1. Rethink the reception venue
Traditional reception venues are still a popular choice, but you could be better off hiring a large, private home for the weekend through Airbnb for a fraction of the cost. Provided you’re upfront with the owner of the property, making such a decision could mean big savings on catering (you can cater inexpensively with buffet-style catering) and alcohol, and could potentially save you from having to hire a separate ceremony venue – provided the garden is large enough.
2. Be honest about your budget
You’re actually better off being honest with your suppliers and working together within a framework of what you can comfortably afford. This means telling your desired photographer, “I love your work, but can’t afford the package you’ve shown me, is there any way of engaging your services for the amount I have to work with?” Even if they can’t take on the work themselves, there’s a good chance they know of someone within the industry who could be the perfect match for you.
3. Whittle your guest list
It’s never easy to do, but slimming down your guests list from an eye-watering 120 to 60 people (for example), is one of the quickest ways to significantly reduce the cost of your wedding. Ask yourself the following questions about each name on the list: what is the likelihood this person will play a large role in your life in ten years’ time? Would you happily shout them to a $150 lunch at any other day of the year? Would you be invited to their own wedding? This should help you sort the grain from the chaff.
4. Be creative with your gown
If you’re not too fussed about where your wedding dress comes from, give traditional wedding dress designers a wide berth and instead consider buying an inexpensive gown from ASOS Bridal, or pre-loved wedding dress from retailers such as I Do or Still White. With a few tweaks to fit your shape, guests will be none the wiser. Got your heart set on a particular local designer? It could also be worth asking whether there’s any way they can make you a more inexpensive version using a cheaper fabric or limited detailing; if you don’t ask, you don’t receive.
5. Look for students
Rather than forking out for a professional graphic designer, florist, make-up artist and cake-maker, consider enlisting the services of those who are either still training or starting out in the industry. Provided they’ve had enough time in the game to know what they’re doing, they’ll be a far cheaper option than someone who’s charging for 20 years of experience, and often more enthusiastic about getting their name out there. Just be sure to check reviews and references first and ask for a trial or to see/taste/hear samples of their work before putting down your deposit.
6. Ask friends to donate services
If you’re already set up on the home front, ask yourself whether you really need that crystal decanter for your gift registry, or would you be better off asking friends to assist with various elements of your wedding instead? For example, do you have any graphic designer friends who could knock up your invitations and place cards for you as their wedding gift to you, or do you have a musician in the family who likewise could donate their services for a couple of hours at your reception. There’s no harm in putting the word out there about how appreciative you’d be of such offers.