The Thrifty Bride: 8 Ways to Save on Your Wedding Expenses

It’s just the third month into the new year but I already know at least seven couples who have been engaged! With my own wedding just less than a year ago, it’s a welcome treat that friends come to me for queries on processes, supplier referrals, and even tips. It makes me feel useful as I know how confusing planning a wedding can be.

Throughout the process of sharing Pinterest boards, Google spreadsheets, article links, and retelling the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of wedding planning, I came up with a list of the different ways you can cut your wedding cost. I had to be un-influenced so I made sure not to search online for other tips and to only rely on my experience. This way, it’s honest and more relatable to brides-to-be, especially in Cebu.

So here goes:

Look for a White Dress, Not a Wedding Dress
This was one of the things I was really overwhelmed with. When you start looking for a wedding dress, you’ll realize the huge discrepancy of bridal dresses vs. regular bridesmaid dresses or any dress for that matter. I actually tried an experiment wherein I asked for a quote for a white party dress and then later asked for a quote for a bridal gown. Aesthetically they didn’t differ much but labeling it as a bridal dress really made a big difference. If you find a regular dress that you feel like walking down the aisle in, grab it! Remember Kitchie Nadal’s 800-peso wedding dress? It’s all about feeling confident in it.  Another trick you can try is to purchase your own fabric and then have your dress sewn by an expert seamstress. Nothing says personalized more than that!

Get an On-the-Day Coordinator Instead of a Full Planner
First of all, don’t get me wrong, you can very well ask assistance from your most reliable girl friends or family members. I did and it went well. But as many a movies have taught us, it’s not always ideal to have a friend do the entire wedding planning for you, unless if that friend does events planning professionally. Aside from the fact that it will only create superfluous drama between the two of you, individuals who are not used to this kind of responsibility can get lost in all the commotion and may not be as comfortable with dealing with the suppliers as a professional coordinator would. I have truly learned that the best gift you can give to yourself on your wedding day is a coordinator. Like really! I heard of brides who had to deal with last-minute calls from caterers or other vendors while in the middle of being made up because some things did not go as planned. Now you wouldn’t want that, do you? No BS but I honestly did not feel any disarray on my wedding day because I had a coordinator who dealt with them. To save cost, hire an on-the-day coordinator to oversee the flow of the entire day instead of getting a full planner. Your on-the-day coordinator will most likely be hands-on even days before the actual day. You won’t really be needing any professional help with bookings or meetings months before the wedding. You only need one day to be a stress-free bride.  

DIY Whatever You Can
Do-it-yourself weddings have become a trend not only because it’s a great way to express your creativity but also because it’s an excellent means to save cash. I applied as much DIY as my prowess and time would allow me on my wedding and it remains to be one of the smartest things I’ve done in my life! There are lot of items that you can DIY. Buy some nice paper and print your own invitations, adding doilies, twines or whatever you want. You can also print your own name cards and other labels. Learn basic calligraphy just enough to make the welcome board and signages. Make your own bombonieres, and if you have enough time, create fabric boutonnieres and bouquets. Invitations are usually charged starting at 100.00+ PHP per piece and basic flower packages often start at 15,000.00 PHP. You’d be amazed at how much you can actually save with simple DIY efforts.

Skip the Save the Date
While it will always remain essential to give enough heads-up to your guests especially if you’re planning a destination wedding or if you’re expecting guests from overseas, you can always find alternative ways to let them know of your special day other than sending a Save the Date card. Understandably, sending cards is not a common practice in our country but there is this trend of doing STDs in the form of teaser photos or videos. This is an add-on service or part of packages offered by wedding photographers and videographers. Skip this and save some really serious bucks. As well, some may find it tacky but a Facebook Event could work, depending on your type of guests.

Do Away with the Unnecessary Photo and Video Services
With that in mind, you’ll notice that photo and video packages usually include engagement shoot, same-day-edits, prints, albums, and the likes. Decide if you really need these add-ons as you’ll be able to save a lot when you stick to the basic documentation service. You can always choose later on if you want your photos printed. In our case, we had a friend do our engagement shoot  at a “friendly” price and for the prints, I waited for a Photobook promo and ended up having our wedding album at only 200.00 PHP.


Lookout for Promos
Speaking of promos, always be on the lookout for any opportunities of marked off rates. Book your hotel via travel booking sites that offer huge discounts just by signing up as a member. Or ask your vendors if they have any ongoing promotion or early bird offer. When you have at least a year to plan your wedding, it’s best to book your desired suppliers before they increase their rates, which usually happens at the beginning of the year.

Get a Condo Unit or Rental House Instead of Hotel Rooms
When logistics allow, it’s better to get a spacious condo unit or a rental house for the preparation rather than book hotel rooms where you need at least two to separate the male and female entourage. Plus, a standard room may not be big enough. Make-up and pre-ceremony pictorials can be done here where you are more free to move and do whatever you like than when you’re at a hotel. This can also serve as a place to accommodate some of your out of town guests after the wedding. Or choose one with a pool or a nice view, and you’ll have an instant honeymoon spot. The only downside to this is if you’re one who believes in not seeing your groom before the wedding because you’ll most likely do.

Bring Your Own Finger Food and Refreshments
There’s a big chance that you need to offer pica-pica food to your guests before the actual dinner. This especially happens when you have a church wedding and there’s a downtime between the ceremony and the reception. You don’t want your guests to starve that they’ll no longer pay attention to your program and invade carelessly the buffet table when dinner is finally served. Ask your caterer and venue if you can bring your own finger food and drinks. Having them serve cocktails entails another inclusion to the bill.

Happy planning! ♥

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