WEDDING PLANNER INSIDE SCOOP: REAL WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR BIG DAY
We are obsessed with everything and anything wedding related. The florals, the dress (obvi), the invites - all of it makes us swoon. If you are in the beginning stages or on a t-minus day week countdown to your big day, you may have found that there is one aspect of your wedding that is making you feel weak in the knees (not talking about your partner): the budget.
According to The Knot’s Annual Wedding Study, the average wedding costs $33,931 and to put that into perspective, according to Business Insider, the average U.S. salary for someone in their 30s is around $55,000. Yikes. Which begs the age old question: how do you save money on your wedding?
Kate Lerman, owner of award-winning Chicago Vintage Weddings, comes to the rescue time and again, helping couples reach their #weddinggoals as well as providing real solutions that end up saving them money. Music to our wedding-loving ears. We asked Kate to give us the rundown on tips to help save money when planning their big day and the answers, may surprise you.
Spend m o n e y to make
m o n e y
We all know that saying and guess what, it even rings true when planning a wedding. Lerman explains, “Engaging a good planner can actually result in a lot of savings! The first thing I do is a thorough budget consultation with my couple to go over every possible cost and what their expectations and priorities are. Once we have a realistic overall budget in mind, I base all of the work I do on this and will not go over our set budget unless the client wants to. For full planning I pretty much always pay for my own fee and I have a good track record of savings more than that many times over. Even for coordination clients I frequently find ways to save quite a bit of money!” A seasoned wedding planner like Lerman has qualified, existing relationships with vendors and thus may provide additional savings, “Working with an experienced planner means that I am able to negotiate the best rates with quality vendors because of my relationships with them, and I also know how to avoid costly mistakes.”
Have ‘the talk’
We mean a budget talk, of course. It’s not fun, it’s probably going to involve a minor meltdown and it most definitely should include a glass of wine (not three), but you have to do it.
“Think of EVERYTHING you might spend money on, commit to it, and really check yourself if you are considering splurging. Little bits of overspending can add up fast.” When you have this budget talk, do your research on the location of your wedding, Lerman explains, “Research Chicago rates and don’t rely on national wedding websites to give you an accurate perspective of costs in Chicago. Also, be nice to your vendors! Wedding vendors are often small business owners who have some flexibility with pricing. If you are a client who is friendly and fun to work with, your vendors will be much more likely to offer you cost reductions and value adds where they can, plus if you end up having some potential extra charges down the line they are more likely to be lenient.”
Go BIG or face the consequences
As brides, we have a tendency to have no problem going big. Hair, dress, favors, decor. Where we tend to not go big enough? The budget estimations. “I commonly see [couples] underestimating the overall cost of the wedding after committing to booking lots of vendors. Once we go over the big picture and all the little budget line items, sometimes the overall budget comes as a surprise to one or both partners; at that point there is less I can do to save them money (even though I still do a lot!) because booked vendors already have costs fixed in their contracts.” Not sure where to even start? Enlist your family says Lerman, “I do see that parents tend to be a bit more skilled at estimating the overall budget!”
In your venue discussions, you may have considered a wedding at your childhood home, a relative’s beautiful backyard - seems like a great way to save money on venue costs, right? “Repeat after me: TENTED BACKYARD WEDDINGS ARE NOT A WAY TO SAVE MONEY! If you have a wedding at home, you are building a venue from scratch. Clients typically need expensive tenting, electricity and climate control, lighting, additional restrooms, landscaping, parking/grounds management, and more to ensure a smooth at-home wedding. Backup bad weather sites in the event of severe weather may also need to be rented even if they aren’t used.”
The one cost you should absolutely cut
It is SO difficult to cut out nice-to-haves and distinguish those from the need-to-haves, we get it. However, if you want to actually enjoy your wedding without financial heartburn, that little extra that adds up the bottom line might be worth cutting. “When I am advising on ways to cut costs I tend to recommend eliminating champagne toast, working with as few vendors as possible to save on little things like booking minimums/labor/delivery, and trying to find venues with lots of value-added things like tables and chairs already included. Sometimes couples consider an off-site ceremony outside a house of worship, and in those cases I make sure they understand that they will typically be paying for a second venue rental, rentals for that space, labor and catering for that space (even if it’s just setting up/breaking down the ceremony seating and having a water station), and transportation.
Ladies and gents, little moves can mean big savings! Don’t be afraid to ask questions or shop around—wedding planning should not take the wind out of your sails leading up to your big day.