Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Need to cut down on your wedding costs? Get away and get married!

Photo by Flickr's willshoot

I'm a big fan of personal finance stories in the Washington Post, so I was pretty interested in this article recently that some brides are saving money by having a destination wedding. To me, that seems counterintuitive -- wouldn't having your wedding somewhere else make the costs skyrocket? But I make sense of the entire paradox -- eventually.

The biggest cost of a wedding is people -- bridesmaids, groomsmen, sponsors, guests. Most people would invite everyone and their mommas, daddies, nieces and nephews, if you think about it. So by having your wedding in some exotic locale, say Maui like in the photo above, you end up pre-excluding some because a lot of people usually can't afford to fly somewhere, put themselves up in a hotel, and give you a gift. That's just reality.

From the article:

These unromantic downers are forcing couples to take a hard look at what they're spending on their special day. In many cases, the new economic reality means downsized ambitions. Couples are scaling back on their guest lists, replacing filet mignon with chicken, and crossing out honeymoon plans to Italy because of the sinking value of the dollar. Some are choosing exotic destination weddings instead of hometown fetes to keep their guest numbers low. Others are making small cuts where they can: getting professionals to print invitations but stuffing envelopes themselves or replacing expensive peonies with cheaper roses.

Richard Markel, director of the Association for Wedding Professionals International, estimates that couples are spending $1,500 less this year on the average $28,000 wedding.

Tough times also are hitting wedding vendors: photographers, caterers, planners. "People are coming in with smaller budgets, but we're trying to make the most of what they have to still give them a special experience, and if that means losing $100 to $150 for us because of the cost of a better quality of meat, that's okay for us," said Dan Capobianco, president of American Catering in Centreville.

Experts say there are many ways to cut wedding costs. "This is the time to prioritize what you need and realize that there is always something in your budget" to economize, Markel said.

The article continues on to say that hometown celebrations often come with guest lists of 200, 300 or more, but when it comes to destination weddings, it mind end up being 50. That's a lot of $100 dinners you're cutting from your wedding budget. Read the whole thing its very enlightening.

Anyway, there's another plus. If you bring your wedding to one of these resorts, chances are you won't need decorations. I know, I know, as a former wedding decorator I shouldn't be advocating for no decorations. But I'm also in love with the beauty of nature. And if you've got a view like the one from the pictured Maui wedding, you really don't want any flowers distracting from the simple beauty of your surroundings.

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