Planing a Recession-style wedding

Photo from Arbutus Photography.

Not to keep rubbing it in… but with the barrage of news stories like these, what can you expect!?

Although some may say weddings are “recession-proof” (we can hope!) these headlines seem to differ….

Wine-country weddings, recession style

Budget-minded brides seek out thrifty elegance

Brides make mad dash for discounted wedding dresses

Budget Brides: Planning a wedding during a recession

10 Ways to have a Frugal but Fabulous Wedding

So we know all about the recession, the layoffs, the foreclosures. What it all means for couples getting married is that shelling out tens of thousands for a one-day event probably isn’t the smartest investment. According to the Press Democrat, a recent study published in the Wedding Report, said the average spending on weddings fell by 24 percent in 2008, to about $22,000. “Everyone is looking to save a little,” said Santa Rosa caterer Rob Gronbach, who’s been doing local and “destination” weddings for 19 years. “There’s a lot of apprehension, a lot of foot-dragging.”

So now, brides and grooms are opting for a more basic wedding that leaves them with money for a down payment, a new car, or just to tuck away as a nest egg. Brides and grooms are shopping around for the best deals, cutting costs wherever they can, and trying to plan as far in advance as possible. Here are still more ideas on how to have a Frugal but Fabulous Wedding, from

1.What Matters the Most?

You may want to pick one or two things to make really special, rather than spread your money around and do everything minimally, advises Linda Matzkin, owner of Hopple Popple Inc. event planners in Newton. She suggests putting in order what matters most to you, such as food, music, flowers, keepsake album, and so on. Then you’ll know which vendors to splurge on and where to economize.

2. Say No to Third Cousins

Inviting every distant relative and co-worker is really what makes budgets balloon, according to Samantha Goldberg, a television personality and celebrity event designer in New Jersey. “Just include your nearest and dearest.”

3. Forgo that Saturday night June wedding

Avoiding Saturdays or considering off-season months can save bundles. A Friday night during peak periods or a weekend in January, February, or March can sometimes save almost 25 percent, says Daniel Briones, president of the National Association of Catering Executives. “And winter weddings,” he adds, “can be quite beautiful.”

4. Get Thee to a Wedding Planner

It may sound odd to economize by hiring someone to do things you could do yourself, but wedding planners save you more than just time. “You’ve never done this before. How do you know you’re getting the best value without an expert?” asks Briones, who’s also director of catering at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia. Wedding planners know vendors in every price range and can also spare you from making costly mistakes in contract negotiations. And couples on a small budget shouldn’t be intimidated about calling for an appointment, she adds. “Many companies like ours work on labor and consultation fees, not a percentage of the overall cost. We have no vested interest in how much someone spends,” she says. At the very least, she suggests buying Mindy Weiss’s The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day, published last spring, for tips on planning and economizing: “It’s the best I’ve read.”

5. Dine early, Dine for less

The timing of your meal can save you money!  “A meal during the day is less expensive than a dinner, and people consume less alcohol,” Briones explains. Consider a late Saturday afternoon lunch or a Sunday brunch.  Regarding buffets, it’s a mistake to think it will cost less than a served meal because it requires less staffing. Not only do buffets require more food to be displayed, but “people tend to serve themselves more than they’re possibly going to eat.”

6. Surprise me! Saving on centerpieces

Rather than picking the type of flowers, pick a talented florist who can design something spectacular with what’s readily available. Special orders are what drive up the prices of centerpieces and bouquets, while “stock” flowers — in-store your wedding week — tend to be quite reasonable. Or, Goldberg suggests, buy wide-diameter bark or pillar candles and sprinkle rose petals around them on the table. You get romantic lighting and a bargain centerpiece all in one.

7. Dim the lights

And speaking of mood lighting, Goldberg maintains it can totally transform any space inexpensively. “It re-creates everything and really impacts your photos.” Dimmed chandeliers, flickering candles, and amber-tinted bulbs can be directed on the table linens and guests’ faces to make the room positively glow, she says. “The venue can have the ugliest carpeting, and with the right lighting, no one will ever notice.”

8. Choose Rings With a Past

That gorgeous diamond you covet might be a bargain at an antiques store or estate sale. Another option: Visit the website, where people sell their new and vintage diamond rings (certified, and often with a fun history) with payments not processed until you’re satisfied. The site claims you can find rings up to half off their original price.

9. Go the Distance

Exchanging vows on an exotic island can actually lower your wedding budget. “First, the couple is already in their honeymoon destination,” says Susan Biemans, co-owner of the Bucuti Beach Resort in Aruba, named last year as one of the top 10 romantic resorts in the world by TripAdvisors. Other reasons, according to Biemans: Resorts see weddings as a draw to fill hotel rooms, so they reduce catering and service fees; fewer guests are willing to travel, which cuts down your list; and when the backdrop is a sunset over the ocean, even a simple, inexpensive arch with flowing linens and a few flowers looks amazing.

10. Avoid an outrageous registry

Sure you can register for a pricey china pattern you otherwise couldn’t afford, but in this economy, how many will you actually receive? Take advantage of today’s mix-and-match trend, says Sheri Singer, registry manager at Bloomingdale’s. A basic white china pattern can be transformed when combined with an exquisite charger and salad plate. Or mix dramatic champagne flutes with less expensive glasses, made even more glamorous if all are tinted different colors.


  1. Its not necessary to get “rings with a past”. Another option is to buy the weddings rings as a set. These sets are called “Trio Rings” and come with the ladies engagement ring, ladies wedding band and mens wedding band. You can find them on or