Whenever I watch Platinum Weddings, I feel like I need to do something good for humankind afterward because that level of debauchery might lead to moral depletion. I just can’t wrap my mind around a woman, even a gung-ho bride, investing so much excess into one day — and having family and a fiancé willing to go along with it.
If I told my bestie I spent $15,000 on a gown or $10,000 on linens, she’d konk my head between her palms like a set of cymbals. For some reason, when we factor in the word ‘wedding,’ it legitimizes blowing the bank. But a gal like me believes in being frugally fabulous. I am a Kmart, Target, and Wal-mart hustlin’, thrift shop-scourin’, online discount-findin’ dollar stretcher. And my man loves me that much more for it.
So when I talked to Kathryn Finney, fellow stylish saver and founder of The Budget Fashionista, she had some tips on throwing a fantasy event sans the painful price tag.
Save a different date. Think about having your celebration on an off day, like a Friday, a Sunday, or even a weekday evening. “And if you have it on the Sunday before a holiday weekend — for example, Memorial Day or Labor Day — you’ll save quite a bit of money,” says Finney. This played out at her own Ritz-Carlton wedding when she saved 50 percent by having it both on a Sunday and a holiday weekend.
Don’t use the ‘W’ word. Resist the urge to refer to your wedding as your wedding when you’re talking to vendors. Fees go up 20-30 percent as soon as they hear that word because they know people will pay big money for their big day, Finney warns. “When you go to the florist or the reception hall, just say it’s a party. You’re having a party instead of a wedding reception,” she coaches. “If you can, have the flowers delivered to your house because it makes a huge difference in terms of cost. That’s the number one rule: don’t mention ‘wedding.’”
Grab a glue gun and get crafty. Fresh flowers are beautiful but they can be ridiculously expensive. “Bouquets can run up to $500, but you can go to Wal-mart or a dollar store and get some nice silk flowers to create your own. No one’s going to really know the difference,” Finney assures. She learned herself the hard way. “My bouquet was so expensive and then my best friend got married and we went to the dollar store and we made bouquets for everyone—for her and the bridesmaids—and the total cost was about 1/4 of the cost of just my bouquet.” That’s well worth whipping out faux orchids and hydrangeas.
Say yes to the dress. Consignment shops, eBay, and Craigslist are full of gowns that have been worn once, then sold or donated. Don’t let old wives' tales keep you from taking advantage of a great bargain, Finney warns. “Some people feel like it’s bad luck to buy somebody’s wedding dress. I don’t think a dress is going to bring you bad karma. If anything,” she snarks, “it’s going to bring you good karma because you didn’t pay full price for it.”
Pretty girls rock. We all have horror stories about some friend of a friend or well-meaning relative who insisted they could do makeup but left us looking a hot mess. “Your hair and makeup might be one area you should spend money on because of pictures. That being said,” she adds, “hair pieces are a great way for you to get the look without spending a lot.” Going to the beauty shop the morning of your wedding will save the expense of having your stylist on hand -- at an hourly rate—while you’re prepping to walk down the aisle.
Great savings in (the same) store. There are usually savings in store if the bride and her band of maids and matrons purchase their gowns from the same boutique. If there are more than five in the wedding party, shop owners are usually inclined to knock something off either off the gown itself or alterations to the gown. Online sales might seem like goldmines, but consider the expenses of purchasing gowns sight unseen, only to be disappointed in size, color, fabric, or design—and be forced to spend the time and money to send them suckers right back in a limited amount of time.
Image via Cameron Nordholm/Flickr