Saturday, March 7, 2009

Money Savers

I wanted to make a list of the ways that Andy and I have managed to save some money just in case someone is reading this blog in search of some ways to cut costs. After all, the average wedding costs between $24,000 and $30,000 and the economy is poor, no pun intended. As semi-unemployed college students, Andy and I are aiming to spend under $7,500.

1. We rented a park venue- this is great because parks are usually MUCH cheaper than typical wedding venues. The cheapest venue we could find in the Seattle area was around $2000 but we ended up getting the Tolt Barn for a full day, along with all of the park's yurts and campsites for a total of $600. Saved: $1400

2. No alcohol- we knew that most people look forward to the open bar portion of weddings, but it's extremely expensive to buy and serve alcohol, and we would have needed to acquire an alcohol license ($125) and insurance ($200+). So instead our guests will get to look forward to iced tea, lemonade and a few other non-alcoholic drinks. Saved: at least $500

3. We're hand-making a lot of our own decorations- those paper lanterns you see at just about every wedding really add up. Cheap ones run around $1 each, but on average they cost around $1.50. When you want to hang 40 of those it really adds up. Instead, we've been hitting up stores like Anthropologie for some of their wrapping tissue to make our own tissue paper poofs. There are other things we're making ourselves instead of buying which is also going to help us save some money. Saved: by the end, approximately $300

4. Non-traditional "caterer"- this took a lot of Google-fu searching for me to find, but when we found Larry's Smokehouse we knew we had to go with them for the food portion of our wedding. Larry will come out with one of their catering trucks and smoker attachments, and will serve all of our guests with the goal of 'having everyone sitting down eating together'. Larry has catered events for 26 years. By choosing Larry we are getting great food (smoked salmon? yes please!) and since they bring their own plates and silverware, we're saving a lot of money by not having to rent those items, which can be an extremely pricey thing. Around the same time that we found Larry we were contacted by TwelveBaskets, who gave us a price quote of $3200. They wanted to charge us .32 per paper plate, plus $60 for iced water, among other charges. With Larry the cost (with tax, and 30% gratuity) came to $1501. Saved: $1699 (at least)

5. Picnic Tables- the barn we've rented comes with around 10-12 picnic benches already. By not having to rent tables or chairs for the reception (except for three for the cake, presents, etc) we've saved around $123 in tables and another $100 in chairs. For the guests who don't want to try to swing their legs over the bench portion of the tables, we're placing chairs at either end which will be some of the same ones we'll bring from the ceremony site. By using the picnic tables already there we're also saving money in delivery costs and the time it would take to move the picnic tables out of the barn only to replace them with our own, rented tables. Saved: $223 plus labor

6. Paper Linens- Costco offers some great thick paper tablecloths at 6 for $11. Rented linen tablecloths cost closer to around $15 each. Also, if any of our guests accidentally spills some of their BBQ sauce on the linen tablecloths we may have to pay an additional cost for stains to the rental company. However, since we're using paper we can just toss the tablecloths at the end (stains and all), having spent $30 or less, rather than $180 on the rented linens. We didn't want to use plastic tablecloths because they're not as eco-friendly (non-compostable) and because they're just generally less attractive than paper. Saved: $150 (plus possible spill fees)

7. Thrift Store Vases- not only can you find amazingly unique glass vases at thrift stores, but they're extremely cheap too. I used to work for a florist which charged around $6+ per generic flower vase, and instead we're finding vases which are $2 maximum (for blue and green glass) at thrift stores. They'll serve as great gifts to some of our guests, and Andy and I have a lot of fun finding unique vases. Saved: at least $96

8. Costco Cake: we're going to have one small presentation cake for Andy and I to cut, and then Costco sheet cakes for everyone to eat. I personally think that Costco cakes are really delicious, and it's definitely a plus that they're on the cheap side at only $17 each. We looked into getting cupcakes for our guests from either Trophy Cupcakes or Cupcake Royale, but at $3 each before delivery it was too expensive. Macrina Bakery cakes are $5.50 per person. Our presentation cake is also going to be made by the mother of Andy's best man, Nathan. She used to cook wedding cakes regularly, and she offered to make the cake for us if we pay for the ingrediants. Saved: around $430

9. Arranging our own flowers: Andy's dad Albert used to work for a florist, and he's going to arrange the table flowers and bouquets for us. By finding someone in the family who had some experience with flowers, we've saved a huge amount of money. In the average wedding, flowers cost around $2000. Albert is probably going to purchase flowers from either the Pike Place Market or from a woman on the island. We've estimated this will cost around $500. We also want to use some non-traditional floral aspects in our arrangements, such as ferns, and some herbs like rosemary. If no one in your family has any experience with flowers, consider talking to someone at a local farmer's market about having them arrange bouquets for you. At Pike Place you can find beautiful $5 bouquets that would cost around $30 and up from a florist. That way the only thing you need to have a florist create is the bouquets. Saved: $1500 +

10. Postcard RSVPS: The postage on postcards is much less at .27 rather than .42. Andy and I found someone's collection of bird postcards (fits our theme too!) on ebay for a total of $20 with shipping (for 137 postcards, which is way more than we need). They're all unique and once we create stickers for the guests to fill out the RSVPs are done. When you order regular invites, the RSVP cards and envelopes usually cost around $1.50 before postage. Ours, with postage, will be around $20.50. Saved: $75.50

11. We registered for our honeymoon: Andy and I have already been living together for two years. We have a toaster, pots and pans, spatulas, etc. The last thing we want to do is have our guests buy us things that we don't really need. Instead, we've decided to register our honeymoon through This way, we can have our guests help us pay for things like zoo and aquarium admissions and romantic dinners when we honeymoon in Hawaii. We're looking forward to taking pictures and sending thank you letters with photos included. How many thank you notes have you seen where the bride and groom are showing off how they're using their new wisk? For the family members who feel less comfortable gifting us portions of our honeymoon we are going to set up a registry at one of our favorite stores, Target, for the kitchen items we've been longing to upgrade. Saved: $2500

12. Cutting back on the guest list: This was an extremely painful thing for me to do. My side of the family is huge, as my dad is the youngest of eight, and all of his siblings have children who have their own children, etc. I have five grandparents while Andy has one. We had the choice of either inviting all of our aunts and uncles and cousins and their children and none of our friends outside of the wedding party, or striking the balance between family and friends. We ended up cutting our guest list from 265 to 96 by inviting aunts and uncles, grandparents, wedding party, and a few close friends. While I love my cousins and wish everyone could be at my wedding, Andy and I simply can't afford it. The number of extra tables, chairs, invitations, favors, and food per person it would require to invite everyone is a big chunk of change. Plus, 260 people would require a lot of organization and time, not just money. To everyone who we won't be able to invite to the ceremony and reception, we plan on sending wedding announcements instead. Saved: approximately $2800

Total Saved (approximately): $11,673


  1. This post is gold. Seriously, this is journalism-quality research and writing. You could freelance this baby.

  2. Thanks Sara! I forgot that you had said you commented on here until just now! Your comment means a lot coming from you! :)