For many years my primary income came from writing about weddings. I did this writing for national magazines like Bridal Guide and InStyle Weddings, and also I authored a handful of books on wedding topics.
My book titles have ranged from Plan Your Wedding In No Time to The Balanced Bride to Buying and Selling Your Way to a Fabulous Wedding with eBay.
My last (to have been published) wedding book is called Tie the Knot on a Shoestring: Its subtitle is “Save big $$ while celebrating your special day in style.”
There are two reasons that I’m bringing up this book with you now.
* First, I always called January “ground zero” for wedding plans (that is before Ground Zero took on an entirely different 9/11 reference) because so many couples get engaged during the holidays. According to my own unscientific research practices, I once determined that nearly 30 percent of all engaged couples got engaged in December. That meant that come January, tons of men and women found themselves suddenly thrust into the world of wedding planning.
* And, second, in our current economy, I’m guessing that every couple is hoping to get the most bang for their bridal buck. Which is why a book like Tie the Knot on a Shoestring is even more relevant today than it was when it was published in 2007.
But I’m not writing this blog posting to advertise my books. (Though if you want to buy copies, you’ll find links from my Gifts and Etiquette website.) Instead I thought now would be a good time to take this Suddenly Frugal blog and add a wedding element to it. Because I imagine that some of the people who read this blog could be planning weddings and could benefit from some money-saving advice.
So with that in mind here are five tips for planning a frugal wedding.
- Think local and in season. I’ve written in the past about thinking locally and in-season about your grocery shopping, and how it can help you save big bucks and ensure that you’re getting fresher fare all around. Well, the same locavore principles apply to your wedding. If your food and flowers don’t have to travel a great distance to get to your reception, then you won’t pay a premium to get them. Figure out what food is available locally and in season around the time of your wedding, and plan your wedding around them. For example, lobsters at Maine wedding or crabs at a Maryland wedding should be a no brainer. Think similarly for flowers or anything else that you want to use in your bouquets or centerpieces. They don’t call roses the yellow rose of Texas for nothing–so if you’re tying the knot in the Lone Star State, roses might just be your best bet. Similarly, Washington State is known for its apples (among other things) so a cluster of fresh-from-the-orchard apples used as a centerpiece would be both tasty and affordable.
- Use Facebook friends, family and LinkedIn connections to your advantage. Knowing someone in the business is a great way to get a discount on everything wedding related. So as soon as you get engaged, update your Facebook status or your LinkedIn “what are you working on” statement to mention your upcoming nuptials. Feel out family members to see if they might be able to score you some savings on a limo or the band. You’ll never know what kind of money you can save if you don’t ask questions. So give it a try via all of your virtual and real-world connections.
- Don’t forget about Freecyle or Goodwill. Do you remember my post before the holidays about how I used Freecycle to get boxes filled with ribbons for free? Who would have thought that someone would be willing to give me ribbons I could use on Christmas presents–or free plants for my garden for that matter–without asking for a dime in return? Well, that’s the beauty of Freecycle. Depending on what you need for your wedding–from ribbons to tablecloths–you just might be able to find it for free from your local Freecycle list. At the same time don’t forget to check in with your local Goodwill or thrift store for affordable options for your wedding. Nearly every time I’ve visited Goodwill I’ve seen wedding and bridesmaid dresses for sale–yes, I would spring for a good dry cleaning before I wore them. I’ll bet that a Goodwill or, heck, even a yard sale might be a great place to pick up affordable thank-you note, place cards, guest books or other little items that always end up on a bride’s to-buy list.
- Do as much virtual planning and inviting as possible. While your grandmother may frown on a wedding invitation by email, if money is super tight, using Evite instead of a fancy (and expensively) printed invitation can help you keep your budget in line. Don’t want to offend the older generation? Choose a company with inexpensive options, like VistaPrint to print your invitations. Then save even more money by using a postcard for RSVPs and having your directions online that your guests can print out so you don’t have to pay extra for those to be printed as well.
- When in doubt, think Super Bowl Sunday. Most brides-to-be quickly realize that when it comes to weddings, you’ll pay a premium to have your event on a Saturday night–especially a Saturday night in June or September, two popular months in which to get married. Friday nights are expensive as well, though not as much as Saturday is, and Sunday is cheaper still. Move your wedding to a non-traditional day of the week for a wedding, like Monday or Thursday (unless New Year’s Eve happens to fall one those non-weekend days), and you’ll save even more. But the one day of the year when you’re bound to get a great deal on a wedding is Super Bowl Sunday. (That date is Sunday, February 1, 2009 this year, by the way, and Sunday, February 7, 2010.) Now if you’ve got sport fanatics in your family–your fiance included–this suggestion likely borders on heresy. But if your friends and family couldn’t care less about football, a Super Bowl Sunday wedding might be your biggest frugal option!
Let me know if you have any additional ideas for planning a frugal wedding.