There are many many articles out there with tips on how to save money and snip costs for your wedding (in fact I jumped on the bandwagon and inked my own on the topic last week)… but what about the other end of the big-day budget spectrum? Where are the tips on the balance sheet boxes for which you can throw monetary caution to the wind? Where have other couples decided to spend a little extra?
Soonlyweds, you’ve already heard where we saved – now here is where we splurged! In true Reflective Bride fashion, I also cover why we decided to let loose in that budget category, and how it turned out with those decisions!
• PT sessions: It had been a New Year’s resolutions for the past three years to drop 10 kilos, and a wedding was the perfect incentive finally to do so. I tried on my own for several months to move toward that goal, but made little progress and needed professional help! I purchased18 half-hour sessions with a personal trainer geared toward weight loss, and an additional 18 one-hour sessions after that. I in fact dropped 11 kg for the wedding! Money well spent! (And, after all, what’s more important than investing in your health and fitness?)
• Facials: Similarly, I had been unhappy with my complexion for some time, and the wedding was a great opportunity to do something about it. I tried two regular facials, and then two fruit acid peels, and gave myself home masks and scrubs twice a week with premium cosmetic brands. This was not so awesome an in- vestment for me, as absolutely nothing changed with my huge, gaping pores!
• Professional hair and make-up: Doing your own hair and make-up for your wedding day is a common way to save money. However, I was a late bloomer with all things girly, and never really learnt how to do anything with my hair (I don’t even know how to braid :S) or get imaginative with make-up. In fact, my make-up everyday always manages to slide off by lunchtime! As such, I defin- itely wanted professional help with feeling gorgeous on my wedding day. I was super happy with my make-up – which looked gorgeous without being over the top, and lasted all day – but the windy wedding day wreaked havoc with my lovely hairdo!
• Make-up trial: A trial was included in the fee for my hairdresser, but cost extra with our make-up artist. However, I am very re- lieved we had a practice run! On the first attempt she put on the make-up a little too thickly and dark- ened my eyebrows. I gave feedback during the trial and she toned it back on the spot… but when my family saw me right afterward, the feedback was still that I looked like a circus clown. I passed this on to the make-up artist, so on the day we knew to leave my eyebrows alone, go for less eyeliner and hold back on the mascara. It was good to sort that out in advance of the day… I would have been a raving ball of stress if we’d had to go through that process on the wedding day!
• Spray tan: Several years ago I was a bridesmaid, and the bride had arranged strapless dresses for us. As it was shortly after summer we all had tan lines and old neck sunburns that showed up horribly in her wedding photographs! I didn’t want the same thing for my big day snaps, so arranged to have a spray tan with my make-up artist – not to actually look tan (I have a pale Irish complexion so that would have looked ridiculous), but just to even out those lines. It turned out wonderfully! Not only did I look a little sunkissed (for the first time in my life), but my strap lines indeed did not show up in the pictures.
• Nails: Like most brides, I got a wedding manicure, for all the showing off of rings I thought I would be doing on the day. I got the manicure the day before, but it had already chipped by that afternoon… plus, as it turns out, our photo- grapher didn’t take any pictures of our hands and the only person who gushed over seeing our rings was a waitress at the reception venue. My French manicure wasn’t really worth the investment. 😦
• Guest mini-bus: Our beachside ceremony location was a bit difficult to find, and the parking nearby would be in short supply on a Saturday during school holidays. To assuage my fears that guests would walk in late to our ceremony or call me to ask for directions (and, er, to help our guests out!), we hired a mini-bus to drive them from the hotel to the ceremony, and back again for the reception. As far as we know this went smoothly, and it was certainly a huge piece of mind for us knowing that everyone would end up in the right place!
• Extra ceremony chairs: Our beachside ceremony site normally allows only 24 chairs, but our equipment hire company informed us that we should be able to do 40 without any problems. This would better accommodate our 66 guests; however, we would be paying a hire fee per chair. After much discussion (oh, the strange details you get stuck on during wedding planning!), we decided to up our rental to 40 chairs. It would be extending a courtesy to our guests, and also make things look a little tidier and nicer.
• Premium drinks: Our reception venue offered three tiers of beverage pack- ages; we took the top, premium level. (Bringing our own alcohol was not all- owed.) As someone who doesn’t drink much, I wasn’t interested in springing for fancier booze, but this was very important to my groom. We also provided cognac and Bailey’s with our wedding cake, because this is very common in my groom’s culture and he would have felt skimpy not providing it.
• Three-course dinner: Although we could have saved money by taking a buffet meal option or even just a two-course dinner, my groom was quite set on a three-course plated affair. He and I are from different countries, and in his culture weddings are very formal events, where anything other than three courses sit- down style is quite uncommon. Also, we did not use our wedding cake for the dessert course; I wouldn’t have minded doing this, but again this was decided because it’s the typical proceedings in my groom’s country.
• Wedding cake: When we researched cake suppliers and their prices, we asked for quotes based on how many people the cake would feed and how wide each tier was. It was long after we’d picked our vendor and paid a deposit that we realized we forgot to ask about the height… and the three-tier cake we’d been quoted for was only 21 cm high, which to us seemed miniscule and not very exciting for photos. So, we doubled the height of each tier to 14 cm. As it turned out, this made each cake tier so tall that our reception venue actually cut the cake in half horizontally before cutting it into slices, which made so many pieces that only the bottom tier got cut up on the night! If we had a do-over, we would have made each tier 1.5 times instead of 2, which would have made each tier a more manageable 10.5 cm.
• Dancefloor hire: Our wedding reception venue featured wall-to-wall carpeted floors. My groom thought it would feel out of place to dance the night away on carpet, and pointed out that we could not nail the spins and swing in our “first dance” without a wooden floor. So, we sprung for a wooden dancefloor to be hired in for the night!
• Sparkler exit: The Reflective Groom and I had been to weddings where the music stopped at the end of the night and the newlyweds had just kind of wand- ered off. We wanted our party to go out with a bang, not a whimper! I had seen some fantastic pictures of sparkler exits and suggested the same for ours. 50 tall, long-burning sparklers set us back US$99. Despite my concern about the logist- ics of it, all went smoothly and it looked absolutely magical when we appeared at the doorway and all our guests were lined up with their sparklers! People had a lot of fun with them too – definitely well worth that money!
• Farewell breakfast: We wanted our wedding to have a real social atmosphere, and that included adding a welcome drinks and farewell breakfast to the event schedule. This also gave us extra opportunities to mingle with our guests. We hosted the farewell breakfast at our hotel, where most guests were staying, so it was included in their room prices. To have 6 tables set up on the terrace and reserved for our guests cost us US$350, which we were a little surprised by – but we paid the money so that we could keep all our friends and family in one area. That way, there was more of a togetherness feeling for our final wedding event, and for our last chance to see our guests!
In which areas of your wedding budget did you decide to splurge? How did it turn out?