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Save Money. A Little or a Lot.

Event planners suggest ways to pare down the cost of a standard $40,000 New York City wedding for 125 guests.

Starting Price: $40,000
Simplify the Flowers “You can save about $500 if the bride is happy with a small, elegant posy and you stick to one arrangement for the maid of honor,” says Bridget Vizoso of the Designers’ Co-Op. “Ask your florist if there are any large orders before or after your event. You can lower your price by $800 by going with the same kind of flowers,” Jennifer Brisman of Jennifer Brisman Weddings New York advises. Approximate Savings: $1,300
Get Down With the D.J. "Good bands tend to be really expensive, and it’s better to have a great D.J. than an average band,” says Josh Brooks of Fête. “You can get an excellent, noncheesy wedding D.J. for anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000,” says Xochitl Gonzalez of Always a Bridesmaid. For the ceremony and cocktails, she adds, “instead of a string trio, consider an acoustic guitar.” Approximate Savings: $4,500
Drink Responsibly “You can save 40 percent if you have a wedding from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. because the venue can turn the space around for another event,” notes Jeannie Uyanik of C&G Weddings. “A brunch can save you $10 to $15 per person on bar costs because you can opt for a ‘brunch bar’—beer, wine, mimosas, and Bloody Marys,” says Gonzalez.

“Limiting bar options can save up to $6 per person—offer wine and Prosecco, or a single-liquor specialty cocktail, and forgo Champagne” Loulie Walker of Loulie Walker Events advises. “Have one hour of open bar, and just serve wine during dinner— it can save $10 per person,” suggests JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions.

Approximate Savings: $8,000
Go Green! “Use an Evite as the save-the-date, and include a link to your wedding web page with more information. It’s free and more informative than a traditional card,” says Jennifer Gilbert of Save the Date. “An amazing invite doesn’t have to have a formal reply card. An e-mail reply is a great way to save,” notes SideKick Events’s Ellen Kostman. Approximate Savings: $1,000
Skip the Fancy Cake “Find your cake at a bakery, such as Soutine on the Upper West Side—their regular cakes are delicious, beautiful, and a fraction of the cost of a formal wedding cake,” says Walker. “Delivery can also be costly. If you are having a one- or two-tier cake, ask a trustworthy friend or family member to pick it up and bring it to the reception,” Brisman advises.

“Have a mini-cake for you and your groom to cut, then offer guests cupcakes or have a dessert bar featuring your favorite confections,” says Walker. “In lieu of the cake, try specialty desserts like mini-pies or mini-cake shots,” Gregoli suggests. “Wedding cake usually costs $10 to $20 per slice, but mini options can be half that.”

Approximate Savings: $1,250
Limit the Photographer “Hire one for the ceremony, cocktails, and formals, but skip the end of the reception,” says Brisman. You can save $1,000 by shaving two hours off the photographer’s time, Brooks notes. “The end-of-the-night shots are never that great. How many photos do you need of people dancing?” Approximate Savings: $1,000
Beware of the Loft “Lofts will never be as economical as venues where the chairs, tables, staffing, and lighting are all packaged into the same price,” Gonzalez says. “Going to a venue with catering included or a private room at a restaurant will save you at least $25 per person.” Approximate Savings: $3,125
Plan Last Minute “If possible, plan your event within three months,” Uyanik suggests. “Venues and vendors that have’t already booked a day by then know they probably won’t, and they want to work, so they’ll be more open to negotiating. This can save you 30 percent.” Approximate Savings: $6,000
Total Savings Up To: $26,175


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