Whether you're planning to have a grandiose wedding with a generous budget or an intimate outdoor wedding that doesn't cost as much, you always need to set a budget first. Careful planning and detailed budgeting will help you get the wedding of your dreams without a hitch. Let's start with this question:
Who pays for what?
These days, there are no strict rules when deciding this matter. Around a decade ago, there might have been clear distinctions on what has to be paid by whom. However, in today's modern society, those archaic rules seem to have faded away and today's couples no longer feel offended even if they have to pay for their own weddings without adhering to the traditional ways.
A common discussion is deciding whose family will help with the wedding costs: the bride's or the groom's? Many Asian families leave all the wedding costs to the groom's family, listing the groom's name first. However, in many other Asian and Western cultures, the bride's family is responsible for taking care of the wedding expenses. Nowadays, it mostly depends on the agreement made by the couple and the couple's family. That's why it's really important for the two of you to jot down all the things you need, and if you agree to divide the costs, start deciding on who should be responsible for which wedding elements. Afterwards, don't forget to communicate this to your family. This is a crucial part that you need to accomplish before continuing to the next step of your wedding planning agenda.
In case you're at lost on how to divide your wedding budget, use this traditional wedding responsibility guideline as reference after this article below. Don't forget that every couple is different, so you should modify this list according to your own conditions.
After you've assigned your responsibilities, let's find out which wedding elements usually cost the most.
No surprises here. As the first wedding element you should take care of, the venue usually costs the most. When booking your wedding venue, take note of the times when the rate gets higher compared to other times. Usually, tying the knot on a Saturday will be more expensive than getting married on a Friday or Sunday. Having a wedding reception at night will also cost you more than choosing a daytime wedding reception.
When choosing wedding flowers, you will be charged more if you decide to have more types of flowers instead of a larger quantity of the same flowers. Another thing to consider is that having new fresh flowers for both the wedding ceremony and the reception will cost you more.
Choosing the right menu is crucial for your wedding. If you want fancy delicacies such as prime meats and seafood, it's inevitable that your total costs will be higher. Unless your budget is not a concern and you know for sure that all your guests will enjoy fine-dining types of food, do pick your menu smartly. Why don't you choose a menu that is more common but will suit everyone's taste buds, like roasted chicken with mushroom sauce or Thai-style fish and chips? If you're planning a sit-down wedding instead of a buffet, ask your chef to make a low key menu more exciting with immaculate styling and plating.
Personalized wedding details
Printed materials can help set the tone for your special day, of course, but they can cost a fortune. Consider the extra expenses before you decide to have custom-made designer wedding signs or fancy decorative papers with letter-pressed details all over your wedding table.
While you're already aware of the things that usually cost more, there are still other hidden or unexpected expenses most brides aren't aware of. These things are important to know as precautions so you won't end up with common problems that could've been prevented.
In Asian countries where marriage is more of a family union, an unexpected cost that can appear even before the reception is having too many invitations. You and your fiancée might be reluctant to refuse giving more invitations when asked by soon-to-be in-laws or relatives. This simple matter can cause guest list bloat, which results in more expenses for extra food and favors. To prevent this from happening, try asking your own families to stick to the guest list you agreed upon in the first place. As an alternative, try leaving a fixed amount of extra invitations for each family.
Other than family-related matters, couples often aren't fully aware of the actual prices they're going to pay. Always have your budget rounded up, as there might be things that you forgot to add into your budget, such as:
1. Wedding gown alterations, because even if you opt for an off-the-rack dress, you might need to have it altered to fit your figure perfectly
2. Sales tax and service charges on your vendor's price list that you forgot to calculate
3. Gratuities or tips for some vendors such as hair and makeup artists and their assistants, depending on your agreements
4. Postage fees for large or heavy wedding invitations, don't forget to consider the measurements and weight of each invitation to see whether you will need to pay extra
Now that you have a rough idea of your budget, let's learn how to plan a budget-friendly wedding. Even though your wedding is on budget, it doesn't mean it won't be exceptionally beautiful. There are many ways to make adjustments to your wedding expenses without risking quality. Here are some ideas to help you throw a budget-friendly and unforgettable wedding.
1. Tell your family in advance
Before complaining about how your family keeps on asking for more invitations, you should make a clear announcement of your exact budget and your commitment to stick to it. Making your family understand your situation will help ease the situation without causing conflicts.
2. Choose an off-season month
With its great sunny weather, summer seems to be the perfect time to tie the knot. However, you need to keep in mind that many people think the same way, causing summertime to have the most expensive rates for weddings. If time isn't a big priority, try to pick an off-season month such as November or January instead.
3. Take an all-inclusive package
Some venues have all-inclusive packages that include all the important wedding needs such as the wedding attire, decoration, entertainment, favors, even documentation. Choosing a package like this can be cheaper than having separate vendors. But remember, you can't be too picky as you won't be able to choose a specific vendor to hire.
4. Ask for helping hands
Who knows, maybe your best friends are in a band, your auntie is running a family restaurant that can help you arrange the wedding catering, or your friends are just really good at makeup and hair-styling. You can always make the best of your connections or ask around for some people that can help in your wedding.
5. Get an off-the-rack wedding dress
Instead of spending thousands of dollars for a designer dress, you can opt for an off-the-rack dress or a lovely dress that's on sale. If your family has a wedding dress handed down through generations, you can have a beautiful and personal wedding dress with only a few alterations.
6. DIY whenever possible
As long as it won't overwhelm you, try making some wedding items yourself and ask your family and friends to help out. Things that you can try to DIY are wedding invitations, wedding signs, simple wedding centerpieces, also favors and gifts. Do some research and get some ideas from wedding blogs and Pinterest.
7. Build your own bar
Alcoholic drinks will definitely cost you a lot. Instead of buying them from your venue where the prices are marked up, you can opt for a place that allows you to bring your own alcoholic beverages.
8. Consider an outdoor venue or your own house
If you or your relatives happen to have a house with a wide backyard or garden, why not consider having your wedding there? It's convenient, flexible, and will trim the most expensive thing on your budget.
9. Price shop your decorations
Decoration can be a major expense in a wedding. You can save money by choosing a DIY route if you're planning a small wedding, find second-hand decoration online, or find a venue that's already beautiful enough without needing a lot of decoration.
Before you start planning, check out our list of the dos and don'ts of budget wedding planning.
1. Know what to splurge on
Although you want to keep your wedding budget reasonable, you shouldn't be afraid of splurging on a few essential nuptial needs. Learn more about which elements are worth a splurge here.
2. Consider a daytime wedding
A nighttime reception usually costs more as it's more convenient for those wanting to have an after-party. However, a daytime wedding gives you the benefits of natural lighting that can help you get beautiful wedding pictures. Some couples also prefer this time if many of their guests will bring kids along.
3. Ask for a discount when paying in full
Instead of dividing the payment, try to ask for a discount when you pay in full. Compare both rates and decide on your own which will benefit you best.
4. Get creative in choosing venues
Ballroom weddings usually have higher rental costs. Instead of insisting on an indoor wedding, look for alternative outdoor spaces, as they can give you better flexibility, unique settings, and most importantly lower rates. You can start by exploring local parks, museums, or historical places.
5. Have backup
For every type of wedding planning, always have a "plan B". When you decide to have an outdoor wedding, prepare tents to cover the dining area. Who knows, it might rain even on a sunny day. Alternatively, provide umbrellas for your guests if you're planning an outdoor wedding during the rainy season. Learn some tricks for dealing with outdoor wedding emergencies here.
1. Be afraid to negotiate
Everyone always wants to get the best deal, so you shouldn't be afraid to negotiate the price lists you get from vendors, but you have to remember to do it right. Know some tips and tricks for negotiating with your vendors before you talk to them, here.
2. Choose Saturday for your wedding
As we mentioned before, Saturday is the most expensive day to get married. If you've already fallen in love with a wedding venue, try to find another slot on Friday or Sunday and negotiate for a lower price.
3. Simply focus on labels
Although brand names can signify quality, remember that they come with suitable prices too. When you find out that your budget doesn't match with your favorite vendor's price, try to look around for up-and-coming vendors. You can also ask vendors for recommendations as they usually know other vendors that will suit your criteria. Another simple and convenient way is to find your vendor using the vendor listing on Bridestory.
4. Rent two different venues
Try to have a ceremony and reception at the same venue. By doing so, you can cut the transportation costs needed for your guests. You can have an outdoor wedding ceremony followed by an indoor reception in a ballroom or restaurant.
5. Overlook small details
Personalized wedding print-outs are small yet can add up quickly before you even notice. Pay attention to intricate details like table signs and consider DIY instead of hiring professional designers. If you have the budget, then go ahead, but we recommend DIY wedding elements as a great alternative which also add a lovely personal touch for your wedding.
Are you ready to create your wedding budget? We've prepared a guide as your starting point, but feel free to adjust it according to your needs.
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