How to Get Married without Getting Swindled

Getting hitched with a party, music, flowers, photography and a cake carries a pretty price tag $31,213, on average last year, to be exact, according to the annual Real Weddings Study by

CNBC, “America’s Biggest Money Mistakes”

Now hold your horses! Love is probably one of the most powerful, wonderful reasons to celebrate in the world–We won’t tell you otherwise. Your wallet might say something, though. That’s okay, because we have some tips on how to tie your knot without cutting all the strings attached.

Ditch the diamonds.

We’re not trying to break anyone’s heart, but diamonds don’t have much intrinsic value, as much as people just like them. Additionally, not everyone even likes them! Don’t feel tied by tradition! There can be some stunning alternatives that make your love even more extraordinary. Explore your options.

If you’re still die-hard on the white rock, check out cubic zirconia and moissanite. They have that diamond look without the diamond price. It may be right up your alley. You never know.

Remember that if you really, really, really want it, you can always save up everyday for it. Don’t feel like you have to get that huge price tag immediately.

Save on the stationery.

We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but handwritten invitations can be, like, $3 each. That adds up! Remember that no one’s going to keep your envelope. Focus on what’s inside, because that’ll be on the fridge. It doesn’t make sense to spend on something that goes directly in the garbage.

In other news, you may be able to save on invitations too. See what you can do with publisher. There are plenty of websites someone can find with free fonts and typeface for download. It’s completely possible to make something beautiful, and only have to pay minimal costs.

It also matters how you get it printed. Don’t get things engraved when you can get it thermographed. The process is different, but the results really aren’t. You can cut printing in half by simply doing this.

Another idea you may want to consider is to go electronic. Even with a few tech-weary individuals that you may have to snail mail, this could be an option to save on the costs. You can get the free trial for MailChimp, Greenenvelope, or any other automation service to send a beautiful invitation through the web. For the snail mail, print post cards as responses. They’re cute, and save you money in the postage.

P.S. Square stationery costs more to send (21 cent fee on top of the stamp).

P.S.S. Feel free NOT to get those interior envelopes or tissue. They’re unnecessary today, and let’s face it, do YOU keep that?

Guests should be there.

The best way to not pay for empty chairs is to only invite those who actually will show up. We know this sounds a little harsh, but go over your list with a fine-tooth comb. Not everyone from college–or worse, high school– has to come. You don’t want to say, “I think the guest count is…” when talking to a vendor. Guest counts are money counts. If the person hasn’t shared a laugh, a drink, or a cry with you in the last year, don’t invite them.

As a side note, use nametags for aisle markers double up as center pieces for the reception. You’ll be glad when you don’t have to pay more for both of them. You may even want to ask the bridesmaids to place their flowers individually in single, thin vases during the reception as a nice little touch of goodwill.

The cheapest venue doesn’t mean affordable venue.

What?! We know, it sound bizarre, but believe us. Ask what’s included in the price of the venue. The bang really is in the buck. For instance, that least expensive place may not cover tables and chairs. Make sure that your style matches the venue, to save money on rental furnishings. You’ll have to do something about that. Try to understand the opportunity costs involved in taking that short-term “good” decision.

OH, and always check your package deals. The venue may be marketing it up. You can even call the listed baker and see how much less you can get the cake for. We’re not saying to never trust venues. It just doesn’t hurt to find the hidden costs.

Time is always a factor.

When would your friends and family come home? Are you having the wedding at home? If not, what about common vacation time? These are good questions to consider to be courteous to guests. Ask your friends and family, and while you’re at it, ask for recommendations on other things that you haven’t checked off the list. Then, when you contact the vendor, make sure to mention the name of those who referred you to them. There may be a referral discount, or a bonus for your tip off!

It’s also important to think about the time of day for the wedding. For example, a two o’clock wedding can have a wine and cake reception without an extra meal. That means you have even lower costs than you did before.

Don’t just pop the cork.

In fact, just avoid the champagne all together. A lot of venues and caterers don’t cover it (but it is worth asking) and it doesn’t make your guests like you more. If they’re at your wedding, chances are they already love you. Beer and wine is plenty enough. An open bar is up to you, but remember the cost.

Think outside of the hotel… We mean box.

Receptions aren’t limited to hotels. Contact bed and breakfasts, a public park, even an art gallery. Where did the two of you meet? Would it be completely outside of the question to just ask if (A) you can do it, and (B) how much would it be? We’re telling you, the price could be a fraction of how much it would have been.

Mind the gratuity and sales tax.

Don’t forget that the recommended gratuity for a wedding is around 20 percent, and there may be a sales tax in your state for everything: cake, dress, flowers, catering, etc. Don’t let it surprise you at the end. It can eat away any budget if you let it. When crunching the numbers, tack it on. Include tipping the hair stylist at the salon. Seriously. It’s better to overestimate the bill than be caught by the curve ball.

Remember, pictures last longer.

If you have less than a hundred guests, don’t opt for the second shooter. Don’t let the photographer charge you extra. You only need one photographer.

Always choose the digital versions of the photographs. Why not pick the fancy albums? Because you can make your own, with the prints that you like. It’s an easy way to end the day with more money. Make sure this is an option when you select photographers.

Another option is to have a photographer for the big event, and then place a disposable camera at each table during the reception. Invite your guests to take pictures of others, and have a menagerie of cute little photographs.

Eat away the price.

Most caterers will not propose this, but a smart bride may ask if they can pay by consumption. In this case, you’d pay for the food eaten, instead of necessarily paying for the number on the guest list.

Another idea is to post a few food trucks near the reception area. Just think about it! Food trucks are flexible, and can be just as quirky as the couple. They can serve a variety of different cuisines that suit a variety of people, without breaking the budget. How nice!

It comes to no surprise that liquor is a heavy toll on the bill. Instead of an open bar, add a signature cocktail that’s free to save money.


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