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Six things you should never do to cut wedding costs

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Sometimes in the panic of slashing their wedding budgets, couples lose sight that they are high hosts of a grand party. As a result, they make unwise (or even inconsiderate) decisions, which they’d not consider if hosting a party in their own home.

Here are some things you should never do in order to cut wedding costs.

Don’t have a cash bar for alcohol. Never ask your guests to pay for anything at your wedding. It’s just plain rude. You’re better off having no alcohol at an afternoon cake reception if you simply can’t afford it.

Instead…if you are resolved to serve cocktails, the least expensive way to go is to offer one specialty punch or drink. Another idea is to serve one low-cost (but still good tasting) red and white wine, and add a beer option if you wish.

If you’re catering the affair, buy your wine at Trader Joe’s for a few dollars a bottle and return what’s unopened.

Don’t cut back on reception staff (a.k.a. don’t ask your friends to serve as reception staff). If your reception is understaffed, your guests may spend an hour waiting for their food or drinks. Not cool.

Another no-no? Don’t ask your friends and family to serve at your catered reception, even if they offer…they’re invited to your wedding to celebrate with you as guests, not as your under servants.

Instead…a buffet reception will require less staff than a sit-down dinner (and the food may also cost less).

Don’t have your wedding outdoors without a backup plan. Having your ceremony outside can be beautiful, as well as a cost-saver. But in the Chicago area, you must have a back-up plan. What if it’s the day of your wedding and your planned outdoor ceremony is being threatened by rain...or snow?

Instead…have your wedding at a location with a backup plan, like The Grove in Gleview. Your guests will understand that you had planned a lovely outdoor ceremony and it would have been beautiful, and they’ll especially appreciate it if they’re not shivering in the cold rain.

Don’t cut your friend’s fiancé from the guest list, even if he is a jerk. You must invite both halves of a socially recognized couple, which includes those who are married, engaged, or living together.

Instead…if you’re trying to cut the guest list, consider not inviting children or extraneous people like coworkers. Unless your coworker is a close friend who was involved in your wedding planning, you are not obligated to invite her, since it’s likely you’ll never see her again if you leave your place of employ. Same goes with neighbors and your mom’s quilting group.

Don’t ask a friend to take your photos. You should always hire the best photographer you can afford, like Michael Carr. Why? You will regret it if you don’t. It’s the one day you’ll want to remember in years to come and if your friend’s photos are sub-par, you can’t redo them. On top of it, if he or she isn’t reliable, is late, etc. it could ruin your entire day.

Instead…ask a quality professional photographer to help you cut costs by giving you the digital photo files so you can print your own photos or send them to an online service to make a book for you.

Another idea is to cut back on the number of hours the photog is at your event or lessen the number of assistants they bring. Unless your wedding is large (over 150 guests), you only need one professional taking pictures.

Don’t include dancing at a daytime reception. Hiring a DJ or band with space for a dance floor at your lunchtime reception is a total waste of money. People will not dance at one-thirty in the afternoon, so don’t throw away your precious budget on it.

Instead…have music for sure, but hire a solo guitarist, a violinist or jazz trio - like those available at Backthird Events. Daytime receptions are typically shorter in length, so you can often save by having musicians play for a few hours or only during the meal, and spin your own MP3 background music for the remainder of the reception.

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