By Paula Clark Ramirez with Historic Mankin Mansion
Champagne wishes and Insta-worthy dreams are common among engaged couples…but so are the accompanying nightmares brought on by the realization that your budget simply cannot stretch any further than it already has. Every couple comes to a point during planning when they have to talk numbers, and sometimes the discussion ends in the realization that something must go. Before you do something drastic, consider some of these clever ideas you can use to trim your wedding budget.
Control Your Guest Count
It may not seem “clever,” but the most effective way to keep your budget under control is to limit your guest list. It all comes down to numbers. For every guest you invite to your wedding, you add to the cost of everything from printable goods like invitations, to important things like rentals. Limiting your guest count saves on your catering and alcohol budget, helps you keep your decor, transportation, accommodations, and even cake expenses down. When the budget is a concern, the first and best way to reduce expenses is to take a good hard look at your guest list and eliminate all but closest friends and family from the equation.
Think Off-Peak: Brunch Weddings
Not every wedding needs to be a grand evening affair. In fact, morning weddings can be refreshing, relaxing, and a lot of fun. Consider holding your ceremony in the late morning and serving brunch instead of dinner. Mornings are off-peak for most caterers, which may make food and beverage minimums lower or service fees negotiable. Depending on your selections, the cost of a brunch menu tends to be lower per person than a full dinner, and you can avoid a full bar set up as most guests will drink far less before noon.
At a brunch wedding, you can easily tray pass two or three specialty cocktails like Mimosas, Bloody Marys or Bellinis, which will help keep alcohol expenses down. You can also offer non-alcoholic options at a self-serve station to minimize labor charges. Iced tea and lemonade stations are satisfying and can be beautifully decorated with little investment. A hot chocolate bar with a variety of toppings is a fun and interactive station for a brunch wedding that won’t break the bank.
A brunch wedding can be more casual than a dinner party which could allow you to simplify your d.cor, choose more affordable linens, and capitalize on the desire of some wedding professionals to book work . during hours that aren’t typically busy. If you choose a Friday or Sunday for your brunch wedding, you may find even more savings available as these days are far less popular for weddings overall.
Bring on the Food Trucks!
What was once an outlandish idea that almost no one would entertain is now completely on-trend. Food trucks are among the hottest catering options for any special event, including weddings. The adventurous chefs behind Richmond’s thriving food truck culture are known for making fresh, gourmet-level food to order served in a casual, quick-service style. Almost all of them will happily work with you to customize a menu which not only gives you budget flexibility, but also the ability to honor special dietary and ethnic food requests.
Much of the savings from food trucks versus traditional wedding catering comes from their un-fussy presentation, but you can always negotiate an upgrade from basic paper plates to more formal disposable look-a-likes, and in some cases, you can coordinate service on the real deal. And don’t think for a second that choosing food trucks to cater your event means you have to settle for picnic benches and plastic tablecloths. While they lend themselves well to a casual feel, some food truck chefs will happily serve their delicacies from stations which guests can take back to beautifully appointed tables with real linens and centerpieces. The free spirit and flexibility of a food truck reception gives you numerous options that can help save the bottom line.
There are many ways to trim a wedding budget without sacrificing the guest experience. An honest discussion about your priorities for your day and a creative approach are all you need to begin the process of planning a wedding that won’t break the bank. Good luck and happy planning!
Paula and Martin Ramirez are the Proprietors of Historic Mankin Mansion Wedding Resort and Bed & Breakfast. They have lovingly restored this National Landmark to its original grandeur and are honored to share this treasured estate with couples and their families.