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Chocolate, crystal, and lace – oh my! There are so many different elements to a wedding and costs can quickly spin out of control. Getting caught in a whirlwind wedding splurge of “must-have” items will destroy your budget. By focusing on key things, you can create a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank.

 

The trick is figuring out which things are worth spending on, and which things you can get thrifty and save money on. That is obviously going to be different for everyone, but here are some spending tips that may help you focus on what is important and get the best bang for your buck.

Where to SPLURGE on…

Venue.

Wedding venue costs can seem scary to your budget, but the venue sets the entire tone and style for your wedding. It’s also the backdrop for your wedding pictures. You want a location that you will love to look at in pictures for years to come. It’s worth it to spend for the right place. From lush gardens to gorgeous chapels to crisp modern spaces, there are a variety of Utah wedding venues to explore, so do your research and visit in person before you choose.

Lighting.

The right lighting can turn your venue from ordinary or stark to classy or romantic. There are so many wedding lighting ideas from DIY to crystal. Spotlighting and projected lighting can create dramatic focal areas that really enhance your décor. Do some research and maybe even talk to a lighting expert to help you choose something that suits your venue and the atmosphere you want to create.

Music.

A terrible wedding DJ or band can ruin your reception and send the whole party home early. You want someone that comes highly recommended and will be able to create the music and mood you want for your reception. Ask for demos or samples of their work before you choose. Expect to pay for quality music.

Your Wedding Dress.

There is so much symbolism and importance put on the wedding dress, and everyone will be looking at what you are wearing more than the flowers or anything else that surrounds them. Don’t blow your whole budget, but plan to spend on a dress you love—it’s going to be front and center in the wedding and in all of your pictures.

 

On a similar note, the perfect dress won’t look right if it doesn’t fit right; alterations are worth it and should be automatically budgeted in your wedding dress cost. You’ll be on your feet a lot, so getting comfortable shoes is also worth the cash. Pick something great that you can wear over and over.

Your Bouquet.

Your bridal bouquet is much like your dress, front and center for a lot of photos. You can choose something you truly like and use less expensive blooms, like tulips or garden roses, for your bridesmaids.

 

Your centerpieces and altar arrangements are also really noticeable pieces that influence the mood and atmosphere of your wedding. They’ll also end up in your photos. Spend to get great pieces, but save by buying the flowers locally and using accents, like branches, to fill them out.

Wedding Cake.

It can be a statement all on its own and it should be a beautiful piece. Cutting the cake is a special moment for many couples—again with plenty of photos taken. Even if Aunt Sara really wants to do it for you, splurge on a professional baker that will create and transport your cake properly.

 

If you really want that specialty flavor, get it! You’re only getting this wedding cake once; so make it the one you really want. Go all out for your display with blooms, lights, figurines—whatever will really make your cake shine.

Wedding Planner.

If you just want to say “yes” and “no” to things while someone else does all the leg work of finding vendors and arranging details, then you can hire a planner to handle it all from the start. Alternately, you could hire a month-of or day-of planner that will basically help you handle finalizing things, managing and coordinating activities, and just be there to make sure everything runs smoothly so that you can enjoy your wedding without a lot of the stress.

Photographer.

If you just want to say “yes” and “no” to things while someone else does all the leg work of finding vendors and arranging details, then you can hire a planner to handle it all from the start. Alternately, you could hire a month-of or day-of planner that will basically help you handle finalizing things, managing and coordinating activities, and just be there to make sure everything runs smoothly so that you can enjoy your wedding without a lot of the stress.

Where to SAVE on…

Invitations.

There are a lot of cute DIY wedding invitation ideas. You can make your own or check out online shops like Minted or Etsy. Some online companies have customizable templates that can help you create a great invitation for less.

The Reception.

Get thrifty and make your own table numbers using engagement photos or fun snapshots of your childhood or places you’ve been. Skip favors altogether and instead, donate money to a charity or other cause and print a simple note about it for the guests.

The Wedding Ensemble.

Wedding makeup doesn’t need to be extreme or make you look like a total stranger; you or a friend can do a pretty, more natural look free of charge. Choose a simple wedding veil with minimal lace and beading to save. It’s also become quite popular to do away with the veil and choose another pretty accent piece for less.

There is no need to spend a lot of money on accessories, either. Borrow something from a relative or friend or, depending on your dress, you can go without and choose an understated look.

Flowers.

Don’t go for elaborate entryway décor to the ceremony. Simple pomanders hanging from the door handles are enough and you can reuse them at the reception. Small flower clusters and ribbons can be used lightly to decorate ceremony chairs or pews. If your venue is already ornate, you can skip these altogether.

 

The flower girl doesn’t need pricey blooms. She can scatter rose petals or even fake petals from the craft store to save costs—the sweet girl will have everyone’s attention, not the flowers.

Catering.

After the ceremony, hors d’oeuvres and food stations will please your hungry guests and ease everyone into the reception, but you can save by leaving out fancy decorations. It’s only a weigh station of sorts before moving on.

 

If you’re having a dinner, your entrée should be good. But you can save money by eliminating plate choices and making the dish a kind of sampler with two or three smaller items. If you’re having an after party, offering relaxed fair like burgers and milkshakes is a nice touch.

Insider Bonus!

Insider Bonus: Be wary of venues that only allow their own caterers. When this happens, the venue takes a cut of the catering cost, forcing the cost (and therefore quality) of the food down. You can actually save money and get better quality food by bringing in your own caterer.

Alcohol.

Open bars are popular with the guests but very expensive. Instead, save by offering only a beer, a wine, and a specialty drink that matches your color scheme.

Dessert.

While you shouldn’t scrimp on quality or flavor, you can save in other ways. More tiers mean more money, so choose fewer tiers. If you really need the height, use fake layers of Styrofoam covered with frosting and then use a sheet cake for serving your guests.

While fondant looks nice, it’s more expensive and many people don’t care for it. Buttercream is tastier, less expensive, and can still be pretty. Keep your accents simple to cut costs; beading and edible flowers are time-consuming and costly while ribbon bands and a handful of blooms is attractive and thrifty.