So you're having a wedding or special event, soon. How do I know this? Because you wouldn't be reading this, if you weren't. :) Everyone wants to have a great wedding, birthday party, quinceanera, or special event, and if you can save some money in the process, why not do so? Here are some easy tips on how to have a fabulous wedding or event, and save money, too!
We actually were interviewed on "Good Day Austin," on Fox 7 News, discussing this very blog! If you didn't catch it, here are the tips. :)
1. Take your time - Not only is "Take Your Time" a great Country song by Sam Hunt, but it's great advice! The average length of engagement is 14 months, but it can certainly be longer. Why? The longer your engagement, the longer you have to save money and plan your big day! This goes for planning any event, such as a quinceanera, anniversary, birthday party or special event. You already know the date, so the sooner you get started planning, the better chance you'll have to save!
2. Don't Get Saturday Night Fever - Though "Saturday Night Fever" was an iconic 70's movie, don't catch it! Saturday weddings are the norm and venue owners and vendors know this. You'll always pay the "normal," premium price for a Saturday wedding or event. Book your event on a Friday, Sunday, or even a weekday, and save some serious money!
3. Consider the Off-Season - Have a wedding or event in the "off-season" and save lots of money! Wedding season is typically March - late July, in central Texas. Fall weddings are becoming increasingly popular, too! Now, fall weddings and events, September - mid-November, are just as expensive as Spring events. If you can have a wedding or event in the "off-season," December - February, you'll save a lot of money on your venue and possibly, your vendors! Be sure to find out when the off-season is for your area.
4. Use Non-Required Vendors - Many venue owners have a written or verbal contract with vendors, and many times, they will receive a referral fee, for each booking the vendor gets from this venue. Though this is great for them, but it's not for you! Why? Simply because the vendors are not going to lose that referral fee. Chances are, they'll raise their prices to cover that fee and you'll end up paying a premium price for the "preferred vendor." Some venues will even charge you a fee, if you don't use their vendors. Feel free to dispute this fee. They want your business, so it doesn't hurt to try.
5. Shop Around - Always, shop around. With the internet, it's so easy to get quotes from various vendors. Don't book the first vendor with the lowest price. Remember to look at the value of what you're paying for, not simply the lowest price. You may get more value from a vendor who is not the cheapest! Always ask what comes with the service. If you need to hire a great DJ or photo booth in the Austin, Texas area, we know of one! :)
6. Use One Venue - Have your wedding ceremony and reception in the same place, if possible. This way, you won't have to pay the rental fee for two different venues. Many venues offer an outdoor ceremony area and indoor reception area, for one, flat fee. Just ask your wedding officiant to perform the service at your venue. This also saves time and saves your guests from having to travel to different venues.
7. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for More – Weddings and events are great moments, for you, your families and friends, but don’t forget, for venue owners and vendors, though it’s always nice to be a part of someone’s special day, it’s still business. Ask the venue owner/manager, what’s included with the price? Do they offer table linen and chairs with the price, or are they extra? With vendors, ask the same question, what’s included with the price? Then follow it up with “If I decide to book, today, will you throw in anything free or extras?” It doesn’t hurt to ask.
8. Consider a Restaurant - We're seeing more and more weddings and parties held at local restaurants, versus wedding or event venues. Most restaurants have a minimum person fee, many start at 50 guests. Restaurant managers will simply charge you for the food and drinks, for your guests, and not a venue rental fee. They'll set up the room, tables, linen, decor, etc., AND they'll clean up, afterwards, too. Saving you the time and hassle of doing this! You can also ask about hiring your DJ or band to come in and play, for the reception.
9. Take it to the House - The courthouse, that is. Consider getting married at the courthouse, to save a ton of money. You'll simply pay the filing fee, about $85, in Travis county. This saves you the time and stress of planning your ceremony, hiring ceremony musicians or a DJ, planning the ceremony, etc. This will leave you time to focus on planning a great reception. This will also mean you'll save money on your venue, since the number of hours will be less (you won't need time for the ceremony and cocktail hour). Yes, this is not the same thing as getting married in front of all your family and friends, but if you're on a tight budget, this is an option.
10. Consider Other Dinner Options - Many restaurants offer on-site catering for phenomenally less than the typical wedding/event catering companies. Call around and get quotes. Be sure to know the number of guests you'll have. Many weddings we've done served BBQ, for dinner. You can save lots of money doing this, and it's Texas, so nearly everyone loves BBQ! Be sure to have healthy and vegetarian options, too.
Additionally, always serve buffet style, not plated. Plated dinners always cost a lot more. If you really want to save, you can serve heavy appetizers throughout the event, as well.
11. Reconsider the Cake - Though cakes are traditional for weddings, quinceaneras, and other events, they're not required. The wedding police won't show up at your event if you opt to serve something else. Many couples have a small wedding cake for them to cut, and then serve sheet cake from Sam's Club or Costco, or cupcakes, to their guests. Other weddings we've done have served cookies, donuts, and even apples! One wedding had decorated apples for the bride and groom, and each table was served a bucket with a variety of chocolate-covered or candied apples. Great idea!
12. Consider Your Drink Options - When it comes to drinks and cocktails, find out if the venue will let you bring your own alcohol. You can simply buy as much as you'd like, and when you're out, you're out. You can simply buy a keg of your favorite beer, and serve 1-2 types of wine, and perhaps 1-2 signature cocktails. This will save a lot of money! Be sure to hire a TABC certified bartender, so your guests don't get over-served and make it home safely.
13. Flower Power – The power of flowers is real, except you don’t get to throw fireballs at things, unless you’re Mario or Luigi, from Mario Bros. Real or fake flowers? Depending upon which kind of flower you choose, real or fake flowers can cost nearly the same. If you’re dead set on real flowers, always choose in-season flowers. If you choose fake flowers, scent can also be added! Keep in mind, roses will always cost more, so consider other types of flowers. We’ve done many weddings without flowers, except the bouquet, and to be honest, no one came up to us and asked “Where are the flowers?” No one will really miss them, honestly.
Don’t forget, your local grocery store sells flowers at a fraction of the cost! Give them plenty of notice, and you can get a great deal on flowers, versus the local florist. You can also get great cakes, much cheaper, too!
14. Second Beats First, Sometimes – Though second place is rarely seen as better than first, it can be with décor. Go on Craigslist, and look for wedding décor. You’ll see lots of recent newlyweds selling décor and other items from their wedding. You can save a lot of money buying items second-hand, and no one will notice!
15. Be Your Own DJ – You can certainly “be your own DJ” for a fraction of the cost. Simply create a playlist of your favorite music, hook up your laptop or iPod to the venue’s sound system, and you’ll hear your favorite tunes, all night! Don’t forget that your guests have a variety of musical taste, so include various genres. If your venue doesn’t have a sound system, rent one from a local musical instrument rental store.
Keep in mind, your playlist will not change, take requests, mix the music, or “read the crowd.” Your playlist won’t know when to change genres, like a good DJ will. You will need to have someone “MC” key moments, so you may have to hire someone or have a friend/family member do this. You’ll need dance floor lights, to create the fun atmosphere, too.
16. Know When You Need a DJ – Plan out your timeline and find out when you actually need your DJ to start playing. Keep in mind, DJs charge for their time, hourly, so be sure to ask if set up and break-down is included with the price, or charged separately. If the wedding or event is small, consider only using the DJ for the reception. Often times, we’ll be booked for the ceremony and reception, but the officiant didn’t really need the microphone, since the venue was so small. Think about dinner, too. You can create your own playlist, as mentioned above, and bring a good stereo system to play it during dinner, saving you the cost of having the DJ play music during that time.
17. DIY Your Wedding/Event Photo booth – You’ll need to buy all the props from Amazon or your local party store, buy your backdrop, a few stands to set up your backdrop, and you’ll have an open-air photo booth! Guests can take pictures with their phones. Set up an Instagram wedding account with whatever hashtag you choose, ask your guests to tag your wedding account and voila, your guests' pictures will all be there! Your guests won’t be able to have their own photo strips to take home, though. You’ll also have to set up and break-down the photo booth area. Check out our Simple, Affordable DIY Photo Booth Options blog, for more great photo booth ideas!
18. Deposits & Payments – Ask about the amount of the deposits, when they’re due, cancellation policies, etc. Many vendors charge 50% of the total cost, for the deposit. Though this is okay, be sure to ask if this is flexible. Can you pay 25%? Why not? Can you pay the total amount in payments? Is there a charge to do this? Get receipts for everything you pay, and always correspond via email, so you have it in writing, too. Vendors sometimes require full payment, before the event happens. Be careful when doing this. Sometimes, the vendors can be late, not fulfill their end of the contract, etc., and you’ve already paid them. Ask if payment can be made the day of the event.
19. Get it in Writing – Though this doesn’t seem like a tip to save money, it actually is. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve received calls that their DJ or photo booth service won’t return their calls, and they’ve already paid the deposit! These customers lost their deposit, and then had to hire us, anyway. Be smart, get it in writing!
20. Do Your Research – Do your research on vendors, the venue, planning tips, etc. Look for reviews. Remember, no business can have 100% positive reviews. You can’t please people 100% of the time, it’s just not possible. Look at the date of the reviews. Look for different sources: Google, Wedding Wire, Yelp, Facebook, The Knot, etc. If you’re reading this, then you’re obviously doing your research! Way to go! Certainly feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need any advice, and we’ll be happy to help!
- Austin's Best DJs & Photo Booths
Austin's Best DJs
We've taken our decades of experience and compiled it into a few helpful articles, to help you plan your wedding or event!