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How Much To Tip Wedding Vendors: Complete Guide

how much to tip wedding vendors: jar tip
a perfect wedding cake with couple figurine and fresh strawberries

image source: pixabay.com

If there is any question about needing to tip wedding vendors, the answer is kind of—it’s not required but has become an expected custom. How much to tip wedding vendors is another story and very much depends on the level of service you’ve received, which individual vendor you’re dealing with and your budget. It’s best to include tips into your overall budget from the beginning.

So many people play a part in your wedding day and many of them come with a fixed rate so how do you know how much is appropriate to tip them? We’re here to give you a complete breakdown of how much to tip wedding vendors including how much is customary and when it’s unnecessary.

Read Your Contracts

a couple reviewing the service contract to decide how much to tip wedding vendors

Image Source: Pexels.com

Yes, you want to be generous and kick your marriage off on a positive note, but nobody wants to double tip. You could spend that money on your honeymoon! Checking your contracts will help you avoid over tipping. Most catering contracts have a built-in tip typically ranging from 15 to 18%. If you want to tip more, you can, or you can tip an individual server who went above and beyond.


Other contracts to go over to check for included tips:

  • Driver or transportation company
  • Band or DJ
  • Valet
  • Bathroom attendants
  • Hired bartenders

Your Wedding Vendors

groom and bride exchanging vows and rings in front of a wedding officiant

Image Source: Pixabay.com

We’ve included typical wedding vendors for you to use as a guideline.


Officiant


There would be no reception if someone hadn’t made it official. If you’re getting married in a place of worship, the officiant probably won’t accept a tip—there is typically a donation to the church suggested in exchange for their services. There will be a point of contact with the church who will let you know the amount. It ranges from $100-$500. The more active you are in the church, the more you should give.


If you’ve hired an independent officiant, they may have a set price. If this is the case or if they’re not charging you at all, we suggest a $100 tip. If you’re having a friend conduct your service and you know they won’t accept money, a nice gift is an appropriate gesture.


It’s also commonplace to invite your officiant to the reception.


Catering

wedding buffet

Image Source: Pixabay.com

This is the biggest bill most of us get on our wedding day and the place where how much to tip wedding vendors is answered for you because it’s included in your bill. Whether you do a plated dinner or buffet, you’ll likely pay per person. If you use the catering within the venue, you can snag a discount. Catering makes RSVPs so important—you don’t want to run out of food or pay for plates nobody is there to eat.


Be sure to understand when your final headcount is due and give what you believe to be an exact headcount. Most places will make 10% above what your estimated headcount is so don’t worry if a few stragglers show up. If your service is exactly what you hoped it would be, just stick with the contracted gratuity.


If the waitstaff went above and beyond or you individually hired bartenders and waitstaff, follow our guide for suggested gratuities

  • Bartenders—10-15% of total pre-tax bar bill
  • Waitstaff—$-$$per person if not included in contract
  • Catering or banquet manager–$-$$if he or she is not also your wedding planner
  • Chefs—if not included, $-$$per chef if they exceed your expectations

Remember, they generally include these tips in the contract so don’t stress about how much to tip wedding vendors in the catering world.


Photography And Videography


You want to capture your day with a professional photographer to make sure you have the best memories to look back on. You’ll sign a contract with whoever you have at your service, but you won’t find a gratuity included.


It’s customary to tip your photographer and videographer $50-$200 each, based on their overall bill—the higher the bill, the higher the tip. Remember, you aren’t obligated so only tip if you feel you’ve received service that warrants such a gesture.


If the person taking your photographs or video is the owner of the company, no tip is necessary—they’re netting the whole fee. The time to tip a photographer and videographer is when their services are finished for the evening.


Entertainment


bride and groom and friends dancing

Image Source: Unsplash.com

Entertainment can make or break a reception and enhance or kill a mood. You may choose lighter music for the ceremony. Whether it’s the organist or pianist of the church or a singer or string quartet, it’s customary to tip $-$$to each musician unless the musician is the owner of the business and they charged you a fee.


The same is true for the band or DJ at your reception. It’s customary to tip each musician in a band $-$$per member. For DJs, 10-15% of the total DJ bill is a nice gesture—unless the DJ is the owner of the company then no tip is required. If the same musician plays at your ceremony and reception, double the tip.


It’s customary to tip the entertainment at the end of the ceremony or reception—whatever marks the end of their service. This is often the most missed area of how much to tip wedding vendors because tips aren’t given until the entertainment ends and the night is almost over.


Transportation And Valet


We all love the wedding limo ride. Keep track of how many transportation providers you use so you can plan on their tips. One wedding may see several drivers:

  • Taking bridal party to the salon
  • Bridal party from salon to church/ceremony
  • Ceremony to reception
  • Bride and groom from reception to bridal suite or wedding night destination

It’s customary to tip 15% of the total price. If one driver is the owner of the service, you don’t need to tip that driver. It’s appropriate to tip your driver at the end of their final trip with you.


If you have valet attendants, they may receive individual tips from your guests, but if they go above and beyond, are attentive and polite you can tip them $1-$2 per car.


Hair And Makeup


a bride with trendy bridal bun fixed by her hairstylist, one of the wedding

Image Source: Pixabay.com

This is one of the most straight forward areas when talking about how much to tip wedding vendors


There may be several stylists working on the entire bridal party. Whether you’re paying one bill, or each person is paying individually, 15-20% is appropriate and expected. You can figure out how much to tip wedding vendors in the salon if you treat it like any other salon visit. If they go above and beyond, then you should too with your tip.


If you’re all heading to a salon, they may have bridal packages and some will throw in champagne and snacks. We think you should be up in the 20% range when stylists or salons make it feel like a special visit. Tip your stylists after they render their services.


Wedding Planner


A wedding planner will share blood, sweat and tears with you and be by your side every step of the way. The great ones will find every other vendor, coordinate menu and cake tastings and negotiate prices with those venues they promote with their clients. Here’s the catch—they charge handsomely for their services and can even help you with how much to tip wedding vendors on your big day.


If your wedding planner negotiates a huge discount for you or goes way beyond their contracted services, you can tip 15-20%. They will not be expecting a tip, so it’s totally your discretion. Instead of a tip, a nice gift is suitable but make sure it’s a universally well-received gift—high-end candles, candle holders or other generic, luxe present is appropriate.


Florists and Bakers


These vendors don’t expect or rely on tips for their services. You will have signed a contract and if your florist or baker go above and beyond for you, you can tip between $50-$200 each. You can tip them after they deliver their goods, or you can send a check with your thank-you card to them.


Assign Your Tip Person


a person holding rolled dollar bills and wondering how much to tip wedding vendors

Image Source: Unsplash.com

The bride or the groom should not have to remember who gets a tip and when. Assign someone early on—one of the fathers, a best man or maid of honor to make sure everyone gets the agreed upon tip at the right time. There may be tips that should happen when this person isn’t around—for instance, the father of the groom won’t be there when the salon gets its tip. He should have sent the maid of honor with instructions or a cash envelope.


Be sure you trust this person to keep their wits about them enough to tip the very last person. If you know the best man will have a few too many drinks to remember to hang around to tip the band members, pick someone else. Be sure to have labeled envelopes ready with the agreed amounts in them to make the handoff clean and easy with little guesswork.


Make a checklist for that person to ensure everyone gets their cash thank you. In the excitement and bustle of the day and evening, it’s easy to overlook someone. If you realize someone was overlooked, it’s ok for the person in charge to call them, thank them for their service and apologize for the miss. Drop off or send their tip to them.


The Best Tip You Can Give


Everybody wants to be recognized for a job well done. On top of getting a cash tip, one of the best compliments you can give anyone is to recommend your friends and family to them. It’s a great best practice to ask for 5-10 business cards depending on the amount of people you are inviting who may get married in the next 12-24 months.


Give their cards to your friends with a glowing recommendation. That’s truly the best tip you can give, and it keeps their business flourishing.


At A Glance


a steel pitcher where you can put a tip

Image Source: Unsplash.com

We’ve complied an easy-to-use cheat sheet as you’re planning your wedding. Factor in total bills and the percentage you’ll want to tip if they exceed your expectations.

  • Caterer—15-20% of total bill if not included in contract
  • Bartender—10-15% of pre-tax bar bill
  • Officiant—$-$$ depending on the house of worship involvement or service fee charged
  • Banquet or catering manager—$-$$
  • Chefs—$-$$each
  • Entertainment—$-$$per member of the band or 10-15% of DJ bill
  • Transportation—15% of total bill
  • Valet—$-$$per car parked
  • Hair and makeup—15-20% of the total bill
  • Wedding Planner—15-20% or upscale gift

It’s Your Big Day

bride and groom holding chalk boards in which the words thank you! are written

Image Source: Unsplash.com

Everybody involved in your wedding day should be there to make your life easier and go above and beyond to make every part memorable. Tips are never mandatory, and you shouldn’t feel obligated if someone hasn’t fulfilled your needs—including the more customary tipped positions like hair and makeup. If you don’t like the service you received, don’t tip, and make sure they know why you didn’t tip.


Do speak up. If something is going wrong, either speak up or bring it to your “point person’s” attention. Most of the vendors you’ll have at your wedding will be under contract so there will be a certain expectation of services rendered. What you can’t contract is attitude. If someone goes way above and beyond for you, have your tip reflect that. If someone’s attitude and service level is letting you down, get someone on it. It’s best to have someone else handle negative interactions.


We find bridesmaids and mothers of the bride are more than happy to speak up on behalf of their bride. Make sure your wedding planner knows who to check in with to ensure things are on track and going the way you want them to. Your best friend will be able to tell with one look if you’re getting the service you expect. If the person you’re unhappy with is a key part of your day with no manager on site, leave the complaining for another day so their service doesn’t spiral.


Thank-You

Be sure to send thank you cards to your vendors. They may have a wall or website where they’ll put your kind words as an in-house recommendation. While you’re on your honeymoon, get your designated tipper a gift—you’ve figured out how much to tip wedding vendors so don’t forget to tip the tipper!


What Is A Wedding Registry? The Origins And How To Make The Most Of Yours

what is a wedding registry

So you just got engaged, congratulations! But now you’re wondering what to do next. Like when do you tell people the big news? Do you have an engagement party? What is a wedding registry and how do you make one?

This is when the fun and not so fun parts begin, but let’s just stick with the fun for now!The first thing most couples think of, after the excitement of the big news has simmered down, is starting their wedding registry. We are about to fill you in on the do’s and don’ts of wedding registry making. But first, what is a wedding registry and where did the idea come from? How do you know what to put on the registry? We’ll be giving detailed wedding registry etiquette as you continue to read.

What Is a Wedding Registry?

a stack of wedding gifts

Image from Pexels

A wedding registry is a “wish list” of the gifts you and your soon-to-be spouse create together. It is what you’d like to receive as a wedding gift from the people you’ve chosen to celebrate with you.


Ok, so now that you are engaged you need to create a wedding registry, but first, where did the idea of a wedding registry come from? Believe it or not, the very first wedding registry was created in 1924 at Marshall Fields Department Store in Chicago. But what is a wedding registry? It was mainly created for brides to choose their china, silver, and crystal patterns. These were items for the guests to buy for the happy couple when celebrating the big day.


Since then, however, bridal registries have evolved into something much bigger and might I add, BETTER! But did you know there is such a thing as “Wedding Registry etiquette”? There are several Do’s and Don’ts when creating a registry.


How to Create the Perfect Wedding Registry

Wedding invitation

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay 

  • Create your registry in a timely manner
  • Register at multiple stores
  • Register online
  • Keep in mind every guest has a different budget
  • Remember to let your guests know about the registry

Now that you know the basics of the perfect wedding registry, let’s go a little more into detail.


Create Your Registry in a Timely Manner


When creating your wedding registry, you’ll want to have it completed within 4 to 6 months of your wedding. This will give your guests enough time to shop around to find the perfect gift.


Register at Multiple Stores


Think about registering at at least 2 to 3 stores. Normally a Home Goods store, kitchen supplies, and a department store will cover just about anything you’ll need. Unless you register for some of those non- traditional items, which we’ll go over a little later. Make sure at least 1 of those stores is a chain that is easily accessible to your guests. Rule of thumb is to register for about 2-3 gifts per guest. That way your registry doesn’t run dry and your guests will have a lot to choose from depending on their budget.


Register Online


Definitely register online. It makes everything so much easier for you and your guests. They can search from the comfort of their own home for the perfect gift and decide what they’d like to spend with just a click of a button. There is also tracking so they can track their gift to make sure you receive it, and you’ll easily be able to get their return address for when you send your thank-you letter. Just remember sweet old Nana who might prefer to shop in store. You may have a few guests who might be better off with a paper copy of your registry, which you can easily print off the store’s website.


Everyone Has a Different Budget


Keep in mind that everyone has a different budget. When registering for your gifts, make sure you have something that will meet everyone’s budget. Keep the less expensive gifts at around $50 or less and the more expensive gifts $100 or more. These prices will defer from each couple as the guest lists are different. Use your best judgment when looking at the price tag and think about the guests who will be attending.


Announce the Registry


And last, but not least, remember to announce where you are registered so your guests will know where to look. Some couples put a small printed piece of paper inside their “save the date”, while others go the extra mile to create a wedding website. They just add the URL of their website on the “save the date” and that is where they will find the registry information. Either way, your guests will have enough time to search and find what they’d like to buy you and have it in time for the big day.


What Is a Wedding Registry: What Not to Do

several wedding gifts

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay 

Now that you have the criteria to make the perfect wedding registry, let’s talk about the don’ts of registering. Who would have thought it wasn’t just as easy as clicking and scanning everything and anything you’ve ever wanted?


The Don’ts When Making Your Wedding Registry

  • Don’t just register at one location. Make sure at least one of your stores has an in-store purchase option. While most guests like the online shopping option, some prefer in-store shopping better. Make it easy for everyone.
  • Don’t skip the traditional items. While it’s fine to register for those non-traditional items like camping gear, don’t forget to cover the basics. Kitchen supplies, home goods, and a department store will have everything you need. Just stay away from personal items. No beauty products, clothes, etc.
  • Don’t go overboard when registering for the expensive items. You’re the best judge when it comes to deciding what is appropriate or not. If you are questioning whether you should register for a certain item because of the price, the odds are your guests are questioning it too and you should probably leave that one out.
  • Don’t register for too little. Make sure you’ve registered enough items to give everyone a good variety to shop from. There is nothing worse than looking up a registry to see almost everything is gone and the only available items are the ones you can’t even afford.
  • Don’t forget to check in on your registry regularly. If you see there aren’t many gifts available, go ahead and register for some more. Like I mentioned above, it’s terrible to look up a registry to find only a few expensive items left.
  • Don’t send thank-you letters via email or phone. Your guests have spent time and money shopping for you and your beloved and they want to feel like they’ve truly helped you out. A hand-written card in the mail will do the trick. It doesn’t have to be lengthy at all, just a short thank-you telling them you truly appreciate what they’ve gotten for you and that it will be so useful in the years to come. Short and sweet goes a long way when someone feels appreciated.

What Is a Wedding Registry: How-To

wedding registry gun

Image from Pexels.com

Creating a wedding registry can be a bit intimidating at first, but don’t let that spoil the fun! We acted as if we were in a tv show game when we got our registry guns! Have fun with it. Pick items you would never buy yourself. Register for those high thread count sheets or the oversized bath towels. This will (hopefully) be the one and only time you get this many gifts or money.


Make a date out of it. My husband and I preferred to go into the store to register. I like to see stuff in person, but we know tons of couples who registered online. There aren’t very many right or wrong ways when making your wedding wish-list. Just stick to the do’s and don’ts I talked about above and it’ll be smooth sailing.


Speaking of sailing, the honeymoon is another great idea for a registry. If you and your fiance don’t want any gifts for your wedding, it is not tacky at all to spread the word that you would prefer a contribution towards a honeymoon! Many people decide that, in lieu of gifts, they’d prefer to be given money to help pay towards the honeymoon. I mean, let’s be honest, in today’s day and age most couples have been living together for some time before getting engaged and probably already have a lot of the necessities.


According to “wedding registry etiquette” there are more appropriate ways to acknowledge that you’d prefer cash instead of a gift rather than just outright asking for it. You could put the URL of your wedding website on your “save the date” and your guests will see the honeymoon contribution instead of a wedding registry. Just remember, you may still have guests who will not come empty-handed and insist on buying you something regardless of your wishes. So don’t be surprised when you still receive a few gifts.


So there you have it! The do’s and don’ts of creating your dream wedding wish list. We hope we’ve enlightened you when you were wondering, “What is a wedding registry?” Remember not to get too frazzled by all the different options of making a wedding registry. Creating a wedding registry might be the least stressful to-do when wedding planning, so make the most out of it! Don’t over think the question, “What is a wedding registry.”


And again, Congratulations and have fun on your big day and enjoy all your new goods!


How To Write An Unforgettable Maid Of Honor Speech For The Big Day

maid-of-honor-speech

The maid of honor plays a very important role in a wedding. They are right by the bride’s side every step of the way and available to help at a moment’s notice. That is why the role of the maid of honor is often given to the person who is closest to the bride such as her sister or best friend.

It is a great honor to be chosen to be that special someone in the bride’s ceremony. As a maid of honor, you want to come up with a legendary speech that will let the bride know just how much you care.

Fun and Emotional Maid of Honor Speech Ideas That Will Win Guests’ Hearts

You may be able to come up with a winning maid of honor speech all on your own, or you may get stuck at the beginning because you don’t know where to start. Either way, these interesting and fun ideas for maid of honor speeches can help you get the creative ball rolling so that you can deliver a speech that will make the bride laugh and cry at the same time. 

Introduce Yourself

speech

It is always a great idea to start off your speech by letting all the wedding guests know who you are and how you know the bride. This is important since many of the people in attendance may not know who you are.

It is also a great opportunity to tell the story of how you first met if you are best friends or share a hilarious story from your childhood if you are sisters.

Adding a funny backstory to your speech is always a good thing. Just be sure that it isn’t too embarrassing or contains too much adult content which could cause your funny story to go south very quickly.

Give Thanks

thank you

Since all people know how expensive weddings can be and how much time and energy goes into planning, it is a good idea to recognize all the people who helped out with planning the wedding or paying for the ceremony and wedding party such as the parents of the bride or groom and anyone else you feel that the bride would want to send a special shout-out to.

This gives everyone a chance to clap and show their appreciation for the beautiful ceremony they are attending.

Tell a Touching and Heartfelt Story About the Bride

telling stories

You are there to help introduce the bride to her in-laws since you are the person outside of her spouse who knows her better than anyone else.

If you have already shared a funny story about the bride, you may want to add in a touching story where the bride was there for you in your time of need or something that they have done in the past that always warmed your heart.

You don’t have to stretch the truth or add in info that isn’t correct. Just share something nice about the bride that you know will make her new family smile.

Tell a Story About the First Time You Met the Groom

Groom

You can start out your speech about the first time you met the groom. This could be a sweet story or a funny story, whichever you think is most appropriate based on the groom’s personality.

It will show that you are all friends and let his family know how much you approve of him marrying the bride.

Any interesting or hilarious stories about your first impression should be appropriate for your maid of honor speech.

Tell a Story About the Couple

wedding couple

Remember the guests will want to hear something funny so it’s always a good idea to add some humor to your speech and choose a funny story to tell about the couple.

But if you don’t want to have a complete comedy sketch on for your maid of honor speech, you can always come up with a sweet or touching story to tell about the bride and groom as well.

Telling a story about the couple is always a great way to segue into “That was when I knew it was true love.” You are sure to get a lot of smiles from the guests and it will bring back some precious memories to the lovely couple as well. Tell about how you noticed a change in your friend’s attitude or maybe even how the two of them didn’t get along as well when they initially met.

You are sure to share some details that a few of the guests may not be aware of and that will help make your maid of honor speech a success.

Use a Prop

wedding props

It may not work for every maid of honor speech, but if you have the opportunity to use a prop, you definitely should take advantage of it. Using a prop for a wedding speech can go very well with the audience if it ties in well with the main idea of your speech.

Some of the best props that you can use include childhood photos, slideshows, home, movies, or unexpected items such as a favorite childhood toy.

A prop is not something that should be forced into your speech so if you don’t think it will work with everything else you have planned, you should probably just leave it out. But if you come up with a prop that you think will win over the audience and bring back fun memories for the bride and groom, then it will definitely help you turn your maid of honor speech into something that is far more memorable than it would have been without it.

Use a Love Quote

love quote

If you are stuck on how to start off your maid of honor speech or how to end it, you can use a popular love quote, phrase, or a poem to help you get the ball rolling.

You can use a quote from a favorite book or movie, a line from a TV show, or a snippet from one of Shakespeare’s plays. No matter what you choose, just be sure the bride will approve.

Get the Audience to Interact by Asking Them a Question 

ask questions

A great way to get everyone involved in the speech portion of the reception is to add an interactive component to your time on stage.

You many want to ask the audience a question at the beginning of your speech and start off with “Raise your hand if…” or “How many people here…”  and then add something funny or relevant to the bride and groom at the end.

If you choose to go this route, it is a good idea to have a few people in the audience that you know will play along if it seems like others do not want to participate. They can help to encourage other members of the audience to answer the question and join in.

Adding a question to the end of your speech could be something simple that will get them cheering and excited for the rest of the reception such as “Who is ready to celebrate this couple with an awesome party?” It will help add more excitement to the room and get everyone in a great mood.

A Few Extra Tips for Writing the Best Maid of Honor Speech

You may have a ton of great ideas for your maid of honor speech or you may not have anything at all. Just remember to keep the speech short and sweet because while your intentions are sincere, you are taking to a large crowd of people who are anticipating music and food.

It’s okay to tell a funny joke or two about the bride or even tell something that is a little embarrassing to get a laugh out of the audience. But don’t make your entire speech a huge roast for the bride or the groom for that matter. You could end up offending some of their family members or even making the bride angry in the process. Keep the embarrassing facts to a minimum, and you shouldn’t have any issues with stepping on toes after the speech is completed.

If you are nervous about giving the speech, the good thing is that you don’t have to make it last long. Give a few fun details about the bride, tell a funny story or two about the couple, talk about their childhood, add in a few touching details, and then you are ready to let everyone go to enjoy the rest of the party. Your work is done, and it will be a moment that the bride will remember and cherish for many years to come.

Will You Use These Ideas for an Upcoming Maid of Honor Speech?

There are some great ideas for writing a maid of honor speech mentioned here. But the most important thing is to stay true to the bride and write the speech from your heart. Think about how much you care about her and how much it means to you to be named her maid of honor. By doing this, you should write a speech that everyone will enjoy.

How To Get A Dream Wedding Reception Without Smashing Your Piggy

wedding reception

He's proposed oh so romantically, your ring is to die for, and there's only one thing left:

Planning your dream wedding reception.

Everything up to this point has been a whirlwind, and you know exactly how you want your reception to be. You've probably had this wedding itself planned out for most of your life.

The reception? That's the FUN part!

But...

It's going to cost you an arm and a leg -- maybe two.

Dreams Dashed

You don't have that kind of cash, and you certainly don't want your mom taking a second mortgage on the house. Right?

There's another way, and we're going to show you how it's done because

You deserve the best!

Lucky for you, you're not alone in your quest. Search #budgetwedding on Instagram, and you'll find out I'm telling the truth.

And you know what that means.

The road is already paved for you.

road

You can totally do this.

Average Cost Of A Wedding Reception

The Knot's 2017 Real Weddings Study says the average total wedding cost for a U.S. couple reached $33,391.

Average Cost of a Wedding Reception

We want to do better -- and we can. It is 100 percent possible to plan a quality wedding reception on a budget.

Post it

You can

  • D.I.Y-ing your food and decorations
  • Choose a cheaper venue
  • Skip the DJ

That alone will save you big bucks, but here's the rub...

The vendors know you're coming and their prices reflect.

Commit this to memory 'cause I'm going to tell you a secret:

gesturing Shhh

Vendors want your business. In fact, they need it, so never underestimate the power of the haggle. Most of them are willing to work with you on price.

If they aren't, there are plenty of other vendors in the sea.

Learn From The Pro

Who's more pro when it comes to creating than Martha Stewart?

No one. That's who.

Martha says the very first thing you have to do is set a budget for your wedding. There's no way to stay in budget if you don't know what your budget is, right?

According to the queen of decorating and entertaining, do these four things to figure out your wedding budget:

Martha Stewart
  • Set your absolute limit
  • Decide on what your priorities are
  • Set a target cost for each vendor
  • Put your money into what guests will touch

That's your starting point. Once you have your numbers, plug them into this nifty wedding budget calculator.

The more you adapt, the more interesting you are. -- Martha Stewart

Timing Is Everything: Choosing Your Wedding Date

pocket watch

The next step that goes into planning your wedding reception is picking your wedding date. Most weddings take place on a weekend, for obvious reasons. If you want to stick to a budget, the rule is simple:

Saturday

In fact, Saturdays are the most popular day of the week for weddings.

Palindromes are adorable -- 8/18/18, anyone? -- but cute is costly.

So, keep in mind:

The higher the demand, the higher the price. -- your econ teacher

Choose one of these instead:

Budget-friendly times

Budget-Friendly Times

Creating Your Wedding Invitations

Your wedding invites include the deets about your wedding and your reception.

By designing your own, you can save between 5,000 and $8,000 for just 100 guests.

And you won't believe how easy it is to do.

D.I.Y. those invites like a champ

Wedding invitations

Wedding invitations are an easy place to add D.I.Y elements and avoid paying a print or designer. Online marketplaces like Etsy offer countless wedding invitation templates.

But wait, there's more:

Many sellers allow you to purchase professionally printed invitations or a digital file that you can print at home. All you need to do is ask, and have a decent printer.

You can even add professional touches to your invitations, but don't get carried away.

Remember, we're trying to save money here!

Look at these elegant invites by Søstrene Grene:

On the other hand...

We live in the digital age. Send an e-vite.

It's free!

Where To Tie The Knot

reception hall

Unless you abandon the idea of a wedding reception altogether, your venue or reception hall will likely be the most expensive item on your list.

According to a survey from Wedding Wire, reception halls (not including the ceremony space) cost newlywed couples upwards of $10,000 on average.

Let's see if we can pare that down.

Of course, venues vary immensely depending on your wedding's location and the type of property you choose.

What you need to remember is:

Don't settle.

You can still have a beautiful location for a reasonable price.

Celebrity wedding planner, Andrea Freeman says, "Added personal things -- that's what people really remember."

There's also good news:

With a few simple tricks and small sacrifices, you can have the picturesque, stylish wedding you dream of without breaking the bank.

Here are some of our favorite ways to cut costs on a wedding reception venue:

Location, location, location

The location of your local wedding factors into your venue costs.

So, think about where you live.

If you live in a major city, moving a couple of towns over can save you a wad of cash.

Think about where you live and your surrounding area to find the area with the least cost within a reasonable driving distance.

Have it at home

You've seen them on TV, gorgeous at-home wedding on lush green grass when the cherry tree just blossomed.

You think there's no way you could pull that off, but you'd be wrong.

If you own land or know someone who has

a beautiful yard

or barn

or garden.

Use it!

The only drawback here is that it may limit the guest list.

But think of the savings.

back yard reception

Consider these when deciding on a wedding at home:

Notepad
  • 1
    Dancing space
  • 2
    Eating area
  • 3
    Seating
  • 4
    Restrooms
  • 5
    Parking

Maybe take it outside

When you picture your upcoming wedding reception, you probably have a distinct image of it being inside or outside.

Garden Wedding Reception

The best money saving part of an outdoor wedding is this:

Outdoor weddings, if placed strategically, can create incredible backdrops and natural decoration. Public parks, especially, can make gorgeous outdoor wedding venues.

Imagine the money you'll save on flowers alone.

Dec That Hall

With a little bit of creativity and a few supplies, you can

Beautify

your reception with little cost.

Check out what Erin Elizabeth can do:

You can do that too.

But if you're a procrastinator than delegate this task. The last thing you want is to be up the night before your wedding making centerpieces.

Flowers

Flowers

If done right, flowers can truly be the only wedding reception decor you need.

Here's the bad news:

Professionally arranged flowers are not cheap.

But here's a thought:

If you plan ahead enough, you can grow your own wedding flowers.

flower blooming

Deciding this route can be risky, but try this to reduce your risk:

  • Choose flowers that will bloom at the time of your wedding
  • Choose in-season flowers
  • Plant early

Let's pretend all that planning is just way too much or you have a brown thumb.

Don't panic.

Opt to buy seasonal flowers. They will be more affordable than flowers that you have to have shipped in from another state.

Spring flowers

Summer flowers

Fall flowers

Winter flowers

Year-Round flowers

Anemone

Casa Blanca Lily

Daffodil

Delphinium

Hyacinth

Lilacs

Peony

Ranunculus

Star Gazer

Lily

Sweetpea

Tulip

Chrysanthemum

Lavender

Gerbera Daisy

Iris

Larkspur

Lillies

Asters

Queen Anne's Lace

Snapdragons

Sunflowers

Zinnia

Aster

Chrysanthemum

Dahlia

Marigold

Statice

Zinnia

Amaryllis

Anemone

Bells of Ireland

Casa Blanca Lily

Cosmos

Daffodil

Forget-me-nots

Holly

Jasmine

Narcissus

Poinsettia

Star Gazer Lily

Sweetpea

Tulip

Waxflower

Baby's Breath

Bachelor's Button

Calla Lily

Carnations

Gardenias

Lily of the Valley

Orchid

Roses

Scabiosa

Did you know?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's wedding

Image via mirror.co.uk

Brad and Angelina married on the grounds next to one of their homes, and their children picked all the flowers for the ceremony from the surrounding fields.

Even celebs are budget friendly -- sometimes.

Let there be light

weave string lights

Image via pinterest

Fairytale lighting can truly transform a venue when the sun goes down.

Whether you opt for an indoor or outdoor wedding reception, string lights and paper lanterns are cliche but effective.

And that's not all.

They're also affordable.

string lights in a reception

Image by David Bastianoni via theknot

String lights can be draped overhead, wrapped up columns, or intermingled with your venue's natural greenery.

You can choose large globe lights or tiny bulbs that replicate fireflies.

Paper lanterns

Image via sous-le-lampion

Paper lanterns add tons of atmosphere at a low price. They come in every color under the rainbow.

There are even charming hot air balloon varieties.

Printables

For backdrops, table centerpieces, and more, paper is a versatile tool.

Using a free or paid printable templates, you can create a wide range of wedding reception decorations to suit any style.

And here's all you need:

Cardstock

Printer

Easy!

And here are three great resources for free printables:

Printable decorations certainly won't replace your entire decorating budget. But you can use your printer for a surprising number of small projects.

Let's face it, every little bit of cost-savings helps.

Something borrowed, something... cheap

There's no reason to spend your hard-earned money on items that are going to go into the trash or storage as soon as your day is done.

Think about that prom dress you never wore again.

Instead, consider buying used decorations or even borrowing items from close friends and family.

Take mason jars, for example.

You probably know someone with a surplus of canning jars that they can spare for a weekend.

Borrow them and make these:

If you can't borrow, hit the thrift store, and keep your eyes out for things that can be painted, embellished, or otherwise transformed to bring your vision to life.

Feed. Your. Guests, Feed Your Guests

According to Thumbtack, the average buffet-style wedding meal costs between $15 and $30 per guest.

And here's the worst part:

That number can climb to $150 per guest or more for a professional caterer.

Ouch!

Fortunately, you have a few other options.

Notepad
  • 1
    Skip the professional caterer
  • 2
    Look to family and friends
  • 3
    Ask local restaurants
  • 4
    Think about home-made

Food for thought

There's a light and dark side to each of these choices.

Pros

Professional caterer pros:

Everything is taken care of, Serving is included, Convenient, Professional chefs, Wide variety of choices.

Cons

Professional caterer cons:

Expensive, Charge per guest

Pros

Local restaurant pros:

Less expensive, Wide variety of food, Professional chefs

Cons

Local restaurant cons:

Venue might not allow, May not have servers

Pros

Home-made pros:

Most affordable, Familiar taste

Cons

Home-made cons:

Venue might not allow, Time suck, Not professional, No servers

The cake

wedding cake

At around $500 for the average wedding cake, you might find that hiring a professional cake maker is in your budget.

But if you would rather save money or allocate this spending elsewhere, then you can cut costs here.

If you or a loved one is a talented baker, then reach out to them about making your cake for a reasonable payment.

They might even make it your gift. (Hint Hint)

The wedding wire also offers tips to save some dollars on your wedding cake.

  • 1
    Skip elaborate designs
  • 2
    Embrace the simple
  • 3
    Forget the groom's cake
  • 4
    Consider a sheet cake
  • 5
    Order a smaller cake and cut smaller pieces
  • 6
    Make sure you're not paying the baker for accessories

All about the booze

tended bar at a reception

When it comes to providing alcoholic beverages to your wedding guests, there are typically three options:

  • Full open bar is the most expensive
  • Limited open bar is middle of the road
  • Cash bar only costs a server charge​​​​

With a full bar, your guests can drink themselves into an unlimited stupor, but the price is steep.

A limited bar still gets your guests drinking, but they have limited choices. It often includes wine, beer, and sometimes a cocktail chosen by the couple. Any upgrades are paid by the guests.

A cash bar has alcohol available, but guests pay per drink.

Some people may think a cash bar is tacky.

But here's the kicker:

They're not footing the bill for your entire wedding. You are. And honestly, the people who think that are missing the point of your reception and maybe shouldn't be there.

man gesturing no no no

Also, think connections.

If you have a relationship with a local liquor store, see if they'll hook you up. Or if you've got a stocked bar at home, consider stocking the bar yourself on the cheap.

Just make sure your venue allows it.

The Jams

The Jams

The last thing you want to hear during your wedding reception is this:

insect

You need music.

When it comes to wedding music or entertainment, you typically have two options: a live band or DJ.

And there are ways to cut costs here too, young padawan.

DJ or not DJ

If you're considering a DJ for your wedding reception, consider if you really need a live person for the job.

Maybe instead, spend some time leading up to your wedding creating a playlist of the songs you'd like to hear throughout your party.

The Budget Savvy Bride says:

Musical Notes
  • Play the hits
  • Play 90 percent fast songs & 10 percent slow
  • Choose the top five pop songs this month
  • No silence between songs
  • Change songs every 90 to 120 seconds

As long as your venue has a sound system that you can hook up a phone, music player, or laptop to, then you won't need anything else.

But this is something to think about:

You will need someone to change the music to your first dance and other key songs.

Which brings us to...

The emcee (and no, it's not MC)

Wedding Emcee

Image via tallypress

If you forego a live DJ, you will no longer have a built-in emcee to announce important events like the first dance or bouquet toss.

The Maid of Honor or the Best Man can fill this role?

And here's all they'll have to do:

Most important wedding reception announcements:

  • Bride and Groom Entrance
  • First Dance
  • Family Dances
  • Cake Cutting
  • Bouquet Toss

And there you have it, an emcee for free.

The emcee (and no, it's not MC)

Some couples dream of a romantic live band playing throughout their wedding reception dinner.

But here's the bad part:

Live bands are significantly more expensive than D.I.Y-ing your music or hiring a professional DJ.

We're talking thousands.

So, unless you have personal connections to a group of musicians, you want to skip the live band.

Remember this point:

You just want your guests dancing and having fun. They don't care where the music comes from.

The Pics

Your decorations, food, and entertainment will all live on in your memory.

But your photos will last forever, so you want them perfect.

That said, professional photographers mean big bucks.

Lucky for you, there are options to cut costs here too.

Camera Lens

If your photographer charges by the hour instead of a flat day rate, consider only hiring them for part of the reception.

Look to local art school students or hobby photographers (including friends or family.) Be sure to check their skills ahead of time and ask for a portfolio.

When you invest in a wedding photographer, you are receiving their top-quality equipment and expertise in composition, lighting, and editing. Don't expect the same level of service from a budget photographer.

Think about this when choosing a photographer:

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. -- Dorothea Lange

You wouldn't trust that responsibility with just anybody, so take your time here.

This might be the place to splurge.

Create a #

A social media hashtag is a great way to capture and save candid photos from your guests.

Because here's the thing:

You'll be too busy visiting with loved ones to see everything.

So, use this free hashtag generator, and have your guests use it for all their social media photo shares.

Don't forget to inform!

Print your # on the invites or on the place cards.

After the wedding, search your hashtag and find all of the candid photos captured by your guests.

Do this

Image Printing Service

Image via popsugar

The After-Party

Wedding Afterparty

In some cases, an after-party immediately follows the wedding reception for those who want to party on.

Here's the thing:

It's really unnecessary, and if you're on a budget, you should skip this altogether.

After all:

With the money you saved on your reception, you'll be leaving for your honeymoon before the reception even ends.

If your guests want to carry on partying in your honor, they're welcome to do so...

...on their own dime.

Get Planning

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. -- Oprah Winfrey

On one hand, your wedding reception is a once-in-a-lifetime event. But on the other, what matters most about your wedding reception is the time you share with loved ones.

That's what they'll remember.

And so will you.

So, get out that notepad and get planning.

You can do this thing. It's going to be beautiful.

and

Your piggy bank will remain intact.

Blue Nile Reviews: Complete Guide For Your Diamond Needs

blue nile reviews

One of the biggest parts of a wedding is the ring. Not only for the wedding itself, but for the engagement as well.

Rings are key parts of any matrimony. Not only do they symbolize the bond between partners, but they also act as an important fashion piece and public statement later on.

However, as great as a good diamond is, not everyone has an endless budget to spend on a ring. Blue Nile fixes that by providing you with great rings at many different prices so that you can always get great quality at your budget.

An Industry Giant

Any number of Blue Nile reviews will tell you that it is one of the biggest online diamond realtors. In fact, in 2004 it sold as many engagement rings throughout the United States as Tiffany and Co. It has only grown since that time.

The company offers some of the best diamond rings on the market, especially when you compare cost and quality.

You can get just about every diamond you’d ever need from them, which is one of the biggest reasons so many people choose them over the competition.

In fact, they have nearly 140,000 loose diamonds listed. That gives them one of the largest diamond inventories on Earth.

Any Ring You Could Ever Want

wedding couple holding hands

Blue Nile is a diamond company, which means they offer rings. Lots and lots of rings.

One of the best things about their easy to use website (which makes both tracking and searching a breeze) is that they are bound to have anything you could ever want. Simply slide the bars or narrow your search to specific characteristics.

While there are plenty of options, the company is best known for their exceptional diamond engagement rings.

Here, you have two choices. You can use Blue Nile’s simple process to create your own, or you can purchase one from the site’s incredible selection.

When creating your own, you choose the ring setting and then diamond, which differs based on shape, cut, size, and various other important characteristics.

This buying process will work for anyone, even those who do not have a lot of experience with fine jewelry.

If you are worried or nervous that you’re in over your head, you can also check out the site’s in-depth educational page to find the diamond for you.

Wedding Rings and Fancy Diamonds

diamond wedding rings

Engagement rings are important, but they are not the only thing Blue Nile offers.

The company also makes fantastic wedding bands. That is great for people getting married, and it helps you find both an engagement ring and wedding band in one place.

There are many rings to choose from (both male and female) and they are available in cobalt, gold, platinum, palladium, and carbide.

Furthermore, if you want something a bit more special, Blue Nile also gives you the option to purchase fancy color diamonds. While that name may seem a bit silly, the naturally colored gems are beautiful to look at.

Yellow is the most common color, but the site has them in pink and green as well.

This is not something you’ll see on most wedding websites, but it is a great option to have for when browsing for the perfect stone.

Designer diamonds are also an option. You will find all of the top brands on the site, as well as various special designers.

More than Your Standard Jewelry

wedding ring on woman's finger

As Blue Nile reviews show, the company is known for its diamond rings. However, they offer a few other jewelry options as well.

They have pearls (Akoya, Freshwater, South Sea, and Tahitian) in addition to pendants, earrings, and bracelets. Those can then be outfitted with gemstones, diamonds, or even plain metal.

Their necklaces and earrings can be customized like their rings, while the other options come from excellent pre-made products.

A Multitude of Finance Options

investing a ring

As mentioned above, diamonds can be expensive. Though that is not a problem for some, it is always good to have various price points when it comes to investing in a ring.

Blue Nile offers multiple ways to finance your purchase, allowing anyone to get the ring they love without going over their budget.

First, the company offers the Blue Nile credit card. This is an exclusive card with no interest plan that offers special financing on your purchase, exclusive offers, no annual fee, and easy online account management.

Those traits are wonderful and make the card a perfect option for anyone who plans to make several purchases through the site.

Finance Plans and Price Match

woman wearing wedding ring

The next way to finance your ring is through one of Blue Nile’s special finance plans. These typically include 0 percent interest for 6 months on any purchase between $500 and $1,499 and 0 percent interest for 12 months for any purchases of $1,500 or more.

That is great value, but just be sure to pay within that timeframe to avoid the 27.24 percent APR that comes about after the promotional period runs out.

Finally, another great bonus of using Blue Nile is their price match option. While many companies offer price match, it is rare in the jewelry industry.

By guaranteeing the lowest possible prices the company ensures you get the best deals. As long as you find an identical (or nearly identical) diamond ring at a cheaper price on another site, Blue Nile will lower theirs to match it.

Returns and a Rock Solid Warranty

guarantee price tag

Though diamonds are forever, you never know what may happen in life. For that reason, it always helps to have some extra insurance behind your purchase.

Blue Nile offers that on many different levels, giving you a range of protection not typically available with bigger jewelers.

The bottom layer of that protection is their 30-day full-refund return policy. That will not only give you plenty of time to return a ring if something doesn’t go according to plan, but it also allows you to send it back if you are not satisfied with your purchase.

This also comes with a fully insured, free shipping label that can be sent to you via email.

Backing that assurance is Blue Nile’s lifetime warranty. The company states that they will repair or recycle any ring that is damaged due to a manufacturing defect. They offer customers a complimentary cleaning and inspection as well.

Upgrades and Complete Insurance

diamond stones

Another reason there are so many positive Blue Nile reviews is because, if years down the line you or your partner wants a bigger ring, you can get it.

Blue Nile always gives you the option to return the diamond (as long as it is in original condition) for 100 percent credit towards a new diamond.

While the price of the new diamond must be at least double the cost of the original, this prevents “buyer’s remorse” and ensures that you will always be able to get your perfect diamond even if it takes a little bit of time to afford it.

If you want, you can also ask Blue Nile for an insurance quote. The company has teamed up with Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., the nation's leading jewelry insurer, to make sure you always get the best possible price.

This is easy to integrate. Simply add the cost of the quote to your total purchase at the time of check out.

Affordable Price Points

diamond ring

It is not easy to get great diamonds at low prices, but this is one area where Blue Nile absolutely shines.

By selling diamonds that basically come straight from manufacturers and wholesalers the company has an enormous inventory with competitive prices.

Almost all of their diamonds come at razor-thin margins, creating a benefit for anyone buying from them.

Another big point of that comes from the fact that Blue Nile is a leader of the online diamond market. That has enabled them to build relationships with some of the largest wholesalers on Earth, creating a system where they can sell high-quality stones at great prices.

It may seem too good to be true in some cases, but it is just one of the advantages of using the site over others.

New Line Technology

ring worn on the finger

Though Blue Nile was slow to catch up to modern technology (something that you will see noted in many past Blue Nile reviews) they have rapidly risen in that area by providing their customers a chance to see any potential diamond before making a purchase.

While they fell behind initially, they have now introduced their own video technology that helps everyone get a great idea of what their stone will look like when it arrives.

All of the images are extremely clear, and they give customers a perfect glimpse into exactly the way their ring will come out once it’s shipped.

This feature may not seem like much, but it is extremely important because it makes sure that you’ll never feel cheated that you paid for something you didn’t want. You know your purchase upfront.

Meeting All of Your Needs

woman holing a ring in focus

Blue Nile is a gigantic company with competitive prices. However, that does not mean much if they don’t also provide great customer service.

The online realtor has many ways to help their potential customers, including a live chat option. The ability to instantly talk and connect to a real person is a great bonus that is becoming more and rarer in today’s increasingly digital world.

Even with more complicated or complex orders, you can be reassured that all of your questions will be answered in a timely and efficient manner.

Another bonus of this system is that, if you’re nervous about the shopping process you can also contact support to get help with picking out your ring.

Beyond that, the company also offer excellent support overseas. Blue Nile ships to all parts of the world, which makes them the best company to buy through when you’re abroad. This applies even if you plan on picking up your order within the United States.

The reason for that is the site lists all prices in local currencies and they will take the extra steps to make sure your package arrives, no matter where you’re located.

Comfortable and Stylish Packaging

stylish ring packaging

Rings, while resilient, can be a bit fragile. For that reason, it is common for people to worry about them being shipped (especially across countries or oceans).

However, Blue Nile understands that and equips their shipments with packaging that is both cushioned and well-designed.

The box works on two levels. One, it protects the jewelry, and two, it looks like a high-quality ring box should.

The packaging enhances your purchase in that it provides you with the feel of a luxury item. This is important because it makes your item feel important rather than just like another package showing up at your door.

In terms of design, the box has sleek, clean lines that bring everything together in a nice way. Though there are more fancy packaging options out there, the minimalist approach from Blue Nile is something that works on multiple levels.

It is not for everyone, but there is no denying that it comes across nicely.

Conflict Free

laying hands

The final point to touch upon in these Blue Diamond reviews is that the company ensures all of the stones it sells are humane.

Many people may worry about purchasing conflict diamonds, but that is not a concern here.

As Blue Nile only works with the world’s most respected suppliers, every diamond is tracked with the special “Kimberly Process” from the mine all the way to the market.

Meeting All Your Diamond Needs

Blue Nile is a company that offers endless options to meet all of your jewelry needs. No matter what you’re in the market for, be it an engagement ring a wedding band or special gift, you will leave satisfied.

It is rare that you can get affordable quality stones, but Blue Nile is filled with them. If you love accessible options behind a clean interface, this is the best site to go with.

Options For Wedding Diamond Rings