Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Planning a Wedding on a Tight Budget

In these times when money is hard to come by, couples have to be extra careful when planning their wedding. I remember reading brides-to-be saying that their budget for the wedding day alone costs around US$20,000 -- and that does not include those they have to spend for after the wedding, like apartment rentals and other stuff. To be honest, you can really do a lot with that big an amount, but are you willing to spend that much just for one day?

Me and my husband, we didn't have that much money, so we crammed all the wedding stuff in a very small budget: about US$4,000. Besides, we didn't want to end up in debt. And believe it or not, we managed to fit everything in that amount. Suppliers for church, venue, food, dresses, photography -- all of it. And even after our wedding, guests raved at how much they enjoyed that day.

Here's what we did:

1. Chose a place where the church and reception place were near each other. Actually, we found a church with a multi-purpose hall that they also rent out as a reception venue. We saved costs for that, and also for the guests' transportation.

2. Chose a ceremony and reception venue within the city, where more than 70% of our relatives and friends were located. Again, saves on transportation and lodging costs.

3. Prioritized what we needed versus what we wanted. Having a tight budget doesn't mean going cheap -- it's all about designating the budget, how to partition the amount at hand. Our main priority was food because, as they say, guests will forget almost everything about the wedding -- except how the food tasted. Half of our budget went to the catering, the rest were divided into photography, the dresses, flowers, and others.

4. Chose cost-effective suppliers. Our caterer, for one, already offered a free cake, bridal car, and guest table arrangements in their package. I also found a dressmaker who could do the bridal and entourage dresses all together. Many suppliers have packaged offerings ready, but of course, we were careful enough to choose which of them would be affordable but still give the highest quality of service.

5. Did DIY's. Invitations, souvenirs, misalettes -- all labors of love. It also helps to have a creative partner and very eager family members and friends to help out.

6. Asked friends to lend their talents. Our wedding had friends as back-up photographers and reception program hosts. My brother also played the piano during the ceremony.

7. Limited the number of guests. More guests meant more plates for the meal. Caterers (at least here in the Philippines) charge per plate, so limiting our guests to 160 saved us some money. Also, we invited only immediate family members, first-degree relatives, and the closest friends we've had individually and as a couple. We did not invite those we didn't know.

8. Always looked at the budget list. Since I was in charge of handling the budget, I kept a close look at what we have spent and what we still need to get for the wedding. To make sure we didn't go overboard with the budget, we saved more than the expected amount to make room for extra expenses.

When you have a tight budget, it doesn't mean you'll end up with a wedding disaster. Research and keeping within the budget is the key. That's what we did, and I'm proud to say our wedding was a success -- a very beautiful day we'd want to remember always.

Your special day could be wonderful, too, even with a small budget. Take note of these few tips and you'll truly have a fun and worry-free wedding.

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Photo credit: Kiss by Atroszko from sxc.hu.

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