Well, it’s that time of year again. Birds are singing, flowers are in bloom, and most people are receiving more wedding invitations than they know what to do with. That’s right, it’s wedding season and temperatures aren’t the only things that are on the rise. According to The Knot, a well known wedding website, the average cost of a wedding in 2014 was $31,213. This is a figure that is simply not feasible for a lot of people. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend that much to enjoy a wonderful wedding. With a few tweaks and a little bit of creatively placed thriftiness, you can have the best party ever without the stress of footing the giant bill.
Not too long ago, I celebrated my own nuptials with family and friends right here in the Portland area. It was a wonderful day and everyone had a fantastic time. I had amazing food, a beautiful dress, a gorgeous venue, a wonderful photographer, hair and makeup that I couldn’t have been happier with, and even a champagne toast. The best part? I didn’t spend thirty grand! All told, the grand total came in at under five thousand dollars.
Getting hitched on the cheap was the right choice for me, and I honestly can’t think of anything I would have done differently. No matter why you’re looking to cut costs, it’s important to be intentional about your budget. Have a conversation with your partner and any friends or family members who are involved in contributing to the wedding financially. Take a realistic look at your resources and create a budget that fits your individual circumstances. Don’t feel discouraged if the number that you come up with seems insufficient, you’ll be surprised at just how far your money will go. The more creative you are, the more unique, personal, and memorable the event will be.
To get the ball rolling on this whole topic, it’s imperative to start with the basics. If you are an individual who has had access to the internet in the past five years or so, you have probably experienced the swirling vortex of wedding planning that is Pinterest. I love the creative ideas and inspiration that I get from Pinterest, but it doesn’t necessarily function as a party planning template. On the one hand, do-it-yourselfing is imperative to keeping costs down, but on the other hand, you really can’t do it all. Unless you take a six month sabbatical from work to modge-podge mason jars, hold flower girl casting calls, and attend a series of dress fittings for your pomeranian, your wedding probably won’t look exactly like it does on Pinterest. But guess what? That’s okay. If you don’t get enough varnished wood pallets to construct that rustic cake table, the earth will continue to rotate on its axis.
This brings me to my first point: make sure your expectations are in check. When I first got engaged, we set our wedding date for just shy of two months out and one of the first things that we did was to take an inventory of what we both felt we needed to feel happy with our ceremony and reception. Interestingly enough “porcelain cake topper” and “signature cocktails” didn’t make the cut. I encourage anyone who is trying to save money while planning a wedding to categorize the elements they want to include in the big day in order of importance.
The next thing to consider in the early stages of planning is to get a rough idea of how many people you want to be there, this is the basis for most of your planning. Everything from the venue to the flowers relate directly to the number of guests that will be included. As is to be expected, smaller weddings lead to reduced costs. When you start working on a list with your significant other, try to start with people who you feel like you would genuinely miss if they weren’t present. Relatives, generally the ones that you see more than once every five years, and good friends are the people who you want to be attending. Cousin Myrtle and that coworker who you don’t talk to don’t need to make the invite list. It is better for everyone involved if you invite people out of your own free will and not out of obligation.
Creating your initial list should be something that at least starts with you and your partner alone. Once family members get involved, the tally can increase exponentially and you end up with a party full of people that you don’t know or particularly like. As cliché as it sounds, this is your wedding, you shouldn’t have anyone there who you don’t want to be there.
If you are planning a wedding in Portland, you already have a leg up. Our incredible city is full of talented, creative, and thrifty people and chances are that you’re friends with a few of them. Do you know somebody who takes great photos? They might be willing to offer you a great discount on photo coverage for your event. You might have a friend who’s a culinary wizard who could help with the cake. Use your resources before you pay way too much for a service that you already have access to, friends and family are often even more eager to offer their help than you might anticipate.
If you create a solid budget, a guest list that you are comfortable with, and a supportive network of resources, you are well on your way. For now, just remember that planning such a significant event can be a lot of fun, enjoy every minute of it and keep an eye out for some more advice about getting hitched on the cheap.
The Knot: Average Wedding Cost