Trim the costs, keep the dream

Featured Sliders / Food & Drink / Lifestyle / Stories / November 17, 2020

Tips to help you cut that budget while still having the wedding you’ve always wanted

Story by Madeleine Leroux
Photos by Liv Paggiarino

There’s so many wonderful things to look forward to when planning your wedding.

Finding the perfect dress, the perfect venue, the perfect cake … it can seem like everything is coming together exactly how you’d always imagined.

And then you notice the price tag.

Weddings in Missouri can cost, on average, $26,000, according to data from But we know there’s plenty of ways to help cut down on that final price tag, while still having the wedding of your dreams; you just need to know where to look and what to ask for.

Thanks to a couple of local wedding planners, we’ve gathered some must-know tips to help you get the most for your money.

Pick the right venue

This can not be overstated enough, as the wrong venue choice is going to cost you more and add to already elevating stress levels. Anne Tegerdine, of AnnaBelle Events in Columbia, said it’s one of the biggest mistakes she sees from her brides. Some venues will pigeon hole the couple into specific choices when it comes to things like catering or décor. For example, make sure you find out if the venue is going to require you to use their catering service, Tegerdine said, and what that costs. Some places may have a good rental rate on the room, but the required catering service will hike your costs considerably.

It’s just as important to make sure the venue is right for the type of wedding or look you’re going for. Tegerdine said many brides fall into the trap of booking a venue they don’t love because of a really good deal, but then they spend everything they save and more to transform the space into what they really wanted. Likely, you could have saved a little money overall by going for the venue that fit your vision from the start.

Terra Nickelson, of Plan It Terra in Jefferson City, said an inexpensive venue doesn’t always mean it’s the most budget-friendly. In addition to what Tegerdine pointed out, Nickelson said there are venues that offer great prices, but no staffing – essentially just leaving you the keys. In those situations, it’s up to the wedding party to either hire staff or get guests to help throughout the event, and hiring staff on your own can get costly, Nickelson said. Make sure you read the contract carefully and know what staffing, if any, will be provided for your wedding.

Another thing to keep in mind when checking venues, Nickelson said, is to think of all the worst possible scenarios that could occur, especially when it comes to outdoor spaces. What if it rains? What if it’s too hot or too cold? Is there enough space for proper distance between tables if regulations require 6 feet? Nickelson said dealing with those things last minute can easily rack up the costs fast.

And you should know that some venues charge more for peak seasons and may even charge less for weekday events, Nickelson said.

Be mindful of food service

This has become all the more important during the pandemic, so make sure you know what your options are. Are there restrictions from the venue on types of food service? Does the state, county or city you are getting married in have any restrictions in place? Even if there’s no restrictions on food handling, Tegerdine said couples need to keep in mind the guests and what they will be comfortable with. Is someone’s beloved grandmother going to be comfortable at a buffet dinner service?

Tegerdine said that during the pandemic, she’s advised all of her brides to ditch the buffet and either shell out for plated dinner service or do a smaller, family only meal service at the reception. And regardless of the type of service you choose, be prepared for catering costs to rise during the pandemic, Tegerdine said, as vendors have to spend more than ever to provide their normal services (more masks, gloves, employees, etc.).

Break down costs by guest

Tegerdine and Nickelson said knowing exactly what goes into each guest, from the chair and linens to the meal and drinks, will help you make the best decisions for your wedding. Some venues will provide this information, but others don’t, so make sure you check with venues at the start about what type of information and cost breakdowns they will provide you (in advance, please).

It’s not the most popular thing, but the best way to keep costs down is to keep the guest list short, Nickelson said.

Look for items you can rent vs. purchase, or provide yourself

This can encompass so much when it comes to planning your wedding.

For example, when you order your flowers for your wedding, is your florist renting out 25 vases to you or are they making you purchase them outright? If it’s the purchase option, Tegerdine suggests asking if you can provide your own vases the week before for the florist to use. That way, you can find cheaper options, or borrow from a friend, all while making sure it looks exactly the way you want.

Is the venue going to provide the plates and cutlery or is the caterer? Do they both have that in their budgets? It’s these types of things you can look out for to help cut down the overall costs. Look for any areas where things may be doubled up by two different vendors and pick which one to cut. Ask your vendors about ways you can keep costs down and if you can provide anything to help with that.

Nickelson said it’s vital to carefully read your vendor contracts, especially any sections pertaining to payments or refunds. If you have questions or don’t understand something, ask the vendor as soon as possible. Doing these things up front can save you from awkward interactions down the road, Nickelson said.

Find ways to repurpose items

Nickelson said one way to help trim the costs is to find ways to repurpose items from the ceremony to the reception. She suggested working with your florist or floral designer on arrangements that can make that transition and noted that even bridesmaid bouquets can be repurposed into centerpieces or décor pieces for the reception.

Go paperless

From a wedding website that allows for online RSVPs to a simple, large sign that lists the menu, Nickelson said there are many ways to cut the paper from your event, which can save hundreds. Many wedding websites have systems already built in for online RSVPs, which saves time and costs, both for you and guests. Websites can also include all the information you would normally include in a program, plus it allows for a simple way to keep guests informed of any last minute changes or announcements, or even any COVID-19 precautions or policies.

In the digital and pandemic era, Nickelson said, wedding websites have become far more expected.

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Molly Morris

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