12/27 Ask Liz: In The Beginning, There Was The Wedding Budget…

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Dear Liz,

How do I put on a wedding with only $6,000 to spend?


6k or Bust

Dear Bust,

How? Carefully. Think, small, pretty and on sale. The important thing is to stick to a budget. My rule is that 50% – $3,000 in your case – should be reserved for your ceremony and reception site fee, AND your catering. Don’t let it go over that amount. The best way to stay under a low budget is to keep our guest list short, or in Wedding World parlance, “intimate.” Each guest is a meal, a favor, and a piece of cake. 10 guests is a table that needs a centerpiece.  Venues – Google state parks and city-owned venues and historic sites and museums in your area. Bonus points if they have chairs and tables you can use. Restaurants with large private dining rooms. Restaurants are also a great source if you have to/want to bring in your own catering – start with your favorite ones. And, if you’re bringing in your own catering, bring in your own alcohol and limit the choices.

The other 50%. Flowers – small, elegant, and seasonal. Photographer – again, the “rule” is 5 -10% of your budget so that’s $600, at the highest. I’m in L.A, and that’s umm, tough out here, and it sounds like it would be really, really, really tight elsewhere, too. Google, it in your area, though – Never scoff at Google, there’s no point.  Try not to settle on quality, pics are one of the few things you’re walking away with. But, don’t expect an album, don’t expect unlimited shooting hours, think 4-6 hours, max. Work with them, so they can work with you. Cake – coordinated roughly 100 weddings, cake always gets left behind. I’m serious. Go small, cut the cake into even smaller pieces. Attire! Wedding dresses are always, always, always on sale, everywhere. Right now is a good time to shop, because they are clearing out 2013 styles to make way for 2014. 2013 was very pretty, so no pouting. You can not afford Vera Wang. You may not be able to afford pre-owned Vera Wang. You will be able to find something that looks fantastic on you.

I know I left some points out, but feel free to ask questions in the comments. I also have a Budget Wedding Tips Pinterest board  if you want to take a look.  All I can add is if you start to freak out (as one inevitably does) that you’re not finding stuff you can afford, take a deep breath and repeat after me: “Keep looking. I have time.”

Dear Liz, 

When I should I send out wedding invitations?


ASAP on the RSVP

Dear ASAP,

It depends on how many guests are coming from out of town. Three months if that’s less than 25%, four months if it’s more than 25%. Plane travel isn’t getting any cheaper! Save the Dates are great, but people generally wait until they get the invitation to book their flight and hotel.  Set your RSVP date for at least three weeks before you have to give your final count to your venue/caterer, because you will have to track down AWOLS, people who have “forgotten” to get back to you. That’s “will have to,” not “might have to.” That being said, make sure your guest list spreadsheet includes email addresses and phone numbers.

So, how are you swinging your wedding for $6k or less? Worried about your wedding guests from out of town? Let us know in the comments below! And, if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She's also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of "DIY Your DOC: Do-it Yourself Wedding Day Coordination." Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.