Being an event coordinator for 5 years, I have learned the ins and the outs of the event industry. From prices of staffing, decorations, liquor, linens and food, I know it all, have been quoted on it all and have seen it all! That being said, although my advice to ALL brides has been to cut corners, for it is only one day, I still managed to spend more on my perfect day than I ever thought I would. Do I regret it? Not one bit. Could I have cut more corners? Probably not.
It isn’t about what you get, it is about negotiating prices and knowing that the hall you are looking at usually wants you more than you want them! Just remember they have their minimums too! Here are the top 5 ways you can cut corners at your wedding and ideas that saved me thousands.
1) Let the hall choose your date. As funny as that sounds, when I went to look at and found the hall of my dreams, they had 2 dates open in 2014…..being a new venue in MN they were quite popular, quite expensive and quite, well, perfect. It was Oct 2013 when I decided that I had to have the hall. I asked for open dates and they spit out 1/4/14 and 12/27/14. That was the only two dates they had open. Once again, knowing how hard it is for a hall to book an event 2 months prior to a wedding (especially with 5 digit rental rates) and just opening in the summer, I told them I would take 1/4/14 if I got a promotional rate. They negotiated one in which I was happy with. Although getting finances in order in 2 months was hard, I just happened to book the right place at the right time and was flexible. They are now booked every Saturday until Jan 2016……. Letting the hall choose your date allows them to pick a harder date for them to book and for you to get a better deal.
2) Skip the cake. Although the cake may make a wonderful picture, skip it and save hundreds. We went with a candy bar (which may have been just as expensive as a cake), but then we went with cupcakes. After 10 compliments on the cupcakes I came clean and said we got them from Walmart. .50 a piece, you can’t go wrong! I did look at a much more expensive place, with cupcakes to die for, but at $3 a piece, I was talking about a $500 increase just for the expensive ones!
3) Find out the catering prices first. Although the hall may seem cheap, get a quote for the food and staff FIRST. I wish I would’ve taken my own advice again on this one. At Maple Tavern (where I coordinate weddings), we don’t charge for staff (except $75 for a bartender). Just like serving staff, my staff makes minimum wage and relies on tips. Sometimes given and other times not, just like they would get serving. Don’t go to a place that is going to charge you insane prices for staff. Try to negotiate BEFORE putting any money on the hall.
4) Don’t rent your decorations unless you don’t have time. Don’t go to a decoration specialist. The most reasonable place to get décor is usually the hall itself. At Maple Tavern, we have reasonable decorations that we don’t charge an arm and a leg for. I look at some decoration places and it is UNREAL what they charge. I understand they have a business and need to make money, but know that unless you are renting something large, you can usually get a deal on décor elsewhere (for example, I listed my décor on craigslist). I am selling it for 1/4 of what I bought it for! I wish I could have found what I wanted on craigslist, but I did get coupon after coupon and make 100 trips before getting them all! (I also had many crafting nights) So I probably saved hundreds by not renting.
5) Don’t go to a big box place. Completely opposite of where you want to shop, when it comes to picking a hall, don’t go to a big box spot unless you have the money to do so. If you choose a corporate company, they are going to have more rules and regulations to tie you down. They have their own corporate rules and can’t bend too far to help you out. Find the hidden spots. Pick a spot no one has been to or heard of. You may not want your local legion, but MANY spots are found by looking and asking around. Most companies who can afford to advertise on the major wedding websites, spend too much money on advertising and can’t afford or are too busy to give discounts! Don’t look on the huge sites, google like crazy and find a local place!
So how much of my own advice did I take? I took 3 out of 5 of these items into heart and saved a TON. Am I still sticker shocked from all of the expenses? YES (hall, food, dj, photo, limo, cupcakes, decorations, hair). However, it was perfect, a dream and every bride should get to say this after their h