Small Budget vs Cheap \\ A Wed-ucation
If you have started your wedding planning and are completely overwhelmed by the prices you have found so far, thinking that you are well on your way to a $40k wedding when you only wanted to spend between $10-$25k then please stop before you make some serious mistakes. Before you become a 'price-shopper' in search of the cheapest vendors possible, let us provide you with a wed-ucation on how to have the small-budget wedding you've dreamed of, instead of a 'cheap and nasty' disaster.
Not everyone has a spare $30k+ to spend on their wedding, and that's okay! Even if you do, you might not want to put that much money into one day of your life. But working with a smaller budget does not mean that you need to find the cheapest vendors to make things work. In fact, in our experience, cheaper vendors may even cost you more money and stress in the long run. The key to working with a small budget is in one magic word: prioritising.
So what's wrong with cheaper vendors? Of course, all vendors are different and you definitely won't have the same experience with every one of them, BUT we have noticed a bit of a trend (and not a good one) with cheaper vendors that would have us recommend you against picking important contributors to your wedding simply because of a small price tag. Generally speaking, a lower price tag means lower quality. This isn't always the case, but generally there is a reason why a particular vendor might have seriously low prices compared to someone else for the same thing. We have found over the years that couples who book cheaper vendors tend to run into problems with double-bookings, last-minute flaking, or vendors failing to deliver their work at the promised standard of quality. In the end, this results in more stress in the lead up to your wedding and on the day (definitely not ideal), and either handing out more money to another vendor that needs to step in last minute and pull off the job or just dealing with the disappointment. None of this is what you should be experiencing in the lead up to your big day, especially on the day itself. Now, I'm not saying that you have to pick the top-of-the-range vendors for your wedding that will cost you an absolute fortune and completely blow your budget, but just be aware that cheap is not always the best route. So, if you can't shop the cheapest, how then do you maintain your small budget?
I mentioned earlier the magic word, prioritising. This is something I recommend to all of my clients and 100% implemented into my own wedding planning to maintain my budget. It's about prioritising your budget to match the things about your wedding that are most important to you and your partner. Sit down with your partner, grab a pen and paper and write down a list of the aspects of your wedding that are really important to you. Is it making sure your guests have a great time and are entertained? Is it having amazing food and lots of it? Is it having your favourite band play your first dance song? These are the things that you should focus your budget on. Of course, you need to be realistic in your expectations- you can't list out 20 huge priorities like a fully decked-out venue, designer gown, three-course sit down dinner for 200 people, and expect that to come within your smaller budget. But take your two-three top priorities and focus your budget here. For example, if one of your priorities is making sure your guests have a great time and are entertained, invest in a really good DJ and MC who will keep your guests happy and dancing all night.
So I've spoken a lot now about spending money- where do the small budget savings come in? Basically, if something didn't make your priority list, don't let it take up that much of your budget. If an amazing grand venue isn't that important to you, find a venue will a small hire fee or even use a friend or family member's big backyard to wipe the venue hire cost all together. Or if a three-course sit down dinner didn't make your list, save some money by having a cocktail reception or even have a food truck cater for your wedding. You can also save some money by keeping the decorations low-key. Instead of large floral arrangements on all of your guest tables, which will add up very quickly, why not keep it simple with some tea-light candles and some foliage on each table instead? There are many ways to spice up your tables and your venue that don't cost a fortune and you can even DIY completely to save some extra pennies. Instead of purchasing a $3k dress and then having to pay some more $$ for alterations, find a dressmaker and have one made to fit you. There won't be any extra alteration fees because it was made to your measurements, you can tweak the design to be exactly what you want and it will most likely be less expensive than the original dress. These are just a few ideas- there are so many ways to save money on those items that aren't the most important to you.
You will find when you start your wedding planning, that the big ticket items take up a big chunk of your budget. These are generally: the venue, food and drink catering, entertainment, photography and videography. Every wedding needs these items in some form or another and whatever you do, it can be really difficult to reduce these costs. So when working with a smaller budget I again recommend that you really think about your priority list and invest the most in what is really important to you. I always recommend investing in a good photographer to make your memories last, so between the venue, food and drink catering, entertainment and videography, see where you can save some money- not by going with necessarily the cheapest vendor, but by going down an alternative path or choosing a smaller package.
When it comes to booking your vendors- the priority big-budget eaters and the less important small-budget eaters- the biggest tip I can give you in saving money and stress, is to find good-quality vendors that you trust at a reasonable price. If you're not sure where to start, have a look at our preferred vendors list. We have personally worked with, trust and highly recommend all of the vendors on that list. If you need some extra assistance, get in touch! We would love to help you set and maintain your budget whilst planning the wedding you have always dreamed of!
Let us know in the comments below how you managed to stick to your small budget and pull off your #SmallBudgetDreamWedding!