Just a week ago, we celebrated our wedding! We had very good feedback from our guests and we both enjoyed it very much. It was a very nice and happy day. And we managed to keep under a reasonable budget. We didn’t go cheap though.
In this post, I’m going to talk about some ways that you can use to make your wedding cheaper but not less nice :) You want your wedding to be memorable, but you don’t want it to hinder your entire finance.
1. Don’t be cheap!
First of all, I think it’s important to remind you to not be cheap! Your wedding will be one of the most important days of your life. It’s okay to spend a bit for it! A budget wedding is fine, a cheap wedding is not really good. At least, you have to make sure that your spouse completely agree with going budget wedding ;)
There is no need to go full cheap for it. It’s likely that you’ll regret it if you make it too cheap. You shouldn’t feel guilty on spending more money than usual for your wedding if it makes you happy!
2. The wedding dress
There are several ways of saving money on your wedding dress. The first is to rent a dress instead of buying it. However, this is not always as cheap as you think. You often need to pay for the cleaning and the pressing of the dress after you wear it. When you put that together with the price of the dress, it’s sometimes the same price as buying a new dress.
Another option is to buy a second-hand dress. You can find very good bargains. The problem is that you may have to try many dresses in many places before you find the one you want. The last option is to buy it in a cheaper country while you’re abroad. My wife bought her wedding dress in China. This was for a fraction of the price she would have paid if she bought it new in Switzerland.
As you can see, it turned out awesome :)
Finally, the last tip is to try to sell your dress after the wedding. We used it for two ceremonies. That’s already a lot for a wedding dress. Now we are trying to sell it. We’ll see how that goes :)
3. The wedding suit
Of course, all that apply to the wedding dress also applies to the wedding suit. You can try to buy it second-hand or rent it. You can also do as we did and buy it in foreign country. We bought mine in China. It was relatively cheap even do it was tailor-made and with a good fabric. We paid 320 CHF for two entire suits and two nice shirts. So about 160 CHF for my suit. Which is several times lower than what I would have paid for a tailor in Switzerland.
One thing you should do is trying to buy one that you may wear several times. I already wore mine at another wedding. If you can wear it several times, it will make the price more useful.
I’m really satisfied with the way my suit from China looks like :)
4. The photographer
Personally, I could have done without a photographer. But my wife would have killed me :)
Nevertheless, there are ways to keep the costs reasonable. A very good photographer for many hours could easily cost you several thousands of Swiss francs. A hobby photographer can still do a very good job and cost several times more. For our wedding, we found a hobby photographer for 200 CHF for about three hours. He really did a good job and we are happy with the results.
You could also find if someone in your family or your friends is good with pictures. He may be able to help you :)
5. The ceremony
For our wedding, we did not do a religious ceremony, only a secular ceremony. We wanted to find someone to organize a simple ceremony for us. But the cheapest organizer was asking about 1000 CHF.
Another way to do it is to organize the ceremony yourself. This could end up being free for you! You can find some friends to help you. There are many ideas online. You can make it serious or make it funny as you wish. You can even choose a theme :) Our master of ceremony was dressed as Spock from Star Trek :P
6. The decorations
The best way to save on decorations is to make your decorations yourself. It’s a lot of work, but it can save you a lot of money. And most of your guests will be much more impressed by hand-made decorations than by fancy expensive decorations ;)
Another way to save money on decorations is to buy them back from someone else’s wedding. I’ve seen a few online ads from people who wanted to sell back their decorations after their wedding. You can probably save a lot doing that. But of course, your choice will be limited. You can also try to sell your decorations after the wedding. Or you can also reuse the decorations in your house.
Personally, Mrs The Poor Swiss did almost all the decorations by herself. She did a really great job :)
7. The venue
The venue can be a very expensive part of your wedding. It’s also a very important part. A beautiful venue can make a very big difference between a simple wedding and a memorable one. There are a lot of venues for weddings in every country. It’s a bit difficult to save on this item of the wedding.
The most obvious you can do to save on the wedding is to organize your wedding in a restaurant. Most restaurants will be very happy to welcome 50 people (or more). You’ll only pay for the food and the drinks and won’t pay for the venue. And you don’t have to worry about the tables and the service of the food and drinks. It’s a lot of things you don’t have to worry about. If you find a beautiful restaurant, this can be a very nice option. This is what we did for our wedding and it turned out really great.
Another option is to rent a grass field and install tents on it. If you live somewhere there are many fields of grass, it can be very nice. And it will make a nice change for a lot of the guests that don’t expect it. In a nice location, it may make for a beautiful ceremony. The problem is that it won’t be very nice if it rains. If you’re lucky, you may also have a friend of family member that has a very nice place that could serve as wedding venue.
Otherwise, take a long time to check all your options before you decided.It’s an important decision. It also may be a good time to haggle if you are good at it.
8. The dinner
If you chose a restaurant as your venue, you can only choose the food they will offer you. The price tag will highly depends on the kind of restaurant you choose. You can find almost all range of prices. You should also consider that when you choose a restaurant as a venue.
If you don’t choose a restaurant, you’ll have to choose a catering service. For this, you have an immense choice. You should be able to find the price tag you want. But you’ll also need to find the people to serve the food. Some catering service will also serve the food, but that will cost you extra.
An option to save on food and especially on service is to prepare a big buffet and let people serve themselves. This can help you save a lot of money. But some guests may not appreciate it.
You’ll also have to think of the drinks. If you choose a restaurant, you should probably stick to their drinks. In my case, we chose two different wines for the different dishes. And we also let people chose other drinks. It was a very hot day and we actually paid as much for beer as for wine. If you choose a catering service, you should think of organizing the drinks yourself, especially the wine. You can find wine that is cheaper than what you find at a restaurant. Don’t go for bad wine either of course ;)
9. The guest list
The food and the drinks are likely what will cost the most at your wedding. Therefore, reducing the size of the guest list can really help with the price. I’m not saying you should not invite your best friends of course. But there may be no need for a huge wedding. It’s also important to realize that the more people there are, the less you can talk to each of them. Our wedding had less than 50 people and yet I would have liked to have more time with all of my guests.
If you haven’t talked with a guest in several years, there is no real need to invite him. Also, there is really no need to invite all your coworkers. If you are really close to them, invite them, but otherwise, don’t ;) There is also no real need to invite your cousin at the third degree!
Personally, we invited our close family and close friends. There were 49 people at the aperitif and 46 at the dinner. I think a wedding between 40 and 60 people is very reasonable. Some people even like to have less guests. I don’t think there is any point with weddings of more than 100 people. You won’t be able to talk more than a few words to all these friends. And you won’t really know half of them anyway. But some people like to have a grand party. And that’s fine too as long as they are aware of the costs :)
10. The music
Do you really need a DJ ? This question will depend a lot if you plan to dance for a long time or not. Most of the people at our wedding are not big dancers. We did not hire anyone to handle the music. The best man actually used its phone and connected to the restaurant sound system by Bluetooth to make the music :P And it was absolutely fine. You can do the same at many venue. You can bring a small sound system and a phone or a laptop to play music.
If you really want a DJ or an entertainer, then you may have to spend significantly more. But again, explore all the options before you take a decision. The difference in prices can be very important. But if you find a good entertainer it can make the after dinner very fun for people who want to dance. It’s also important to know your audience. My favorite music is death metal, but I don’t think my guests would have liked it a lot ;)
11. The car
Do you really need a fancy limousine with a chauffeur to pick you up ? You may make a good entry. But not even all the guests will see your car. Personally, I think that fancy cars are already too much for a wedding. You can simply use your car. Or if you have a friend or family member with a nice car, just ask them a favor and use their car. There is no need to rent a huge car for this. Don’t forget that you’ll be in your car only a short time ;) And while I understand not wanting at your wedding, you may not need a chauffeur. I’m sure you can find a friend that will drive you on your special day ;)
Personally, we used our own car (not fancy at all) and my brother drove us around. It was absolutely fine for us.
I hope these tips will help you keep your wedding on a small budget. Don’t forget that your wedding is an important day. You don’t need to be cheap about it. But if you are smart about it, you can manage to have a nice budget wedding.
With these tips, we managed to keep our wedding at around 5500 CHF. It may not be very frugal, but we think it’s reasonable. Especially when you compare with the insane average of 30’000 CHF in Switzerland. We both really liked our special day. And we only had good feedback about our budget wedding.
Do you have any more tips about organizing a budget wedding ? Did you keep your own wedding on a nice budget ? Or did you splurge ?