6 “Budget Wedding” Tips That Aren’t Always Worth It

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No bride (unless your name rhymes with Schmim Schmardashian) wants to spend more than she has to on her wedding. But beware: Not all budget wedding advice will actually save you. Here are six suggestions that are better off ignored.

Buy a Used Wedding Gown
Learn from my mistake, ladies. I thought I had hit the jackpot when I bought a worn wedding dress for half the original price. The lights must have been intentionally dim at the sale because once I took the wedding gown home, I saw it not only needed to be cleaned but also repaired–it was missing beads on the bodice. A dry cleaner estimated it would cost nearly $1,000 to fix it and alter it to fit me. So unless the used wedding gown you’re considering buying is in mint condition, you won’t be saving by going with a worn one.

Provide Your Own Centerpiece Vases
Some florists do charge brides to borrow vessels for their reception arrangements. Many do not. If vases are included in the price of your pro centerpieces, take advantage. Many sellers of those popular milk-glass vases have gotten wise to the fact that they’re great bases for wedding centerpieces, so they’ve jacked up the prices. Plus, my pal dropped a bunch of dough on car gas and shipping fees to amass enough coordinating receptacles to decorate her wedding tables.

Book a Not-Yet-Built Wedding Venue
Wedding halls offer deep discounts if you reserve a date before the space is ready. Here are a couple of reasons you should resist: Blueprints and artist renderings may not accurately reflect the end product. A particular feature you love may get nixed in the construction process. More importantly, construction workers aren’t known for meeting deadlines. A venue that’s supposed to be ready in a year may not be finished for two years. And it can take more months for it to pass inspection. If you just can’t resist the allure of a still-unfinished space, get a backup plan you love in your contract, so you won’t have to hold your wedding in your basement.

Do Your Own Hair and Makeup
Hey, Kate Middleton’s makeup was lovely, and she allegedly applied it herself. You can bet, though, she was using the finest products–and she may have had expert help picking out her cosmetics. Even if you have access to fabulous products and are adept at putting them on, you may not know the best ways to apply makeup to look great in photos–or how to ensure that your hair stays in its style as you party hard. Moreover, you may be nervous in the hours before your wedding, and tasking yourself with looking the prettiest you’ve ever looked is a lot of pressure. Usually, brides who go the DIY route look lovely for the ceremony and worse for wear for the reception. If that doesn’t sit right with you, hire pros.

Serve Only Hors D’oeuvres and Cake
It’s true: Many guests prefer appetizers to entrees. But you won’t necessarily save by skipping the main course. Caterers’ main objective (besides making money and serving tasty dishes) is to fill up guests. In order to do that, they need to have enough food to go around. Forgoing meat and fancy ingredients in the apps can be budget-friendly; in general, though, lots of little bites add up to about the same as fewer entrees.

Have Friends Serve as Vendors
If you’ve got buddies who are pro DJs or photographers, for instance, and they don’t mind working instead of enjoying your wedding, then by all means, book ’em for the friend discount they offer you–as long as the price really is reduced. But if they don’t own pro-grade speakers or they only dabble in photography, odds are you won’t be pleased with the service. And as you well know, you only get one wedding (unless, again, your name rhymes with Schmim Schardashian).

What other bad wedding advice have you heard? Would you try any of the above?

More Wedding Advice
What No One Admits About Wedding Dresses
Know When to Let a Bridesmaid Back Out

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Photo by Gail Chatelain

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  • Jackie McCormick

    I agree with all of these except doing your own makeup! I have very sensitive skin (yay redheads haha) and every time I’ve had makeup professionally applied, I’ve either looked like a drag queen or had a horrible allergic reaction. I bought new tubs of my tried-and-true favorite products and practiced with my “wedding makeup” look for months prior. I was very happy with the result, and happy with my photos:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1426189940 Mary Blickhahn

    I was a minister for quite some time, I watched many brides including family buy lovely used wedding gowns.  All they needed was a cleaning.  It is a responsible way to both save money and to reuse a dress only worn once before.  I have also seen amazing center pieces some lovely Aunt made many horrid ones done by professionals. Totally agree with booking on a place still under construction…good one!  I agree about the cost of the food. But time becomes an issue. If you have to be married at a popular place and can only get it for 4 hours..only have some cake. Its all you have time for.  Many times you have to save the budget somehow..sorry friends as venders is what has to happen.  As for own makeup..it is nice t get a pro. Photography should be done before the wedding of you can.  It truly helps.  Plus it save hours of time. But I have had many pro’s screw up wedding photos completely.  So it helps if a few other people have camera’s also. I have had a more then a few weddings where those ended up being the better pictures and the only ones the bride got.  Terrible stories. But mostly consider this…its one day out of the rest of your life, and one of many celebrations you will have for the rest of your life.  Don’t have such ridiculous expectations of this event.  Stay in what should be your modest budget.  You will be glad you did!

  • Leila M

    I think, as with anything, it depends on the couple and what they want out of their wedding day – because the most important thing about a wedding is the marriage that comes after it.

    Once you think of it that way, the single day becomes much less of a big deal. My husband and I got married “on the cheap” by today’s standards, but we prioritized buying a house and going on an awesome honeymoon over having flowers and silk-bound photo albums and instant photo booths and all the other “must-have” trappings of a wedding.

    For example, I bought a cream-colored J Crew dress on ebay for 30 bucks; looked and felt fabulous. We got married in the backyard and had our favorite candy in glass jars as centerpieces at our tables – everything was outdoors under cheap white tents we’d bought (because really, who needs to spend $3k on tent rental when you can buy tents you know you’re only going to use once for like 180 bucks?).

    The bassist in my dad’s band (who does have pro-grade equipment) was our DJ, I did my own hair and makeup (after studying beauty vloggers on YouTube) and a semi-pro-photog friend of ours took stunning photos. Everything looked amazing, was amazing, and everyone who attended still tells us it was the best, warmest, most fun and memorable wedding they’ve ever been to.

    It’s really all in how you do it, and what’s important to you. If what’s important is having photos that look like they should be bought as advertisements by a luxury-living magazine, then no, don’t go with the lower-cost options. But if you, like I and my husband, choose to emphasize a warm, down-home and more casual family feeling, you can “get away with” spending a lot less without compromising the event.

    This was actually my second wedding, so I had a very clear idea of what I did and didn’t want, having been through it once before. I’d spent more and worried more over my first wedding and barely remember anything about the day; the “professional” pictures (which we paid a mint for) came out terribly, and it all felt like a huge waste, especially once we got divorced. Second wedding was basically a pizza truck and karaoke in the backyard, but that’s exactly what hubby and I decided we wanted, together. I remember everything about my second wedding day and it’s still one of the most fun days I’ve ever had.

    Of course, everyone is different and YMMV. Every couple has to choose the day that’s right for them, but remember that the wedding isn’t just about the wedding – it’s about the years and years you plan to spend together after that too!