This post is aptly scheduled: today, I’m getting married, in about three hours from this post. But don’t worry, it was written and scheduled weeks ago. It’s been a very fun but stressful process, planning a wedding out of state. Here is how we took some (but definitely not all) of the financial stress out of the process.
I’ve talked about it before, but it’s worth repeating: weddings can be expensive. If you budget well for them, you’ll be married at the end of the day with no debt. If you don’t budget well for them, you may find yourself in piles of loans or credit card debt, all for one day. And honestly, it’s not worth stressing out over the budget just to appease some people’s perceptions of what a wedding “should” be.
When Kristin and I got engaged, we agreed on a few things right off the bat that made the process much easier: budget, date(ish…we knew what month), and location were the big ones. We knew we wanted to have our wedding in California, in June (teachers in the family and all), and for a reasonable amount so that we could pay cash for it.
In addition to having friends and family in California (since Kristin had lived there for many years, and me for three), it was where we met each other and, let’s be real, California’s good fun. I knew my family would like it – my extended family would take trips to Southern California when they were younger, and it’s a vacation for everybody with lots to do in the area. It wasn’t without its flaws though, and planning a summer wedding in an already-expensive state while living half-way across the country was really going to stretch our budget and put stress on us both individually and as a couple.
Planning a wedding like we wanted was obviously going to be stressful, so we decided to pursue using a wedding planning company to help make sure all of our ducks were in a row. Yes, we knew this would mean some additional overhead and potentially more limited choices, but honestly there are things you pay somebody else to do because you just don’t want to deal with it. This, we agreed, was one of those things, and we’d have to budget for it appropriately.
Choosing the company we ultimately ended up going with was done through diligent research (mostly by Kristin). Finding the venue that we wanted was an important part of that process as well. We had organized some tours of potential venues for a weekend shortly after we moved to Minnesota. Unfortunately, in the biggest oversight in our planning I made, I forgot that the weekend we scheduled that was also when my brother had bought me tickets to see Neil de Grasse Tyson speak. And let’s be real, for a nerd like me, NDGT is about as good as it gets. So, unfortunately, Kristin looked at venues without me.
Decision 1: Name Drop
We had thought about rescheduling, but decided not to. She made up the trip well worth it by saving us a boatload of money. As Kristin, her mom, and the wedding planner were touring one of the potential venues, the planner had asked Kristin how she’d heard of the company. We didn’t fill out any sort of online form to get things rolling, so it was the first time they’d talked about it. Kristin had mentioned that she had a friend from high school who had also used the same company; after hearing that, they gave us a considerable discount: one that saved us $6892.88. Just for literally saying one name of an old high school friend, who the planner happened to really like working with, we’d saved nearly $7000. For a name.
Decision 2: Be Decisive
We also saved a big chunk of money by signing everything in a short amount of time. We had already discussed and agreed upon dates, and I gave the benefit of the doubt to Kristin on if the venue was going to be what we wanted. Since we agreed within a few das, they knocked another $10,535 off of our bill. Yes we’re still probably being overcharged on some things – they have to make their money somehow – but saving over $17k on an out-of-state wedding and basically having next to nothing to do to actually plan the little details is plenty worth any overhead we’re paying for.
It’s amazing how making sure of what you want, and some simple name dropping, could save us so much money. There’s absolutely no way Kristin and I would be having the wedding we are if we’d not had our ducks in a row. Just goes to show that sometimes who you know can be more important than you realize.
What crazy scenarios/decisions have saved you a lot of money in the past?