More and more couples have tighter and tighter budgets; with the economic downturn, everyone is zipping up their wallets and trying to make sure that they get the most ‘bang’ for their buck. Here are a few tips to stretch your dollars, and still get the look you want.
By Ginia Lucas, Y-Knot Party Rentals
The first thing is to pinpoint that one special element that you most want at your event. Is it the perfect band? The right dress? The location? The type of food? Did you find the exact table décor that you absolutely have to have? Once you’ve decided, work from there – whether it is backwards or forwards. Designating that special feature as your starting point will allow you to design the rest of your event around what is most important to you.
If you are having a wedding or quinceañera, re-use the flowers and decorations from the church or garden ceremony. Aisle candelabra can be used around the reception room to add more candlelight, as well as atmosphere, or they can be placed inside the doors to create an aisled ‘grand entrance’ into the ballroom. Altar bouquets can be used on either side of the head table or the cake table to add color to the area, and will help add visual interest to your photography. Pew flowers or bows can be added to the front of any skirted tables you might have as well.
You can also re-use rehearsal or shower centerpieces. We did a wedding where we took all of the floral centerpieces from the rehearsal the night before, placed them along the aisle at the wedding, then brought them to the reception and then distributed them around the room to adorn the columns. As long as the color scheme is the same, they will fit in perfectly and add an extra dynamic that you might not have otherwise been able to afford.
Why buy tablecloths when you can rent them for a fraction of the cost? Renting tables and chairs for a home event is far cheaper than renting a hall. And, if you already have a pretty garden at home, rent an arch for your ceremony, or put the cake under it for a shower.
You can rent just about anything. There are rental companies that specialize in decorations, silk florals, party equipment, tuxedos, generators, and even bridal gowns. By renting instead of buying, you are not only cutting your costs by up to two thirds, you won’t have to store it when you are done, and you are helping the environment by recycling.
If you have friends that have hosted events in the past, see if they held onto those vases or centerpiece items that they used. They might even be excited to help, because this makes them feel that they are part of the planning. If you are having a small party at your home and you belong to a church, sometimes the church will let you borrow tables and chairs for your event. They may ask for a small donation, but it would be even less expensive than renting.
Do it yourself!
While DIY isn’t always a possibility, remember that when you hire experts to set up for you, they are charging for their time. So, have your rentals delivered the day before, if possible, and do some of the work yourself. Let the professionals set up the hard stuff, like tents and dance floors, rig lighting, or set up ceiling draping, but get your bridal party or family to help set up the tables, chairs, and decorations the day before. This will save you hundreds of dollars right off the top of your bill. Another way to save some money is instead of having someone else design your favors, to buy the parts and put them together yourself.
Most of my brides have four to seven bridesmaids that never get to do anything except arrive at the church in the right dress. Have your friends over for a pre-wedding get-together at your house. They can help address or stuff invitations, make favors, or create centerpieces. This makes them feel more involved, and gives them something to talk about at the wedding. ‘Aren’t these favors cute? I helped make them!’ It may sound silly, but it will also give them a real sense that they are an important part of the wedding.
Sometimes the items you want for your party aren’t that expensive in smaller quantities, so if it is at all feasible, I recommend to my clients that they reduce their guest list. By having a smaller, more intimate event, you can afford a more expensive location, that unique décor you want, or the centerpiece you have always dreamed of.
For every eight to ten people that you cut from your guest list, you save a whole table’s worth of decorations. A word of caution here: be very selective whom you choose to cut from your list. It is wiser to cut out something small than to drop people from your list that might be offended. Most will never notice if you have carnations instead of roses, or chicken breasts instead of filet mignon. More than likely the only thing they will notice is how much fun they are having, because you chose the DJ you were sure was going to make your party a hit.
Whatever your budget, always remember: it’s your party, your wedding, your special event. Do it the way you want, with what is important to you. But keep an eye on your budget, and you will be much happier after the honeymoon is over.