Happy wedding season! To all you NYC brides…I know. New York City and wedding in the same sentence can sound like a money pit waiting to happen, and while, YES, it’s perhaps not the cheapest place to host a wedding, there’s definitely areas that can be saved on. I spent the entire last year of my life on this stuff, first secretly eloping in July and then surprising all our guests at the wedding reception in December, so I’m happy to share some of the tips and tricks I picked up along the way!
Thousands upon thousands of dollars can be saved by opting to NOT have your wedding on a Saturday. Friday night/Sunday afternoon weddings may not be the most convenient for out of town guests, but it will save you big bucks in the end. Or if you want to be really budget savvy, look into weeknight weddings. Also, most venues I talked with were willing to cut some major bucks off the price if you were willing to have your wedding in the “off peak” (for NYC) season, February and March. Finally, holiday weekends! Ever wonder why there are so many New Year’s Eve weddings?! Since holidays are often avoided by couples due to pre-scheduled celebrations, venues are often left empty and will be more willing to negotiate price.
Besides my bouquet, I opted to have no fresh flowers at the ceremony or reception. Mainly because, hey, flowers die quickly and for the price of a florist…well, let’s just say my hubby got a much nicer wedding gift than he would have if we opted for blooms! Instead, we had paper flowers at the reception that were made out of water color paper (to match my blush and bashful color theme) and pages from old books (to tie in with the literary theme). Best part is: while my bouquet is wilted away in my bedroom, the paper flowers still look just as gorgeous displayed along side it.
Ok, I know this is a very delicate subject and some brides will probably give me virtual shin kicks for even writing it…but really, you’re going to be just as gorgeous in a $300 dress as you will a $15,000 dress…it’s your wedding day! While I did spend one whole day going around to the bridal boutiques in Manhattan, in the end I went with ordering a dress from the internet for a fraction of the cost. It was about a foot too long, but nothing my Korean seamstress wasn’t able to fix. Another hint: if you try on a dress you really like, see if they’ll let you take the floor sample. I had a few places offer this at a 50% discount, which, at the going rate of wedding dresses these days is no small chunk of change!
Save The Dates
New Yorkers are notorious for having their schedules booked months in advance, but when it comes to your wedding, you’ll find that all the really important people will be there no matter what. While Save The Dates are super cute (fridge magnets!), they’re also another round of stamps and specially made cards (that get thrown out a lot quicker than most will admit)…when word of mouth is a whole lot quicker and free.
Hiring Someone, Cause DIY Is Not Always Cheaper
Super important lesson to be learned here, ladies: do-it-yourself is not always the cheaper option, and CERTAINLY not the most time efficient one! I really wanted our reception to have personal touches to it, so opted to make (along with the help of bridesmaids!) a lot of our stuff: centerpieces, boutineoirs, greeting table displays, paper flowers, hand labeled invitations, etc. While it all turned out beautifully, in retrospect I probably would have turned to Etsy for some of this stuff. My apartment was covered in glitter for months, not to mention invaded with huge tupperware tubs filled with craft projects. Somehow crafting in tiny NYC apartments is just not the same as when you have a ginormous extra bedroom to hide away your projects and mess!
I seriously can’t express enough how much we LOVED our photographer and videographer (all the photos in this post are from our sweet photographer, Brklyn View!), and looking at our first family heirloom, our leather bound wedding album, and watching our wedding video (by the amazing Generic Brand Human) are my favorite things. Worth every single penny.
A Nice Bridal Suite
Something super important to the hubby and I was to have a sufficient space before the reception for all the bridesmaids (plus hair and makeup people!) to get ready in. While, yes, we technically could have saved and done this in our apartment, we didn’t want the stress of making sure everything was clean and organized the day of (plus, small space!!). I’d pick a space with as much square footage plus LIGHT as you can find, and something that has adequate seating for the members of your bridal party. Make sure you plan ahead and stock with water, Tylenol, bandaids, and champagne. If you are planning to stay there the night of the wedding with your hubby, make sure that housecleaning comes and does a thorough clean before you return from the reception.
A “Day Of” Wedding Coordinator
Depending on your personality type, you may or may not have a need for a wedding planner for your entire planning process. However, I can’t express enough how having a day-of wedding coordinator was a LIFE SAVER, taking so much stress off of the bride or whatever family member/friend you would have delegated these responsibilities to! From making sure the reception was set up exactly as I had mapped out weeks before, to taking care of giving final payments to all our wedding vendors, to making sure the timeline was followed to a T, to double checking with me first before any “non-scheduled” speeches were made, Sarah from Brilliant Event Planning was worth her weight in gold!
An Exit Plan
This was a tip given to me by my cousin who had gotten married the year before, and SUCH a brilliant idea. If you’re having an evening wedding, it can be a bit of a mad-house as it all comes to a close, and people aren’t quite ready to stop celebrating yet. Coming up with a plan on the spot can be a headache (plus, where do you go with all those people?!), so it’s a good idea to reserve a space close to your venue for after the reception, and to let people know ahead of time via your wedding website, the DJ making an announcement…you get the idea. This way those that still want to party can head on over, and the reception venue doesn’t have a hard time kicking people out. Since this is the part of the evening when all the formalities (speeches, dances, cupcake eating) are through, it’s also a great way to spend more one on one time with your guests!
Speaking only for myself of course, the entire wedding planning process felt pretty self involved, focusing on what I wanted, how I wanted it, when I wanted it, etc. (Oh, to be a bride!) My then fiance was really fantastic through this entire process (me: “you want to elope?” him: “sure!”), and it was really important to me to give him something special as a tiny token of my appreciation. A watch lover, I went with one I knew he’d been eyeing for some time, added a little engraving (You’re the tick to my tock, 7.7.13), and voila! The woman’s version of “putting a ring on it”!
Ultimately, planning your perfect day on any budget just comes down to prioritizing what’s really important to you, and allocating the funds accordingly. One final piece of advice: the wedding industry is a competitive one, especially in NYC. That being said, everything has room for negotiations, so if something doesn’t quite fit into your budget but you feel really passionate about including it, always ask!
What areas did you choose to save/splurge on for your wedding? Share below!
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen