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Reduce the number of guests at the wedding.  This is the most obvious way to cut expenses.  Consider the purpose of your wedding, then make your invitation decisions accordingly. 

Reduce the length of your reception.  The length of a reception usually relates directly to the amount of money spent.

Select a different day.  Wedding facilities, caterers and other services usually cost more on Saturday's and during high demand seasons. Try to avoid holidays and peak prom and wedding seasons to get the best prices.

Book in advance since last minute bookings are usually at a higher rate due to the additional work involved..

Pay cash for all or part of the more expensive components of the wedding and ask for a cash discount.  It costs merchants an average of 2% (or more) to process a credit card transaction.  You can also try to reserve or guarantee something with a credit card and agree to pay for cash on receipt of the service or item.


Booking your wedding a year or more in advance for dates in the lower demand months of late September through November and January through early April may give you leverage when attempting to negotiate a lower price.  Many facilities would rather rapidly fill their event calendar rather than taking a gamble on filling a low demand date.

Friday and Sunday weddings are usually less expensive than Saturday when it comes to rental costs because Saturday's are in high demand for weddings and other special events. Since Fridays and Sundays are in lower demand, some facilities will discount the rental rate.  Some suppliers will also discount their rates on lower demand days.

Consider lower cost alternative wedding locations like local parks or community centers,  a church or synagogue hall, an aircraft hangar, a party room in an apartment complex or condominium, or a backyard. Some local universities and colleges, unions and professional associations also have very nice wedding reception facilities available for Alumni or member use that are free or relatively inexpensive.

Avoid wedding facilities that charge caterers and other suppliers a "referral fee" since this fee can - and usually will - end up being paid by you in the form of higher catering or supplier costs.


Simple is the way to go to save money. Custom colored inks, special graphic enhancements, raised printing, decorated liners and multiple enclosures increase the cost.

Select a stock design.  Many printers offer stock wedding invitations that can be personalized to meet your needs.

Size does count!  Avoid oversized or overweight mailings since this increases your postage costs.

To save time and money establish a toll free response telephone number or a response web site.  If you are establishing a response web site be sure your wedding guests have an alternate method of responding as well since some may not have Internet access. Rather than inserting a RSVP card in the wedding invitations, simply print the RSVP toll free number/web address on the wedding invitations.


If renting glassware, check the order when you pick it up or when it arrives AND before you sign for the order.  You may find chipped, cracked or broken items that you will be charged a replacement fee for when returned to the rental company.  Note the items on the delivery ticket before you sign it.  If items are dirty or if lipstick residue is visible, note those items as well and expect to receive a credit for those items.

If renting plates, check the order as well.  Note all chipped, cracked, broken or dirty items on the delivery slip before signing it and expect to receive a credit for those items.

If renting ANYTHING, find out who your wedding caterer rents from and if they will be renting items for your wedding from the rental company. Then, indicate to the rental company that you would like your order to be sent along with the caterer's order for your wedding. You can usually avoid a delivery charge on your rental items since both orders are going to the same location.

If the rental company is picking up items rented by the caterer at the end of your wedding, request that they also pick up your order at the same time.

If it is your responsibility to return rental items, be sure that you assign the responsibility of returning all rental items to someone who will make sure they are returned on time to avoid late charges.

Consider using disposable plastic ware plates and glasses rather than china and glass for more casual settings.  Clear, heavyweight plastic plates and glasses are available with the look of etched glass at significant savings when compared to the cost of rental china and glassware.

If real glassware is required for champagne service at your wedding reception consider using traditional "flat" champagne glasses rather than fluted champagne glasses.  Flats usually cost less and breakage tends to be less frequent which will reduce the amount of replacement charges.

If renting plates, be sure to rinse them so they are free of food before returning them so you will not be charged an extra cleaning charge for dried on food.

If renting table linens, avoid candles on the tables that can ruin the items.  Also, restrict smoking so that there will be no burn holes.  Remember, if the linens cannot be cleaned and rented again you will pay the replacement cost of the linen.


Book your caterer well in advance of your wedding date rather than last minute.

Try to avoid holidays and other high demand event dates.  Prices are usually higher on high demand dates. Try to avoid Saturday evenings if you can.

Consider buffet style service rather than plated, sit down service.  You will save a significant amount in labor costs that are required for plated service.

Provide an appetizer table rather than butler passed appetizers which requires additional service labor at additional cost.

Select a less expensive entree item.  Talented caterers can prepare a variety of chicken entrees that are very appealing to the eye and palate and that cost significantly less than beef.  Our apology to the cattle ranchers out there...

Select themed or ethnic foods like Italian or Mexican which are less expensive.   Doesn't just about everyone love Italian food anyway?

Consider using upscale disposable plasticware rather than china and glassware.   Clear, heavyweight plates and glasses that have the appearance of etched glass are available that cost less than renting china and glassware. You don't have to worry about cleaning or breakage charges either!

Time your wedding reception for late afternoon so that a cocktail or beer/wine reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres is appropriate.  That way wedding guests will not expect, nor will you have to foot the bill for, a full meal.

Don't book a wedding caterer just because they have the biggest ad in the local telephone directory. Big ads only mean a big advertising cost - not better service or prices.

Compare "Apples to Apples" when comparing wedding catering costs.  Look for the "extra" charges like rental items, additional labor charges, delivery charges, gratuity rates, etc.

Shop some of the components that may be provided by the caterer, i.e. decor or rental table cloths, napkins, glassware, china, silverware, etc. since you may sometimes (but not always) be able to save a significant amount of money by obtaining these items directly from another source.  Some caterers provide these items and include them as part of their "full service" at a cost that would be no higher than if you obtained the items from another source while other caterers simply rent the items from another source and mark them up.


Consider using a decorated "dummy" wedding cake for display and frosted sheet cakes for actual service of your wedding guests.  Some larger wedding cake decorators have beautifully decorated display cakes available for rental that cost less than a real, decorated cake. The wedding guests will never know...except for the little brat who only wanted to make a mess of the frosting on your wedding cake anyway.

Consider a smaller decorated wedding cake for display while using frosted sheet cakes for service to the wedding guests.


Some "professionals" still insist that you will save a bunch of money by offering only champagne or sparkling wine as the alcoholic beverage selection. "Sometimes" this can be true because people don't or won't to drink that much champagne.  But, this is not always (or usually) the case.  Just for the sake of argument...if a cheap bottle - and for this example we are going really cheap - of $6.00 champagne (sparkling wine really) gives you only 5 to 7 portions (depending upon the size/type of champagne glass used) while a bottle of $10.00 vodka gives you 25 portions, which has the lowest cost per portion? You decide which costs less...

If you are planning to serve champagne (which "usually" has a higher cost per portion than just about anything else you could serve) and you still want to save as much money as possible, offer it from the bar rather than by butler passing.  By offering it from the bar, where there are other beverage selections available, you will reduce champagne consumption by 30% to 50% because people will opt for the other selections at the bar.  You will also save on the additional labor costs required for butler passing.

If serving champagne, consider offering it only for a limited time.

Consider having an afternoon wedding.  Alcoholic beverage consumption will be significantly less during an afternoon event versus an evening wedding reception.

If you are hosting the bar try not to serve salty foods .  Salt increases thirst which increases beverage consumption.

Interrupt the initial beverage service period by scheduling dinner to start within 45 to 60 minutes from guest arrival.  Keep in mind, the initial 2 hours of a wedding reception is the highest consumption period.  By interrupting the high consumption period, people usually end up drinking less over the course of the evening.

Consider putting a time limit on the hosted portion of the wedding reception beverage service.

Consider hosting only beer, wine and soft drinks which (usually) have a lower cost per portion than mixed drinks.

If a hosted full bar is required, consider staging the service by starting with beer, wine and soft drinks prior to dinner and adding mixed drinks to the available selections after dinner.  By offering beer, wine and soft drinks initially you are establishing a consumption trend.  After dinner many guests will continue to consume beer, wine and soft drinks and will not switch to the higher cost per portion mixed drinks.

If you are hosting the bar, consider limiting the grade of liquor.  Hosting a mid grade liquor selection rather than a combination of mid and premium grade can trim 10% to 15% off your bar bill.

If you are hosting the bar, consider less costly wine selections for bar service, i.e. Chablis rather than Chardonnay, Blush rather than White Zinfandel and Burgundy rather than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Consider using bulk (boxed) wine in carafes for dinner table service.  It can save you 50% or more on the cost of wine.

If you are serving wine with the meal, be sure the wine service/food service is timed properly.  If wine is placed at the table prior to food service and the food service is delayed for some reason there will be significantly higher wine consumption since the wedding guests have little to do but sit, and talk, and drink. 

Consider using keg beer for larger groups.  A keg is equal to 6.88 cases of beer which is equal to roughly 165 bottles (or cans) of beer.  Assuming a 1 inch head in a 12 ounce glass,  a keg will yield around 180 portions.  You can figure out the savings from there...

Purchase your own liquor (if the facility allows) from a liquor store that will allow you to return the full, unopened product or hire a beverage service company that will credit you for unused product.

Consider using plastic glassware at the bar rather than glassware.  Not only does plasticware cost you less on a per unit basis when compared to rental, you don't have to worry about additional breakage costs.

Use proper glass sizes to avoid waste.  Small glass sizes usually means more trips to the bar, more glasses used, more bartenders needed to serve the increased number of drinks and increase the total number of drinks - plus it makes you look cheap.  On the other hand, large glass sizes increase waste due to warmed product.  A 12 ounce glass is the optimum size for mixed drinks, beer and soft drinks.  A 6 ounce glass with a 4.5 to 5 ounce portion is the optimum size for wine.

If providing your own beverages, hire a professional bartender to serve your wedding guests rather than using a volunteer friend, family member or associate.  Although Uncle Harry might know his way around a bar he may not be the best choice for a bartender at your wedding reception. A professional bartender will usually save you more than the cost of their wage by using portion control, making fewer mistakes and not opening every bottle in sight.

Close the bar 30 to 45 minutes before the end of the wedding reception and serve only soft drinks and coffee.  This is a good guest safety idea anyway...


Select a wedding planner who charges by the hour rather than based on a percentage of the total bill.  When the planner's fee is based on a percentage of the bill there is little incentive to save you money on the cost of your wedding.

Avoid planners or consultants who charge the selected suppliers a "referral fee" since this fee may end up being passed on to you in the form of higher supplier charges.

Select an experienced wedding planner or consultant.  Experience can help you to avoid costly mistakes.   Well known planners also have "connections" that can provide products or services at discount.


Book your entertainment well in advance.

Avoid high demand event dates.

Consider alternatives, i.e. taped background music rather than a pianist or vocalist, a d.j. rather than a band, etc.


Order your wedding floral items well in advance.

Avoid high demand flower seasons and holidays like prom, Valentines Day, etc.

Select "in season" floral items rather than exotics.

Consider rental alternatives.


Avoid high demand seasons.

Compare "Apples to Apples".  Do you receive the negatives as part of the package or do you have to go through the photographer every time you want a reprint?, etc.

Shoot for quality not quantity!  Specify the "MUST HAVE" shots that YOU want, limit the number of photos taken and limit your final photo selections.


Try to avoid prom season and other high demand dates.

Book well in advance if you can.

Compare prices to see if it may be less expensive to rent twice, scheduling 2 trips, rather than renting once and paying the driver to sit and wait between trips.

Consider an alternative vehicle rental, i.e. a new rental convertible or luxury car driven by a friend or associate, a horse drawn carriage, etc.

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