When you first start dreaming of becoming a June bride, you might picture a bright sunset and the face of your groom. You might debate between plum and gray, or yellow and pink color schemes. However, your daydreams might leave out the hefty price tag that goes along with fantasy weddings.
The average American couple spent $28,400 on their wedding expenses in 2012, not including the honeymoon, according to TheKnot.com. With a daunting figure like that threatening to disturb your matrimonial bliss, it’s time to start paying attention to price tags.
Here are some tips to begin planning an affordable summer wedding.
Pay Attention to Timing
Because most weddings occur during the summer months, book vendors early and lock in your cost and reservation. This usually requires a deposit, so plan your budget accordingly. Prepare to pay around half of the full cost up front to each vendor. You will slowly pay the rest of the price during the months leading up to the wedding day.
Just because you are planning to tie the knot during prime wedding season, doesn’t mean you have to marry during the peak wedding hours on a Saturday night. See if you can find discounted rates for Friday night, Saturday morning or Sunday morning. Your flexibility may save you hundreds and prevent you from going into debt.
How Much for the View?
Look into alternative outdoor spots like a beach, backyard, or local park, rather than renting an expensive catering area from a country club or hotel. It’s a good idea to have bridesmaids purchase inexpensive sandals for the event, rather than expensive heels which will sink into the grass or sand for an outside wedding.
Outdoor venues are usually open with the space for the ceremony and the reception, which can save you the time, money and stress that can go with communicating with multiple vendors.
Choosing gorgeous scenery will save you money on decorations, as table settings and flowers need to be simple to keep the focus on the natural beauty of a location and the main attraction — the bride and groom.
Avoid the cost of a tent required for shade and have your wedding later in the evening with tables set under the moonlight and candles twinkling in the open air.
Pretty Little Accents
Candles make inexpensive wedding centerpieces that add a touch of magic to your reception. In the middle of a table, place a large lit candle surrounded with smaller candles that have personal labels. These little centerpieces can then double as wedding favors for your guests.
Fill clear vases with green apples and lemons. They add a pop of color for vibrant centerpieces and reception décor.
When picking flowers, limit your spending by choosing only one or two different flowers and then buy in bulk. Flowers like roses, zinnias and gladiolas are more common so they cost less. Think locally grown, large blooms and in-season flowers to get the most for your dollar.
Fresh flowers are not your only option. Use silk, crepe paper, tulle or other fun materials to make flower bouquets.
Other exciting paper materials to help cool down a hot summer day are fans and parasols. Offer guests handheld paper fans for a touch of drama. Print the wedding program on the fans for dual use. Purchase colorful parasols to block the bright sun and give your wedding pictures a light, romantic air.
For a playful, cost-effective gift for the wedding party, buy colorful imitation Ray-Ban sunglasses from a party store. Throw these on for wedding pictures and keep it real on the dance floor.
Summer Dining and Drinking
A sandwich-style buffet can be a cheap, but still elegant menu. You will save money as sandwich items can be easily prepared and do not require catering or paying for heat lamps to keep them warm.
Keep the cost of alcohol down by having plenty of non-alcoholic beverage stations with water and juice available. Refreshing lemonade or fruit punch taste especially delicious on a warm summer day.
Not every wedding must be a tuxedo and gown formal event. You may want to opt for a casual all-day wedding fest in the backyard, complete with homemade barbeque and outdoor cornhole games. Take advantage of a family home on larger property and avoid shelling out for a venue, catering and rentals.
Whatever location, menu and décor you decide on, remember the day is about sharing your life with your family and friends, not walking down the aisle broke.
Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Debt.org, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College.