If you’re a bride on a budget, paying for anything extra may seem like crazy idea. But here are a few added expenses that I think are well worth the investment.
Amazon Prime Membership
My fiancé and I are avid Amazon shoppers. We rarely go to stores anymore now that we use Amazon. Nearly all of our electronics, DVDs and workout videos, kitchen items, toys for our nieces and nephews, bike locks and helmets, craft supplies, notebooks, and heck, even masking tape, we purchase from Amazon. Because we shop on Amazon so much, we have an Amazon Prime Membership. For those of you not familiar with Amazon Prime, it gives you free two-day shipping on any item, and overnight shipping for $3.99 (with no minimum purchase for shipping). And in a lot of cases (I would say about 60%), the item actually arrives the next day.
The Prime Membership is $79 per year, and it is definitely worth it to us. We don’t have to run extra errands, and Amazon always has such amazing prices (dude, I sound like an advertisement). Just to provide context, I’ve placed 18 orders with Amazon so far in 2011 (some of those orders have included more than one item), 60 orders in 2010 (that’s more than 1 per week!), 40 orders in 2009, and so on. This is in addition to what my fiancé orders from Amazon. I probably would think twice about using Amazon to purchase things if I had to wait for undetermined time for the items to ship. Now, there’s no question. I’ll either get it the next day or the day after. So, if you think you’ll use Amazon to purchase anything for your wedding, I would definitely recommend investing in Amazon Prime (and I think they even give a 90 day trial), especially if you need last minute things delivered in the days before your wedding.
Angie’s List Subscription.
Angie’s List is service that compiles consumer ratings of local service companies. We purchased an Angie’s List subscription when we moved into our home more than two years ago so that we could find the best contractors. I was pretty skeptical about paying to use a review service. After all, couldn’t I just use yelp and google reviews? But, it has helped us find some amazing contractors to do work on our house.
When we started wedding planning, I used Angie’s List to check the reviews for potential caterers, rental companies, and photographers. Since I am always really skeptical of the reviews on Wedding Wire and The Knot, Angie’s List is a kind of sanity check to double check reviews.
An Amazing Cashback or Points Credit Card, even if it has an Annual Fee.
Credit cards with annual fees get a bad rap. Typically, if you’re using a credit card and not attempting to maximize any of the rewards, then you should definitely NOT pay an annual fee. But, every year, I gladly pay the $35 annual fee on my Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa because, on average, I get 4-5 free Southwest tickets. $35 in exchange for $800-$1000 (or maybe more) worth of air travel? That’s definitely worth the investment for me.
Even on a budget, you’ll likely have a lot of expenses when planning your wedding. Definitely explore what the best credit card sign-up bonuses are at the time, and consider what would be the best option for you. You can read more about how I’m maximizing credit card rewards, but one of the cards I recently applied for was a British Airways Visa. Their promotion was 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase, and an additional 50,000 bonus miles if you spent $2500 in the first three months. That’s 100,000 British Airways miles, enough for two free roundtrip tickets to Europe. The annual fee is $95. 95 bucks for two roundtrip tickets to Europe? I’ll take my 100,000 miles and run. I’ll cancel the card before the next annual fee rolls around. I’ve been using this card for all my recent purchases.
I should point out that there are a lot of excellent cashback rewards cards that do not charge annual fees (the Discover More card is one of my favorites), and I also want to make the disclaimer that I only advocate using credit cards if you pay off the balance in full every month. Otherwise, the interest that accrues on your balance will certainly negate any rewards you earn. For current credit card promotions, I like to check The Points Guy and the Flyertalk Forums.
A Smart Pen
You’re going to be interacting with and interviewing and meeting a lot of different people during the wedding planning process. Even if you take copious amounts of notes, you’re bound to miss important details. Back in February, I bought a Smart Pen. It is seriously one of the coolest things I have ever purchased. It rivals my Kindle in coolness. The way it works is you use a special notebook as you take notes with the Smart Pen, which also had a voice recorder on it. When you’re done taking notes, if you are confused about something that you wrote down, all you have to do is tap the pen on that spot in your notes, and it will actually replay the audio of what was being said as you wrote in that part of your notes. I have the LiveScribe Echo SmartPen, and it rocks! So, take your smart pen and your smart notebook when interviewing your vendors and visiting venues, and you’ll never have to worry about deciphering your notes afterward. I should point out that the audio files sync to your computer, and also during the sync, your notebook files are converted to PDF.
Your Time When Reviewing Contracts
Wedding Planning is a time consuming process, and frequent readers of this blog know that I am definitely not on the DIY bandwagon when it comes to time consuming tasks. Embossing each and every invitation, lining your envelopes, making paper flowers, hand-making bunting banners, and all that other type of stuff, is not my cup of tea. However, I recommend reading your contracts, line by line, word by word. And I don’t just mean read the first page and say, “oh this looks straightforward” and just sign it. No. Read it. Print it out. Highlight sections you have questions about. Definitely don’t return it the same day that you received it. Read it once the first day, and a second time the next day. Twice with our venue contract, I missed something that was important to us (nothing major, just something that was going to affect some games we were planning to have). Luckily my fiance caught it and now we know what is and isn’t allowed. And, if I hadn’t read all nine pages of the photographer’s contract, I may have missed the clause that we’re required to provide her with a vegetarian meal. Again, not life changing, but an important detail.
What else did you think was worth the investment during your wedding planning process.