Saving on Big Events

I attended my cousin’s wedding this weekend. The ceremony took place on Buzzard’s Roost – an amazing overlook at one of Tennessee’s national parks. The wedding party rented cabins for all the guests and had food catered for the entire weekend. Sounds posh, right? The entire event was under $5,000. More importantly, it was one of the most memorable weddings I’ve ever attended.

I frequently see people spending excessively for big occasions (weddings, funerals, graduations, etc.). It’s the old, “this only happens once” excuse that makes it OK to spend as much as you want. Budgets become obsolete and you go big on every single line item from venue to food to flowers. And, by the way, people often use debt to finance these occasions.

I think my cousin’s approach highlighted some keys to savings on big events:

  • Focus on one memory – the sight of a wedding on the edge of a cliff is embedded in my mind. My cousin knew that the venue would be memorable and put most of his budget to make it perfect. Decide on one memory you would like to create for you and your guests and apply your funds accordingly.
  • Spend less on other things – Once he found the venue, my cousin found deals on everything else — food, cabins, decorations, etc. The venue created the memory – the rest simply needed to be at par. Once you’ve invested in your memory, limit the expenses on other items. Your guests will never know the difference.
  • Be creative – My cousin and his fiancée found the wedding bluff during a hike. They both had the vision to make it the site of their wedding. Be creative on one key elements of your event (venue, food, etc.) and it will leave an indelible mark in your guest’s minds (and less pain for your wallet).

My cousin did a great job of balancing the practicality of a budget with the importance of the event. He focused on creating a memory and the results were amazing.

What suggestions do you have for saving on big events? What are some creative, low-cost events you’ve attended?