Wedding planning can be more about budgets and bills than brides and grooms, especially if you’re planning a frugal event.
But paying close attention to expense details will be worth it in the end — you’ll throw a great party that doesn’t sink you in debt. While you’re hunting down good deals for yourself, keep your wedding party in mind. The less expensive the wedding is for them, the more they’ll enjoy the experience — especially if your attendants are in different financial situations.
“What it comes down to is the bride relaxing her expectations of what she thinks will happen before, during and after the wedding, because every expectation comes with a price tag,” says Leah Ingram, author of “Tie the Knot on a Shoestring” and of the Suddenly Frugal Blog. “If you’re dealing with people who have been laid off or are in financial distress, it’s really unfair to lay all of this cash guilt on them just to be in your wedding.”
Follow these four easy ways to cut down your wedding party’s bills.
Plan simple events
Let your bridal party know upfront that you don’t expect lavish affairs for the bridal shower and bachelor and bachelorette parties, says Kia Martinson-Wenzel, owner of Estoccasions, provider of event planning.
“Tell them you want to spend time with them and have fun, but that nobody needs to go crazy or have to live paycheck to paycheck because of your wedding,” she says.
Let them know attendance at extra events is optional, especially if members of your bridal party live in other areas of the country.
You can also cluster events on the same weekend, which will not only save your parties money on travel, but also time. “Plan a shower during the day, and that evening go into the bachelorette party,” says Martinson-Wenzel.
Frugal wedding attire for bridesmaids
Skip the matching wedding party dresses custom ordered from a bridal boutique. Instead, choose something that works in the wedding and the real world.
“Check out department stores. They have a lot of great party dresses that could be bridesmaid dresses,” says Martinson-Wenzel. She’s had clients pick dresses from Macy’s, Nordstrom, even Target.
Livia King Blackburne, a graduate student at MIT, ordered dresses for her bridal party from J.C. Penney. “It was cheaper and faster, and if the dresses didn’t fit, they just went to the local store and exchanged it,” she says.
You can also check out sample sales and secondhand stores. For her best friend’s wedding, Julia Magnusson and her fellow bridesmaids found matching designer gowns at a consignment shop — with the tags still on them. “After the wedding we consigned them back to the shop so that we weren’t stuck with them and someone else can use them,” says Magnusson.
Your bridal party will love you if you select a color and let them find dresses on their own that fits their shapes, tastes and budgets. Same thing with shoes. Almost anything will go with gold, silver or black.
Options for groomsmen
Guys have it easy: Rent a tux, which comes with shoes, and return it the next day. But you can save them more money by letting them wear what they already own. If everyone has a navy blue suit, for example, match their ties and/or pocket squares — items that can even be part of your groomsmen gifts.
If you’re going with tuxedos, shop around. Most rental shops will throw in a free tux or suit rental for the groom. At Men’s Wearhouse, for example, one tuxedo or suit is free to keep or rent with five paid rentals.
Buying tuxedos might even be less expensive than renting, so do some research for your groomsmen as you do your own wedding planning. If they buy instead of rent, they’ll have something they can wear again on another occasion.
Lend a hand
Betsy Pruitt and her husband paid for the maid of honor’s dress and the best man’s tuxedo rental. “To me, it only seemed right that we pay for their outfits considering they were doing us a favor of being in our wedding,” she says.
But you can assist your wedding party in other ways instead. For example, when attendants fly in for the wedding, make sure that someone picks them up from the airport. Or if a few people are flying in around the same time, let everyone know so they can split the cost of a cab or rental car.
You can also see if family or friends have an extra bed or couch so out-of-towners can crash for free. This is key if your bridal party is coming in early for the rehearsal dinner and will need a room for two nights instead of one.
If you’re staying overnight at the hotel where you’ll be married, open up the suite to your bridal party. They get a free place to sleep, and they’ll help calm any prewedding nerves.
That’s why you asked them to be in your wedding, after all.