18 Ideas for a Big, Fat, ‘Fiscally-Responsible’ Wedding

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Do you have a fairy tale wedding in mind? Before those wedding bells drown out common dollars and sense, let’s ground that big day in reality. Not into it, mind you. Just firmly rooted in the ‘cans’, ‘wills’ and those all-important ‘I dos’.

That means sitting down with all of the financial parties involved – including your future in-laws, if you plan on hitting them up to fund your big day. Give each person a say in… 

  • What they can afford
  • What they are willing to spend
  • How prepared you are to do the rest

Then it’s up to you and your intended to pull it off – this, the biggest collaboration in the history of your relationship. This meaning not just the wedding, but a marriage based on shared values, dreams and financial goals.

Here are 18 ideas to help you prioritize that ever after, starting on that one perfect day: 

  1. List your five most important ‘wedding day priorities’. Does it include the dress, the fête, the feast? Use this list to determine how to distribute those finite financial resources.
  2. Resist the urge to invite everyone you know. Limiting the guest list could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, on food and alcohol.
  3. Get married with a little help from your friends. They’re talented people, after all. Put that font fanatic friend to work on your invitations. Enlist the help of your favorite cousin/DIY-fiend on centerpieces, favors and place-cards. She’s going to have an opinion anyway…
  4. Negotiate with your vendors. Ask them if they’re willing to carve 10% off their quote. And never underestimate the value of your vows, especially when it comes to hotel facilities. Weddings typically involve guests; guests typically require rooms, food, and other revenue-generating amenities. 
  5. Opt for low or no-cost locales including parks, botanical gardens, backyards. Or go for an all-inclusive resort package to transform your wedding into a stress-free vacation for everyone.
  6. Take advantage of the seven-day calendar. Saturday is the most popular day of the week when it comes to weddings, but don’t forget about Friday and Sunday. Monday? Okay…a little weird.
  7. Take advantage of the four seasons. The calendar is rife with other opportunities to get married. Schedule your wedding between November and April to avoid the peak season.
  8. The word “fiancé” does have a nice ring to it, but if you’re serious about heading to the altar without paying a premium for it, consider exchanging vows within 30 or 60 days of your engagement. You might luck into an open date on the vendor’s calendar and negotiate a better price because of it. Ultimately, a vendor is more interested in a full venue than an empty one – even if it means at a lesser charge.
  9. Consider limiting your alcohol offerings to only wine, beer and signature cocktails to help cut down on bar costs.
  10. When it comes to buying a gown, shop for a dress that’s gently-used, never-used, vintage or on consignment. This goes formen’s attire too. You can even rent dress apparel through a number of websites or from boutiques in most major metropolitan areas.
  11. Rent or borrow your baubles instead of buying them. Start by asking family and well-accessorized friends for bedazzling loaners. Or if you’ve worked with a jeweller before – like on your engagement and wedding rings – propose an arrangement with them.
  12. Host a luncheon, brunch, cocktail reception or afternoon tea. You can get away with serving less expensive food, finger foods, appetizers and crumpets instead of a five-course dinner.
  13. Ultimately, cake is cake. Have your baker prepare a smaller cake for you and your wedding party, andserve cupcakes or pre-cut sheet cake to your guests.
  14. Flowers can be costly, but what you’re really paying for is labor. Instead of costly bouquets and arrangements, go for simplicity. A singleorchid or lily can go a long way. It’s also a good idea to use in-season flowers, which are typically much less expensive
  15. Skip the favors…or choose favors that actually do something – like those DIY place-holders you and your crafty cousin put together.
  16. Hire a high-school band or quartet from the local music school to score your wedding. They’ll be grateful for the experience; their parents will be grateful to you for providing such a productive Friday night.
  17. Because if you and your spouse decide to have kids one day, you’ll understand that one day they’ll return the favor. And you’re not just setting the date…you’re starting a precedent.