Weddings are expensive. But how can you save money on a wedding?With the average cost of a wedding in the United States being $26,444, and that’s before you throw in the honeymoon, it’s pretty damn pricey. To put that into perspective, the average median wage for a person in the U.S. is $26,695. Is it really worth dropping over $26K for one day, especially with the divorce rates being what they are? Not to be a downer, but it’s a reality that even those who are head over heels in love might want to recognize.
Honestly, weddings don’t have to as expensive as they are. If you log onto Pinterest, you can find thousands of ways to cut back by going the DIY route, and save money, you know, something that might be nice for your future. Even if you’re not the craftiest person out there, surely there is someone in your group of friends who can lead the way, because once you attach the word “wedding” to anything, it practically triples in price.
I’m not going to lie; my wedding wasn’t cheap. But it was during my research that I realized that some things are so overpriced simply because it’s for a wedding that it’s obnoxious ― and avoidable. Here are five wedding expenses you’re definitely overspending on and a cheaper alternative.
1. Hair And Makeup
Despite living in New York City, I’ve been getting my hair done at the same place in New Hampshire forever. I’ve been going to the same hairstylist, a woman who knows me well and gets my sense of style, and I’m also paying half what I would pay in the city.
But even this little place in New Hampshire had it's ups the prices when it comes to weddings. There is no just showing up before the wedding and having your hair done, but “trial bridal upwork,” that starts at over $100 and “trial additional looks” that are almost $100 each ― and that’s even before the actual wedding day hairstyle. Once you toss in makeup, you’re also looking at almost $100 bucks more ― and this is New Hampshire; I can’t even imagine what it would be in the city.
Instead, I put my sister in charge. We did a couple practice rounds of how I wanted my hair and makeup (although, admittedly, the makeup was very minimal because I’m not a makeup person), and on the day of the wedding it was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t spend a dime on it, and once I started dancing and sweating from getting my groove on (yeah, I got my “groove on”), I just put it up in a bun anyway.
I had a perfect vision in my head of what I wanted my bouquets to be: Gerber daisies, pale pink peonies, and blue hydrangea. I didn’t want any fillers, but 100 percent flowers, and I wanted all my bridesmaids to have the same. When I consulted with a florist in Paris, where my wedding was, my bouquet was going to cost $230 (the Euro equivalent to that), and my bridesmaids' bouquets were going to be roughly $150 each. With five bridesmaids and one maid of honor, that was going to set me back, for all of us, just under a $1,000. So, we made our own.
The morning before the wedding, we all gathered in the courtyard of the hotel where most of them were staying, and we each made our own bouquets ― and they were gorgeous. One of my bridesmaids had researched how to make bouquets for another wedding she was in, so she was already armed with the florist tape and experience. We sat there drinking champagne and making our bouquets. Not only did it save me $800, but it was a fun way to relax with the girls before the wedding.
According to a study by Real Weddings, the average cost of band for the reception is $3,084 and the average cost of a DJ is $988. First of all, I knew I didn’t want a band doing some ridiculous covers and the thought of having a DJ emcee my reception was the stuff of nightmares. Instead, I did it myself. Sort of.
I put together three wedding playlists. The first one was the music for the ceremony; the processional and recessional. (Side note: our recessional was “The Imperial March” from Star Wars.) The second playlist was the music for the dinner and the third playlist was for the reception, so we could get our groove on, as mentioned above. We rented speakers for $400 and plugged in my iPod. My friend Erin was in charge of it, and it literally took less than a minute total, over the whole night, for her to do the couple of changes of playlists.
4. Wedding Cake
While you might be able to walk into any bakery and get a decent size cake for less than $50, once you attach a wedding to it, you’re looking at roughly $500 or more. It’s definitely understandable that any bride would want a cake that impresses, but is it really necessary to spend that much on a cake?
The trick is, and I’ve had many friends do this, is to order a cake of your choosing under the guise that it’s for a birthday and, if you want a wedding topper, buy that separately. You can also choose to do something other than a cake, like cupcakes. If you order cupcakes from your favorite bakery that are, let’s say, $2.00 each and you have 60 guests, you can get away with spending less than $150. You have to figure not everyone will have a cupcake and there will be those who will have two. You’ll actually find that you have cupcakes left over, so basically breakfast to nurse that champagne hangover before you jet off to Italy for your honeymoon is covered.
The whole photography end of the wedding is something to seriously consider. While you want “memories to last a lifetime,” as they say, with all the technology and photography software that can be purchased to make anyone look like a pro, how much are you willing to spend?
According to TheKnot, in 2013 the average price for a wedding photographer was almost $2500, but you can really cutback on that. For starters, you can find an upcoming wedding photographer who’s looking to build up their portfolio and are likely to charge half that or even less. In my case, I was fortunate enough to have not one, but two photographers amongst my friends who were more than willing to run around with the camera. It might sound like work, but who among your guests isn’t taking photos anyway?
In the end, I spent zero on photography and had hundreds of beautiful pictures, especially a lot of great candid shots, to choose from. We also decided to use a hashtag for Instagram so anyone uploading photos to that we could check out late, too.
Where I spent the bulk of my money was on food and the venue. If people were willing to fly to Paris for my wedding, I wanted to give them a meal that they wouldn’t soon forget; the rest could be skimped on so we skimped away.
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