Planning a Wedding on a Tight Budget: Set Your Priorities

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 It never fails to happen.  You have your big event to plan and one of the first things you stress about is how much it's going to cost.  If you're extremely fortunate to have some wealthy parents who want to foot the bill and encourage you to splurge, then that's fantastic.  Most people don't have that option and have to operate within some realm which will protect them from becoming bankrupt.

The first thing you have to remember is that you don't have to spend a fortune to have an amazing, memorable wedding where everyone has a blast.  You don't even have to do everything yourself, though you may want to flex your creative instincts.  However, if you have patience and persistence you will be able to discover ways to plan and run your wedding in a budget-friendly manner.
 
Your first step? Get advice from friends and others who have been married recently. Find out what they wish they hadn't spent so much money on and what they wish they'd spent more on.  It's easy to look at the price and say, "wow, that's a great deal!"  You may find out later that it was a cheap price for a reason - they don't deliver quality.

Next, think about your priorities.  Everything you spend is a tradeoff.  Would you rather have an extra-long honeymoon at fancier hotels rather than an extravagant wedding?  If so, look at ways to make the wedding reception smaller or simpler, but just as much fun.  Do you want to have an unbelievably unique wedding cake, on the level of Amazing Wedding Cakes? Why not try a cocktails and dessert reception only. You could easily skip the alcohol completely and have a tea party. Look back at other events you have been at.  Which part of the party was the most fun for the two of you?  That's the element that you want to focus on for your own wedding.
 
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The list of typical priorities for a wedding reception are:

  • People.  This sounds obvious, but you want your closest friends and family to celebrate with you. Stay away from any deadbeats or negative people that you truly dislike.  Try to avoid feeling obligated to invite someone who's going to rain on your parade.
  • Entertainment or music to get people up and involved.  However, if your guests are the type who will just want to sit and talk, a little background music is plenty.  You know your own friends and family.
  • A photographer to capture everything for generations to come. You may want a videographer also.
  • A beautiful dress, natural looking makeup and a nice hairstyle.  You want to look gorgeous, even if it's a barbecue or a simple ceremony at town hall.
  • A wedding cake, in some shape or form.  The classic photo of the two of you feeding each other something is not to be missed.  Just find something you both like!
  • Food. The food you serve has to be decent, but not amazing. It doesn't have to be a 3-course meal, and there has to be enough.  The worst thing that can happen is to run out of food.  Everyone will remember that.
  • The decor and location.  Well, obviously you need a place to have the wedding.  However, you do not have to go wild with decorations.  It all depends on your budget.

 Themes are nice to have, but not essential.  Centerpieces of some kind are needed, but can be as simple as a votive candle with a few flowers around, depending on the room or location.  Doing some things yourself can make you remember the day more, or may just be an added strain on your time depending on your point of view.  Also, DIY can sometimes end up being more expensive in the long run once you buy all the supplies.  Fancy invitations are also very impressive, but don't they end up in most people's garbage in the end?  You can get gorgeous invites online or even do ones yourself if you're so inclined.  It's not difficult.  Wedding favors may be an assumed part of the day, but also don't have to be extravagant.  

Try to be creative and do your research.  Establish your priorities and think about your dream wedding vs. what is really important to you.  When you look back on this day, what do you think will stand out most for you?  When you have been to other people's weddings, or any large affair, what do you remember most?  What can you care less about?  Answer those questions and you will know what you should consider spending more or less on for your own wedding.

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