Five Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

Your big day can look like a million buckswithout the huge price tag

Most couples on a budget want to know what they can do to bring everyone together to celebrate, says Plainfield, New Jersey-based, certified master professional wedding consultant Dion Magee (www.dionmagee.com). Here are five ways to cut costs:

Cut the guest list. With more people, you’ll pay more for almost everything: invitations, centerpieces, rentals, favors, and most significantly, food and drinks. “Reducing the guest count up front is the most effective way of reducing costs, because wedding costs are directly related to the number of guests,” says Magee.

Scale back. Cut back on the lavish extras such as florals, linen, and lighting, or make the occasion less formal. Magee suggests food stations, filling hors d’oeuvres, or a light cocktail reception instead of a full dinner. For example, having a signature drink instead of a full open bar can slash 45% off your liquor expenses, according to Alan and Denise Fields.
Negotiate. Magee says you should negotiate with all wedding suppliers. “Say to merchants: ‘Here’s our budget. What are some ways we can creatively meet it?’” According to The Wedding Report, couples are negotiating not just price, but payment plans.

Let your vendors help. “Identify and partner with people who are good at what they do and who can save you money in the long run,” Magee says. “It may cost more up front to hire a professional, but they’re going to give you a certain quality.” They can also help you find savings in their respective areas.

Give yourself time. Magee finds that couples planning their wedding in six months or less to the date typically don’t have a large budget and are really trying to crunch dollars. “But if they set that date maybe nine or 12 months later, then they find that they can afford more or are able to save more.” You can also save by having your wedding reception on a weekday.

Whatever your budget, your wedding day is one that Magee says can have an emotional or financial impact for months or years to come, so you want to reduce the trauma as much as possible. “You can’t buy a million-dollar mansion if you can only afford a one-bedroom condo,” Whitten says. “At the end of the day you have to come back to your budget.”

This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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