Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cutting Wedding Costs by Narrowing Down Options

Wedding planning is such an exciting time. It is also expensive. If you are newly engaged (Best Wishes!), you may feel overwhelmed by the unending number of choices available for everything.

There are many calculators out there to help budget a wedding, but no one wants a cookie-cutter wedding, so using a formula may not be best for what the couple has in mind. If the couple instead uses those budgeting tools to get an idea of what price ranges they should look for, and then chooses three things to focus their money and energy on, it is easier to be willing to find compromises and appropriate prices for everything else. Choosing three things to have exactly the way they want, and pulling money from other areas to cover those three things means lowering the amount spent on other items, but in a way, this is what we do everyday. Do I want to save money by packing a lunch so that I can buy a new coat? Or would I prefer to have the expensive lunches, and not have the new coat?

In every aspect of the wedding, as anywhere else, the best way to save on costs is to know exactly what one wants. Having photos to show the vendors and being able to describe the look is what makes this knowledge helpful. If one knows exactly what she wants, she will be able to work with her vendors more closely, and therefore have more choices of which vendors to use. For instance, if there is a florist with a really great price, but who does not have photos of the look one wants, she can show pictures and describe it to the vendor. This way, one can use the vendor with the great price instead of the vendor with the high price and perfect photos. I actually learned this out of necessity -- the florist I loved did not travel out of state, so my mother found a local florist and described the look, even though the florist's promotional book had nothing similar. Her flowers ended up being so beautiful that a friend took photos and gave them to her florist in a different country to replicate.

Exactly the romantic and New England wedding flowers I imagined.
The alternate is to not know what one wants, and be swayed by each and every beautiful option that comes her way. There are a lot of beautiful options available, and they work somewhat like impulse buys by the cash register; one didn't plan to spend that money, but the lovely option is there, and now she wants it.

So how does one decide what she wants without first looking at all the options? Many wedding planning advisers suggest choosing a theme. But since planning a wedding is basically planning an event, I think it might be easier to choose a feeling one would like her guests to experience. The coziness and familiarity of family around a fireplace, the glamour of the Hollywood Golden Age, the woodsy spirit of New England, and the easy days of summer at the beach all suggest very different types of invitations, flowers, venues, and even music. Narrowing down helps make a vast majority of the available options feel out of place, also making the expensive ooo-I-need-to-have-that options easier to decline.

Knowing what one wants the event to be makes finding pictures and descriptions easier, too. And once those photos and words are found, sitting down with a friend and trying to describe the goal will make good practice for clearly explaining to a vendor.

Nearly any way a wedding is planned, it will be expensive, but by taking the time to narrow down exactly what the couple wants, and by doing research into available vendors, costs can be cut in every area.

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