Weddings & Events: Cutting Costs

As a wedding and event planner in Western Montana, I plan a large range of events. Most are trying to cut costs. Which I can totally understand! BUT and of course, there is a HUGE BUT here. I used to be the planner that would give in and let people cut costs all over the board. From a modified planning schedule and day-of assistance to cutting vendors. Lemme tell you what happens. Everyone realizes how much work it is and then get completely overwhelmed on how they are going to manage everything that they end up hiring me and then realizing that they need all these vendors.

montanaweddingplannerThe Planner/Coordinator

A lot of people don’t find value in hiring an event planner or coordinator. They do recognize that they need help but they don’t want to pay for it. The key thing in everything is to remember…YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!  The going rate for Month-Of coordination (which is Day-Of planning) is between $1200-$2000 here in Montana. Full planning is going to run anywhere between $5,000 – $15,000. Anyone who is charging less than this? You need to be on alert! If you are okay with a hobbyist who charges $500 then fantastic. I had a wedding 2 years ago that the bride was an event planner. She was an expert, amazing at what she did, and even with all her experience, she hired a planner. Why? Because she knows the value in it and knows that for that day her role was Bride, not Planner.

The Venue

When people are looking for venues, they typically are willing to spend the money. Typically. There are still some that want to find the least expensive place they can find. In some cases, this is perfectly fine. You can totally have your wedding or event at your parent’s house on 20 acres, or your backyard. If you are having a small gathering of 25 people. Then fantastic. If you are going to have over 75 people and want to do that, please make sure you have enough space!

The Vendors

Y’all I know you figure you can do your entire wedding or event DIY. Please don’t. I know spending money is hard, but you are going to save so much more if everyone stays in their lane. I know people feel like they need to do everything so they feel more involved. Well hiring people to help you will give you the opportunity to actually be more involved in your wedding than if you did it all yourself. What? With all the different details and things to remember, you are so stressed and overwhelmed and lost in the minutia that you don’t get a chance to enjoy any of it! You need to remember it’s your wedding or event and you need to not worry about all the small details, like making sure the trash is emptied or the buffet is replenished, you need to enjoy your guests!


Please hire a caterer. Do not volunteer a family member or friend to cook for your wedding. If you are at a private venue there will be restrictions on what you can and can’t do DIY!


HIRE A BARTENDER! Why? Yes, I get it that your brother and uncle have been bartenders for years, or you have a friend. BUT! Insurance. Licensing. You want someone who is licensed and has insurance on them. A professional also knows how to deal with drunk people and not letting people get to pass out stage.  If there is an accident after your wedding you want to make sure you are covered. I know, I know, morbid thought, but it’s the reality.


PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!! For all that’s holy, hire a Photographer. If you decide that you don’t need any other vendors, please at least hire a good photographer! There are a few things I don’t have wiggle room for, and this is one. I had a wedding that said their uncle was going to take the pictures and he has been doing photography for years. Now. before I go any further know that photographing a wedding is WAY different than photographing a lake or a mountain range. And unless they have specifically taken wedding photos, pass. Anyway, The uncle forgot his camera. So guess who got assigned to be the wedding photographer. Yep. Me. Seriously. I mean I love photography but I am NOT a wedding photographer! Nor would I want to be. Just like a Photographer should not be expected to set up the event and clean up, other vendors should not be expected to be your photographer.


Now. I know since Spotify it’s so easy to just create that playlist and have whoever check on it every now and again. But then about 10:00 comes around after everyone has been drinking and you have 4 people fighting over which song they want to play next and devices drop and get broken. You are now out $1300 because your phone dropped. NOW. Despite what most people think, DJs don’t just make a playlist and hit play. These are the MC’s to your wedding. They make sure there is background music, they do announcements, and they manage all the things that happen on the Dance floor from Bouquet Toss to the last dance. So PA-LEEEEAASSSSEEE do not ask your Planner to be your DJ or your DJ to contact other vendors or decorate the room. Again. If you want a kick-ass time please do not distract your DJ with non DJ things!

Montana weddingFlowers

I know….just order some flowers from Costco and put them together yourself. If you have the time and the skill, I mean this is probably the way to save the most money.  Everyone loves to put the flowers together. And aren’t we all aspiring floral designers? Not so much. I have to be honest, I thought this too for the longest time. Then I took some floral classes so I could understand the florists I work with better. They have so much knowledge and can truly make your area amazing. They know which flowers are best for certain situations. Florists know which flowers are edible and which are poisonous. They know how to make arrangements and bouquets last! And they create such amazing things!

Hair and Make-up

 All I’m going to say about this is hairstylists and make-up artists know magic. Seriously. Like I can do my hair and makeup and it is done a few hours later. I have my hair angel and someone else do my makeup and it lasts FOREVER! I did not realize that there are specific techniques that extend the life of hair and makeup. So, unless you know these tricks and can do it yourself. I would still say why? I mean, it’s your day. Be treated like the Queen (or King) you are! Learn to primp for the day!


Oh, the baker! Making anything edible for your own wedding is not okay. Of course, if you are a pastry chef and have that kind of time on your hands then fabulous. But for everyone else. Do not let your aunt, sister, best friend, cousin bake your cake unless they are a professional baker and it’s done in a proper kitchen. Many venues will not let you bring in anything edible that was homemade.

Make sure your vendors stay in their lane


We have this thing in the industry “Stay in your lane.” This means that please don’t hire a vendor and expect them to do another vendor’s job because you didn’t want to spend the money. What happens is that this vendor will not be able to perform their MAIN job, the job they are professionals at, because they are too busy trying to do someone else’s job. Many vendors are finally starting to charge for the extra duties through extra hours or extra staff, or just saying no. Please don’t put your vendor into this position and then are upset or less satisfied with the job they were hired for. You aren’t going to get the quality of service you are paying for hiring a jack of all trades.




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