Your Special Day at a Special Price
Save up to $45,000 on your wedding.
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Kate Harrison, author of The Green Bride, saved money by using local seasonal flowers and wearing an heirloom necklace.
Rebecca Thorpe, a wedding planner in Fairfield County, Connecticut, planned her own wedding in 2005 for 130 people at The Garrison Golf Club in Cold Spring and paid $28,000 total (with filet mignon and a full bar all night). Kimberly Ingersoll, who’s getting married in October at a church in her hometown of Valhalla (with a reception at the Canyon Club in Armonk) guestimates she’s spending about $35,000 total. Harrison resident Susan Squillante's reception at The Fountainhead will cost $30,000.
And that’s economical! According to Condé Nast Bridal Media’s most recent American Wedding Study, the national average wedding cost is $28,082 (with $1,075 for a dress). But we live in Westchester, where a $2,000 wedding dress is considered “inexpensive,” and a wedding for less than $50,000 can be a real challenge. Many brides (and their parents) don’t like to discuss what it’s costing...but, believe us, it’s upwards of $50,000. (Check out costofwedding.com and plug in your zip code for proof. We did. In Tarrytown, the cost is between $48,496 and $80,827; in Bedford, $54,463 to $90,771, and in Scarsdale, it’s anywhere from $87,660 to $146,101).
But more and more couples (and their families) are looking for ways to create the affair of their dreams without going into debt. The good news? It can be done, as long as you’re willing to negotiate, compromise, and be creative.
”The easiest way to save money on your wedding is to limit the number of guests,” says Melisa Imberman, owner of Chappaqua-based The Event of a Lifetime. That's a no-brainer. Here, more tips from local experts on how to save tons of money.
Avoid Impulse Purchases
The best way to stay within budget is to control your spending early in the planning process. Typically, couples spend the most on the venue, food, and drink (50 percent), the dress (2 percent), photography (5 to 10 percent), and music (10 to 15 percent), with flowers (10 to 20 percent), stationery (1 to 5 percent), rings (1 to 5 percent), cake, officiant, transportation, gifts, and beauty (1 to 5 percent) not far behind. “It’s very tempting to upgrade different aspects of your event in the final weeks,” says Thorpe, whose company, Girl Admiral (girladmiral.com), specializes in creative approaches to wedding planning. “Avoid these impulse buys; when the bills come in, you’ll be happy you did.”
Choose a Nontraditional Day
The most expensive time to get married is on a Saturday evening, with the priciest months being May, June, September, October, July, and August (in that order). Booking something “off-season” or “off-night” like a Monday, Thursday, or Sunday can save you a lot of money. Take The Globe in Larchmont. Book on a Saturday night and expect to pay between $15,000 and $20,000; book on a Saturday afternoon, and the entire space costs between $8,000 and $10,000. Being flexible is key to ensuring an economical wedding, stresses Imberman. Winter is the most economical time to get married. Consider a day other than a Saturday or a daytime rather than an evening wedding.
Kathleen Ruscigno saved big bucks by getting married the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. “Because everyone has that Monday off from work, it was like having a Saturday wedding but for Sunday prices,” she says. Bride-to-be Susan Squillante is saving money by getting married in February, another off-peak time. She also cut her guest list to keep costs in the $30,000 range. (Sunday during a holiday is also a great time, say experts.)
"Afternoons often can be a bargain,” says Imberman.
Savings: $6,000 to $10,000
Consider an “All-in-One” Venue
Find one location for your ceremony and reception to avoid having to provide transportation between venues recommends Kate Harrison, author of The Green Bride and a newlywed herself (who says she saved thousands by going green). Consider, too, a venue that has all of your rental needs included in the base cost for renting the venue, says Harrison. And, if you don’t like the venue’s chairs or linens, negotiate. Also look for a place that doesn’t need a lot of décor, like a historical site, as this will save on flowers and other decorations.
Be Creative with Food
Skip the Champagne and let guests toast with Prosecco, often $10 to $20 less a bottle. Rosita Fichtel of Larchmont did this successfully for her daughter’s May wedding. Alcohol is a big expense, notes Leah Ingram, author of Tie the Knot on a Shoestring, which is why she suggests reducing the length of your reception and not announcing a last call for drinks. “This could cause a rush on the bar, which, if you’re paying for an open bar, can increase your alcohol bill significantly,” she says. Or, suggests wedding planner Thorpe, just use a signature drink as the main liquor drink and have beer and wine (billed on consumption) after the event. “This helps to reduce the cost of a full bar but still manages to be elegant and fun.”
Other ideas: opt for a cocktail wedding rather than a five-course dinner, serving finger foods and passed hors d’ouevres. Another possibility: consider a brunch over an evening event.
Savings: $1,000 to $5,000