Saving on Wedding Costs
Some insurance companies now offer wedding insurance, just in case the caterer decides to file for bankruptcy and go out of business two days before the event, or somebody steals all the wedding gifts. You even can buy insurance that pays you if it rains or snows on the day of the wedding. Check out Weddinguard at www.weddinguard.com for an example of what's available.
We think everyone should save money whenever possible. Money saved really is money earned, especially when it's well invested.
If you're paying for or contributing to your child's wedding, remember that your donation buys you some say in how the money is spent. If she wants to hire limousines to transport herself, the groom, and the wedding party from the ceremony to the reception, and you think that some nice cars driven by special wedding guests will do just fine, be sure to make your opinion known.
If you're paying the costs outright, you can simply refuse to shell out for limos, despite the fact that your daughter is likely to be upset with you. Or you can offer to give her a lump sum that she can use however she wishes. Do point out, however, that if she hires limos and drivers, she'll need to cut back in another area.
Let's take a few minutes to think of some creative ways to reduce the cost of a wedding. We understand that you want your child's wedding to be beautiful and meaningful, and something from which she'll have wonderful memories for the rest of her life. If you can help her understand that bigger is not always better, and that less sometimes is more, you'll be ahead in the paying-for-the-wedding game.
Limit the number of guests. Inviting 150 people instead of 200 automatically cuts your wedding costs significantly. If you figure it will cost $80 per guest for food, drinks, and so forth, you'll save $4,000 by reducing your guest list by 50 people.
Cut back on clothing costs. Your daughter will look as beautiful in a $500 dress as she will in one that cost $3,000. Or there's a growing trend of borrowing a wedding dress from a friend or family member. We know a smart woman who wore her college roommate's wedding dress, and even recycled the bridesmaid's dresses from her roommate's wedding for her own wedding. She ended up buying one bridesmaid's dress instead of a wedding dress and three bridesmaid's dresses. Borrow or make a headpiece instead of paying a couple of hundred dollars for one. Men can opt to wear their own, nice suits instead of tuxedos, saving rental costs.
Be nontraditional with the food. Not every wedding reception needs to feature sit-down dinner with a fruit cup and full meal. Think about a beautiful brunch, or an outdoor cocktail reception. Luncheons or teas also are options. Buffets can be less expensive than sit-down dinners because you don't have to pay servers. If you still want the sit-down, stay away from the most expensive foods—usually seafood and beef. And, buy only a small, decorated wedding cake. This is the cake the bride and groom will cut and have their photos taken along side of. And it will feed the wedding party. The rest of the guests can eat slices of cake cut from large, plain cakes. They'll never know the difference.
Consider the timing of the wedding. Wedding caterers—the good ones at least—are booked a year or more in advance for Saturdays in June, and often charge more for their services during these busy times. The same caterers in November, however, may be looking for business and willing to give you a break on their costs.
Watch the alcohol. Wedding receptions traditionally are festive affairs, complete with cocktails, wine, and champagne toasts. Unfortunately, all this festivity comes at a high price. Be prepared to pay more for booze than you will for food at a wedding reception. If you can, supply the alcohol yourself. Many places do not permit you to do that because they make a lot of money on liquor. If you're having the reception outdoors, at your home, or in another private location, however, you probably will be able to supply your own refreshments. If not, consider limiting alcohol to a variety of beers and wines, and skip the champagne toast.
Get friends and family to help out. If you've got a great amateur photographer in the family, enlist her services. If your nephew is a flower designer, get him on board. Hit up friends and family to perform services such as singing, playing musical instruments, and videotaping. Use friends as drivers instead of paying people to drive.
Say no to the extras. You really don't need wedding bubbles. Or a picture frame for each guest to take home. You don't need embossed matchbooks or napkins, or elaborate flower arrangements on every table. Keep it simple and you can save significant money.
There are many ways in which you can reduce the cost of a wedding and still have a lovely, classy event that will impress your guests and create wonderful memories for your son or daughter.
More on: Family Finances
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in Your 40s and 50s © 2002 by Sarah Young Fisher and Susan Shelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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