Archive for the ‘Save on Wedding Expenses’ Category

Live Royally for Less

Friday, May 6th, 2011
Kate Middleton - Royal Money Management

Photo Credits: Harper's Bazaar

If you were one of the millions of people who tuned in to watch the royal wedding live last week, you’ll know that they spared no expense in creating a fairytale event.  But don’t be fooled – just because the royal wedding was exceptionally lavish, doesn’t mean there aren’t financial lessons to be learned from the event – and from the newlyweds’ lifestyle. We already know that Prince William saved big by giving Kate his mother’s engagement ring.  Here are some more lessons I’ve taken from Kate Middleton.  What have you learned?

  • When it comes to guests, less is more. Sure, the royal wedding ceremony included over 1,000 invited guests, including dignitaries from across the globe.  But when it came to the reception dinner, only 300 people attended.  Limited budget?  Unlikely.  Desire to share the event with only their closest friends and relatives?  Probably.  If you’re planning a wedding and need to cut back on your guest list, just tell your friends that you’ve learned about wedding planning from Kate Middleton – and make sure to invite everyone possible to the ceremony.
  • It’s ok to borrow.  Contrary to some rumors, the Queen did not bequeath Kate the tiara that she wore to the wedding.  Instead, she lent it to the bride.  Next time you need jewelry for an elegant event, why not ask around?  Perhaps a friend or relative has exactly what you need.
  • Off the rack rocks. It’s no secret that First Lady Michelle Obama has been sporting clothing off the rack everywhere from state dinners to her appearance on Oprah.  And now Kate Middleton is among the celebrities wearing off the rack clothing, most notably in her first post-nuptial appearance, when she was photographed wearing an H&M dress.  Why spend more on designer clothing, when you can look great, feel more comfortable and save big by wearing commercially-designed clothing?
  • Don’t pay for delivery. Only a few days after the wedding, Kate was spotted grocery shopping in her North Wales neighborhood.  Although she can afford delivery, and may even be busy acclimating to her new life, she skipped this expensive convenience.
  • There’s nothing wrong with renting. I don’t know him personally, but I’d venture a guess that Prince William can surely afford to purchase a home for his new bride.  Or, at the very least, that he’d be eligible for a nice mortgage.  And yet, the couple chooses to live in a rented farmhouse.  Is this because they aren’t sure where they’ll want to settle down?  Is it because they aren’t ready to be homeowners?  You and I may never know, but I can say with certainty that if renting is good enough for royals, it is surely good enough for us common folk, and there should be no embarrassment or pressure to purchase a home beyond your means.

Where Can You Find Cheap (or Free) Wedding Invitations

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

wedding-invitationYou’ve picked out your dress, the flowers and the food…but no wedding can be complete without the guests.  (Unless, of course, you’re eloping, but that’s a different story entirely).  As someone who studied advertising strategies (how do you think I’m able to find great deals advertised both in print and online?), I can tell you that the best way to ‘advertise’ your event is to find a way to use a minimal advertising budget to get the highest return on investment.  In this case, you should use cheap wedding invitations to get as many guests as possible to your wedding.  You’re probably thinking that cheap wedding invitations won’t inspire people to attend your event, but if so, you’d be wrong.  There are plenty of ways to create inexpensive or even FREE wedding invitations that will make a great impression on your friends and family.  Here are some ways to help you get started:

  1. Explore unconventional options. Did you know that Costco sells wedding invitations?  If you didn’t, you probably haven’t done your homework.  Don’t be afraid to ask around for local stationery options which may provide affordable alternatives to traditional printers.
  2. Buy cheap wedding invitations online. Yes, it is possible to create gorgeous (and cheap) invitations all by yourself.  One of my favorite places to make wedding invitations (and other stationery) is Vistaprint whose do it yourself wedding invitations start under $1 a piece.  Many online services print the invitations for you so you needn’t worry about feeding your paper piece by piece into a printer.
  3. Print your own invites. With kits from office supply stores like Staples and OfficeMax you can enjoy embossed paper (which normally costs a fortune) at a surprisingly reasonable price.  Just a warning though – if you’re going to use do it yourself invitations you may want to practice on regular paper of the same size so that any errors won’t be on your fancy paper.
  4. Use postcards instead of letters.  Reading this suggestion in print may make you gasp, but if you’ve ever received a postcard wedding invitation you’d know that this is actually a fun and funky option, especially for those having a unique wedding ceremony.  Postcard wedding invitations will save you money on postage and envelopes, so they’re a double-winner in my book.
  5. Use postcard RSVP cards.  Even if you choose not to use postcards for the actual invitation, you can opt for postcard invitations which will create a cheap wedding invitation package without compromising the style of the actual invitation.
  6. Use one envelope.  Believe me, nobody will accuse you of choosing cheap wedding invitations if you only use one envelope.  Not only will you be protecting your budget, you’ll be protecting the environment.
  7. Skip embellishments.   You may be drawn to over-embellished wedding invitations, but these extras will add to the price of the invitations and to the shipping costs.  If you’re looking to make wedding invitations within a reasonable budget, skip the extras.  Oh, and did I mention that even the fanciest get tossed in the garbage?  Why waste money on this additional expense?
  8. Choose a standard shape.  Yup, it’s true…envelopes with unique shapes cost more to ship.  The often cost more to print as well.  I’m sure you can find beautiful wedding invitations that are a standard shape and size.

If you’re truly looking to scale back (or are even more ecological than I am), you may want to consider an Evite.  Still, while Evites are popular for reunions, holiday dinner and birthdays, they aren’t entirely acceptable for wedding invitations.  It would, however, be cool if you could contribute to the trend and see if it catches on.  Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this cheap wedding invitation suggestion as the ultimate way to save money.  If you do use an electronic wedding invitation, please share – I’m sure my friends will be as inspired as I will be!

How to Find a Deliciously Affordable Wedding Cake

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

You can probably tell by the way I’ve put on a bit of weight recently that I really like dessert.  And by really like, I mean LOVE.  And wedding cake is especially delicious since it’s filled with all of that love.  So what’s a bride (or groom) to do if they love cake but don’t want to spend a fortune on a wedding cake to feed hundreds?  First thing, she needn’t despair- there are plenty of ways to enjoy a delectable wedding cake without spending a fortune or having to bake it yourself.

  1. Go faux. Don’t ask me why, but most of the wedding guests will prefer the dessert buffet (or the hot chocolate cake brought to their table).  Why spend money on a wedding tier cake when you can create the look with a fake wedding cake?  Many bakeries or cake rental outfits offer the option of purchasing or renting a fake wedding cake that looks just like the real thing – except that only the top tier is made of real cake.  The rest of the fake wedding cake layers are made from styrofoam or another synthetic material and covered with fondant and decorations to match the real wedding cake.
  2. Use a wedding sheet cake. If you plan on serving the wedding cake to your guests you can purchase a wedding sheet cake that matches your faux wedding cake and have it cut up in the back room.  Your guests will never know that it didn’t come from the tiered wedding cake.
  3. wedding-cakeTake the road less travelled. There is no reason that you must purchase your wedding cake from a wedding cake bakery.  Take time to ask your local bakery or restaurant if they can create a cake for you.  You may also be able to ask the bakery section of your local grocery.  Both of these options are likely to provide a truly delicious cake at a fraction of the price of a boutique wedding cake bakery.
  4. Use a cupcake wedding cake. One of the hottest trends this year was to create a wedding cake out of individually frosted cupcakes which create the illusion of a full cake but don’t require the effort to cut or decorate as elaborately as a standard wedding cake.  If you’re interested in making a bold statement, a cupcake wedding cake may be just right for you.
  5. Ditch the details. I hate to say it, but there’s really no need to have a wedding cake bedecked with edible crystals or live orchids.  Simpler designs are likely to be easier on the eyes as well as on the wallet.
  6. Stay solid. It may sound exciting to have a wedding tier cake that has different flavors of cake and icing so that you don’t have to choose your favorite one.  But in reality, mixing different types of cakes is not only expensive, it’s useless.  Your guests will likely only taste one tier, and they may not even know that you paid a fortune to have different types of cake.  Chances are good that you won’t have time at your own wedding to sample each flavor either.

8 Wedding Food Ideas that Won’t Cost a Fortune

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Few would argue that with the possible exception of the romantic commitment ceremony or the style of the bride’s wedding gown, the wedding food is what wedding guests will be talking about on the way home from the affair.  After all, everyone loves a delicious meal, especially one that they didn’t have to prepare for themselves or pay for (unless, of course, you count the cost of the wedding gift).  But someone does have to pay for the wedding food, an expense which can often consume much of the wedding budget.  If you’re planning your wedding now or thinking about planning your wedding in the future, you’ll be happy to know that there are ways to save money on the food for a wedding which don’t involve serving a home-cooked meal to your 200 guests.  Here are some of the easiest ways to save on your wedding food:

    wedding-food

  1. Forget the open bar. It’s pretty safe to assume that your guests will be satisfied with a selection of wine and beer without missing the margaritas.  But, if you’re nervous that giving up on the full extent of your alcoholic offerings, consider making a mid-morning wedding – at that time of day, your guests definitely won’t yet be hankering for a drink!
  2. Ask for children’s meals. Why pay for your 4 year old niece to chow down on steak, when she’d be just as happy with a hot dog and fries?  Wedding meals for children are significantly more affordable than adult meals, and are also more likely to get eaten.  Unfortunately, not every caterer will offer children’s meals; but you can be savvy enough to ask for them.  Ordering children’s meals is a great way to save money on your wedding food, especially if you’re inviting a lot of children.
  3. Have a buffet instead of a sit down dinner. Few things are more frustrating than sitting down for a wedding meal and getting served with something that you don’t like.  By offering your guests a buffet meal you can ensure that they’ll find something (or some things) that they like to eat, and you can save a bundle on waiters and tips.
  4. Consider cheaper menu choices. If you’re a cost-conscious bride, ask your caterer about less expensive wedding food choices, such as offering two different types of chicken instead of the choice between chicken and meat.  If the wedding food is delicious and well-presented, your guests won’t even notice that you’ve chosen less expensive items.
  5. Appreciate the appetizers. If you really have your heart set on serving beef, but can’t afford to offer that as the main course, think about using it as an appetizer which should be a less expensive way to integrate your favorite food.  Most people notice and appreciate the appetizers because they arrive hungry in anticipation of the wedding meal.
  6. Cut courses. There’s no reason you need a 4 or 5 course wedding meal.  To save money, serve a single appetizer, main course and dessert.  Your guests will enjoy the food without feeling overstuffed or wondering why the wedding dragged on as a result of all of the courses.
  7. Create a casual affair. Getting married outside?  Why not host a barbeque?  Having a morning wedding?  Why not host a pancake breakfast, complete with ice cream buffet?  Even if you hire a staff to cook and serve, you’ll save a heap of money as compared to the cost of fancier wedding meals. 
  8. Do your research. You may not be surprised to hear that different caterers offer different packages with different prices.  What may surprise you, however, is just how much these costs vary.  Oftentimes, choosing the in-house caterer at your wedding hall is the cheapest option, as this caterer needn’t carry all of his things to the hall.  But if your hall doesn’t have an in-house caterer you should carefully research your options (including going for taste-testings) to determine which caterer offers the best deal (and the best food).  It may take some time to do this research, but it will surely pay off!

How to Buy Inexpensive Wedding Flowers (That are Still Beautiful)

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Ask any wedding planner and she’ll tell you that the average couple spends 7-10% of their wedding budget on the wedding flowers. The Bridal Association of America estimates this amount to be somewhere between $700 and $2000, which is, needless to say, no small sum. But, like most wedding-related expenses, the wedding flowers don’t last much longer than the ceremony itself. And so, many brides looking to scale down their wedding costs look for inexpensive wedding flowers that will look beautiful without costing a fortune. Fortunately, with a bit of creativity and effort, it is possible to buy wedding flowers that fit these criteria. And while the wedding guests may not noticed that the couple saved money by purchasing more affordable wedding flowers, the new couple will appreciate having a few extra dollars in their new bank account.

wedding-flowersOne of the most obvious ways to save money when you buy wedding flowers is to purchase less. And, while you can technically reduce the number of flowers in each arrangement, you can also eliminate the need for larger arrangements by planning your wedding in a venue that has natural greenery or other built-in decorations. Of course, even if you manage to save money in this way, you can save even more by purchasing inexpensive wedding flowers.

Start by considering which flowers are in season during the month of your wedding. If, for example, you’re planning a winter wedding, you can choose from holly, hypericum berries, daffodils and jasmine. For a summer wedding you may want to consider hydrangeas, lilies or snapdragons. There are also classic wedding flowers that are available year round, such as roses, baby’s breath and alstroemeria. Avoid expensive flowers such as birds of paradise that cost several dollars per stem.  While a florist can advise you as to which flowers may provide the most affordable options for your wedding, you can also do your own legwork by researching flowers online- and even purchasing wholesale wedding flowers directly from a flower importer in your area or from a reputable website. Enlist friends or bridesmaids to help you assemble the flowers into bouquets or arrangements so that you can spare the expense of paying a professional to do it for you.

Finally, if you’re looking for truly inexpensive wedding flowers, consider putting a full bouquet on half of the tables (or, possibly no tables) and decorating the other remaining tables with rose petals and tea lights. This romantic centerpiece idea can create a wonderful ambiance for your wedding and cost only a few dollars per table. Alternatively, consider using bud vases with a single long-stemmed flower for a surprisingly sophisticated look.

You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to buy wedding flowers that look great without costing a fortune. There’s really no reason to overpay for oversized floral arrangements that will be discarded within days of the event. Why not save the money for a rainy day or apply it to your honeymoon? Just as nobody will be able to guess how much you spent on your wedding dress, your guests will never know that you opted for inexpensive wedding flowers- but you’ll be happy with all that extra money!

6 Places to Find a Cheap Wedding Gown

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

wedding-gawnIf you’re one of the 1 million couples that got engaged this holiday season, congratulations!  Now that it’s official, you’re probably excited to start planning the wedding (if you haven’t already).  I’d like to help you save money while planning the wedding of your dreams.  Every Thursday for the next few weeks, I’m going to add a new post with fresh ideas about how to save money on everything from wedding flowers to your wedding rings.  But of course, the thing that’s probably foremost on your mind is finding the perfect wedding gown.  Although I’ve never actually worn one myself, I’ve helped many brides find an affordable wedding gown that looked absolutely fantastic.  Here are some surprising places that you can find a cheap wedding gown that will make you look like a million bucks.

  1. Your grandmother’s closet. Few things are more sentimental than wearing the wedding gown of a woman that you admire.  And few modern wedding dresses compare to the classic sophistication of old-fashioned gowns.  For the cost of a few repairs and alterations, you can enjoy a timeless and affordable wedding gown, while creating sentiments that a new dress just wouldn’t provide.
  2. Sample sales. If you’ve never attended a sample sale before, there’s never been a better time to jump right in.  Make sure to line up early, as there are often swarms of brides-to-be crowding the doors of sample sales in search of a cheap wedding dress.  It may be a bit of a shoving match (think Monica from “Friends”), but with a bit of perseverance, you may just find a fantastic and affordable wedding dress.
  3. Department stores. Though not every location of a department store chain has a bridal department, brides who live in urban areas should have a few within driving distance.  For starters, try Nordstrom, Dillards and JCPenney.  Macy’s also has a bridal department, though prices are generally more expensive than other stores.
  4. Wedding gown websites. There are hundreds of internet sites that offer affordable wedding gowns that are truly breathtaking.  Just make sure that you can get a refund if it’s not exactly what you wanted.
  5. A seamstress. Depending on the fabric you choose, you may be able to get a custom-made wedding gown for a few hundred bucks.  Plus, you’ll enjoy the added benefit of getting exactly what you want.
  6. Ebay. If you’re shocked to hear that you can get an inexpensive wedding gown on ebay, you’re not alone.  Still more and more brides are turning to this unlikely venue, which offers gowns from $20 and up.  If you’re committed to getting a cheap wedding gown, ebay is a great place to start.

Happy Dress Hunting,

Billy