This story was written by Jessica Anderson,Crystal K. Wiebe and Laura Withers
Hiring a wedding consultant is one way to ensure a smooth wedding day. But some brides think wedding planners are only for rich and famous couples who aren't restricted by a budget. But even the rich and famous want value.
That's what Jennifer Lopez – “The Wedding Planner” herself — must have been thinking when she hired A Story Book Wedding Inc.,based in Miami,to coordinate her first wedding. As Linda Bernstein,one of the company's consultants,said,“There are lots of ways to cut corners and still get beauty and perfection on that special day.”
Here's some free advice from wedding experts:
* Cut the guest list. Make sure you want every person you invite to be there. If you wouldn't have them to your house for dinner,don't invite them to your wedding,suggests Bernstein. Shaving even 25 names off of your guest list will save on food,drink,party favors and decorations.
* If you want to save money planning the reception,cut decoration costs,not hospitality. Don't skimp on guests' pleasure — food,drink,coat check and parking. “You've got one pot of money,and the question is where do you put it? I always opt for hospitality,” said Marcy Blum,of Marcy Blum Associates in New York and co-author of “Weddings for Dummies.”
* Skip the party favors. They're nice,but not necessary.
* Have the ceremony and reception on a Sunday rather than a Saturday. Hold it in the afternoon rather than the evening. Many wedding venues will lower fees to entice clients to wed off-peak.
* Rent or borrow wedding apparel,including a gown. Many consignment shops will rent gowns for much less than it would cost to buy one. “Spending a lot of money on a dress is ridiculous,” Bernstein said. “It would be practical to purchase a dress that could be cut and worn as a cocktail dress in the future.”
* Because you pay per player,cut a six-piece live band to four. Or,hire a DJ instead of a band.
* Consider a destination wedding. Because they inherently involve fewer guests,they tend to be cheaper and may extend the celebration into a vacation.
* Select seasonal flowers. If tulips are not in season,they can be very expensive,said JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions in New York. “Don't fight it,” she said. Also,potted plants are much more affordable than cut flowers.
* Hire photographers and videographers on an hourly rate instead of buying expensive photo packages.
* Check out all of your food options before making a decision. Many believe a buffet is cheaper than a three-course meal,but this is not always true,Gregoli said. “You can always go to the chicken,” she said,instead of red meat or seafood. Ask to taste the food before making a down payment.
* If you know you won't be serving a crowd of heavy drinkers,opt for a consumption bar instead of an open bar. That way,you will only pay for what your guests drink instead of an hourly rate.