Wedding photography is my day job. I shoot weddings almost every weekend from May until October. One of the things I pay a lot of attention to is the gift table. Couples always want pictures of their gift tables so I’ve seen a lot of gifts. And the ones that always impress me aren’t the big $500 KitchenAid mixers. It’s the thought out gifts. It’s the ones that had more meaning to them than the ones on the registry. They are also typically cheaper. Here’s my list of Thrifty, yet meaningful wedding gifts.
1. Anything with their last name on it. Couples LOVE this. Especially brides who are so excited for their new last name. Paint it on a board, stitch it on a pillow, do whatever, but use their name. They will LOVE it!
2. Care packages. I used to see these more often and I wish I still did. But I used to see people buy a simple plastic laundry basket and fill it up with hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap etc. They didn’t wrap it or anything. They just brought it like that. These are things that the bride and groom tend to forget when putting together their new home. These things are very inexpensive and can be made even cheaper if you home make them.
3. Box of recipes. Grab a little box or recipe holder and just give the couple all of your favorite recipes.
4. Make them art. This only applies if you are artistic which I’m not, but one of our favorite gifts probably cost $5. Our friend who is an incredible artist took one of our engagement pictures and hand drew it and framed it. We still have it hanging on our walls. How thoughtful and Thrifty!
5. Board games. I went to a wedding once where the bride and groom had everything they needed for their home already. So they just asked everyone to bring a board game. These things aren’t to be neglected and at Christmas places like Target and Wal-Mart have great deals on board games. Usually you can get popular ones for around $10.
Wedding season is just around the corner for this wedding photographer by day and Thrifty Diva by night. Right now brides all over the country are planning their big days that will happen this summer. One of the biggest complaints about wedding planning is the cost. According to CNN, the average cost of a wedding is around $28,000. With that number getting higher every year and the economy still trying to rebound, people are trying to find places to save money. Here are some of our best money saving tips for weddings.
1. Get married on an off-peak day. You’d be surprised that most venues and even businesses will give discounts for off-peak days. Try getting married on a Thursday or even a Sunday. Winter is another time that a lot of places will give discounts.
2. Go Pinterest crazy! I have been LOVING what I am seeing at weddings from Pinterest inspired boards. People are getting these ideas and doing them themselves and saving money on decorations. There are so many ideas for thrifty wedding decorating it’s ridiculous!
3. Do a dummy cake. This is very popular. People are just having a smaller cake for the top of their cake made, then the rest is fake. They cut the top during the reception then the rest is taken to the back where a sheet cake is cut and presented. No one ever knows!
4. Buy, don’t rent. At least by buying you can resell your stuff. Nowadays online there are lots of places selling wedding stuff for cheap. Use it and then turn around and resell it. It’s not a bad idea for you to try and buy used stuff too. Most of the time it was used for one day. Check out eBay!
5. Offer a cash bar. Liquor is expensive and it’s not as taboo anymore to do this. People are there to have a good time and usually don’t mind having to pay for their own drinks. This could save you thousands.
6. Use your cake as a favor. Instead of buying separate favors, buy small cake boxes so people can take the cake home with them. Then you won’t be stuck with wasted cake and they still get something to take home. I LOVE wedding cake after a wedding.
7. Go with a DJ over live entertainment. They are always cheaper and you can have just as much fun.
8. Stay on schedule. Most of your vendors at your wedding are working per hour and you contract per hour with them. Stay on schedule so you don’t need them to stay longer and spend more money.
9. Buy a used wedding dress. If you aren’t the kind of person who cares, this is a FANTASTIC way to save a thousand or two. Most wedding dresses are used once and end up still in great condition. Check out consignment stores. Often times bridal stores will even have their demo dresses for sale after a while. After a good cleaning, you would think it’s new!
10. Price buffet dinners and sit down dinners. It’s a general assumption that buffets are cheaper, but that’s not always true. Make sure you check both kinds to see which is less expensive.
What are you doing to save money at your wedding?
Summer is wedding season! When I am not sharing Thrifty Diva ideas with you, I am photographing beautiful brides and handsome grooms. I love it! The wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. People invest a lot on that big day and gifts are about the only thing they don’t have to pay for. The last gift registry I printed out about 2 weeks ago had about $3-thousand dollars worth of items on it. Some were pretty hefty too! If you are on a budget you may not be able to afford much, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get them something just as special.
Here are some ideas for Thrifty wedding gifts that I have seen over the years that are my favorites.
1. Starter care package. I love this idea. Just get a laundry basket and fill it up with home essentials like laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, scrubby pads, etc. It’s great for newlyweds! Usually they aren’t thinking about things like that when they register so it’s nice if they have it as a gift. It’s one of those “oh that’s so great we have that” gifts.
2. Paint/draw them a picture from their engagement or other picture of themselves. Ok this may sound crazy, but to this day it’s one of my top wedding presents we got. You definitely have to be artistic to do this, but if you are this the so awesome! A friend of ours took one of our engagement pictures and drew it on art paper and framed it. It’s beautiful and it’s so special to me. It cost her about $10 for a frame and it’s simply amazing.
3. Recipes. I wish someone had done this for me when I got married. I am definitely not complaining, we got a lot of stuff, but I love recipes! Make your newlyweds a book of your favorite recipes. They will LOVE it. Especially if you include some special ones that were passed on through your family.
Do you have any unique gifts you’ve given you can share with us?
Just yesterday a friend of mine emailed me about saving money on her wedding. She and her groom are paying for it themselves and they are on a budget. Being a wedding photographer by day and Thrifty Diva blogger by night, I was happy to help her. These are just my personal opinions taken from personal experience.
Before I get to the “how to” save money on your wedding, let me give you some advice on what to never skimp on.
1. The photography. I am not just saying this because I am a wedding photographer. In 50 years the only thing left of your wedding other than your spouse will be your pictures. The greatest regret I hear from brides is that they had a “friend” do their pictures. Unless your friend is a photographer, go pro and save yourself the heartache.
2. The flowers. This is another area where you need to leave it to the pros. There is so much to know and understand about flowers and not just how to make them look pretty. Almost every wedding I’ve done that the bride has make her own floral arrangements ended up a flower disaster by the end of the day. Not to say it doesn’t happen when professionals do it, but it’s been rare in my experience. If you are one of those people who did do your own and they turned out great, please share with us in the comments about how you did it. There are brides that do still want to attempt to do flowers themselves and could use the tips!
Ok, so just two things you shouldn’t skimp on. Now onto saving money! Here are some ideas on how you can save money on the most important day of your life.
1. Buy your cake from a local grocery store. We did this for our wedding and our cake was amazing! We paid about a 1/4th of what a local specialty bakery charged and we did taste testing, ours was just as good. I was also able to take a picture in from a bridal magazine and the decorator did it exactly like the photo. My cake looked like a million bucks and it was super inexpensive. If you really want to cut corners, you can always have a cake made from styrofoam from bakeries and then serve sheet cakes. I’ve had MANY brides do this and you couldn’t even tell!
2. Have your wedding outdoors. When comparing your choices, outdoor venues tend to be less expensive.
3. Rent your tables and chairs from local churches or other organizations. Before you book through your local party store, call around. A lot of churches rent their stuff out for a fraction of the cost of party stores to make a little money on the side.
4. Make your own food. Now when I say you, I am not talking to the bride and groom. You enjoy your day and leave the cooking to friends and family if they are up for the challenge. It’s hard work, but will save you a ton of money. You will need to check with your venue though because some places won’t allow you to bring in outside food unless it’s the cake.
5. Opt for a buffet instead of a sit down meal. If the venue you’ve chosen doesn’t allow outside food, usually buffets are the way to go to save money.
6. Schedule your wedding for a weekday. I know most people get married on a Saturday, but if you want to save as much as half off your venue and even other services, book your wedding for an off day. Even switching it to a Sunday can save you a bundle. For example, one venue that I commonly photograph at cuts their fee more than in half for a weekday wedding.
7. Have a dessert only reception. Food is easily one of the top expenses of a wedding. Have a dessert only reception in the afternoon and you don’t have to worry about feeding your guests, but make sure your wedding isn’t at a meal time or you’ll have hungry and grumpy guests.
8. Make your own decorations. If you are a bride or groom and haven’t discovered Pinterest, I urge you to! Search DIY wedding decorations and be prepared to be amazed!
9. Cash only bar. I’ll admit that some people think this is tacky, but to each their own right? My husband and I had a very nice high end wedding, but I did everything I could to save money. This was a huge money saver. We aren’t big drinkers so I was hesitant to pay for everyone else to drink, especially when we had over 200 guests. However, I didn’t want to take away from other people celebrating so we had a cash bar. Out of curiosity we asked how much the bar tab was that night and it was over $4,000. I was able to see first hand how much money we saved and we never had one complaint!
10. Make your own favors or skip them all together. Favors can be super expensive, but they are so easy to do yourself. One idea that I saw at a wedding that was cute, inexpensive, and fun was a candy bar with little to-go baggies. The bride and groom put their favorite candies in jars with little notes about who loved what and guests make their own goodie bags. They saved a bundle just buying bulk candy.
Are you planning a wedding? What are some ways you’re saving money?