1. Find Tech Support
It’s essential that you create a tidy spreadsheet to monitor the constantly evolving guest list (it also makes keeping track of gifts and thank-you notes much, much easier). Instead of losing a Saturday battling with Excel, outsource: Place an ad with NYU’s Career Services Department (212-998-4730) and hire a student for $20 an hour— it should take them half a day, max.
2. Look After the Kids
Need a mother’s helper to keep kids occupied with, say, a treasure hunt? Call Barnard Babysitting Agency (212-854-2035). Get one sitter if you have five kids or less; two if you have ten or more. The going rate is $13 an hour, and the agency’s equipped to handle children of all ages.
3. Control Your Bar Tab
Supplying your own alcohol? Contrary to popular belief, none of the New York–area Costcos allow you to return unopened cases of wine and beer (state law won’t permit it). Check in with your neighborhood liquor store instead; certain shops, like Bacchus (212-875-1200), on the Upper West Side, have policies with a bit of leeway (returns are permitted through caterers), and Astor Wines & Spirits (212-674-7500) gives store credit for unopened bottles.
4. Print Locally
Whether you need the invites you designed printed or simply cut to size, skip Staples and try your local indie print shop for more personal, and speedier, service. Graphicolor in Park Slope (718-398-8745) charges just 80 cents per page to print your designs on invite-appropriate card stock and $1 to cut each page down to size. And in many cases they can do the job within a day. To save money, smaller pieces like save-the-dates and escort cards can be printed six to ten per page.
5. Make Interesting Mementos
If you’d like personalized favors, Brooklyn’s go-to screen-printers, Quist Industries (718-243-2800), have some pretty wonderful ideas—think customized tote bags or bottles of wine. Turnaround time is two to three weeks; they can also outsource just about any tailored favor you dream up (they helped one couple create invites on plantable seed paper). And, if you mention this article, they’ll tack on a 10 percent discount.
6. Employ a Student
Calligraphers can be pricey, charging as much as $4.50 per envelope. An artsy student with good—or at least interesting—handwriting from the School of Visual Arts can be yours for $15 an hour. Post a listing with the Office of Career Development (212-592-2370).
7. Share the Experience
So you just need an extra pair of hands to help you arrange your DIY centerpieces or drop off welcome baskets the weekend of your wedding? Do a labor swap with another bride-to-be—find her via GiveGetNation.net or Indiebride.com. You show up to pitch in at her celebration and she helps with yours.
8. Get the Permits Early
An outdoor party—even an outdoor photo session—requires permits. The permit fee to get married in the Central Park Conservancy Gardens (centralparknyc.org) is $400 ($200 of which is a refundable deposit), plus an extra $100 for photography, which is necessary whether you’re a professional or not, and allows for a mere 30 minutes. For parties of twenty guests or more elsewhere in the park (nyc.gov/parks), the fee is only $25, but applications have to be filed at least a month in advance. Photo sessions in Brooklyn Bridge Park will set you back $125, with ceremony fees ranging from $500 to $2,500, depending on the location and size of your event. Gatherings of 25 or more in Prospect Park (prospectpark.org) require a $25 permit requested at least 30 days in advance. If you’d like any amplified sound at your event, that indulgence requires yet another permit ($45, available at your local police precinct). Got your eye on one of the city’s smaller parks, like Tompkins Square? Call the Manhattan Borough Permits office directly (212-408-0226).
9. Consolidate the Registry
People want to buy you things; make it easy. Weddingchannel.com doesn’t charge to compile all your lists on the site, and most of the big stores—Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, etc.—are there. If you want a fancier site that enables your guests to RSVP online or features a quirky, personal touch like, say, a photo gallery of your dogs, try weddingwire.com.
10. Keep Guests Comfy
If there’s even a 20 percent chance of rain, have a few dozen umbrellas (as little as $3 apiece at friedmanumbrellas.com) on hand the day of. Guests feel taken care of and get a souvenir of your wedding, to boot. Beach wedding? Wholesale site Dollardays.com has a plethora of flip-flops, from as little as $1 a pair when bought in bulk, and OldNavy.com’s sales often bring the price of a pair down to $2.50 or less.