We are right in the midst of the busiest time for proposals. Between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, approximately 35% of all engagements will happen this year! Let the wedding planning begin!!!!
I am in my 6th year as a wedding photographer, and my 2nd year as a wife, so while I might not have the most knowledge, I do have some that could help when planning out a wedding! I figured I could share some with you!
As most wedding magazines, websites, and parents will tell you, the first thing you need to decide on for your wedding is a budget. This might be easier said than done, because if you’ve never planned a wedding before, there is such a range of what things cost, so it might be hard to know how much would be enough. But once you get a rough idea, once you start contacting vendors, you will get to nail down a specific budget. This will help in determining if certain vendors or items would be a good fit for your wedding. We live in such a beautiful state with SO many options for wedding vendors, it makes it easy to plan a wedding!
Here are a few things that I have learned or even implemented in our own wedding to keep us right on budget.
1.) The Longer the Engagement, the more opportunity to add cost to the wedding.
I realize this is a blanket statement, and I have brides who have waited to finish college or other things before their wedding day, while still keeping on a budget. But, in most cases, the more time you have, the easier it is to decide that you need those extra napkin rings, or you should make 300 personalized favors for our guests…because WE HAVE SO MUCH EXTRA TIME!
Working with a shorter timeframe 6-9 months might allow you to just focus on the necessary details, while still allowing enough time for ordering dresses, enjoying the planning, and getting the major things planned without stress.
2.) Some Vendors will offer off-season discounts.
Not all, but some vendors you ask might be willing to work with you if your wedding doesn’t fall into the peak season for weddings! Summer and early fall in Washington tend to be the most popular, because that is when we have less rain, so outdoor weddings are more of a possibility. So planning a wedding in February/March or even October/November might allow you to ask certain vendors for a small discount based on time of year. Most venues already have an off season rate posted online also, or a discount for a wedding that doesn’t fall on a Saturday. Some vendors don’t offer discounts, and that’s okay, but they might be willing to have a conversation about a custom package that more easily fits your budget!
3.) Consider the Bar
While having an open bar is great, sometimes it can run close to $75/person. There are different options to keep cost down, while still having an open bar feel. We have gone to many weddings where they have a limited bar, and everyone has been very happy! Consider offering a signature cocktail or a bride’s favorite/groom’s favorite cocktail along with some beer and wine options to allow for some variety while also not needing to purchase everything in bulk. That way, people can still choose from some options, but it allows you to stick to your budget.
4.) Review the Guestlist
Most caterers charge per person when calculating for food. Extra chair rentals, table rentals, and set up fees all were things we encountered when planning our wedding. When creating your guestlist, the thing that I think a lot of people worry about, is having to please other people. If you are trying to keep costs down, reviewing the guest list can help determine if you really want 300 guests, or if you only really want 250.
5.) Ask Your Venue about Extra Costs
When planning our wedding, I was not aware that when you pay for a venue, sometimes they charge a flat fee for set-up or tear down. Also, tax can also be added. Which, in Washington can be close to 10%. So asking those questions before hand can help assure you that you won’t have any surprises.
6.) About the Venue – Choose Somewhere You ALREADY Love.
With so many beautiful options for wedding venues in the Pacific Northwest, it might be easy to count a venue out just because of cost. Here’s my advice. Don’t. There are so many venues that are already naturally beautiful. What I mean, is that there are venues that don’t need a lot of additions to make them a dream location for a wedding. While they might be more expensive up front than some other venues, you probably don’t need to add a lot of décor to make them into a perfect setting for a wedding or reception. Which may mean less cost in the long run!
Some venues are a blank canvas, which is so fun if you have a desire to make a space exactly what you want! Others are already set up with beautiful backgrounds and locations around the property that all they need is a few details to make them your own. It just depends on your style!
7.) DIY might NOT be the cheaper option
I have a lot of brides tell me that they are going to be designing and printing their wedding invitations, or putting together their favors, or other items. However, that might not always be the cheaper option. Doing something yourself might seem like it would cost less, until you realize that you have to purchase 250 small mason jars and spend 40 hours tying ribbons around them. Projects always seem to have extra supplies or items needed that you might not realizing when planning. So contacting some companies for a quote might save you time AND money in the long run. For instance, consider looking for invitation designs on Etsy, or maybe a company who is just starting out. They might be less expensive than you think! And win-win, you won’t have to worry about blisters on your fingers from tying 300 ribbons. 😉
So, there you have it. Some tips that I hope will help you when planning your dream wedding but sticking to that budget! If you have any tips that you found helped when planning your wedding, I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments section!
Happy Planning, Loves!