Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Tight Budget: Tips for the Wedding on the Budget...

The first question that is always asked by budget conscious friends who are planning weddings is "how can I reign in the costs?"  National averages put most weddings at $20,000, although, African-American weddings tend to range between $10,000-15,000.   As we all know, there are tons of people who spend a lot more...and a lot less.  I've planned weddings with couples (particularly as I was starting out) on budgets sometimes as small as $4,000.  Believe me, it can be done! And, it doesn't have to be rinky-dink or shoddy.  Here are a couple of things that will aid you in getting the most bang for your buck.

If you are planning on a budget, choose to have your wedding in off-seasons and on days that are not Saturday.  Venue costs significantly decrease when you choose an alternative season and/or day.  However, months like October (which have traditionally been considered off-season) are now becoming immensely popular.  Fridays and Sundays can be days that can work for a budget conscious bride and/or groom.

The other thing is that couples should consider having the wedding and the reception in the same location as to cut down on having to pay for multiple venues.  Also, using the same venue for both wedding and reception, typically forces couples to consider pairing down their lists.  Couples should always, always be asking the seminal question: "whose dinner do I want to pay for."

Instead of having 25 bridesmaids and 20 ushers and 15 flowergirls, opt for a small, intimate wedding party which can decrease the amount of floral arrangements needed in a wedding.  Many brides and grooms underestimate the costs of flowers when choosing their wedding party.   Add to that gifts, specialty dinners, accommodations, can find yourself almost penniless simply trying to be hospitable to a large wedding party.  Lastly, large wedding parties are extremely difficult to keep in line.  From an African American perspective, trying to accommodate sorority sisters, cousins, and close friends can be a draining endeavor that pulls your attention away from what is really important...preparing for the marriage.

If you are open to not hitting the lunch or dinner hours, there are some very neat and interesting receptions that can be had that can reflect the bride and groom's tastes without blowing the bank.  Consider brunch for an early morning wedding.  Consider dessert and coffee for a late evening wedding.  Consider a bevy of appetizers for the reception that begins at 3 and ends before dinner.  With food, timing is everything and ultimately shapes the expectation around what you should serve.  Sometimes limiting the number of options can be helpful.  While a gracious spirit may have you trying to accommodate everybody, ultimately no one wants you in a distressed financial state because of the wedding.  People who attend formal events should know to eat beforehand as to not appear greedy or hungry.  Thus, you don't have to order cupcakes, cookies, grooms cake, wedding cake and pie, just because your guests like options.  This isn't a buffet...this is a time to share in food and fellowship that speak to the union that God has ordained in the Heavens (and reflect your love, personalities, and special moments).

If there is one place to cut, it is here.  For the most part favors are both culturally tied to both southern and African American traditions.  Honestly, its all very nice, but nobody really listens to your CD of your favorite love songs.  No one blows the bubbles that you bought that have nothing to do with anything at your wedding.  No one is going to keep those tacky napkins from your wedding that have all of your initials on them.  Unless they are your close family or friends, no one is going to keep a picture of you and your partner on their mantle.  What they will do is change out the picture and substitute their family instead.  As such, if you have other areas where you need to concentrate funds...please for the love of our good God...let the favor go.  I promise we won't be mad.  If you are dead set on have one though...choose something that fits with your theme and might double for an escort card. 

Granted, a cool favor reflective of your passions, will always be used later and/or come in handy.  I recently did a wedding where the couple gave small bottles of coquito because it was tied to both their culture and reflective of their fun nature.

Even though we always want the best, sometimes our budgets are small.  And for you, there are always new and burgeoning vendors who may require sometime to sniff out, but who maybe willing to do your event at a discounted rate.  When I was first planning and building my portfolio, I often did things "for little or nothin.'" I know DJs, Photographers, Florists, Musicians, and Caterers who've all been willing to do the same thing.  Many times, people who are building a brand will do everything in their power to ensure your event is perfect, often times losing money on doing the event.  However, there are times when you can find an unscrupulous new vendor whose words don't come close to the product that they say they can produce.  In this case, you must have a spirit of patience.  However, for every one of those vendors, there are 10 who are willing to go the extra mile.  As such, don't be afraid to take a chance on someone, who maybe the next phenom in the industry.  And if you can, and if they do a good job, please tip!  A vendor like that, we will do more stuff for at a discounted rate.

Sometimes a theme or vision needs to be simplified in order to stay in budget.  I tell people all the time, even if you like a Luxe feel, you may need to either go much smaller with the number of guests or try to simplify the decor.  One of the best weddings that I ever attended was simple: it was black and white.  It was beautiful and memorable but the bride and groom just chose to keep it simple as to not stress their budget.  Forgo the urge to customize everything or to go overboard in the decor.  Simplicity is beautiful too.  A note of caution, simple is different from tacky or empty...and most people know the difference when they see it.

I hope this advice helps...and if there is anything I or BeauTie can do...don't hesitate to call!

Wrapped Up,
I am,

Sean Palmer

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