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April 18, 2008


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Agreed. We did not pay for the music or the videos/pictures. We hired a florist and DJ we knew who gave us big discounts. This is probably the easiest way to cut costs and still have a nice wedding.

We paid for the reception and the catering but we had our wedding on a SUnday also because the same meal/service/place was deeply discounted on Sunday. All made for a very nice wedding at a fraction of the cost.

Wow. I'm planning a wedding now, and this type of event would NOT fly in my area of the country. A wedding with frozen food, no booze? I'd love to read tips for a standard wedding in the northeast.


I don't exactly live in the Northeast, but the culture and cost of living isn't so different in the Mid Atlantic region.

A place to start saving money is picking the venue. A lot of reception halls come as package deals, meaning you have to go with their bartenders and their catering--and you pay through the nose.

Instead, try to find a civic center or rec center that's not a full-time part of the wedding industrial complex. We used the clubhouse attached to our friends' condo. We got it for $400 for the entire day! We got friends to tend the bar and bought several cases of beer and wine at the local total beverage store rather than paying outrageous markups.

To save money on photography, my wife found a student photographer through Craigslist. Seems risky perhaps, but his portfolio looked good and the price was right. It turns out he took some of the best wedding pictures we've ever seen. He really captured the personalities of our guests. We only paid for his time; he gave us his digital files so we were free to get them printed wherever we wanted.

To get a wedding to come in under $10,000 on the East Coast, ambitions might have to be scaled back a bit. The mindset needs to be one of celebrating a life-changing event, not flaunting status. Don't try to impress your friends; involve them in the process and ask for their help instead.

I'd recommend cutting costs in areas other than photography. Your album is the only thing you'll have left from the event after your wedding day. It takes a high level of experience, expertise and professionalism to truly capture the event. Why risk it?

Picsaro - I don't think it's your area of the country - I think it's just the type of weddings you have been to. I'm sure that homemade food that was frozen tasted a lot better than the stuff I've had at many catering halls. We did go through a caterer but it was only $1200 for 200 people.

As Matt said, I think the biggest addition to cost is going to a banquet hall, which is not only expensive but they don’t allow you to bring in your own caterer, food, or alcohol, so you can save a lot by finding another venue. We only had champagne, which we bought from a local winery. We asked a friend to go over to the reception hall during the ceremony (one who wouldn’t mind missing it) and pour the glasses. Many churches charge only a small fee to have the reception there as well, and many of the facilities are just as nice as a banquet hall, although most will not allow alcohol. I think it’s a lot more personal and beautiful, not to mention cheaper if you do a lot of things yourself.

Even if you went with the traditional banquet hall, you can still save in many ways:

1) having a brunch or lunch reception
2) buffet rather than being served
3) making your own decorations and centerpieces
4) buying flowers wholesale and arranging yourself
5) have it at Christmas time when everything is decorated anyway and prices are deeply discounted
6) have only a small cake for display and a sheet cake in the kitchen
7) only serve complimentary wine and beer – cocktails are cash
8) beloml is right that you shouldn't skimp on photos, but we paid only $300 for photography package (in PA), have awesome pictures, and can reprint them whenever we want.

I'm with Alexandria. I wish I could do this, but it would not fly in my area and in the culture I'm marrying into. My future in-laws refused to do a buffet or desert only receptions. Only a sit down dinner will do. No alcohol? Ha! And a DJ? Apparently that's not good enough either; I had to hire an 8-piece band.

We have saved money though on a full blown wedding and reception. We are getting married at sunset on the beach and the reception is on the pool deck of a major, but not exclusive/pricey resort. Using just one venue was cheaper. And the setting means we are not paying much for decorations, just a small centerpiece for the dinner tables. We are getting married on a Sunday, which saved money on the venue and band. We also chose the venue because they are allowing us to buy our own booze. We are paying $8 per person for service and unlimited mixers. That's the equivalent of a single drink at some venues that sell you their own booze. If you don't live close to the water, try country clubs/hotels on golf courses.

I saved money on the photographer by hiring a photojournalist, NOT a wedding photojournalist. Many sports/newspaper photographers do weddings, but since it's not their primary business, they don't advertise a lot and don't have the ridiculous WPJ prices. I actually preferred his style to the overly retouched/posed pics I saw from the "real" wedding photographers. He is charging me a flat rate for the entire day, not a 6 or 8 hour shift with $300 per hour overtime charges. Also, I'm just buying the negatives and I'll make my own albums at snapfish or some other online site.

Also, we are eliminating all the little stuff that adds up. Save the date cards, gone. Guest favors, gone. Programs, gone. Most guests won't miss this stuff.

Hope that helps a little.

I understand that weddings are emotionally loaded events, but I honestly don't understand how in-laws can dictate the type of reception (only a sit down dinner with a band is acceptable!) unless they are paying for it.

However, everyone does seem to have good ideas on saving costs. Holding a wedding on a Sunday is also a cost saver in that people are likely to drink much less and therefore cost you less (while still having a good time, of course.)

My wedding was in 1992 and it cost $11.000.00, which was pretty average then. I don't regret it (we're still happily married!) but I don't think I'd do it that way again.

In the South, all of us middle class folks (lol) get married at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. When you go to the reception, you eat cake, and punch and a few finger foods and that is it. If you have the reception at a church, it is free too! Just a few things that worked for us.

The Wedding thing is crazy when it comes down to the costs. If it was on my dime then I would have been cutting more corners, but of course my wife and mother in law never spare expense and they have no concept of saving money haha.. I just do not even want to imagine how much the final bill was for the whole thing.

I was married in 2000 in Florida and our wedding was right at $5,000, including the dress. We got married in the middle of the afternoon, so it was a nice cake (very LARGE cake) with lots of finger foods. We had it catered by a friend (hate to disappoint those against 'frozen' food, but many of your caterers prepare ahead of time and freeze...), had friends (which we still paid) do videos, hired a professional wedding photographer who gave us all our negatives a year later and let us keep all the proofs. This wasn't a small wedding, either. We had over 300 people from all over the place. We would rather have some money leftover to actually enjoy our honeymoon and start our life together on the right foot. I still think my wedding was one of the best I have ever been too.

As a person who has been to about a hundred weddings and finally got married himself about a year ago, I can tell you from experience that nobody wants to spend all weekend at your stupid wedding in some stupid town. On the other hand, everybody wants an excuse to go to Vegas.

So get married in Vegas. Don't sneak out there and get married by a cheap Elvis in a bad jumpsuit. Do it classy, but with Vegas style. Invite your friends and families. Find a chapel with some character. Rent tuxes from the chapel (all tuxes look the same in pictures). Take the wedding party on the roller coaster at New York New York. Catch the Elvis impersonator at the Sahara.

When your $10,000 wedding is over, all you have are pictures and memories and a big $10,000-sized hole in your wallet. I'll put my wedding pictures and wedding memories up against anybody else's at 10 times the price. A year later, when someone asks about your wedding, you can either say "Oh, we got married at this church and had our reception at this country club and had all these amazing finger quiches and an 8-piece band" and watch their eyes glaze over, or you can say "We went to Vegas" and watch people lean in to hear the story.

Save your money. Go to Vegas.

I'm getting married in September so this subject is becoming near and dear to me.

I agree with beloml. Do not cut costs on photography. Make sure the person that is in charge of "catching the moment" is a proffesional.

I do live in the Northeast, and the sweetest weddings I've been to are ones where the bride and groom get a lot of help from their family, friends, and/or church.

In fact, the most memorable wedding for me was my best friend's. She and her fiance had NO money, and their friends and family really stepped up to give them a beautiful wedding. From the women who cooked the buffet-style food, to the cousin who did all the dress alterations, to the family who did all the music (an organist plus a girl's trio), to the army of friends who spent months turning the church gym into a fantasy forest and hours picking and arranging wildflowers, it seemed like every person who knew this couple worked to help them have an absolutely wonderful wedding for less than $3,000. Was it a lot of work? Absolutely. But it was so much more meaningful that so many people gave the gift of their time to show their love for this couple.

The saddest wedding I've attended was one where the bride's parents paid for all the trimmings, but invited all their own friends. Only about 20% of the people there were under 60 (the bride was 28.)

I still think the best wedding saving tip is having friends, family and people you know do things. I'm planning my wedding and will be getting flowers (professional), photography(professional), dj(amateur friend who spins at our favorite club will use my fiancee's old equipment from dj business), invitations (amateur graphics artist) and probably music (semi-professional to professional) at rates from free to highly discounted. This leaves venue, food, and clothing of the things that I care anything about.

My wedding was around $2000 in 2001. I agree with depending on friends and family to help with different things. My husband and I are both pastor's kids, and pastors have connections like no one else when it comes to weddings. Even if you ask a pastor who makes the best and cheapest cakes in town (for example), unless he's new, he'll give you great referrals.

Also, find a seamstress. There's no need to spend $200 on a veil when you can hire a seamstress to do it for $50. She'll also help out with alterations that are done better than at the bridal shop and at less than half the price. The best way I've found to find a seamstress is to go to a fabric store and ask if they recommend anyone.

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