Luxe for Less: How to Stretch Your Wedding Budget

A top event designer and planner offers tips on getting a high-end look on a modest budget.

Wedding eye candy is everywhere these days, from Instagram to the pages of this magazine. It’s easy to be seduced by every swoon-worthy image, only to be brought up short by bottom-line realities. Here, Harriette Rose Katz, founder and president of Gourmet Advisory Services and The Chosen Few, shares some creative budget workarounds.


wedding flowers

Choose and use flowers when they’re in season, Katz tells us. “They are at their most beautiful and at their lowest prices.”

“If you use an abundance of one type of seasonal bloom, it can impart a very dramatic and unifying look. And if you’re purchasing just one type of flower it will keep your floral costs down as well.”

"Keep in mind that your guests are not necessarily looking at the flower itself, but the color. So using one bright color, or a specific hue that goes with the wedding, or even an unusu- al combination, say, yellow and pink or lavender and orange, will maximize the impact by using fewer flowers.”


“Have your wedding and reception at the same location. You’ll save on limo and other transportation costs and make it so much easier for your guests.”

Shift seasons to save: “If you’re holding your wedding in a warm-weather resort like Florida, Mexico or the Caribbean, it will be less expensive during the off season before the tourists arrive. And four-season locales like Nantucket or Eastern Long Island are absolutely less expensive from October to April — and just as lovely.”

Another time-shifting strategy: “Having a lunch or brunch wedding reception is always less expensive than a dinner reception. A sun-filled daytime wedding can be oh-so-chic!”


Take inspiration from the style of your venue instead of trying to transform it (which can be costly). “If your space has a modern vibe, run with that idea for your wedding decor. If it has a more fanciful, French flair, have the decorations, menu and music align with this style.”

“You can enhance any décor with simple additions like candles, flowers or even curtain ties in your wedding-palette color. Consider vases filled with branches (in sand, so they stand), pinecones or stones.”

“Bring in personal items that are meaningful to you as a couple — perhaps an old rocking horse to drape with flowers or a few pieces of treasured family art that add life to and personalize the party.”

Food & Drink

wedding signature cocktails

“Make sure that your food is plated beautifully. A nice touch can be added by asking the chef to add your initials to the plate (with a sauce).”

“During hors d’oeuvres or along with the meal, have wheels of cheese layered on top of each other to look like a wedding cake. It will look spectacular without your having to order any extra cheese.”

Add pizzazz to your cocktails with color: “For iced drinks, add frozen colored ice cubes (in your wedding colors).”


wedding centerpiece

“If you have an evening wedding, one way to bring magic to any tabletop design is to add candles in different sizes. Candlelight adds instant ro- mance and drama to any decor and also allows you to trim your flower budget.”

You don’t need to spend a lot on vessels. “Be creative and put your money into the actual flowers. You can purchase in- expensive drinking glasses by the dozen. Just be sure they are stable enough for your blooms.”

“Look to flowers with large blossoms for centerpieces (hydrangeas, open peonies or sunflowers). They fill the space, add a wow factor — and you don’t have to buy too many.” 

Photo Credit: Gourmey Advisory Services