Dear Kathi,

I am getting married this September. We have just begun planning and I know it is really short notice. What is the easiest way to plan this event with a very small budget and a small amount of time? I have two girlfriends who have volunteered to help me with whatever I need.

Jenny, San Diego


Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I’m glad to hear you have friends to help. Have you planned a budget yet for your wedding? Establish your budget and your colors/theme now and you will have solid guidelines as you plan your wedding.

If you have a small budget, the easiest way to get more wedding for your money is to schedule your wedding for a weekday during the day instead of on a weekend in the evening.

Your budget will guide you throughout your planning process. Be aware that weddings typically go over budget by 20-30%. The small details that often escape the budget are efficient fees, bubbles, postage, parking attendants, etc.

Once you have secured your wedding and reception location, your largest choices will be food, décor and talent. With three people involved, you might want to divvy up assignments into these categories.

If your friends have particular talents or interests in any of these fields, your tasking will be easy. If not, decide now who will investigate each category.

Ask your friends to seek out referrals for florists, caterers and DJ/musicians. Once they have found a few recommended vendors, you can meet with these companies to see if they meet your expectations and budget.

Food generally eats up the largest part of your budget. Interview and hire a caterer as soon as possible. Good caterers are generally booked two months in advance. You can reduce your food costs by planning your event in the morning or early afternoon and serving a continental breakfast or lunch. The traditional sit-down dinner is the most expensive option. If your wedding is scheduled in the evening, a dinner buffet will help reduce costs. A good caterer can usually handle many facets of your event including the rentals and cake. Finding a caterer who is wiling to handle all of these details will save you time and energy.

Your colors and wedding theme will have a large effect on your flower choices. Bouquets can be elaborate clusters or single stemmed flowers. Try to use flowers that are in season. A good florist will be creative and help you stay within budget.

If you are serving over 50 guests, cake costs can be reduced by using a small 2-3 tiered cake for photos and presentation and serving the majority of the guests from a larger sheet cake.
Save money by hiring a photography student or a new photographer who is building their business.

Many photographers now shoot digital. Include a copy of the disc in your agreement so you can make multiple prints at a reduced cost.

It is impossible to advise you about every wedding planning detail within this column. There are many fantastic websites to help plan and budget your wedding. Go online and search within the broad category of weddings and you will discover a wealth of free information.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]
San Diego Professional Organizer