Don’t Waste Your Dollars!

Trying to save money while planning your wedding is a bit like walking a tightrope – you don’t want to waste a single dollar, but at the same time, you want to create an unforgettably beautiful event. So, while you don’t want to scrimp on the important things, one great way to save money is to avoid the things that aren’t worth buying at any price. For every wedding, the priorities are different, of course, but here is my personal top 5 of possible expenses that should make you put your credit card back into your wallet:

Wedding Memorabilia: Don’t let on that I told you, but, honestly? The wedding industry pretty much exists to sell things to you. Be a savvy consumer, and don’t get sucked into the hype – consider carefully every wedding related item you’re buying that you think will make a lovely keepsake – because you really don’t need very many. Put together a wedding album, and perhaps keep your wedding dress for future generations. But do you really need a wedding guest book? with a feather pen? Special “once only” wedding shoes?  If you really want them, make sure they’re future-proof – cute and comfy shoes you’ll wear often and with pleasure, a really nice letter writing set, table decorations that match your home or garden decor, so you can really use them again – that kind of thing. You don’t need to have a professional wedding video made, unless you will really watch it regularly, or have family who can’t attend. Rather than cluttering up your cupboards with tons of wedding mementos, leave some space for creating new memories.

Wedding Favors: I know that wedding favors are intended as a thoughtful way of saying thank you to your guests. But far too often they’re meaningless tat. Think about it from their point of view – Your guests don’t need a single scented candle, or a little silver bell. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that cute but costly place card holder is “worth it because it can double as a favor”; what are they going to do with one place card? And would you really want a plastic Frisbee with your friends’ wedding date on it?There are exceptions, but they’re rare. Some ideas that I think could work include: Packaged cupcakes or cookies that double as dessert and place cards, tickets to a local gala being held the next day, a custom-made recipe book with a few favourites from both sides of the family, and one of my favourites – a breakfast bag with some croissants, quality tea bags, and a little pot of jam for out-of-town guests to enjoy the next morning. And, don’t underestimate the value of a personal note. Guests might not register the amount of money you spend, but they will certainly value the time and thought that goes into whatever thank-yous you make.

Bride” and “Groom” gear: It’s cute to have T-shirts printed with “Mr & Mrs”, but, really, how long are you going to wear them? You certainly don’t need to own multiple pieces of clothing that say “bride” or “groom” because they’ve got a very limited shelf-life. Once the honeymoon is over, there aren’t that many occasions when your wedding swag will get an airing. By all means, wear your status with pride, but don’t blow your budget on it, and choose items that can double as pyjamas or underwear once it passes its use by date.

Massive Guest Lists, with all the trimmings: Sure, you want to celebrate with all of your nearest and dearest. And your work mates. And your maiden aunts, and, and… and every extra guest adds to your wedding bill. You not only have to allow for more in your food and beverage budget, you’ll need more room at your venue, more invitations, more wedding cake, more seats, and ultimately, more money.
You can economise in one of two ways – either invite the whole guest list to a simpler celebration, or invite a smaller group to a fancier one. And to be frank, there’s a huge difference between being invited as a face in the crowd at a drinks and nibbles reception vs being part of an intimate gathering.

Too Many Bridal Attendants: At recent wedding I counted over a dozen members of the bridal party. And while twelve is definitely more than average, large bridal parties are an easy way to spend large pots of money. Even if you don’t pay for their suits and dresses [and you often will], each of those attendants will also need a bouquet or button-hole, a thank you gift, and an invitation to the rehearsal dinner and other parties. So, every bridesmaid or groomsman you add, adds to your overall bill. Which brings the role of  best man and maid of honour back into its proper perspective – choose one or two people who you want to stand beside you as you make your vows, and let the rest come as guests. If you feel the need to give others a special part in your wedding, consider asking them to usher, give a reading during the ceremony, or ask them to fulfil some other role during the reception or ceremony.

Your wedding is not a time to stint on the essentials, but it’s also not the time to mire yourselves hopelessly into debts that will take many anniversaries to pay off. Getting the best value for every dollar makes great sense. As they say, look after the sense/cents, and the dollars will take care of themselves!

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