I have been sent a few emails over the last few weeks from brides and grooms-to-be asking on how they can keep their costs down for their wedding. In some cases I went through their spreadsheets and looked at what they were paying and gave them advice on how to trim back and renegotiate.
Here are some of the commonalities that I see reoccurring:
This is where I see most couples loose the run of themselves. Sometimes you have to cut your cloth according to your measure and cannot have every paper balloon or pom pom in the shop. If you are dead set on getting a wide range of decor and your budget is tight, you can sell or rent out your items to retrieve the funds after your wedding day. Take a look at Bells & Blossom as they provide that service. There are also a lot of wedding buy and sell groups on Facebook. Be careful within groups as they aren’t authorised sellers and just make sure that you are dealing with someone who won’t let you down by not paying. You can also rent decor instead of buying. So many couples are left with boxes full of decor after their day. Hunt them down and either offer a price to offload or rent!
One thing to be aware of is in some hotels there is almost an assumption that you will provide a toast drink. This could be €6 per head if its a free choice from the bar. A wedding of 100 people will bring that to €600. You don’t really need to do this as if you have provided wine during the meal, you could request that a final top up is done before the speeches. You may need to get a few extra bottles.
Some couples really love the Champagne reception on arrival and for a toast. You may not need to provide both.
Some venues allow you to bring your own wine and bubbly. You have to remember that a wedding is big business to hotel so they want you to buy as much of their stock as you can as they make great mark ups. When it comes to corkage, they will set a price that makes it acceptable for them to still keep their revenue. Whatever the corkage is, in order for you to save will mean that you need to be buying wine or Champagne/Prosecco for apx €4 per bottle. If you are well organised, Tesco has their buy 6 and pay for 5 deals running throughout the year or during Christmas in to New Year there are great deals in all supermarkets. You can also talk to their manager and see if you can do a bulk buy deal. You don’t ask, you don’t get. If you do go down this road, just be aware that you will need to store the wine and take home the leftovers. In terms of quantities, the general rule of thumb is a half bottle per person for wine and there are 5 glasses per guest in Prosecco and Champagne.
3. Date/ Venue and Suppliers
If you are going for a Friday or Saturday from June to September and then the week in between Christmas and New Years, be prepared to pay top rate for all suppliers. If you want to save, you could look at mid week dates or off season. You find the best deals in January – March. Your guests may curse you for a midweek date as its 2 days off work but if you are trying to keep your numbers down then this also solves that problem. Terrible I know! Also keep an eye out for ‘minimum numbers’ that venues expect for certain dates as if you fall short you still pay for those missing.
A lot of venues may not drop their per head price but will add extras that might save you in other ways.
Always keep an eye out for hidden costs with venues. Get a mock up bill from them based on your expected numbers. Get everything in writing. I have an article on pricing up your wedding venue here. Plus I have an article on unexpected wedding costs just in case!
Sample sales are a great way to keep your costs down. I was recently in Myrtle Ivory and this is their Sample Sale Rail. Sample dresses may need dry cleaning or small fixes but you could get a top end dress worth €3,000 for €500. Most bridal boutiques have rails and are used to people booking appointments for the sample sale rail so don’t feel awkward about asking. Even the top end shops have them. There are also preloved wedding dress shops such as Timeless Bridal Wear. Again they stock Vera Wang, David Fielden, Sophia Tolli, Maggie Sottero….the works and they have been worn once and are in immaculate condition. Most dresses are around the €400-€1000 mark. Keep an open mind! Focus Ireland and Oxfam also have some stunning dresses that have been donated and some are even vintage. Shops that have closed down have donated to them. You can also see individuals privately selling their dresses on Done Deal too.
If your budget is tight and you have a friend with a nice car then ask to borrow that for the day. If you go to some of the big wedding fairs like RDS and Wedding Journal, there are a lot of car suppliers and they always have a discount if you book on the day. You could save up to 15% pending on supplier.
A lot of the time, cake is really just for display and in some cases never gets eaten. You could see if your venue will negotiate your dessert of the price and let you serve cake for dessert as an alternative. You could get the bases in Marks and Spencers and dress with flowers and ribbon. The Irish stores seem to be very limited on the stock but I know that Newry always has a good stock. You can get your 3 tiers for apx £100-£120. Most cakes from suppliers are anything from €250 upwards. If you know a friend who is a brilliant baker, get them to work! Some cake shops have demo cakes that they might let you rent. They are foam based with the icing over it. Its no edible but would do for your pictures.
When you take the cost of labour out of most things the cost comes down. If you have the time you could consider making your own decor. You can buy the favour assembly kits on Etsy and make them up yourself. The same applies for your invitations. Be careful with your wedding invites as invites set the tone for your wedding!
I made my own bunting for my wedding and that saved me a fortune. When I went to buy bunting it was costing a fortune so I went to IKEA and bought a meter or two of material and then my mother thought me how to sew. I have a video on it here.
As soon as you say honeymoon, some travel agents tend to rub it in. January tends to be when a lot of airlines put through their sales. Keep on top of that as you could save a few hundred euros on flights. Every October Tour America do a huge sale in The Red Cow Moran Hotel. They knock a huge amount of their packages and itineraries. I booked my Honeymoon this way and we saved about €1000. Always get travel insurance as you never know what could go wrong. Tour Operators as well as hotels can go out of business so just make sure that you are covered. We saw this happening with Lowcostholidays very recently.
Take a look at the Living Social and Groupon deals for the locations that you are going (where applicable) as you could get top end restaurants and hotels for 50% off. Always check that they can take your date before you buy.
When talking to your florist, tell them that you are trying to keep costs down and then they can advise you on what flowers are cheapest for the season that you want to get married. You could also do a DIY job although that can be really stressful. The Smithfield Flower markets sell flowers at wholesale price and you could get them a day before the wedding and make up some bouquets, button holes and church pews. I wouldn’t attempt the church pedestal flowers as that really takes a lot of craft but if you saved on the other areas it would keep your costs down.
10. Bridesmaid Dresses:
A new trend now is mismatched bridesmaids where you can have different colour tones and styles within the same pallet. This means that you could hit the sample sale rails and get the dresses from as low as €50. Keep an eye out for the Debenhams and Littlewood sales as they stock formal dresses and you could get last seasons items for nearly 40% off. ASOS is amazing for bridesmaids dresses and their returns policy is brilliant. You can get dress from €45 and they are very pretty.
The one thing that I would always recommend not cutting corners on include makeup and photography. From past brides feedback on what they regretted or wasn’t happy with, it always comes back to make up and photography. Always go with a good reputable supplier.
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