When I tell people we are having three weddings, the first thing most of them say is "That is so expensive!" Most people think of weddings requiring a big budget in order to be a good party. These days, more than just a meal, dancing and cake is expected. There are cocktail hours and dessert bars, photo booths and expensive wedding favours. Some brides expect to wear two or even three dresses. Of course when people talk about big budget weddings they are usually talking about first weddings. Sometimes they refer to second weddings, but it is often considered gauche to have a big celebration if you are marrying for the second, third or more time.
We seem to go against the trend as our friends and family have been clear that they want to celebrate with us. In order to do this without having to cash in all of our pension funds, we have been thinking outside the box. Wedding one is a late afternoon ceremony with a reception directly following; we have invited about 150 people. Wedding two is a mid-morning ceremony with a reception immediately following; we have invited about 105 people. Wedding three is an afternoon ceremony with a reception running well into the evening/night; we have invited 50 people. If everyone who is invited decides to attend our celebrations, we will be feting 305 people over the course of a year.
Here are my top tips to save money:
There really isn't a wedding off season". However, certain times of year are definitely more popular for getting married in the Northern hemisphere. Wedding season usually starts mid-May and runs through September and December is very popular as well. February weddings near to Valentine's Day are also popular. All other times are less popular which often means that venues are less expensive and it is easier to coordinate the services that you want. Of our three weddings, only one (the second) is during wedding season.
Invitations and Information:
As long as you are computer literate, all of the information provision can be done for almost no cash outlay at all. We opted for emailed save-the-date cards, emailed invitations and a free wedding website for each of our celebrations that gives all the information the guests need to know. My fiancé did all of the artwork. My maid of honor coordinated all of the mailing and is collecting all of the RSVP's.
There are a wide variety of domains that offer free wedding websites. They offer differing free services and most of them provide lots of connections to wedding services and articles about trends, issues relating to weddings and some even have etiquette information. They have forums that allow for exchange of ideas as well. We opted for TheKnot.com. Other options include: gettingmarried.co.uk, weddingwire.com and ewedding.com.
Location, Location, Location:
Our first wedding is this November in Los Angeles, California. I can clearly hear the sharp intake of breath from readers when they see 'LA' in print. Los Angeles can be one of the most expensive cities in the US in which to get married. Venues are very expensive as a rule and many venues require that you use their catering services (which are also expensive).
If you are looking for a less expensive venue, consider:
Local parks: In Los Angeles, there are no less than four venues based in amazing parks (like Griffith Park). Because most parks are run by the city, the state or the Federal government, they tend to be less expensive. They will often provide security as part of the package. They have more rules about use, food and drink and only some areas have access to buildings for toilets, shelter and food preparation.
Religious buildings: Churches may seem obvious as ceremony spaces. Many religious buildings have meeting space and also have full kitchens. Those who are multidenominational are often happy to rent space to people from other denominations.
Masonic temples and halls: Many lodges rent out their spaces and these can have lots of amenities.
Club houses: Many groups (Veterans of Foreign Wars and the women's group at the Thursday Club — La Canada, California for example) rent out space.
Food and Drink: