You've dreamed of your wedding for years, and it's going to be fabulous. But in today's economy, can you really afford it?
We've got good news. The wedding you want can be yours with just a few simple suggestions. Here's how you can afford your dream wedding, your way.
Hire a party planner
Most people think that wedding coordinators are reserved for the rich and famous. Not so. "There are many different fee structures involved when working with wedding planners," says Claudia Copquin, editor of Long Island's popular bridal blog, GettingMarriedonLongIsland.com. "Some charge a percentage of the total budget, others may charge on a project basis, and still others might charge by the hour."
And, Claudia says, party planners have special relationships with vendors and are therefore privy to insider pricing. So while you will lay out money for the party planner, you may save overall. A wedding coordinator will also give you great peace of mind, negotiating the best contracts, keeping you to your timeline and playing bad cop with vendors who aren't cooperating.
Choose your date – and time – wisely
April through October is the most in-demand time to have a wedding. Simple economics dictate: Those months will be the most pricey. Booking your date somewhere between November and March can save you big bucks.
For even more savings, have your wedding during the day. Everything is less expensive out of prime time. If you have your heart set on an evening, choose the middle of the week. Saturday is the most popular night of the week, often booked years in advance. "As a result, you'll pay top dollar," says Copquin. So be flexible. You'll get a better rate not just at your wedding venue, but also your florist, band, and photographer.
And don't choose a date too close to Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. "The cost of flowers at those times almost doubles," says Barbara Becker, owner of Dazzling Parties in Oceanside, NY.
Don't hesitate to haggle
When it comes to weddings, everything is negotiable. "Certain vendors are typically prepared to negotiate on prices. And while others may not budge on the bottom line, a smart vendor will offer less expensive alternatives that will make you happy," says Copquin. "A good florist, for instance, should suggest centerpieces at a variety of price points." A good caterer will not just offer you the filet mignon, but also dinner with rib eye.
The key for you: Stick to your budget and don't agree to anything on the spot. Always ask for estimates in writing, so you can make rational decisions once back home, out of the way of any arm-twisting.
Leslie Pepper is a freelance writer based in Merrick, NY who specializes in diet and health. Her work has been published in print magazines such as Real Simple, Woman's Day, and Parents, as well as online publications such as WebMD.com and Everydayhealth.com.