If you want to make your wedding feel extravagant, that's totally understandable. This is, after all, your big day. So if you and your partner have been envisioning lots of food, flowing wine, and luscious floral arrangements, it's OK to realize those dreams and treat yourselves. But since costs can add up fast, you may want to find ways to stick to a budget, too.
Luckily, with just a little effort, it'll be possible to create a stunning, luxurious day for both you and your guests, without spending your life's savings. And often all it takes is playing up certain aspects of the event, while cutting back in others.
To start, it can help to rethink your food. "While you definitely want to make sure to amply feed your guests, sometimes couples overdo it with catering extras," Whitney Cox, wedding coordinator from Vegas Weddings, tells Bustle. "For example, they might choose passed hors d'oeuvres instead of a simple meat or cheese platter as an appetizer, or add on so many extra sides to the buffet that most guests don't have room on their plate by the end of it."
Instead of saying yes to every option presented to you, focus on a few great choices, as well as the timing, so that no one's standing around feeling hungry. "All the little extras are tempting," Cox says, "but your guests truly won't notice that one extra side or upgrade as long as the food is good and they are well fed." Basically, if the tuna tartare hits the spot, there will be no need for a chocolate fondue fountain, or a million pricey cheeses on toothpicks.
Floral arrangements are another aspect of weddings that can make or break the luxury. But the good news is, it's an area where you can save money, without ruining the impact. By going for more affordable flowers, Cox says, you can surround yourselves with petals and really have that moment, without going broke.
"Even if your favorite flower runs on the expensive side, you can use it sparingly and surround it with less expensive flowers and greenery that complement your favorite bloom," Cox says. "The overall 'wow' factor of floral is not dependent on how much you spend, but how skilled your florist is at making stunning arrangements."
So do a little research, and find someone whose work you admire. "Choose a florist that you're confident can make a beautiful arrangement while staying in your budget, color scheme, and overall aesthetic," Cox says, "and you won't have to worry about breaking the bank on the most expensive flowers."
You can also ask about where flowers might have the biggest impact. "I love to recommend that clients go with bud vases when they're working with a budget," Sarah Carroll, a San Francisco-based wedding planner and owner of Small Shindigs, tells Bustle. "There are so many different shapes and colors to work with, and a table can still feel full and vibrant, but overall, less stems are used."
Another big factor? The venue. If you're looking to save money, "the best way is to limit the number of guests at your wedding reception, since venues usually charge per person," wedding photographer Jimmy Chan, tells Bustle. By decreasing your guest list from 300 to 100, you can essentially triple your budget.
Suddenly much more extravagant venus will be within your reach, Chan says, simply because you cut back on your guests. By removing your grandma's neighbor's third cousin that you barely know, and only inviting the people who matter most, you can put that money towards a more stunning location — and even save a little in the process.
If you have a particularly snazzy venue in mind, you can also save money by booking it off season. "Who says 'Saturday in June' wedding couples have more fun? The wedding off-season typically runs November to March, so if you're on a budget you'll get the most bang for your buck by hosting your big day during this timeframe," Jenna Miller, creative director of the wedding site Here Comes The Guide, tells Bustle.
And last but not least, you'll want to keep any and all DIY or thrifting options in mind. From your table linens to your outfits, you can find it all secondhand and have fancier-feeling things, without committing to paying off wedding debt for the rest of your life. For example, "you can find great pieces at flea markets at a fraction of the rental cost," Amanda Guagliardo, a wedding expert with Azazie, tells Bustle. So if you have your heart set on luxurious place settings, crystal stemware, and golden candelabras, set aside time to dig them up.
Whatever "extravagant" means to you, it'll be possible to incorporate fun elements into your wedding day, if you plan ahead. Play up what's important to you, look for deals, and cut back in less noticeable areas, and you and your partner should wind up with a day that feels extra special — and ticks all those luxury boxes.