I found during my wedding planning research that most couples spend about 50% of their budget on food and drinks, 10% each on flowers and attire, and 10-15% for photography. The rest is spent on extras like music, ceremony site fees, transportation, and gifts.
My fiance and I are paying for the wedding ourselves and have set a budget of about $7,500. We ‘ve gone from planning an elaborate wedding on the rooftop of a fancy hotel to realizing that it was out of our budget and that having a nice warm reception with the people who are closest to us is really the most important thing.
Each of us decided on our ”must haves.” For Him: a Rabbi and two witnesses. For Me: a good photographer. The rest is relatively easy.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned planning a wedding on a tight budget:
- Don’t throw your wedding during the height of wedding season. Ours is being held in February.
- You don’t have to have a sit-down dinner. We’re having appetizers and drinks at a hotel after the ceremony. Kosher catering can be quite expensive so if you and most of your guests do not keep Kosher, figure out how many guests will require a Kosher meal and order special for them.
- Bargain with vendors. Since the economy is in a recession, you are more likely to get a great deal. Another idea is hiring someone who is just starting out in the business, like a photography student who is building their portfolio. This is an option that I am considering since I know a photography student who is really good.
- eBay is your friend. You can find just about anything on eBay and will not cost you through the nose. I found a beautiful Carolina Herrera dress for just $60! Granted it needs some TLC but is a beautiful, silk ivory long-sleeve ballgown that I would have never been able to afford otherwise.
- If you can do it yourself, do it. Why pay an arm and a leg when you can make invitations, bouquets, dresses, and a chuppah yourself? I am designing our invitations, making the chuppah, and making my own mantilla veil. It’s gratifying to know that I not only did I make these things, but one day I may pass them on to my own children.