1. Make a List: Sit down with your fiance and decide which elements of the wedding are the most important to you. Start by listing out all of the elements that go into creating a wedding (venue, caterer, photographer, etc.) Next, each of you will personally rewrite the list but will place the most important elements at the top and work your way down. Then compare your lists to find out which things you both find the most important. The top matching elements will be those vendors where you might want to spend more of the budget while the items near the bottom of the list can be areas where you can focus on savings. You can also fill out our budget priority quiz to determine your key wedding budget items.
2. Consider Hiring a Wedding Planner: It might seem counterproductive to spend 5-10% of your budget on a planner, especially if you plan to DIY much of it. The fact is, you are just starting this journey into the "wedding world" while wedding planner is emerged in it completely. They cannot only guide you all the steps you need to take, but they also save you valuable time by setting up appointments with the vendors they know can fit into your budget. The budget couple doesn't have to deal with high-pressure vendors who will try to push "add-on" services. The vendor deals with the wedding planner, who is the one person more concerned about sticking to your budget than your fiance. Additionally, if you do find a perfect venue or dress that goes above your budget, your planner can help you to reallocate money to keep your budget in line.
3. Avoid the Accessories at the Dress Store: That veil that was atop your head when you said "yes" to your dress was lovely, but hold off the temptation to add it to your bill. Items like shoes, belts, jewelry and veils are inflated to catch you during your emotional buy. Instead, write down the brand and style number and go home to research online. You will most likely find the same or similar items with a 40% or more discount off the boutique price. If you are looking for something more unique, try searching Etsy for accent pieces that reflect your style, but won't break your budget.
4. Create Your Own Invitation: The ultra-formal wedding invitations are no longer king. Your guests want to see smiling faces of the happy couple or something that represents what the day will be. Fortunately for you, these types of invitations are also much cheaper. Couples today have the option of creating their entire invitation set online. Sites like VistaPrint even let you upload your own artwork to create a completely personalized invitation. You can then choose the paper type and finish so that your invitation looks professional. For those couples who want something unique, but aren't artistically inclined, Etsy offers the couple the chance to personalize some really cool alternative or themed invitations. Bonus Tip: By opting a postcard style invite and RSVP, you will also save on postage.
5. Barter with a Vendor:
Do you own business, or do work a trade? If so, you might have a little more bartering power than most. While this typically won't work for a company, if you are looking to hire an individual vendor (photographer, florist, planner, etc.) you might be able to trade their service for yours. I worked with a couple recently who actually traded photography service for their wedding in exchange for construction work done on his house. It was a win/win for both parties, and the couple was thrilled with their photos.