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How to Be Sure Wedding Bliss Does Not Become a Financial Miss, Part 3

In my posts Part 1 and 2, I covered some of the big, pricey areas that make weddings so expensive, including the venue and wedding gown. Here I am going to wrap up this series by covering a few other expenses that can add unnecessarily to your wedding-day bill:

The guest list: Want to reduce your wedding-day expense by thousands of dollars? Cut back on your guest list. You can often save $120/pp and up by cutting back on your list. Think about it… is it really necessary to invite 200+ people that you haven’t seen or been connected to in years, and may not see again after the wedding? Keeping the list limited to the people who matter not only makes for a more enjoyable and intimate wedding, but it ensures that you get a chance to spend quality time with your guests. And, it reduces the temptation for others like your parents to “add” guests to your list.

When my man and I began planning the wedding, the first thing we set was the budget: $10,000. Not the easiest feat to meet in a large city. I moved to this city over a decade ago, so I have a good handful of friends already. He was raised in this city from a toddler, so he has friends that date back to junior school. That’s a lot of people to choose from! A first pass at our list made for 120 people. It was quickly apparent though that there were a few problems:

  1. There was no way we could be on budget with the entire wedding with 120 guests, unless we gave them just cocktails and finger foods, which we did not want to do.
  2. As we added friends to the list, we felt compelled to add more people to the list. After all, how do you invite friend A and not invite friend B? If you have heard of “feature creep,” this was “guest list creep.”
  3. My man’s parents wanted to add a few people to our list for their own reasons. How do you say no to parents? However, I did not know these people and my man barely knew them, so we did not feel having them attend would add value to our special day(besides, we were footing the bill for the wedding, not them).

We went back to scrutinize the guest list again. We highlighted our close family members, and that list was 50 people. That was our epiphany. Limit the list to family (the ones we wanted present), and no one can argue. There are no ill feelings from friends wondering why they weren’t invited. The words “we’re keeping it small; just family” were received by acknowledgements and understanding, and occasionally, relief.

Those phantom guests were no longer an issue. Instead of being forced to pick and choose which friends were worthy of being invited, we decided instead to hold a separate party to celebrate our nuptials two weeks after our wedding. It would be an informal event with friends, frothy drinks and finger foods at home. This way, we could invite all of the friends we wanted without having to limit that guest list, because the cost is only $15/pp, give or take.

Use this rule of thumb. Take the amount of time in minutes your reception/dinner/dance will last and divide it by the number of guests you plan to invite. Our reception/dinner/dance will last about six hours, or 360 minutes. With 40 adult guests in attendance (the rest are toddlers), we will average 9 minutes per guest. If we had 250 adults in attendance, we would average 1.44 minutes per guest. Which event do you think would be more meaningful?

The wedding party: For similar reasons, keep your wedding party small. It will save on outfit costs and meal costs. Also, there is no prerogative to have the same number of attendants for each spouse. I have two attendants, and my man has one. To keep costs down, my attendants’ dresses are from H&M (and they look amazing for $30!). My man and his best man will wear nice suits (not tuxedos, which cost more).

The invitations: Because we are close to all of the guests, we are calling or emailing a wedding invite that I created in PowerPoint (which can also be used as a simple desktop publishing tool) and converted to PDF.

The flowers: To cut back on costs, you can choose to go with fresh or fake flowers. I picked up fake roses at Dollarama. They look great for $1 each, and since I am getting married in the summer, I do not need to worry about them wilting in the summer heat. I am also using the heads of the roses as part of my centerpieces. If you prefer real flowers, go to Costco the day before or, if you can, the day of. They sell bouquets of roses for $19.99. You can also buy mixed floral bouquets for pops of color. Use scissors to trim the stems and floral tape and ribbon to wrap the bouquet stems. Cut flower tops and have pins on hand to use these as boutonnieres for parents.

The centerpieces: Your guests are not there to admire your centerpieces, they are present to celebrate your special day with you. Don’t get caught up with expensive centerpieces you will never use again. You can Google creative centerpiece ideas. I am pulling together pieces from Dollarama at $12/centerpiece. My brother and his wife pasted copies of childhood photos on black cardboard stands. Each table had a different set of pictures, encouraging guests to mingle and make conversation when visiting each table to view the different photos. You can find fun and fanciful ideas without spending a fortune.

The cake: Specialty wedding cakes sell for $500 and up. Instead, we are buying two tasty flavors of nicely decorated cake from a popular bakery and using our own cake toppers. Voilà! We have our wedding cakes, we know they will taste great and it will cost us $100 in total to feed all of our guests. A far cry from those outrageous wedding cake prices.

The take-aways: Look, no one needs a bag of candied almonds, a shot glass with your etched wedding date, or any other useless bauble from your wedding. An item costing just a few dollars balloons into a big expense once you account for all of your guests, and it will only end up in recycling or as a garage sale item. Instead of take-aways, we are donating funds to an animal rescue.

And there you have it… before you know it, by using some of these tricks, you have trimmed thousands of dollars off of your wedding day without sacrificing your vision!

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