Before my partner and I got engaged last month, we always swore we would do one of those Instagram-worthy elopements. But sure enough, a week into being engaged, we caved and decided to hold a small wedding. We were thinking 50 people tops. And then we got to documenting a guest list, and it turns out my family is pretty huge. Here are our top ten pieces of advice – and yes, we’ve already learned them one month in.
1. It’s your day. Since we’re paying for our wedding on our own, we have a little bit of a leg up here. Don’t feel the urge to overspend because you *think* your great aunt will want a full plated meal instead of heavy h’oer dourves.
2. In the same vein, prioritize what you feel is important. We don’t exactly have a penchant (or the budget) for decorations so we’ll have to invest in a venue that speaks for itself. Flowers? Also unimportant. We care about good food and drinks, so we’ll cut out other things to make up for it.
3. Compare venue to guest count. A lot of the venues we like only hold a certain number of people, which can work for you or against you. Some of those extended family members might not make the count under those constraints, but it can also force you to cut out others in favor of those you have to invite. Like everything else on this list, you just have to figure out what’s important to you. If it’s not important to make your third cousin twice removed, or your childhood best friend you haven’t talked to in three years, happy – it might be worth going with a smaller venue.
4. Read your contract. Read. Your. Contract! Don’t feel bad about asking for clarification, and definitely don’t sign without fully understanding what you’re doing. Be sure you have a clear path for what’s included in the price, the cancellation policy and gratuity/sales tax that’s included or not included. You never want to be surprised at the end.
5. Negotiate. While some vendors are more flexible than others, you’ll never know if you don’t try. You likely won’t be able to save tons of cash by negotiating, but you could get more of what you actually need.
6. Scale back where you can. Kind of like number 2, you don’t need calligraphy for your envelopes, or expensive paper stock, super pricey centerpieces, etc. I’m convinced that when they talk about weddings that cost more than $30,000, those folks went extra on literally everything!
7. Don’t be afraid to be straightforward with family members. For instance, my dad thinks we need to invite every third cousin and family friend. I kindly remind him that we’re keeping things small. (Again, this does help if you’re paying for things on your own!)
8. Don’t go into things thinking you’ll recoup your cash with gifts. Set a budget up front and assume that you’ll never get a single penny back. Of course, it’s safe to assume you’ll get cash gifts, but you should never break your budget thinking you’ll get money back.
9. Get moving sooner than later. Since we got engaged at the beginning of November, a 2018 wedding is already out of the question. The good news? If we book a venue by the end of the year, our contract will honor the 2018 price. Get moving!
10. And finally, you don’t have to get the priciest liquor package. Enough said here. Your guests will be just fine drinking well spirits instead of top shelf, especially if it’s open bar.