Wedding season is in full swing with some states like New York getting a few extra brides and grooms this year thanks to the recent passing of the same sex marriage bill. Regardless of your orientation, starting a life together generally comes with a hefty price tag. However, you don’t have to break the bank just to say, “I do.” In fact, BlackBridalBliss.com features weekly profiles from real brides, who share their first-hand advice on ways to save money when planning the big day as part of the popular Tie the Knot Tuesdays series. Whether you’re in the process of planning or still dreaming of the day, here are 11 practical ways to save money on your wedding day. —Bridgette Bartlett
NEVER PAY RETAIL FOR A GOWN:
Attend a sale like Filene’s Running of the Brides, where designer dresses are sold for as low as $249. Check FilenesBasement.com for dates. Also, avoid changing dresses between the ceremony and reception. There are stylish and affordable options from retailers such as David’s Bridal that have removable trains and bustles. If you’re in NYC or plan to be, check out the Garment District for super inexpensive bridal accessories (veils for as low as $40!) and visit the Bridal Building, 1385 Broadway, NYC 10018 212.764.5769 (primarily for trade but open to the public on Saturdays) for other bargain bridal buys.
GET MARRIED WHEN EVERYONE ELSE ISN’T:
Marrying off-season is a great way to save money since 70% of weddings take place between May and October. (Note: “off” seasons might be different in Boston than in Florida.) Another huge cost-cutter is getting hitched on any day other than Saturday. Friday and Sunday nuptials have become quite common and mid-week weddings are catching up in popularity as well.
FIND AN OUT-THE-BOX VENUE:
Try to pick a ceremony and/or reception site that doesn’t require a lot of decorations. Alternative spaces such as golf courses, bed and breakfasts, gardens/arboretums and museums/art galleries are a few out-the-box places to consider. Just be sure to research permits, insurance policies and electrical capacities in order to evaluate if the space fits your needs and budget.
UNIQUE DÉCOR DOESN’T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE:
Tablescapes can be created using pillar candles of varying heights and widths. Birch branches (sometimes sprayed white, silver or gold) with clear string lights also look fab. Other low-cost (non-floral) centerpieces include framed pictures of inspiring couples (from the Obamas to your grandparents) placed on clear containers for height. The latter also makes for an excellent conversation starter among guests.
DJ iPOD IS YOUR FRIEND:
A DJ is considerably less expensive than a band. If you or your beloved are still pining for the sounds of live instruments, consider booking a band strictly for your cocktail hour and use the services of a DJ for the rest of the reception. To really save some cash, create your own iPod playlist and rent the sound equipment.
SOMETIMES IT PAYS TO SKIP DINNER:
Why not host a brunch, lunch or even breakfast affair rather than a traditional (and pricy) dinner? Also, don’t be afraid to offer pasta as a main course. It’s likely to be less costly than meat, poultry or seafood and is perfect for the growing number of vegetarians in our lives.
CUT (DOWN ON) THE CAKE:
Remember your cake only needs one real “tier,” which will be the one you cut. The other tiers can be dummies. Ask your baker for an additional sheet cake to serve guests. It will have the cake and icing minus the elaborate decorations. Fun fact: Square cakes allow for more slices than round cakes of the same dimension. An even cheaper (and trendy) option is cupcakes, plus you’ll skip the cake-cutting fee.
SAVE GREEN BY GOING GREEN:
Many savvy couples are going the DIY route using one of the plethora of online or discount craft resources for their wedding-related paper needs. Don’t forget that many of the wedding details such as direction and registry information can be included on your wedding Website to cut postage costs.
THE HONEYMOON CAN WAIT:
Who says you must take your honeymoon immediately following the wedding? Schedule your dream getaway well after the big day when you’ve saved some cash for the trip you’ll both truly enjoy. A quick weekend jaunt in a neighboring city that you guys can drive or take a train to in the meantime will tie you over. In addition, honeymoon registries are ideal to offset costs; some popular ones include HoneyLuna.com and SendUsOff.com.
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME IS STILL THE SAME:
Stay with in-season flowers. This may seem like a no-brainer but many brides get stuck on having popular peonies or calla lilies before they set a date and then become too stubborn to change. Be smart and flexible. Source flowers with wholesalers and farmers’ markets in your city or even on the Web, FiftyFlowers.com is a good place to start.