10 Do’s and Don’ts for Engaged Couples on a Budget

As we enter into fall, many couples are beginning with earnest to plan
their weddings for the next season. It can be a confusing time. Everywhere
you look there is advice as to how to spend (or save) your wedding dollars. A
word to the wise from those of us here at Save the Date!: save money where
it makes sense to do so, but be cautious of being penny wise and pound (or
dollar) foolish. Here are 10 “Do’s and Don’ts” when it comes to budgeting.

1. Do consider an unconventional venue, but this advice is best
followed only for small, simple weddings. For intimate gatherings, say
less than 50 guests, you certainly can consider asking a close friend or
family member, who has a nice home or scenic view, if you could use
their space for your event. Or you can rent a picturesque house at a
special destination (making sure the clear it with the host that it is
allowed to hold a wedding there). Many communities also have beautiful
parks or other open spaces that can be rented for a very modest

However, if your wedding is going to be a more traditional size –
perhaps 100-200 guests, organizing for an untraditional venue can very
quickly become very expensive – because everything must be brought
in. Your caterer may not have kitchen facilities, which makes its work
more difficult and expensive. You may need a tent, which can be
expensive, and often requires multiple permits, a suitable power source,
as well as a suitably flat location. You may need to bring in portable
bathrooms, something often overlooked, and in general you will need to
rent everything, from forks, to linens, to tables and chairs, to a bar, to
most of your lighting.

You also may run into zoning limitations, requiring the cessation of the
party by an early hour.

2. Don’t over-invite. The number of guests you invite is the single largest
driver of cost for virtually every wedding. It is easy to get carried away
and invite every person you’ve had positive interactions with. Keep in
mind that this is a meaningful, special event best spent with your
nearest and dearest. Keeping the list tamed will significantly decrease
costs and allows you to splurge on other aspects of your wedding.

3. Do be creative with catering costs, but not if it means a food truck for
your formal outdoor wedding. Yes, catering is usually the largest piece
of the wedding budget. But it is also one of the most important
elements, second only to your venue. Hiring an inexperienced caterer,
or a restaurant that does not regularly cater, can absolutely ruin a
wedding. The service may be poor, the food cold or of insufficient
volume, and the carefully planned schedule a distant memory. Pick your
caterer carefully and based on solid recommendations from your
planner or a reputable website!

4. Do consider Evites for tech-savvy guests, or ordering your own
invitations and other wedding paper products. While electronic
invites or “evites” aren’t the traditional way to send wedding invitations,
they’re becoming more common. Plus, in our high tech world people are
always on their phones or electronic devices. By sending evites, you’ll
likely receive RSVPs and follow-up with guests more easily, while also
saving hundreds on postage. It also is the most environmentally friendly

But if you love beautiful paper products (like we do!) you will be
delighted to find fabulous designs and deals online from a variety of
sources, with very user-friendly designing and ordering. We adore the
local stationers with whom we work, but for the couple on a budget, this
is a super way to save several thousand dollars.

6. Do skip hard liquor. As much as you may want to provide your guests
every drink option, serving top-shelf alcohol can get VERY expensive.
Many couples are opting for an open bar, featuring just beer and wine.
But if you really can’t let go of that cocktail option, providing a “signature
drink” is a very fun way to incorporate liquor without breaking the bank.

7. Don’t be quick to decide to do flowers on your own.  It is certainly
true that nowadays you can visit your local grocery store or to place a
surprisingly affordable bulk order of flowers. And it is fun to create
beautiful, inexpensive flower arrangements that ‘wow’ guests. But
unless you have a team of friends or family members who have nothing
else to do for the 48 hours prior to your wedding, as well as the morning
of your wedding, think twice before foregoing a traditional florist.
Preparing florals for a wedding, and, don’t forget, delivering them safely,
is a great deal of work that, for obvious reasons, cannot be done much
in advance, and you simply will not have time to do them on your own,
or manage their delivery and set up the day of the wedding.

8. Do save on your floral budget by using less expensive, local blooms
that are in season, with lots of beautiful greenery. And keep your
bouquets to a moderate size – there is no need for them to be huge.
Repurpose your bouquets to use as centerpieces for the head table, or
décor for the cake table. Centerpieces can be kept modest by featuring
them with beautiful floating candles.

9. Do say no to the pricey dress. You know that you can spend a small
fortune on a wedding dress if you want to. But it really isn’t necessary.
Some of the most beautiful and flattering gowns we’ve seen have been
purchased off the rack for less than $1,500, and sometimes way less.
Fortunately many bridal shops hold “Sample Sales,” where you can get
designer dresses at more affordable prices. Another great option is to
consider renting a dress, or purchasing from a consignment shop (there
is a great one in Denver). Some consignment shops have gorgeous
vintage gowns at ridiculously low prices.

10. Don’t be afraid to hire a planner. It’s a bit of a secret that hiring a
wedding planner can be the single best means of saving money on your
wedding. Not only will she save you untold amount of stress and worry,
she likely will pay for herself through her savvy vendor
recommendations and wealth of tips as to where to spend money and
where not to spend it.