One of the many things I see on social media is brides looking for "cheap" this or "small budget" that, and many of these brides don't realize that this will often mean a sacrifice of quality...or maybe they are just expecting highest quality for bargain basement pricing. Unfortunate news for those brides, 98% of the time, lower prices mean less quality and/or fewer services that you need. A great example is one I hear from a great DJ with over 15 years experience, hiring a DJ for $300 budget for your ceremony & reception music, Master of Ceremonies duties, lighting, set up, breakdown, planning meetings, playlist arrangements, planning for the timing of the ceremony and reception, communication, which all together is probably 15-20 hours of work, is not going to happen. If you do find a DJ that will work with this budget, it's likely that they will not have backup equipment in case theirs breaks down (I've had this happen at a wedding once, which caused a 30 minute delay in starting the wedding while the DJ went to Best Buy to purchase a new laptop), or they will not have invested the necessary time to ensure that your playlist caters to your expectations, or perhaps their equipment in general is subpar. Either way, if the music of your ceremony and reception is important to you...don't skimp on your investment for the DJ!
Fun thinking about this aspect, right? The things that could go wrong with a wedding by budgeting too low or in the wrong places. Good news, I have some suggestions for you!
Now that I have your attention, you're wondering how you can save a bit of money or just prioritize your budget, at least I'm hoping you are thinking this way.
My first suggestion is my biggest one. Plan for a morning or early afternoon wedding! I'm part of a group of wedding officiants nationwide, and those officiants on the coast are performing ceremonies all day long on Saturday and Sunday, and in all sorts of locations. With either of these times, you can save a ton of money by offering a brunch instead of a full dinner, or skip the meal altogether and just do a simple cake and punch reception. You can still have all the normal reception events, such as first dance, garter/bouquet toss, etc. but you're not having a 5 hour reception with dinner and party, which of course will cut your costs on food, beverages, DJ and photographer. This is my favorite option for lower budget events, just because of the amount of money you can save, but also because I'd love to stay busy all day long and not have to turn away 10 brides all getting married on a Saturday evening between 5 & 6pm. There are 10-12 hours of daylight during the busiest of wedding season, don't limit yourself to a 2 hour time frame for your ceremony!
The second suggestion is to cut your guest list for the ceremony itself. Your grandmother's second cousin thrice removed or all of your coworkers do not need to be at the ceremony. Have a small intimate ceremony with just your immediate families and closest friends, this will help save on ceremony decorations, extra setup for sound (your officiant will need a microphone for most events with more than 50 guests), chairs and covers, etc. This is especially great if you're excited to get to the celebration afterwards, then have the entire guest list at the reception for the big party!
Third, skip the meal! If you're having a 6pm wedding (which most of my couples do), your guests can certainly eat dinner before the wedding, arrive full and then you can just provide appetizers or light snacks throughout the evening. Now this wouldn't be an option if you're having an earlier ceremony with the party going all night, but the later ceremonies can definitely get away with this!
Fourth, opt for a small venue and limit the entire guest list. I've seen couples get married in the private rooms of restaurants or park gazebos. If you're going for a larger guest list, then a park wedding would be fantastic! I rented a shelter for my daughter's graduation party for the full day for $100. I repeat...FULL DAY FOR ONLY $100!! Now most parks will require a special permit for weddings, alcohol, amplified sound (DJ) and catering...however, even if they charge for these extra permits, it's still going to be less expensive than a wedding venue. I've even done a larger park wedding at a designated "wedding park shelter" and the price for that shelter was only $750 with picnic table capacity at 250 and regular chair seating at 400. This option is one overlooked often, don't count it out!
And finally, go with simple decorations. Table linens are probably a necessity, but chair covers, table runners or overlays and bows for the chairs are definitely something you can live without. Floral arrangements for the tables can cut your costs by quite a bit, instead try candles in varying heights or even a single center candle, or try other creative ideas! I've seen a few couples opt for a single vase with a splash of baby's breath and a few tealight candles surrounding...and this was stunning! You don't have to have elaborate decorations to have a beautiful ceremony and reception. People will remember you, the feeling they get from the ceremony wording and if they had fun at the reception...the rest is just show, focus on what your guests will remember most...like if the music for the bride's entrance starts late or stops early, or the wording of the ceremony is just "off" or if the reception music is so awful that nobody dances. My suggestion is never skimp on your DJ, your photographer or your officiant!
I'm Rebecca, owner and clergy for True Hearts Weddings. I love performing weddings, I love my 4 children, and I love life.