Friday, October 9, 2009

Frugal Wedding Planning 101

It seems to be wedding season, or maybe FF just knows an inordinate amount of couples tying the knot, which is what got us thinking: Is it really possible to plan a fabulously frugal wedding?
For the answer, we turned to wedding planning extraordinaire and founder of Sweet Caroline Weddings, Caroline Levin (see photo).
Below Caroline shares her tips for making your big day memorable, unique, personal and affordable.

1. START EARLY!!! Most people plan their wedding for about a year after they get engaged. Seriously consider a two year engagement. The more time that you have to plan, the more time that you have to shop around for the best deals. Plus, you can get locked into a price at your venue at this year’s prices, while they may go up in the next year or two, saving you even more. Consider a Friday or Sunday wedding as opposed to a Saturday - they often knock $5-10 off per person. The more time that you have to plan, the happier you will be.

2. The old adage is so true – the best place to save money is to cut the guest list. This is also the hardest thing to do. A few basic rules of thumb:
·       Plus Ones - a guest does not get a date (or a +1) invite unless they either: live with their significant other, are engaged or have been together since before you got engaged.

·       Designate a certain number of invites for your parents - don't give them an unlimited amount. This can cause some tension, especially if they are helping to pay for the wedding, but you can explain to them that you are trying to save THEM money!

·       Create your dream guest list, then break it down into three categories: A LIST = must-haves, B LIST = would really like to invite, C LIST = everyone else.
3. DIY. This goes hand in hand with starting early, the more time you have, the more you can do yourself. If you are creative or technical at all you can make your invitations, seating cards, programs, decorations, favors, maybe even your bridesmaids dresses if you sew (my mom did this for her wedding!).

4. Call in reinforcements. Is your friend in a band? Or is s/he a DJ? Or a wiz with flowers? Beg for favors! Tell them it will be in lieu of buying you a wedding gift - or a birthday present for the next 10 years. Also remind them of the great publicity it will bring them! At the very least, get your wedding party to help you get creative and address your invitations.

5. Consider hiring a wedding planner. Seriously. Most brides think wedding planners are for rich people or elaborate weddings (think J-Lo), but the reality is that a good wedding planner should know how to find you great deals on everything from a venue and caterer to fantastic invitations at a fraction of the cost. Consider hiring an independent wedding planner as opposed to a company. Frequently they charge less and will give you more attention. They are also more likely to only book one wedding per weekend, giving you their undivided attention which, let’s be honest, is exactly what you want!

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