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How do I pivot my budget?

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

One of the biggest questions we get from brides is how to stay on budget. It’s incredibly common to be midway through the planning process and to overspend in a couple categories too many. And if COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that your emergency “just in case” fund is not something you want to skip. We have been fielding questions from brides who had unexpected postponement costs as well as brides who lost their primary source of income and needed to cut the budget drastically. It can be a tricky task to cut costs once you’ve started planning, but it’s not impossible. Here are three ways to reduce your budget midway through the planning process.

1. Consider Buying Instead of Renting

Although this isn’t practical for all wedding items, this is a great option for decor pieces. Consider purchasing chargers, vases or other centerpiece pieces (think wood slabs), and specialty pieces for the sweetheart table cake table or guest book table, etc. If you look on buy-sell-trade pages specifically for brides and wedding decor, you can find items at a significantly discounted rate. Even if items come in at a comparable rate to renting, when you consider the resale value, you’ll end up saving quite a bit. It’s never a bad idea to join those groups on Facebook and to scout out what types of items people are posting regularly.

2. Tweak Already Existing Orders

You might be able to modify some of your contracts, even after having signed them. If you do this, it could reduce the cost of your final installment. Check out your catering menu, rental order, and your bar tab. All three are per-person costs and have the potential to be reduced.

Reach out to your caterer to ask if there are any ways they recommend cutting costs without sacrificing quality. Chances are there may be a more cost-effective protein that you can offer to save money. For example, if you opt for a protein that saves you $0.25 per person and you’re anticipating 200 guests, that’s $50 that you’ve saved. If you re-evaluate your appetizers, entree, and desserts, you should be able to find at least one or two areas to reduce costs.

The rental order is another place to crunch the numbers. Take a look at your items again and consider opting for a more standard selection. Although it’s really fun to choose a specialty piece of flatware, your guests might not notice the difference between the standard fork and fancy fork. For example, some pieces of silverware can cost over a dollar each. Let’s go with $1.00 for easy numbers. A wedding anticipating 200 guests will require renting 1,000 pieces of flatware (200 each of dinner forks, salad forks, dessert forks, spoons, and knives). If you rent the $1.00 flatware, that’s $1K. Whereas if you opt for the $0.40 pieces, it comes in at $400, saving you $600 dollars! That’s not chump change!

Another contract to take a look over is the bar tab. Many brides think it’s more expensive to offer a signature cocktail and opt to offer a few selections of beer and a few selections of wine. A signature cocktail seems like a luxury service, but it ends up being more cost effective 9 times out of 10. Think about the cost of a bottle of liquor vs a six pack or a bottle of wine. Now consider how many drinks you can serve from each unit. You get far more servings out of the bottle of liquor than the 6-pack of beer or bottle of wine, which is 5 pours. To get more specific information on this, reach out to J. Jackson Mobile Mixologist. Tell him Ad Astra sent you and he’ll take good care of you! He’s fabulous at what he does and would be happy to draw up a quote for you to see how you can save money.

3. Reduce Headcount

This one can be tricky. The first thing to know is that this is not for everyone. If you’ve already sent your save the dates, it’s best to keep the headcount as-is unless you have an excuse as ironclad as “there’s a global pandemic.” Remember that traditional and modern etiquette both state that anyone who gets a save the date must be invited. However if your wedding budget has been affected by something out of your control, then you have a case. Other extreme scenarios that may qualify as a justification for reducing headcount after save the dates were sent include things like a major accident that caused unexpected medical bills, an unexpected pregnancy, or an act of God that has impacted you financially. This will be the only time you hear us saying to think worst-case scenario. Some ill-advised reasons include situations like “We decided to buy a house and need more money for the down payment” or “I really want a specific set of china and I need a lower head count to afford it” or other reasons that are your choice or can be avoided. Basically if you’re not in a life-changing situation, this tip is not for you.

If you have one the life-changing excuses, then consider lowering your head count. There are many items that you’re paying for that are a per-person cost. Reducing your head count will have a direct correlation with reducing your bottom line. It can be a dramatic savings when you add up all your vendor costs. If you’ve already sent save the dates, be sure to reach out to each guest you’re cutting in a personable way. You should either call or schedule a face to face. Be prepared for the guest to be sad but combat that with scheduling a get together with them after the wedding. Invite your work colleagues to a happy hour after work one day. Or invite your college buddies over to a small house party with champagne and cake.

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