Post # 1
- Wedding: April 2011 - Oxon Hill Manor
We aren’t really sure how much we have to spend on our wedding at this point. Luckily, we’re getting help from our parents, but they haven’t told us exactly how much they’re providing yet.
In the meantime, we’ve been playing with the numbers and I have to admit, I’m freaked out about spending over $20,000 for a few hours of one day! I know this is our wedding and we want it to be special, but that’s a lot of money!
We’re having a really hard time figuring out how to limit the big ticket items like venue, catering, and photography.
I’m prepared (actually really excited) to do all the save the dates, invitations, programs, and paper products DIY-style. We’re also going low-budget on our attire and for the DJ. We even might be able to pull in some favors for the flowers, but…
Do any budget bees have advice on how to save on the big stuff?
P.S. We’re in Northern Virginia if anyone has a specific vendor they’d like to recommend. Thanks y’all!
Post # 3
How many guests? I’m a photographer based in Hampton Roads so i know a few people up there that I’m friendly with or worked with….
From my own wedding, the catering is what’s killing me. If you find a venue that let’s you bring your own caterer AND supply your own alcohol it will help a lot. I’ve found good quality meals for 175 at about $10,900. I’m hoping to cut it down to about $8000. I wouldn’t try and scrimp on photography. Guests honestly don’t really remember food, flowers, etc. They know they had a good time and you looked great. The only thing you’ll have are the images. A great photographer can make daisy’s look like an exotic import. My own photographer (who is pretty high end since I care the most about that) did a backyard bbq VERY low budget wedding recently and it’s one of my favorites of his! Some of my favorites have been done for WAY way way less that 20 (which is my budget as well.)
Let me know how I can help you… I’m in your same boat 🙂 I’d love to save as much as possible to put excess other places 🙂
Post # 4
In general, as you know, those are the big ticket items. Some general advice:
– Look to non-traditional venues. I know many people can get freaked out over the cost of renting items that a more traditional venue would normally supply, but in my experience it can be a huge moneysaver. Look across the columns for this. For example, we went with a historic community center and have to rent all chairs, tables, linens, plates, etc. The rentals are not cheap. But, by going independent, the venue is $1000 instead of $2400, the price of the traditional spot I considered seriously, and we are saving over $2000 on the bar. Even after rentals, we are saving about $1500 by going independent.
– Photography is tricky, because it is one of those areas where you often get what you pay for. If cutting costs is the main concern, I would consider what you NEED from a photographer, and pay just for that. Do you think candids and two photographers are nice but not necessary? Cut. Do you really just need good posed pictures? Go with someone more traditional, which can be cheaper than the high-end art photographers. I wouldn’t skimp too much on experience, though.
– For catering, set a budget and just ask them to meet it. I’m positive that if I went to a caterer and told them what I wanted without naming a budget, it would go over. Instead, I’m not talking to anyone who can’t do what I want at the price I want. Period.
Post # 5
My brain is mush right now to come up with some good tips—but have you heard of A Practical Wedding? When I get home I’ll try and remember to look up the two or three absolute favorites from that website—I literally had an “Thank goodness!” moment when I read them. That has helped me keep me grounded in my decisions and to realize what I do and don’t need to worry about. I have a lot of other great websites if you want to know about them—PM me.
Also, it will help to know how many people you are planning to have and do you have a dress yet?
Post # 6
I didn’t want to spend 20k either, but now I’m up to 23k and grwoing! I say try to select a venue with no or little service chare! Mine is 20% and it really adds on; over 2k for me. Also, if you can bring your own alcohol becasue alcohol is super inflated for weddings
Post # 7
- Wedding: April 2011 - Oxon Hill Manor
You guys are awesome! Thank you so much for the feedback…
@KLP2010 – Thanks for offering to share your vendor finds! My Fiance is from Williamsburg, VA, and we thought about having our wedding in that area for awhile. We ultimately decided to have it here in Northern VA, but our photographer is still coming from down that way. She’s a friend of my Fiance parents and although she is expensive, it’s totally worth every penny (just as you mentioned @monitajb).
@monitajb – I think you’re right about looking for a non-traditional venue. We considered the Hendry House in Arlington, VA (a community center type of place) that cost about $2000. However, when we visited Oxon Hill Manor in Maryland, we fell in love. There’s no doubt that’s where a lot of the cost is stemming from though at about $4000.
Basically, it seems like if we aren’t willing to give up our photographer and our venue, that leaves catering which is usually the biggest expense of all. I’ve thought about having a tapas and horderves reception only, but again, the venue is huge and traditional (meant for a formal dinner).
I think the problem isn’t any one of these things in particular, but all of them combined! Looks like if really don’t want to spend $20,000 we’re going to have to re-evaluate our venue… huh?
@curlysue – I have heard of A Practical Wedding and love it! I’d still be interested in any info that gave you the “ah ha moment” though!
Thanks again guys!
Post # 8
- Wedding: April 2011 - Oxon Hill Manor
@KIKI82 – I think that’s where are big problem is. The venue we’ve chose is close to $4000 (for the ceremony and reception), but not including any catering costs.
Post # 9
what about newton white mansion for the venue?…also check out st. germaine’s catering in vienna…
Post # 10
I used to be an event manager and we always charged about 30-40% more for rentals than what we actually got them for so I’d say go with outside rentals. The alcohol is the same as well 25-40% mark up on that too! We used to have a florist service as well and the same goes for that, pretty much everything is marked up. If they let you bring outside stuff in then price it before you make any choices. The only thing to be careful of is make sure you have someone acting as a day of coordinator if you’re not hiring one and have them be on TOP of it. if the rentals are more than 15 minutes late call A LOT!! Also if you’re renting anything that needs to be turned on, grills, heathers etc. don’t let the rental guys leave without turning all of them on and testing them. Make sure they have all the necessary pieces etc. Also when you’re pricing rentals make sure there isn’t a fee for picking up and dropping off over and above the norm. A lot of venues don’t want rented tables and chairs sitting there the whole weekend and at least here in LA the rentals arrive often the day before and stay the whole weekend. If there’s a late night or weekend pick up it might be an additional fee above the normal pick up/drop off fee, Make sure to remember to factor that in when you’re weighing your options.
Post # 11
My sisters wedding was huge – over 300 people – she only offered one choice of menu which was delicious and that cut down the cost considerably. She had cheese and fruit stations and only a few passed hors d’ouevres and we all had a blast! To be honest – people seldom remember the food at a wedding – they remember if they had a good time – music and comfort is the most important thing.
My most memorable wedding was in a firehouse with paper plates and plastic cups – hot german potato salad and baked beans and chicken – it was the best time I ever had – it was my brother’s wedding and my parent’s friends talked about it for years after – how great a time they had
All that is important is the blessings of your friends and family – that is the purpose of a wedding – to shower blessings on the new couple
Post # 12
if you want to save, go for the big stuff – limit the number of guests and your venue location. meal (and alcohol) prices go hand in hand with these two so if you pick a good venue and guest count, you’re 80% there to saving lots of money. DIYing stuff is great too, but hit the big ticket items first.
Post # 13
I have to share my catering experience. My Fiance and I were really frustrated by how much we were being nickeled and dimed by the big catering companies we were talking to. We finally went to a guy our friend’s know, he did their wedding and they highly recommended him. He owns a small restaurant, and it does not advertise as a catering company at all. For the same stuff and better we will be saving 2 -3K on the food/alcohol (bringing in our own beer,wine, liquor), and he is way more flexible and fun to work with. It’s great – don’t rule out the little guys! This did allow us to splurge on photography – I agree with the above posts that this is a priority.
Post # 14
Could you do a brunch instead, or are you tied to an evening wedding? Brunch means less alcohol, and often cheaper menu costs, but can still be wonderfully elegant and make the most of a gorgeous location like yours.
Also, try to CUT things ruthlessly that you don’t need. For example, you don’t really need save the dates, programs, menus, favors, etc. Nice to have if the extra money is there, but they’re not critical. DIY-ing the flowers can definitely help the budget a ton as well. Good luck!
Post # 15
I would say: don’t skimp on the photographer or your venue. Those are two big things that will matter the most. The venue choose sets the feel for your entire wedding, and you want it to be memorable for you and your guests. And your photos – well, those are the photos you will be showing your grandchildren, so you want them to be good!
One way to save on the venue though is to have the ceremony and reception in the same location. This is especially true for venues where you have to rent chairs, because this way, you get two uses out of one rental. You could always choose to have the wedding on a Friday or a Sunday, or have it at brunch-time, instead of dinner. (Saves on food and alcohol).
But, every penny counts. Saving $50 on every element adds up quickly. Here’s a great article with more tips on cutting down your wedding costs: http://www.ehow.com/how_6033557_lower-wedding-costs.html
Post # 16
- Wedding: April 2011 - Oxon Hill Manor
You guys all make such great points!!
I’ve learned so much and I’m already feeling a lot more confident about our budget! I agree with everyone that the photography and the venue should not be messed with!! AGREED! I’m all for that!
I think the real rip offs come from the catering companies so that’s where we’re going to have to be as frugal as possible. We’re going to have to hunt for good, honest, and reliable vendors and hopefully we’ll find the right folks.
I think the point about food not being that memorable is so true! We started off our engagement talking about how awesome the food at our wedding had to be, because we’re big foodie people, but we’re quickly learning wedding food is just that – unless you’re bringing in some homemade goodness, or like some of you, snagged an awesome resturant caterer.
Looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us, but I’m up for the challenge.If anyone else has a caterer they’d like to recommend, I’m all ears!
Thanks @andreaandchinelo for the caterer suggestion. We’ll add them to the list of potential picks.
Also, @Cricket1524 @Ngolden1 @kataine thanks for sharing your wedding planning/attending experience. It’s so helpful to hear from people who’ve either worked in this industry or been to a few weddings. I’ve only been to about 4, is that weird?
We just started talking about brunch as a possibility tonite @jhphi thansk for the excellent idea!
Great article @ravioli