Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Got champagne & caviar taste on a beer & chips budget? Let’s be honest…Who doesn’t want to save a few bucks?! Its not that you’re necessarily “Ms. Frugal Fran,” or “Mr. Cheapskate” (Not that there is anything wrong with that), but perhaps you’d like to host a fabulous event sans the costly mistakes...? Well here are my top 10 personal go-to industry tips to creating a luxurious wedding or ANY event (for that matter) for less!
Photo Credit: Whirlwind Love Photography
1.) Set Your Budget
Do this before anything else & leave some cushion for additional miscellaneous expenses.
Be realistic and write down your MUST-HAVES & work the budget from there, accordingly.
2.) Minimize Your Guest Size
I know..I know...If you've been following me for a while then you've heard me say this again & again, and it should be a given at this point, however I cannot stress it enough. If you're on a budget & your guest count is high, so will the final bill & your stress levels...Just think of it this way...The higher the guest count, the lower your "high-end" look will be. It's much easier to get the wedding of your dreams with 50-75 people or even 100 than it is with 300+ guests (many of whom you don't even speak to, nor will anytime soon!) Hey just keepin it real! Lol
3.) Find a Great Venue
If you want a high-end event on a budget then your venue is going to play a major role in that. After all, the venue acts as the canvas & backdrop of what's to be your special day. Yes, you can find a cheap rental space that you can spruce up, but if it’s a garage…it’ll look like a garage and then it'll take wayyyy more time, effort, & MONEY to transform the space, as opposed to a beautiful backdrop with stunning decor pieces to create a beautiful ambiance. Now don’t get be wrong…I LOVE my blank canvas venues...They are definitely a designer’s dream because you can really let your imagination run wild! But not all “blank canvas” spaces are created equal. Some leave a LOT to be desired. So I'm not one to do shameless plugs Lol, buttttt Mariage Blanc Designs will soon be coming out with an updated e-book w/over 100 various venues (including event spaces, catering halls, mansions, barns, restaurants, castles, etc.) in the tri-state area & beyond, complete with pertinent info like pricing, guest capacity, policies, etc., to help make this process much easier for you!
4.) Chic Décor
I'll let you in on a little secret...Many clients don't know what to do with the newly purchased decor after their event. Lots of client brides just donate decor items to get rid of all the “stuff” because there isn’t any need for it. Vintage stores, flea markets, garage sales & even Craigslist (Yes, you heard right!) is where this stuff ends up. A good resource for brides selling their wedding dresses & decor items is www.weddingbee.com, just head over to the “Classifieds” section ...You're welcome 😉. Oh and please remember to use extreme caution when utilizing these resources. Don't just meet with anyone alone & always try to meet in public areas if possible.
5.) A Refined Palate
I get it...You want good food, but you don’t necessarily want to pay $300+ per plate...Find an awesome food caterer & opt for passed hors d' oeuvres throughout the night instead. You can dress it up with formally dressed food servers & silver trays to make it more classy & fun! Think of it as an extended cocktail hour. Here's a bonus tip! You can apply the same principle with drinks...Load up on wine & champagne & do 1-2 signature cocktails for the event. You'll get that sophisticated vibe for a fraction of the cost. Trust me, your guests will still be full & content! 😋
6.) Professional Photography
Listen, what would be the point of all this if it wasn't beautifully documented? I see hiring a professional photographer as a long term investment. Personally, its largely helped me in conveying my brand’s overall message. I mean how else would my clients see, know, & trust me and my work if it wasn't properly documented? It’s sorta the same idea for weddings & events. You invested money into this wonderful event & you want to be able to view it afterwards in all its glory! It seals the deal in creating a luxurious vibe on a more modest budget. Don't skim on this guys...Trust me. You'll be cherishing these memories for a lifetime. wedding photographers range from $2.5k to $5k to $10k & BEYOND. You can find even lower price points with someone who just started their photography business & is looking to build their portfolio & audience. Obviously, do your due diligence and research...Check out their websites, reviews, & portfolios & ask questions. A great idea for wedding couples, is to book an engagement shoot first to see how it goes. If it goes great, you’ve built somewhat of a working relationship & got your wedding photographer all in one shot (no pun intended Lol). With a professional photographer, you're getting editorial style pictures that look like you shot with a Vogue magazine…1 word TIMELESS.
7.) Professional Videography
This should kind of go hand-in-hand with the photography, but you'd be surprised at how many people nix the whole video or think snippets on their iphones will do. My mom's wedding videographer bailed on her wedding day last minute for another higher paying gig & I'm still mad to this day that I can't see her wedding! 😡 They say a picture is worth a thousand words...Well I say a video is worth a thousand more. Especially, with technology nowadays, these guys will have your event looking like a feature film.
8.) Event Designer & Coordinator
I know what you're thinking another #shamelessplug. Hey listen…If I really wanted to do that then it’d be the #1 tip on the list! Lol. You might be thinking, Steph if I'm already on a tight budget how can I afford you?! But wait! Hear me out...If you were to hire a carpenter to build you some cabinetry, would you buy the tools yourself...? Kinda the same concept here...I've been doing this for a while now, so I know ALL the tea on quality products, mark downs, & getting the most bang for your buck! Not to mention, certain logistics that not too many would be familiar with (i.e. staking poles to install string lighting for an outdoor wedding, table dimensions for chair to guest ratio, proper table linen dimensions for said tables, & every other thing you may possibly NOT think of otherwise). Plus who is setting everything up and breaking everything down when the festivities are over? Just think of me as your captain steering the ship, or in this case your discounted luxury yacht!
9.) Rent a Private Vehicle
So guys...there’s a way to bypass the whole "super pricey limo company" with the surprise tip, fuel, and “opening the car door” service surcharges. And I can't believe I'm giving you all my secrets, but sharing is caring right?! Basically, you can rent out luxury & vintage cars from the actual car owner for a fraction of what it would cost to rent it from a limo company. For more info, check out www.bookaclassic.us. Again, you're welcome 😉.
10.) An Event Theme
Last by certainly not least! I live for a great theme! And although, this is not totally necessary, I strongly encourage it if you want your event to give off a certain vibe & aesthetic. Themes are not as daunting as some people may think. A theme can be something as simple as modern chic. It doesn’t have to be the Great Gatsby all the time, but with a great theme, comes great direction as to what ambiance you want your event to have. Not to mention, guests get really excited when the theme & requested attire is super fun like the Kentucky Derby or the Grand Centennial Ball, or 70’s disco era.