10 Tips To Save Thousands On Your Wedding

When I look on Facebook and see all of the wonderful comments and likes on my 2012 wedding photos, I'm thinking, "Dang. I wish I could have invited her" and "Crap. He is such an awesome friend/party guest/cool dude. I wish he could have come."
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Or "Why I'm Really Sorry I Couldn't Invite You" or "Why Small Weddings Are the Best, but Also Kinda Suck."

When I look on Facebook and see all of the wonderful comments and likes on my 2012 wedding photos, I'm thinking, "Dang. I wish I could have invited her" and "Crap. He is such an awesome friend/party guest/cool dude. I wish he could have come."

The predicament of a "Girl Who Knows Everyone." When you've been living in the same city your entire life, you amass a huge amount of friends and acquaintances from many different circles.

Some of them you've lost touch with, sure. But a wedding is that one occasion you can bring everyone together and have a big party.

This also means you get invited to many, many weddings. (I've lost count, but it's double digits for me now. )

Unfortunately, I couldn't do it up big, and I wanted to explain why. In part, as an apologetic post to those I couldn't invite.

But I pared down a destination wedding that could have easily cost more than $20,000 into one around $10,000. I wanted it lower, but this was still better than average. Your wallet, if it could talk, will tell you that you're the awesome if you follow these tips and advice.

Trimming the Guest List

Yep, that photo is everyone who was at my wedding (save for my photographer buddy and his wife.)

1) Quit having so many friends. Okay, this is a little facetious, but what if your spouse-to-be only had a handful of friends and close family? I've been to weddings where I feel like the only friend of the bride or groom. Don't have a wedding of 200 people where 195 of them are only your friends.

Other than the obvious financial savings, (buying and mailing just 50 wedding invitations was absolutely delightful), this is a great reason to chose a small wedding.

2) Leave out the kiddies. This one is always a bit controversial among brides, but it was kind of a no-brainer for me. This wedding was an out-of-town one and located within a gated neighborhood. However, dozens of people had to be left off of the list or ended up declining.

That really sucked.

Be prepared to have unhappy friends or explain why their son or daughter whose birth you attended wasn't invited. It obviously means more mouths to feed and (potentially) a little less fun for my guests. Plus kids at events where alcohol is served can be awkward. One of my besties actually told me, "Seriously, I'm not bringing my kids, because I want to have fun."

So this means forgoing the really, really super adorable child-dancing-awesomely videos and pictures. But this also meant no one having to leave to calm a child or change a diaper in their car or a small bathroom and no discomfort if someone wanted to tip a few back.

3) Scratch off the out-of-towners. The only out-of-towners were folks on my husband's guest list, since he was from Alabama, and one friend from Florida, who was my daily long-distance wedding cheerleader and planner.

I also didn't want to burden anyone with a crap ton of expenses from going to Hilton Head and possibly staying overnight.

4) Whoever is paying the bill doesn't get the final say on guest count. Now, I'm not suggesting you cause a family rift by un-inviting your parents, but mine were sweet (and smart) enough to understand the implications if I decided to invite every single family member and "friend of the family." *cha-ching!*

So, yeah. My Dad? He has 11 brothers and sisters.


There was no way on God's green earth I could invite all of them and their spouses and their children, etc. I invited one cousin I stayed in touch with the most, and that was it.

Maintain ownership of the guest list, no matter who is writing the check. This tends to go against etiquette, but sometimes etiquette is ridiculous (and costly).

5) The awkward invites have to stay home. There are (sadly) a lot of people who I had been friends with in the past and whose wedding I had been a part of that I'm no longer close to.

And there are the guy-friends who I once had giant, super-huge crushes. They weren't invited.

It sucked. A lot. But it happens.

Don't feel obligated to invite them. When some of them asked why, I explained it to them, usually in a lighthearted manner.

"I'm sorry, but for the sake of my fiance, I'm not inviting any guys I've kissed."

Since my mother will read this, I will not divulge how much larger the guest list would have been otherwise. (Sorry, Mom.)

Saving on the Essentials (Read: Alcohol)

By shortening the guest list, I saved thousands just on food. The menu is where you're dropping most of your dough. Pun totally intended.)

And there had to be some pricey adjustments, because I wanted Belgian waffles.

Waffles, people.

You cannot skimp on the deliciousness.

Speaking of which:

6) Have it on an odd day: Hopefully, if you've been doing your research, you know off-days mean less cash.

My vendor offered me a $1,000 discount on the venue if I chose to have my wedding on Sunday. Yes, please! (This was particularly awesome for invitees who like college football Saturday way too much.)

7) Serve an unconventional feast: I chose to do a brunch. Hooray! That means I don't have to serve pricey cocktails or beer. Bellinis and champagne for everyone!

This also meant a no-frills coffee cake, no formal wear for my honored guests and more time in the afternoon for my hubby and I to...spend...more time with my parents. (This totally happened. It was very nice. We had dinner.)

8) Do not scar your friends, family and fiance for life: Speaking of honored guests...you know what happens when you've been a bridesmaid more times than you can count? You realize the job is exhausting. And when you're pushing 40, having friends wear colored dresses made of satin, taffeta and itchy-tulle is ridiculous.

It also meant no unrealistic expectations for my friends to throw me a shower or a bachelorette party (although one of my friends took on the triple duty of doing flowers, being an honored guest and taking me out to eat beforehand).

If you choose to credit me for this, go for it. It was a pretty flippin' fabulous idea.

That means only a few trips to stores for fittings (for myself, Mom and mother-in-law), no expensive and tacky dresses that (for the love of God, people) friends will toss, donate or burn.

And I know this is crazy, but I actually gave my fiance a budget for my engagement ring. This is one of those other rare times I didn't let "conventional etiquette" (Read: "arbitrary rules for people who have limitless funds") spoil everything.

I told him $1,500. Tops. Anything above that was too much. Nope, not even close to three times his salary. But I don't want that kind of financial burden for him. I love him, right?

9) Have a crap ton of friends: Yes, I realize I am going against my #1 tip, but hear me out. If you're the girl who knows everyone, you probably have amazing friends and family to help with the pricier items - photography, flowers, cake.

I am not saying just let anybody do this. These were people who were professionals in their field. Please do not let your 12-year-old cousin who has a way with an iPhone do your photos.

I can't even adequately quantify how much I saved, because their services (and friendship) are priceless. Let's just say it was a four-digit number.

10) Let go of everything you have ever perceived about this special day:
What made this day special? No hurried schedule.

I cut out the father-daughter/mother-son dances and the bouquet and garter toss, because wedding guests just want to eat, drink and socialize.

The rest is kinda just boring filler.

I didn't want to take up precious time on the dance floor with things other than actual dancing. I created my own mix of songs on my 5-year-old iPod and asked a friend to let it rip. (And I was able to give him a little cash to do it, because I hadn't spent a zillion dollars on everything else.)

My entire outfit, from head to toe, cost around $1,000. And even that can be cut down extensively, thanks to eBay and wedding recycle sites. I was not about to blow cash on a dress I'd wear once or on a fancy makeup artist or hair stylist or fancy shoes. I just wanted to feel pretty and have fun.

I got hair and makeup assistance from my sister, which was an intensely awesome bonding moment.

The whole day looks like I spent much more than I did. What I didn't spend in actual dollars, I spent in hours of furious planning. And even though these 10 tips are a smidge unorthodox, the greatest savings was my own sanity.

Originally published at Nerdythirtysomething.

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