The first step towards maximizing your budget is deciding which aspects of the event matter to you most so you can allocate your dollars appropriately. If dancing the night away is critical to you, but you are less concerned about flowers, cut back on flowers and put more money toward entertainment. If food is your top priority, trim your floral budget and put more toward catering. You can also save by:
Harness the talents of family and friends.
Employ the skills of your family and friends as you plan your vow renewal to keep costs under control. Your daughter that is the computer wiz kid might be able to help you design the perfect invitations and programs. Your cousin that took a floral arranging class might be willing to help arrange silk centerpieces. Your father-in-law may be willing to play chauffeur for the day in his classic car. Your son’s band might be just right to provide the entertainment, even though they are still in high school!
Select a theme to focus your event.
A theme is an easy way to cut costs. Some themes naturally lend themselves to less expensive food and drink than others, such as a Night in the Orient, Mexican Fiesta, Evening in Italy, Southern Comfort, or Beach Party. Focus on dishes with low-cost ingredients such as pasta, rice, beans, and vegetables. Continue your theme by limiting the bar to a couple of complimentary drink choices.
Schedule your vow renewal off-season.
Steer clear of spring and summer. The fewer people competing for venues and vendors, the greater your chances are to negotiate. You should also try to also avoid the winter holiday season from late November through New Years. Your best bets? Set a date for sometime in January, February (other than around Valentine’s Day), March, or early November.
Set the time for early in the day.
If you want to keep the focus on family, plan a morning ceremony and reception. You can have a wonderful morning brunch for far less than a dinner. Plus, you can skip out on alcohol all together which will save you a ton of money!
Find a low-cost location.
If you’re flexible about the “where ” you can save a lot on your location. Your church or synagogue may be the optional location if you are members, as the location fee should be minimal if any at all. Frequently, city-owned locations are available for a surprisingly low fee including gardens or historic buildings. If you have a fairly small guest list, consider holding your vow renewal at home – just be mindful of costs for seating, lighting, etc.
Select a non-bridal bridal gown.
You can wear any color and style of dress you like for your vow renewal. If you really want white, check the women’s evening wear section of a department store. You might even find that the perfect gown in the bridesmaids or mother of the bride section of the bridal store. The most important thing is to find a dress that makes you feel and look amazing! Where it came from is irrelevant.
Select flowers that are in season and locally available.
In season, locally available flowers are always less expensive than any that have to be shipped in. It’s also very important that you make it clear to your florist that cutting cost is a high priority. You should also stay away from white blossoms since they bruise easily, so florists must go through larger quantities to find good ones, and to match the shade, thus the cost is higher.
Get creative with the cake.
Spending a fortune is not a requirement of having a beautiful cake. Unstacked cakes set on risers are a popular trend and is a minimalist style. Buttercream is less expensive than rolled fondant. You can also do some extra decorating yourself to save money. Wrap a one-inch ribbon around the bottom of each fondant tier and hold in place with double-stick tape. Or add silk or fresh, untreated flowers on top or along the layers. You can also make a simple cake stand out by dressing up the cake table with a colorful tablecloth, flower petals, or flower arrangement. For an added touch, dress the cake knife and server with flowers or ribbon.
Limit the guest list.
The quickest, easiest way to control your budget is to limit the size of the event since the biggest costs are food and alcohol. Fewer mouths to feed = less money! First of all, you need not invite anyone with whom you haven’t spent time in the last five years. You’re not obligated to invite everyone you work with, but if you invite some people, make sure you do it by work group or department to spare hurt feelings. Single guests who aren’t in a serious relationship can be invited without a guest. You don’t have to include children; you can have an adults only event.
A Final Note
Finally, the single most important thing you can do to control costs is to get organized. Timely planning saves late fees and expensive compromises. Start early and stay focused on what’s important and you’re sure to have an event to remember on the budget you set.