditional wedding were horrified (my stepmother for example), but we didn't care. We were perfectly able to afford a much more expensive wedding but chose to use the money for better things like a honeymoon in Europe.


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