When to Splurge (and How to Save) for Your Wedding

Every wedding has a budget, whether you’re spending a few hundred dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars (we’re looking at you Kimye). According to our new Real Weddings Study, the average wedding costs $32,641. So what should you splurge on? And how can you save? We’ve got a few tips and tricks to help you stay on budget.

  1. Flowers

    When to Splurge (and How to Save) for Your Wedding
    Barrie Tovar

    Why are some flowers so expensive?

    Some flowers are harder to grow than others—and some have short growing seasons. If you’re flying in peonies from Japan, you’ll be spending on transport. The complexity of the arrangement factors into the cost too.

    Steal: This centerpiece features a mix of less expensive stems, like hydrangeas and basic roses. There are fewer blooms and more greenery mixed throughout too. The whole arrangement is housed in a glass pedestal vase.

    Bride & Blossom, $150, BrideandBlossom.com

    Splurge: A wide variety of flowers, including specialty stems like Dutch hydrangeas, Juliet garden roses and blush stock up the price of this arrangement. The larger more cascading centerpiece is more complicated to assemble, plus it’s housed in a handmade mercury vase.

    Bride & Blossom, $300, BrideandBlossom.com

    How can I save?

    Make in-season, locally sourced flowers the mainstay on your arrangements—you’ll save money and be guaranteed the freshest stems. Also, scale back on the variety of blooms. If your florist can buy a single type in bulk, she can often pass the savings onto you. And consider reusing your ceremony arrangements at your reception.


  2. Dress

    When to Splurge (and How to Save) for Your Wedding

    What makes a dress cost so much?

    Fabrication is a big factor. Specialty laces, hand-embellished detailing and layers of fabric (think: full skirt, long train) generally drive up the cost of a gown.

    Steal: This gorgeous gown comes in just below the average cost of a wedding dress. The lush tulle ball skirt oozes romance, while floral appliqué details on the bodice give the gown a romantic flair.

    Etoile Ariane gown, $1,400, BHLDN.com

    Splurge: This voluminous ball gown features more than 50 layers of silk tulle, an illusion neckline and handcrafted floral appliqués. Scattered Swarovski crystals add sparkle to this dreamy dress.

    Tony Ward gown, $6,300, Kleinfeld.com

    How can I save?

    Rethink fabric and embellishments—the simpler the dress design, the lower the price tag. Look for beading or lace concentrated on the bodice instead of the whole gown. And if you opt for less ornamentation, you can play up your accessories, like gorgeous chandelier earrings or a pearl-encrusted cuff, which you’re more likely to wear again.

  3. Invitations

    When to Splurge (and How to Save) for Your Wedding
    Sarah Love Photography

    What determines the price of invites?

    The printing process is the single biggest driver of price when it comes to your wedding paper. Flat printing is an affordable digital technique, while engraving or letterpress is generally more custom and labor intensive. Many stationers offer a mix of printing options, allowing you to spurge on the invite, but save on the reply or enclosure cards.

    Steal: This gorgeous invite is flat printed, which is one of the most affordable printing options available. Instead of including a response card and envelope, this suite has a reply postcard (so you’ll save on postage as well). A Japanese paper string is a more affordable style detail too.

    Shindig Bespoke, $16 per suite, ShindigBespoke.com

    Splurge: Letterpress is one of the most expensive types of printing—this trifold invite made its way through the press four times, once for each color on each side. The paper has a high cotton component too—mega luxe. A letterpressed reply card, envelope and jute wrap detail also add to the per-suite cost.

    Shindig Bespoke, $30 per suite, ShindigBespoke.com

    How can I save?

    Avoid overstuffing—the heavier your envelope, the more you’ll pay in postage. Instead of including a slew of enclosure cards, give accommodation details and driving directions on your wedding website—you’ll save on printing and postage. And there’s a greater likelihood your guests will have their smartphone in hand on your wedding day instead of that invite you mailed them six weeks ago.

  4. Cake

    When to Splurge (and How to Save) for Your Wedding
    Sarah Love Photography

    How are cakes priced?

    A cake is priced per slice—the more guests you have, the more slices you’ll need. The baker’s time is also factored into the bottom line. If you have your heart set on an elaborate design with a cascade of realistic sugar blooms, be prepared to spend.

    Steal: This four-tier fondant design features simple flower cutouts scattered throughout the layers. And the tiers are slightly narrower, which equals less slices of cake.

    Katherine Sprules Cake Designs, $10 a slice, KSprulesCakes.com

    Splurge: This stunner is made with real-looking sugar flowers. Each flower is painstakingly dusted by hand with edible food coloring (read: serious labor of love). You’re also looking at about 25 more slices of cake.

    Katherine Sprules Cake Designs, $17 a slice, KSprulesCakes.com

    How can I save?

    Stick to simple designs with less embellishments or opt for fresh flowers instead of sugar blooms. Or talk to your baker about ordering a smaller cake with less tiers and serve from a sheet cake (housed in the kitchen)—we bet your guests won’t even notice.

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