Photos: Charlotte Jenks Lewis
When it comes to cutting wedding costs, every little bit helps. And, says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia, "reception rentals are a good line item to try to trim." Here's how you can cut your overall budget by focusing on your rental costs.
1. Choose a venue that's just the right size.
As you shop for the perfect spot to dance the night away, you may find venues that list capacities well above your personal needs. But "choosing a venue that is the appropriate size will keep your overall costs down," explains Fisher. For example, a venue that can hold 200 people may require a minimum guest count of 150. And so a couple with just 125 guests would end up paying for 25 empty seats. "There are much better ways to spend those dollars," Fisher says.
2. Skip a china upgrade.
It seems like every pretty wedding has uniquely patterned china that adds a little extra pizzazz. But "if your venue comes with basic white china, don't upgrade it," says Sarah Glick, wedding planner at Brilliant Event Planning in New York City. "Instead, opt for a charger or show plate that complements it. Chargers will really dress up your table and guests won't even notice that the china is standard."
3. Look for all-inclusive venues.
Finding a beautiful blank canvas can be fun, but when you have to start from scratch, your rental costs can quickly add up. "Before booking a venue, a couple should be aware of all of the items that come with it," Fisher says. "This can include tables, chairs, linens, dishes, glassware, flatware, lighting, tenting, and a dance floor." If you're trying to cut costs, Fisher says, choose a venue that provides some or ideally all of these items.
4. Reuse your ceremony chairs.
If you do have to rent chairs, make sure they can do double duty by functioning as both your ceremony and reception chairs, suggests Fisher. Guests won't notice, we promise, that they're sitting in the same seat in both locations. And if for any reason you can't reuse your ceremony chairs, think twice before upgrading them. "Guests will spend the least amount of time in the ceremony space," Fisher says, "so upgrading ceremony chairs is not necessary and a good place to save."
5. Use a wedding planner.
If you're paying for a wedding planner, his or her fee can work for you. Why? "Most wedding planners get a discount for working with rental companies because they're repeat customers," explains Glick. "Using a wedding planner could save you 10 to 20 percent on your rentals."
6. Host your ceremony and reception in the same space.
"Having the ceremony and reception in the same place is another budget-friendly tip," says Fisher. Why? Because not only do you pay a single rental fee, but you'll save on transportation and floral costs, too. "Flowers can pull double duty being used in the ceremony and then again as centerpieces at the reception," Fisher suggests.
7. See if you can team up with another couple.
As you plan, check in with your venue to see if another couple is hosting their wedding the day before or after your own fete. If your venue is booked two days in a row, you may have hit the jackpot. "Often couples can split the cost of certain rentals, such as tents, dance floors, and lighting, because it's only being delivered, set up, and broken down once," explains Fisher.