(1) Hold your wedding outside of summer
Many of my recent inquiries have all been in the month of July. It is a very popular month to tie the knot! With beautiful summer weather on your side, I can see why it is a desired time. But have you ever considered a winter, spring or fall wedding? Not only will you give your guests a breathe from the busy wedding season, you can also potentially save a lot with the right planning and negotiations.
As an example, a coveted venue in Toronto has a drastic price drop for weddings on a Saturday that don't fall in the summer months.
$1,500 - any day of the week, November to April
$6,000 - Saturdays, May to October & December, plus long weekend Sundays
This is not petty cash we're talking about, this is a few thousand dollars you can save by not having a wedding when everyone else is having a wedding. Right at the cusp of a season change, a wedding on the first week of November or end of April could be just as nice as a July wedding.
You will also have bargaining power with not just the venue, but also with caterers that depend on the seasonal business: DJs, photographers, decorators, hotel rates and your honeymoon vacation.
(2) Consumption or Signature Drink vs Open bar
If your family and friends are not heavy drinkers, I'd consider having a signature drink, or a consumption bar, instead of the traditional open bar. For a consumption bar, you only pay for what is opened, while the price for open bar is usually a drastic jump. A signature drink can also be an option for you to throw in a unique twist to a traditional alcoholic favourite.
(3) Prioritize your spending
Once you have a budget, know what your non-negotiable items are. For some couples this is your photography, dress and food. For others it might be the cake, the venue and the music. Spend money on what you really want, and consider alternatives for the items that are nice to have, but aren't priority.
(4) Have a really amazing lunch reception
If having an unconventional reception is appealing to you, you can consider having a lunch reception and do it up real nice. By going this route, it means smaller portions and less alcohol consumption. Not everyone will be open to this suggestion, but consider it if you are looking for a more casual and untraditional wedding day. It can be equally memorable and special.
(5) Buffet vs. Sit-down
If dinner is a must for you, consider having buffet stations instead of a formal sit down meal. You will spend less per head for this option, but still have a succulent meal. Guests can also have a choice of what they eat and how much they eat.