Are you one of those girls who dream of the fairytale wedding with a white dress, great food and music in beautiful surroundings? I definitely was and I got it without totally breaking the bank. Here are some tips on how to have a great wedding and still save some money.
One of the most important things for the couple to discuss before any planning even begins is the vision for their big day. What do you want to remember from that day? What are some things that are important to include and what can be left out.
We knew that we wanted something simple and traditional but beautiful. We wanted as many of our family members there as possible. We wanted music, dancing and good food without it being too formal and we decided on a fairly traditional Danish wedding. Once we had established that, we could look at everything we needed and evaluate the cost. Here are some of the areas where we definitely saved some money.
Invitations, menus and place cards
I really like to do paper crafts, but don’t get to do it very often, so this was a great chance to be creative. We had determined what our colors would be and then I started browsing craft stores and magazines for ideas. I came up with a simple and beautiful design and created the invitations myself. I also made matching place cards and menus for the table. If you have the time and patience, this is definitely an area where you can both save money and be creative at the same time.
I knew I wanted a white gown and veil and I was ready to purchase one, but even after looking at styles in several magazines, I had no idea what would look good on me. My mother and I went to a bridal shop and tried on dresses. We narrowed it down to the sleeker and simpler styles. I am somewhat short and tiny, so I almost drowned in the bigger gowns. My mother knew a lady who sewed and who had done some beautiful work for her, so she had entertained the idea of having a gown made. At a later date I found some really beautiful lace fabric and I knew it would be great on my gown. We found a simple pattern that I liked and the seamstress went to work. The end result was beautiful. Really think about what you want. If you are going to go with a seamstress, I would recommend seeing some of their work first.
The groom’s clothes
For my husband we decided on a timeless black tuxedo, since it was an evening wedding. My dad had mentioned that he still had the tuxedo which he got married in and his size was about the same as my husband’s. He asked us what we thought and my husband thought the idea was great. My parents got married in 1974, so we the tuxedo could have easily looked like something out of “Saturday Night Fever”, but no. It was sleek and very well taken care of and this became my dad’s gift to my husband. So for my husband we purchased shoes, a button down tuxedo shirt and a vest with matching butterfly and handkerchief.
Hair and make-up
My mother is a stylist, so here we clearly saved some money. She did my hair and make-up and the only cost was the actual makeup. This can really be an area where you can save money. If someone in your family knows how to do hair and make-up, I suggest that you ask if this is something they might help you with.
This can easily become one area where you will be spending a great part of your budget. Selecting the location all depends on the type of wedding you want, and it pays off to look into all alternatives here. In our case, my father was able to rent a beautiful space from the Mason Lodge which he is a member off. It was large enough for all guests and came with tables, chairs, china, kitchen and everything we needed. The requirement was that we had to tidy up the place on the following day, or for an extra cost we could have the place cleaned as well.
Food, table decor and wait staff
Often the food comes as part of the location package, but because we did not rent and inn or hotel we decided to go a different route and hire a private cook. This is also where the biggest part of our budget went. At a traditional wedding in Denmark a sit down dinner can easily cake 3-4 hours because of songs and speeches. Because of this my husband’s request was that dinner be served at a buffet, so that people could get up and stretch and it became less formal that way. My parents knew the cook we hired, who had a professional background in running an inn. Since she was a professional at this, she hired her own staff of about 4-5 people to help in the kitchen and with serving the dinner and drinks. This lady handled table setting, flower arrangements for the table, shopping all the food and running the kitchen at the wedding. Together with our Master of Ceremonies, she was the closest we had to a wedding planner.
Because our cook took care of the flowers for the table, the only thing we needed to worry about was the bouquet for the bride and little flowers for the groom and a few extra people.
We offered an open bar of red wine, white wine, bear, soda and water. Because our hometown in Denmark is close to the border to Germany, we shopped all our drinks in Germany and were able to save a considerable amount that way. It is often cheaper to buy drinks in Germany.
Master of Ceremonies / Toast master
A very good friend of my dad accepted the challenge of running the wedding during dinner. Together with the cook, he was in charge of speeches and songs and when the different courses we served at the buffet. He did an excellent job and came free of charge. My parents and my husband and I were naturally delighted and treated him and his wife to dinner at my folk’s house after the wedding. While it is optional to have a master of ceremonies, is sure helps in order for the evening to run smoothly and for dinner to move along and not drag out. The Master of Ceremonies can easily be a trusted family friend, who understands how the couple wants the evening to take place.
If dancing is going to be part of your wedding celebration, you will need to consider whether you would like live music or a DJ. My father knew a man, whom he used to play in a band with. He played a great mix of contemporary as well as older music, so we knew there would be something for everyone, and we knew he was great. It is a good idea to get referrals here, so you get a good musician or DJ. The quality of the music, especially if dancing is involved, can make or break a party.
Here is one area where we did not particularly save money. We did not know any great photographers, but were referred to a good photographer in town. However, this may also very well be an area where you get a good discount if you know the photographer well, or maybe a family member or friend offers to take your photos at a reduced price. Definitely ask for referrals here. After all, you don’t really get a second chance to capture the glow of this special day. Another tip we got was to put disposable cameras on each table, so the guests could take pictures throughout the night. We have some great and also informal pictures of very happy guests that we still enjoy today.
No cost was involved with the church. The flower decorations for the church were provided partly by the church and partly by our extended family.
In closing, there are a few things that are traditional to an American wedding that are not necessarily included in a Danish wedding and which we chose not to have. We did not have bridesmaids or groomsmen, but we each had a witness in church, which is required. Rehearsal dinners are not customary either but my husband and I did rehearse alone with the pastor prior to the wedding.
I would have to say that the biggest areas where we saved were on the location, food and our clothes. We got very good discounts there, because we went with some alternative choices. One of the things we did was use our connections, friends and family to create a great day at a reasonable price. You can still have a very beautiful day and not go all out price-wise. I know that both we and our guests remember our day as very beautiful.