Sometimes the “for worse” part of “for better or for worse” comes early. In this economy, engaged couples are coping with pay cuts, layoffs, even the possibility that Bernie Madoff ran off with some of the wedding fund. So what do you do when you suddenly need to pare down your budget?
“If it’s before the save-the-dates are sent out, then cutting the guest list would give you the greatest impact. However, if that isn’t an option—since you can never rescind an invitation that has already been extended—go to the reception site to see if you can downgrade the package. If you have the lowest package, ask if they would be willing to work with you to create a menu that would fit your budget,” says Lisa R. Nelson of Elegant Event Planning and Design in Maryland. “In general, people are willing to work with you, as they want to keep the business.”
Nelson suggests setting up meetings with your other vendors as well, starting with the photographer, videographer, and florist, to see what can be worked out without losing any of your deposits. Being nice helps; “Attitude is everything when you approach vendors,” she says. “You sign a contract which you are obligated to adhere to, so a good attitude is a must if you are trying to renegotiate.”
She also says not to overlook the little things. “If the couple hasn’t yet purchased favors, I would advise them to get rid of them altogether. Favors get left behind in 99% of cases,” Nelson says. “I would also advise them to eliminate the excess paper. Menu cards, programs, even when you print them yourself, cost time and money.”
Whether you’ve experienced a financial crisis, or just decided that you need to cut back, it’s a lot easier to downsize if you’ve prioritized your spending. I approached wedding planning like I would write a newspaper article. It’s called the inverted pyramid, and it’s the practice of putting all the important information first—the who, what, when, where, and why—so that if you have to cut the story you can chop from the bottom without losing the essentials.
My fiancé and I started with a discussion of what was most important to us. I wanted a memorable location, and he wanted it to feel like “Thanksgiving is supposed to feel.” So we’ve put the vast majority of our money into the food and drinks at a restaurant with a killer view. Live music, videography? Didn’t care, so we cut them completely. Flowers, stationery? Also not priorities. So we’re ordering inexpensive invitations online. And having a cocktail reception—which we chose to add to the party atmosphere—allows us to do without escort cards, menu cards, and thousands of dollars worth of floral centerpieces. The point is to put your money where you’ll get the most return.
Even better, some memorable touches don’t cost a thing. In my next blog, I’ll share ways to add bang to your wedding without the bucks.
Alisa Gumbs is the managing editor of Black Enterprise magazine.
Getting married? Read the other blogs in this series: