Nowadays, people make such a big deal of weddings. They plan them years in advance and spend tens of thousands of dollars. If this is NOT your situation, then don’t get discouraged. You can easily plan an elegant wedding in just a couple of months and on a limited budget. You just have to be creative.
Utilize Websites for Wedding Planning
I can understand why someone might want to hire a wedding coordinator for the actual wedding, as a wedding coordinator can be helpful for organizing the rehearsal, directing vendors, keeping the photographer in line, and leading other wedding day tasks. For the planning, however, it is best NOT to hire a wedding planner. Wedding planners charge costly fees, for which they will help you hire vendors and make decisions about the big day. In many instances, a wedding planner might not get you the best deal on vendors since she may limit your choices to people she has previously made arrangements with. It also makes planning on short notice difficult, since you have to work around the wedding planner’s schedule for meetings.
Plus, there are so many great websites to help you with planning and budgeting. The best site by far is theknot.com. You can create an account for free, and it includes personalized wedding planning checklists (organized by week) and budgeting software. Theknot.com is really a great tool, and it doesn’t cost a penny!
Consider An All Inclusive Package
If you are planning on a wedding with a meal, cake, dancing, etc., then consider booking a place that includes everything at one low cost. While the overall price may at first seem high, you will usually find that this type of planning saves you time and money. Some places, such as the Wedgewood Banquet centers (with locations all over California), have packages that can include everything from the DJ, to flowers, to food and beverage, hotel accommodations, and even invitations.
The best places to check for these kinds of packages are big hotels. Many of these hotels have in-house catering and offer packages that include most of the services you will need. Country clubs may also offer these types of packages, but the prices are usually significantly higher.
Depending on how flexible your schedule is, you may want to consider planning the wedding for an off-season time, particularly if you live in a touristy area. Summer tends to be the most popular for weddings, which will limit the availability of locations and vendors. Laws of supply and demand would also suggest that these times mean higher prices as well. If someone needs business, they are much more likely to negotiate with you for a lower price.
My husband and I live in Southern California, where it seems that everything costs more in the summer. We had our wedding in November, which made it easier to find a good photographer, and gave our out-of-town guests cheaper rates on their hotel rooms.
Choosing vendors that are new to the business might save you a significant amount of money. Just because they are new does not mean that they will not be good. They might even do better than someone who has been doing it a long time. For instance, a new wedding photographer is going to be working extra hard at taking great shots, because these photos will help them establish a portfolio. As another benefit, he or she will not have the years of experience that makes some photographers feel like they can run the show. You can tell the photographer how you want things to go.
Some new vendors (particularly photographers and wedding coordinators) will even provide their services for free or for cost only, as a means of developing a reference and a portfolio.
There are a few good ways to find these people. First, you can check in the local newspaper and look at the legal ads. When you start a wedding business you have to file a “fictitious business name,” which must be published in a local newspaper. This can be time consuming, but it is a good way for finding people who are brand new. Another method, probably the more preferable one, would be to look on Craigslist. Go to the craigslist website for your city (craigslist.org has a list of all the cities). Click on the link that says “services” towards the bottom of the screen. In the search box in the top, type in “wedding.” You will find a list of all kinds of people trying to drum up new business. Remember that if they are listing their services on Craigslist, it means a couple of good things: they need business (so they are probably not overbooked), and they are not spending money on fancy advertising (they will probably not overcharge you). You could also ask around among your family and friends to see if anyone can recommend you someone they know. Is your uncle best friends with a minister? Perhaps he will be interested in doing the ceremony for you. Is your little sister’s best friend a photography major in college? Does your friend’s cousin have a knack for flower arrangements? These are good things to start thinking about and asking around.
For things such as a hair and make-up, you might also consider the local cosmetology school. Most cosmetology schools have a salon where the students work when they are close to graduation. Only the students who are far along in their studies are allowed to work on customers, and they are always supervised by an instructor. Wedding up-dos can get very expensive, and this is one way of keeping the cost down. Personally, I found a friend from high school who had just finished cosmetology school, and she offered to do my whole wedding party for free (although my mom insisted on paying her anyway).
Rent a Fun Getaway Car
Instead of a limousine or horse-drawn carriage, perhaps you might consider renting a fun car for your getaway. This can help with several things. First of all, limousines are expensive, and they charge by the hour. A rental car, on the other hand, is relatively inexpensive and is charged per day. Plus, you can get a sporty car, a convertible, a classic car, or a luxury car, to fit your wedding and your personality.
My husband and I rented a silver convertible, which was a great decision. Silver was one of my wedding colors, and we got some great pictures of us leaving the wedding in the convertible. Driving to our hotel with my veil blowing in the wind was incredibly fun! People honked and waved as we drove by.
If you are flying away on a honeymoon the next day, you might also consider renting at an airport facility. If a friend can take you to pick up the car the day before the wedding, then you and your spouse can travel to the airport in style when you leave for your honeymoon.
Ask Friends for Help
When it comes to doing all the work for the wedding, be sure to ask your friends and family members to help out. Most will be excited to be included. You can enlist the help of friends and family members for everything from addressing invitations, to making favors, to decorating the church. Your close friends can help transport the gifts after the wedding, or even help clean up, if that is not something included in your package.