In planning a wedding, nobody really tells you that there is a LOT of down time between choosing the big things (venue, dress, booze) and the two weeks before the event, where you make an unfathomable number of lists and cry for no reason. But! The deed is done! And today, here’s the finale to the Spend Matters-style wedding planning series. Enjoy!
As a refresher, I talked about this a lot earlier this spring:
- Wedding Planning: Spend Matters Style
- Procuring the Perfect Chicago Wedding Venue
- Wedding Planning: Venue, Menu, Hotel Blocks, Stationary, Oh My!
- Wedding Planning: Procuring "The" Dress
I have some final words of advice to those looking to cut costs and effectively apply supplier management and sourcing strategies to wedding planning:
Etsy is a dream wedding supplier marketplace. It is where I got our rings, confetti for the tables, a headband I didn’t end up wearing, personalized lockets for my bridesmaids, a poster that served as our guest book…the list goes on. All of the crafters I worked with had reviews right on the site, answered my emails immediately, were extremely courteous and professional, and everything arrived exactly how I ordered it and on time (even the guest book poster that I ordered five days before the wedding). This may be a fluke, but I was impressed.
Think systems management. When’s the last time you actually mailed a letter of your own volition? Now, when’s the last time you checked email? We mailed printed invitations, but all of our RSVP-ing was done online (where everybody actually hangs out all day). Best of all? I now have a database with names, addresses, and emails pre-loaded where I can enter and check off gifts and thank yous as I send out the cards.
Regular supplier management and communication is key. I was lucky to have suppliers (venue, wine distributor, florist) who reached out to me regularly, but I also touched base regularly, even just to send a thank-you card once in a while during the planning process. This went a long way when it came to the day of the wedding, when the venue went above and beyond any expectation. To cite two examples, one guest was allergic to sesame, and they made her a special set of appetizers on the spot that were sesame free. Another guest is allergic to everything, and they cooked her up a chicken breast and veggies sans any of the things she can’t eat. None of this was planned. My guests were so appreciative, and the venue scored huge points in our book.
Source, source, source. Our venue was BYO for alcohol. Did you know that the excise tax rate on liquor in Illinois is $8/gallon? Did you know the excise tax in Missouri, where all of my husband’s (weird, husband) relatives were coming from, is $2/gallon? When you’re buying Bulliet for over 100 people, the little savings add up. Another booze tip (is it trashy to admit this?): Go fancy at the beginning of the evening, and keep some backups hidden for the end of the night. After four or five initial Manhattans or glasses of wine, not a single guest noticed our sneaky switch from Bulliet to Kirkland Signature’s finest small-batch bourbon and one of Washington State’s best reds to three-buck chuck. Our bank account definitely noticed.
Pick your battles. We made a big list of everything that weddings are “supposed” to have and prioritized it. Important to us? Food, booze, music, photos. Still important but not as much? Flowers (we all held bouquets, but the tables had paper flowers that I made for under $20). Not important at all? Those horrid little gauze bundles of Jordan almonds or thousands of cocktail napkins or matchbooks with our names on them (and I am even a secret lover of Jordan almonds).
AirBnB/VRBO/etc. Hotels are nice. But why not stay in a whole apartment for the same price or cheaper? Several of our guests chose to go this route and were extremely pleased that they had a “home” to go to for the weekend.
The average cost for a wedding in Chicago is $28,427. I’m proud to say that being a Spend Matters employee did me a lot of good. We came in at just over $16,000 for everything.
And it was stunning:
I’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to those in the Spend Matters community who offered advice and support. I received some truly amazing tips.
Now if you need me, I’ll be honeymooning in Ireland for two weeks starting 11/24!