You say you're a wedding planner, and can do it less expensively than others. My question is: *HOW* much less expensively?
We had a wedding for 75 people that cost ~ $9K. Our budget:
DAVE AND SANDI'S WEDDING BUDGET 10/28/97
Item Est. Cost Cost to Date
Hall Rental $675 $675
Minister $300 $300
Food (76 guests) $1,482 $1,482
Servers (Bartender, 3 servers (4@$15/hr x 6 hrs)) $370 $370
Tax $175 $175
Service & Tip $500 $500
Rentals, 76 guests $400 $400
Champagne, Soda, Water $230 $180
Invitations and Postage $280 $293
Flowers and Bouquet holders $80 $87
Decorations & Centerpieces $300 $310
Cake $125 $125
License $75 $70
DJ and tip $335 $335
Groom's Tux, Tom & Valyrie's apparel $250 $270
Photography $1,700 $1,900
Dress $750 $750
Shoes, Veil, Jewelry $95 $83
Nails for women $170 $95
Hotel for Sandi, MOH, 2 nights each $200 $190
Favors $80 $63
Parking $90 $82
Reh. Dinner (22) & 4 carafes of wine $515 $515
Wedding Total: $9,177 $9,250
Notes to save money: We got married on a Monday - the cost of hall rental, food, DJ and photography were all MUCH less expensive as a result. Our "bridal hotel" - Motel 6. Invitations were mail ordered, at a big savings. We had a three layer cake, made by a lady out of her home. We did our flowers ourselves, and bought them wholesale. The favors were chocolate squares in lucite boxes, wrapped with curling ribbon - cute but inexpensive. The centerpieces were silk flowers, glue gunned to golden doilies, surrounding pillar candles. The decorations were silk ficus trees with white lights in them, and some plaster columns that I'd painted, and rested plants on. We bought our own alcohol - champagne only, no open bar. We had a daytime/lunchtime wedding.
We splurged on the food (fantastic! but the caterer let us provide our own wine!) and on the photographer (unbelievable wedding photos that we still love and display, nearly 11 years later).
To pay for it, we "paid as we went" for many things - the flowers, the invitations and postage, the decorations, the favors. They came from income in the year leading up to the wedding. The wedding became our "hobby", so we spent less on other things as we focused on preparing for the wedding. For example, I bought the invitations ~ 6 months in advance. The silk ficus and pillar candles ~ 8 months in advance. We bought 4-6 bottles of champagne a month, and stashed it in the basement until the wedding. We also set aside $100 each month apiece, and used that as the "wedding fund" to pay for the larger items, such as the hall rental, the photographer, and the caterer.
Realistically, you will probably need to put some of this on a credit card. I would do it just for consumer protection - what if you pay 50% deposits to the photographer or the caterer, and they go out of business before the wedding date? If you write a check, you're up the creek with no paddle. With a Credit Card, you have a hope of a charge-back.
Finally, there may be people who will give you cash. We received ~ $2K in cash gifts, surprisingly. We paid off the last of the wedding and honeymoon costs ($1450 for 6 days in Mexico), and set the rest aside in a "furniture fund." Then, post-wedding we continued the $200 per month into a savings fund, earmarked for furniture.
It was a great way to start saving for joint goals, stretching current income, and MINIMIZING debt. I wanted a wedding too, because we'd spent 16 years together first, and it was a great way to celebrate. But I wasn't gonna take out a loan against the house to have one.
Good luck! You can do this sensibly, and get what you both want.
As a result, ALMOST all of this was paid without debt. And it was a wonderful, beautiful day that I am happy to remember, because we didn't bury ourselves with debt.