Get the Most Bang for Your Bridal Buck

Bejeweled invitations in elaborate boxes, lavish gardenia centerpieces, mile-high fondant-frosted cakes and designer gowns.

There’s no shortage of ways to spend money on a wedding.

Of course you want to give your daughter (or yourself!) the wedding of her dreams. But, you don’t have to drain your savings to throw a party to remember. We asked local wedding planners for insider tips on how to spend wedding dollars wisely.

Spend on the music

Chuck Share
is the owner of Northfield-based Weddings, Inc. His family’s business has been helping North Shore couples plan elegant weddings since 1950. Share says splurge on the reception music with a live band.

“Music is what keeps the party going,” Share says. “Live music really creates a wonderful feeling, whether you are 80 or 18 years old.”
If your daughter has visions of out-of-touch wedding singers crooning oldies, she’ll be pleasantly surprised. Share says today’s wedding bands cover pop songs, and some even incorporate DJs, giving you the best of both worlds.

Better location and food

Megan Estrada
helped arrange hundreds of weddings in her hotel catering career. Last year, she launched her own event planning company: North Shore Weddings and Events. Estrada says food and beverages are usually 50% of wedding budgets, so choose your venue wisely. “It’s worth it to spend $5,000 to $10,000 more for a better location that is more beautiful and has higher food quality.”

Linens & lighting

Estrada says the biggest mistake brides make is using standard linens. For a bit more money, upgraded linens can completely change the look of the room. You can also up the ambiance with carefully placed lighting and flowers like lilies that draw the eye upward.
“Linens and lighting are surprisingly the things people don’t think about,” Estrada says. “But, when you put floral, linens and lighting all together, that gives people that ‘wow’ effect.”

Buy the photo rights

Another tip: Invest in a good photographer. When the big day is over, the thing you’ll take with you is the photos, Estrada says. That’s why she tells clients to choose an experienced photographer and to buy the rights to pictures so you can share with family and friends.

What’s important to you?

Catherine Gatto of Chicago’s Birch Design Studio tells couples to let their own interests guide the wedding budget. “If the bride and groom are foodies, we might focus on creating a really unique menu—maybe having a coursed dinner paired with craft beers.”

On the other hand, if the couple is into music, Gatto suggests sinking more money into that aspect of the wedding by hiring multiple performers like a calypso guitarist for cocktails and a big band for dancing. “We want guests to leave the event saying, ‘Wow, that was so that couple.’”
For more great tips on planning your wedding or spring party, download our April iPad edition!

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