At the end of the night, Jill slipped outside and gazed up at the starry October sky. The sound of speakers playing her husband’s favorite song faded behind her as her mind flooded with snapshots of beautiful, heartfelt moments from the day. The wedding was everything she’d wanted it to be—everything she’d hoped for since she and her husband had started planning over a year ago.
As she stood out in the chilly autumn air, she felt an intense surge of gratitude. Not only had she found the perfect husband, she’d also managed to book her dream venue. She chuckled to herself as she thought back to the early stages of wedding planning when she found out that the venue was booked up for the summer. Hearing her devastation over the phone, the event coordinator asked if she’d be interested in a late October wedding. Since it was in the off-season, she explained, Jill could get it at a lower price. She’d never considered a fall wedding but she was encouraged by the discount, so Jill went ahead and booked it, and she never looked back.
It’s no secret that weddings cost a lot of money. And because Northern California is one of the most beautiful places to get married, weddings here tend to be on the expensive side. Wedding promotions in California, however, like the one that Jill was offered, can make it possible to save money on your big day while still having your dream wedding. Let’s have a look at some of the best opportunities for savings on your California wedding so that you can maximize your budget on your special day.
- Book in the Off-Season
This is typically my number one tip for saving big on your venue, but things are a little different in Northern California. Thanks to our temperate, mild climate, wedding season isn’t really as limited to the summer months here as it is in other places, and therefore off-season deals are less common. Late spring and mid-autumn months are usually fairly popular times for weddings here, so in order to score an off-season deal you may have to book either during early Spring or during the winter.
Other than mid-winter, bookings in March, April, and late October may offer promotions. What it really comes down to, though, is the particular offerings of the venue you are looking to book. There really is no across-the-board discount for certain months, nor is there a set amount you’ll save. Some venues will offer 10% off, while others may offer $1000-$2000 off—it really depends on the price of the venue and how important it is for them to book off-season dates.
- Keep Your Guest List Small
Another way to save on the cost of a wedding is to keep your guest list small. While this may seem like a totally obvious strategy, it is all too easy to forget once you start planning. While this won’t reduce the price of the venue, it can dramatically decrease most of your other costs. With fewer people, you’ll spend way less on invitations, food, beverages, favors, transportation, flowers for the tables, rentals (for chairs, dishes, etc.), and thank you cards.
If having a big wedding is something that is important to you, however, you need to honor that. You will regret it if all the important people in your life you want to be there aren’t simply because you were trying to keep costs down, so keep that in mind if you are having trouble trimming down your list. Also keep in mind that some venues offer large wedding promotions as incentives for those with many guests.
- Day of the Week
Believe it or not, the day of the week you get married on can make a difference in the cost of the venue. While some venues have fixed prices regardless of the day, many offer reduced rates for less popular days.
Saturday is the most popular day for weddings, so it will always be the priciest and the hardest to book. Sundays and Fridays are good alternatives if you want to pay a little less but still have a weekend wedding. Thursday weddings are also becoming increasingly popular, as the savings have the potential to be quite significant. Again, just how much you save will depend on the venue.
Even if the venue doesn’t offer a discount for various days of the week, it’s important to keep in mind that your vendors might. Many photographers, bands, DJs, makeup artists, and hair stylists may offer reduced rates for days of the week they are unlikely to book, which can save you a lot of money.
- Food and Drink
Food and drink tend to take up a significant portion of your wedding budget, but there are a few ways to save here too. Having your reception during the day (either brunch or luncheon) will cost you less than a dinner reception. Not only do people tend to consume a lot less alcohol, but the cost of catering is usually much less. If you do want to have a dinner reception, consider opting for a buffet-style meal instead of a plated meal.
Late afternoon canapé and cocktail receptions are also becoming increasingly popular, as are food stations, but when considering these it’s important to think about your guests as well. I often think of the meal as a way of saying “thank you” to your guests for being there to support you on your special day, so I caution about making too many cuts when it comes to the food and drinks.
- Last Minute Bookings
This isn’t something I generally recommend, as booking your wedding last minute can be risky. However, scoring a last minute booking promotion can be a great way to save. Many venues would rather fill an open spot at a reduced rate than not fill it at all, so they offer promotions for certain dates that haven’t yet been booked. And while it can be harder to find vendors, it’s possible that the available ones will also give you a discount.
Putting Savings into Perspective
While there are certainly ways to save on your venue, it’s important to keep in mind that all of these strategies could end up costing you more in other ways. For instance, if your dream is to have dahlias for your early spring wedding, you may pay a premium because they aren’t in season. Or, if you wait to book your venue at last minute, you won’t have the selection of photographers you would otherwise and you may be forced to book a very expensive one. In the end, the money you save in one area may be eaten up by other unforeseen costs.
All this is to say that although many of us love the thrill of scoring a deal or getting a discount or promotion when it comes to weddings, the most important thing is that you have the wedding you really want and that the planning and the day are as low-stress as possible. That’s why choosing an all-inclusive venue is often your best bet. In fact, many couples end up spending about the same amount, if not more, when they opt for DIY planning because of the many unforeseen challenges. With an all-inclusive venue, you know exactly what you are paying for, budgeting ends up being a lot easier, and the planning process is a lot smoother. And at the end of the day, having an easy, stress-free wedding of your dreams is priceless.
At Kennolyn, we know how expensive weddings can be, so we work hard to make sure that our all-inclusive wedding packages provide incredible value. If you are planning a wedding in the new year, be sure to check out our 2018 wedding promotions for a chance to save. Contact us today to start planning.
Image source: Unsplash user Wu Jianxiong