As a bride on a budget, I am no stranger to cutting back on wedding related things when I can. Martha Stewart Weddings compiled a great list (55 tips to be exact) on how to trim your wedding budget without cutting out the good stuff--like cake! If you're like myself and paying for the majority of your own wedding then these tips are priceless (pun intended).
To streamline the number of tips, I've combined many into categories. See for yourself below and let me know your own money saving tips while planning a wedding in the comments!
Alcohol: Without having a dry wedding, there are many options that Martha Stewart Weddings suggests when it comes to providing alcohol for guests. Some tips include: just serving beer and wine and adding a signature drink. My friends who got married in April used this method and it worked out great. I don't think anyone even noticed that you couldn't order hard alcohol. Also, if you're working with a caterer, MSW says to buy the alcohol yourself. The caterer will charge a corking fee, but it's still less than what they would charge you for the full bar (industry average is almost double what you would normally pay).
Serving Styles: Martha Stewart Weddings suggests having a brunch or lunch time wedding to avoid paying the costs of a night wedding. MSW also says to avoid pricey main courses like lobster as a cost saver. What many couples are doing lately is forgoing a full dinner service for French service which is when guests are served by waiters from a platter at the table--or commonly known as "family style."
Flowers & Centerpieces: One of the things I was adamant about when speaking with my florist was that I wanted flowers that are going to be in season in November. In season flowers are less expensive since they are in-house and plentiful. Another way to save is to embellish wedding bouquets and centerpieces with seasonal flair like pine cones and red berries for a winter wedding. For the fall, you can add in colorful fake leaves to the bouquet. Also, instead of decorating tables with huge centerpieces with large arrangements, you can float a few flowers in a bowl or glass for a simple, yet romantic effect.
Ask for help: If you happen to know someone who's artistic ask them to design something for your wedding. I asked my friend who is a ridiculously good graphic designer to design my save-the-dates and invitations, all I had to pay for was the printing. She will also design my programs etc. We also have a friend who is very technical, we're giving him the job of setting up our speakers and DJ equipment. And since my fiance and I both worked in the entertainment industry, we know plenty of people who would like to "lend their voices" to our wedding. Our good friend Joe, a popular radio DJ in Nashville, will be "hosting" our reception. If you have a friend that is really outgoing and likes to be in front of crowds, you can easily provide him with a script and a run of show. It could be his/her gift to you.
Initiate the Officiant: Speaking of friends--Jeremiah and I enlisted the help of another friend in the entertainment business and asked him to officiate our wedding for us. He's a very eloquent writer and speaker and we felt that he would be just perfect as our "minister." Officiant fees can become pretty expensive, where as having our friend ordained over the internet will cost you upwards of $100. This method has become very commonplace as I know three people that have been asked to officiate a friend's wedding in the last two years.
Fly on Credit: One of the things that I am trying not to do is rack up debt on a credit card to pay for this wedding, however Martha Stewart Weddings suggests opening a credit card that will provide frequent-flyer miles toward your honeymoon.
Guest-List Control: Limit your guest list by not inviting children, co-workers and casual dates. Jeremiah and I instilled this rule from the beginning, if we don't know you, you're not invited.
Don't Pay Retail for Your Wedding Dress: I'll admit, I got REALLY lucky with my wedding dress. I found it in my size at a closeout sale. Luckily, many dress shops and major retailers have sample sales. If you sign up for newsletters from your shop-of-choice then you will be well-informed of the next sample sale to buy your dress at a fraction of the price.
Other ways to save some cash for your wedding include: losing the limo, considering a cruise or all-inclusive destination for your honeymoon.
What do you think of this list? Is there anything you would add?