Most of our budget was spent on the venue and reception (catering). The more you do yourself, the cheaper it will be though. Some things that we did to minimize expenses:
- Buy your own booze (definitely have an open bar if you're going to have a bar), make your own programs, invitations, table numbers, seating cards, etc. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time doing some of these things.
- Also look into online printing places like cafepress, mixbook, etc for a cheaper alternative for invitations, programs, etc. May wind up being as cheap as doing it yourself.
- Buy your table linens, and resell them after the wedding. We found ours online for about the same price as we could rent them from the caterer, so just bought them and plan to put them up for sale online for ~half what we paid.
- e-mail save the dates.
- Cut down your guest list. One person can be $100 or more, in terms of food, drink, dishes, linens, chairs, etc (depending on what your venue and caterer provide). Pare down the guest list enough to have 1 fewer table if possible. This is probably the simplest way to cut expenses, though not always the easiest. A 50 person wedding will be cheaper than a 100 person wedding in almost all cases.
- Figure out what's important to the both of you. Having a video wasn't important for us, but pictures were, so we spent a lot of time looking for a good photographer (and got one for a great price). Having fancy table settings and such weren't important for us, but having good food was. Figure out what you value, and put more of your budget towards those items.
- I would advise against having your friends serve you (photographer, DJ, caterer, etc) on the actual day, as (if they are actually friends) they'll want to enjoy the wedding, too. If they can get you a great deal on a co-worker, perfect, but don't invite them to your wedding and make them work at the same time.
Marshall: Have the rest of you guys figured out by now that mmathis is the smartest guy on SlickDeals?
There are so many variables/factors when it comes to the cost of weddings and how much you guys should/could spend. It's all relative really...
Engagement Ring - My wife has great taste which also means expensive prices. I too love quality items so spending that much money on a quality diamond that will last a lifetime is a no brainer for me. The look on her face when I proposed was completely worth it. I also live in NYC so this stuff is pretty "normal" in this area.
Venue/Food - Majority of the cost but super important.
Band/DJ - Shop around, there are PLENTY of options and you can get great deals. Ask your friends for referrals
Flowers - We weren't really big on flowers so we saved a ton of money here
Open Bar - Personally, this is a must. You want your guests to enjoy themselves and getting a little tipsy will help once the dance floor opens up
1) My rule of thumb is to not get into significant debt by having a wedding. Many "borrow" to fund a wedding but you should always have a quick payback plan or save ahead of time. My wife and I spent a little over $30K on a destination wedding in the Riveria Maya. We had an amazing time and it was very "us". Paid for in cash and we stuck to our budget.
2) There's 2 schools of thought here. One side believes you shouldn't pay so much for one day and the other side doesn't mind as long as you're within reason. Just because you don't want to spend more than XX amount of money doesn't mean the couple is "dumb". Sure, some things can be overpriced but it really is a special day and you shouldn't let anyone dictate how you want it. But really, who are YOU to tell people what they can and cannot spend? It's their money. But I would assume that most on slickdeals are frugal by nature hence all the backlash and judgement on those who choose to spend the money
3) There are always ways to cut corners. Make your own invites, recruit the help of family members and friends.
In the end, your wedding day is your special day but it's also a business for a lot involved. It's a huge market and there are so many options to choose from so whether you want to spend $1,000 or $100K...you will have a plethora of options.
Good luck and enjoy the experience!
Last edited by anthai.lu; 01-29-2013 at 03:18 PM..
My wedding was approximately 50k. I was freaking out about all the unexpected costs, but in retrospect, it was an excellent investment. I thought that 20k was the max we could afford, but her parents agreed to cover half. Apparently her dad still thinks I am some sort of tightwad.
What I learned from all of this:
-Most of the cost of bachelor parties comes from the groomsmen/bridesmaids. The main cost was airfaire.
-We shouldn't have covered the cost of dresses/tuxes. We did this for one bridesmaid because she is having money problems. She told the other bridesmaids that we paid and they expected the same
-Alcohol expenses can get out of hand pretty quick. We wish that we had spent more on wine and less on beer/liquor. There was extra beer left over at the end that we didn't get to keep, but we did get to keep the extra wine bottles.
I am currently engaged and my fiance and I have been looking at wedding venues for the past month or so. Budget aside, I feel thatthe norm of what a wedding costs is very different based on where you are in the country. I am in the northern NJ/NYC area which is pricey and any decent wedding venue starts around $140 per person including all fees and taxes and goes up from there. The venues we like are even pricier. It is typical to do a cocktail hour as well as a 4 hour (5 hours total) sit down meal with full top shelf open bar for the entire event where I am. I have been to weddings on both coasts and in the midwest and it is amazing how different it is depending on location. I have been to weddings tht cost $5,000 and ones that cost $250,000. In the end just do what makes you happy and stay within your budget.
Don't get all caught up in the numbers. Its ok to go cheaper, just make sure everyone will have an awesome time and it will be the best wedding. Glitz and glammor dont create memories, Like antsmarchn ive been to 1k weddings and 100k weddings, I enjoyed the cheaper wedding more as a guest because it was more fun and less stuck up.
My own wedding ended up costing about 20-25k people said it was a great time, i think it was pretty well worth it but could have spent more or less in certain areas and been happier.
Many vendors give discounts for having an "off-day" wedding - typically Sunday, but possibly Friday as well (and bigger discounts during the week). But, if your guests will be traveling, keep in mind that having a Friday or Sunday wedding could be the difference between them attending or not. A kind of nice way to keep the guest list trimmed, but if the important people (to you) can't make it because of the day, it's not a bargain at all...
And average price does depend very much on location. Weddings in or near big cities will likely cost more than those in the far suburbs or more rural areas (other things being equal). On the flip side, guests may need to spend more money / time to travel to those far suburbs and more rural areas.
Cost to get married = $80 at local courthouse.
Cost to get divorced = $100K+ (no prenup)
Just my 2 cents. Want to keep your wedding affordable? Either sign a prenup, or don't get married.
Also, put your foot down now or never. If you're paying for the wedding don't let her nag you into having it her way. If you were really meant to be together she wouldn't have a problem with you using coupons for dinner and providing your own drinks instead of paying inflated prices.
It's a matter of principal, you're a slickdealer at heart and if she's the one for you then she should be too.
I'm amazed that this is the finance forum and people are claiming $20K-$50K weddings to be a good "investment". I don't know what you're investing in.
Honestly we did a lot of DIY and leveraged "people we knew" - my wife's father is active in social circles (he's a member of various clubs, etc) and has lots of goodwill, so we got things like the venue (reception) for cheap, limo, etc for cheap (wife's uncle worked for one at the time) and relied on friends for other stuff like the "limo" for us (restored 1970's Lincoln Town Car a friend owns). Ethnically though (she's Portuguese), there is a lot to be expected in a wedding in terms of who is invited (pretty much everyone you've ever met), food (3 courses plus dessert), booze (lots) and length - 3PM until 2 AM, and live entertainment is all but a requirement. Consequently though, my IL's paid for the hall, food and entertainment. Wife and I wound up spending most of our money on the honeymoon - 32 day tour of Europe
That was possible with all the DIY I spoke about - DIY invitations, ceremony programs, hall decoration, novelties, etc. We used vendors (flowers, photog, etc) that were recommended by friends that did weddings on the side - you can go REALLY crazy with photos and flowers! We got great photos and flowers at probably 1/4 the cost of the pro places.
The amount you spend isn't necessarily correlated with quality though. We went to a wedding in Montreal last summer, same ethnics (wife's family) and the "hall" was one of those all in one places that does this for a business. The hall was certainly nice (albeit not much parking), however the food was meh, entertainment was meh, and it was very expensive - much more so than our wedding.
The upside to our wedding was that we took in about $18k in gifts (it's a Portuguese thing to give $$, and they typically write checks after the food, no joke). I'd say on an entire net basis (including IL's expenses), we probably came out $3-$5k ahead.
It also happened that the night was the same as the annual fireworks festival in town so we were treated to fireworks during the reception
If you have people coming in from out of town, you can try shopping around for a hotel - many will offer a package deal of sorts if you have over X rooms booked for the night(s), you get some rooms for free or a credit.
Honestly though, for all that was spent - I can recall one or 2 moments the entire night. I don't even remember eating or the cake or anything. Relatives still talk about it though, so at least they had a good time.
We just got married last year ... We didn't want a big elaborate wedding or reception. We went down to the courthouse with 30 people in tow and then just did a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant for approx 40 people w/ open bar. We had a great time and all the guests did too. It was nicely done and very easy going and not a lot of wedding fuss and hassle.
Big thing for us, was that folks spend tens of thousands of dollars and it becomes more of an entertainment event for your guests (and a lot of them don't enjoy it as much as they should) than it is a celebration for the bride and groom. We wanted only our closest friends and family to be there to celebrate our special day the way we wanted to do it...maybe we're just selfish that way. I think a lot of folks really appreciated the low-key aspect too. Our wedding was actually at 2:50P on a Thursday and dinner was from 4P to 9:30P. The off day was key to keeping costs LOW.
Rough budget from the top of my head was something like this:
Married by a judge at the courthouse + fees/license: $85
Reception Dinner: $3000
Wedding Photos: $500
Misc costs <$1000
My wife still bought a dress, though she is the same size as the samples used at the bridal shops, so she bought a discounted dress that had been on display. I want to say that it was like $7K marked down to around $2K or $2.5K and she paid $400 to alter it (she's short and wanted it a bit less poofy).
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