Planning a wedding is no easy feat. It often takes months and even years to prepare and plan everything for your special day. Some of the stress that comes with planning a wedding involves tough decisions you have to make, like who is invited and where to celebrate.
Nowadays, an average wedding celebration can cost an upwards of $35,000. Many of us may not have that much money just lying around. Believe it or not, it is possible to throw a beautiful wedding for much cheaper. In fact, we are going to conquer an impossible feat - a 200-person wedding for $10,000! Below you will find tips and tricks to plan your perfect day without anyone knowing you didn’t spend a fortune. So, let’s say “I do” to starting your journey on smart spending for your wedding!
One of the most important factors to planning a wedding is time management. Although planning preparations don’t need to begin right after your engagement, having at least one year to plan can save you a lot of money and stress.
If you know that you want your Big Day at a specific venue or on a specific date, booking far in advance is the first step to planning. Some venues and dates are very popular for weddings and can be filled up over a year in advance. Venue research and prep is the first place to save money and time.
Use your resources
When planning a wedding on a budget, it’s important to use up all your resources and materials on hand before going out and spending money. Your church might have a collection of tables and chairs they are willing to let you rent or borrow. Your grandma might be able to sew table runners. There are plenty of opportunities to save if you’re willing to ask for help.
Personal skills that you or your friends have mastered are great resources to take advantage of. For example, if your uncle is a ceramic artist, consider creating handmade favors. Not only will it showcase thoughtfulness, but you can save a lot of money and still have an incredible take-home gift for your guests.
If you have close friends whose parents would love to join in on the fun, ask them to help with the prep or day-of tasks. Take advantage of people’s skills and even if you do pay them, it’s likely to be much less expensive than hiring someone through a vendor service.
Where to cut costs
Everyone dreams of having a gorgeous wedding to celebrate a lifelong union with their significant other. Thankfully, it does not need to cost an arm and a leg. The best way to combat high expenses is to know where to cut costs and where to splurge.
Venue choice is often the reason weddings become so expensive. Renting the space itself is often relatively cheap, but they make their money off food and drinks. Find a venue that allows you to bring in your own catering service and you’ll save a ton in the long run. This requires more planning time because you have to research caterers, but it’ll save plenty of money.
After you’ve chosen your venue, thought about your wedding size, and talked about budget, it’s time to order your wedding invitations. Believe it or not, the average wedding invitation cost is between $400 to $600.
One of our favorite wedding invitation sites is Basic Invite. They have over 900 wedding invitation sets for an affordable price and a lot of free add-ons to help you plan a wedding without breaking the bank. You can click here to learn more about their wedding invitations. Some of the features we love:
Over 900 Wedding Invitation Sets - Each of our wedding invitations is part of a set. You can find everything from save the dates to wedding invitations and enclosure cards, wedding menus, wedding programs and even matching thank you cards!
Free Address Collection Service - Use our free address collection service to request your addresses with just three simple steps. Share a link, collect addresses, and get free envelope printing.
Free Wedding Websites - Our all-new wedding websites are completely customizable just like our wedding invitations! These wedding websites are mobile friendly and super easy to use. You can instantly upload all of your wedding details along with images and a map with directions which is super convenient for your guests. Choose from 180 custom colors and even choose a design to match your wedding invitation suite! Click here to learn more about this awesome service.
You’re in luck if your wedding is in the next year or so. Greenery is the latest trend in wedding florals and makes lush floral arrangements a possibility with this frugal budget. Make your bridesmaids’ bouquets small and filled with greenery but create your dream bouquet. Skip the arrangements on each table and purchase tons of greenery from your florist. Greenery garland is expensive, but you can get the same look by laying the greens down the center of a rectangular table.
People are hungry at weddings, that’s no secret. There is a new cocktail-style wedding trend where only appetizers are served rather than a full dinner. This is a great way to save money, but it often looks cheap and leaves your guests hungry and potentially overserved on booze. A buffet-style dinner is the only way to go to keep guests (and your budget) happy. Italian food is well-liked amongst most people and pasta is fairly inexpensive. Find a few different caterers and get quotes for an Italian buffet. They should charge no more than $12.50 per person to stay in budget. This might seem tricky at first, but this price is more than reasonable for an Italian buffet.
Tip: Keep in mind that it can take up to 45 minutes to move 200 people through a buffet line, so it’s important that people can move down both sides.
Alcohol at a budget-wedding is simple. Serve beer and wine only and close the bar at dinner. This keeps your guests happy because it’s unlimited booze but doesn’t cost a fortune like a fully stocked bar would. There’s also no reason to keep the bar open at dinner. This allows your bartender to take a break and eat dinner and helps to keep people focused on the task at hand – moving through the buffet line.
Chances are, someone in your family or friend group is an aspiring DJ or has a band. They likely want the experience and you want to save the money. Ask them to dedicate their time to making your night one to remember!
Just about anyone can be a wedding officiant. What better way than to have a close friend or family member join you two as a married couple? This costs next to nothing and makes the ceremony all the more special.
There are dozens of new wedding dessert trends that also help save some money in the long run. Go for a donut or candy bar and chances are, you’ll save money and your guests will enjoy the change. Donuts cost about 50-cents and a bakery might give you a discount for the large order. Of course, you’ll still want to have the cake-cutting moment, so grab an 8-inch cake from your local grocery store bakery and your guests will never know the difference.
Bridal Party: $100
There’s a good chance you have a long list of friends you’d like to have next to you on your big day. Keep in mind that for each bridesmaid or groomsmen on the list, the dollar signs add up too. The bridal party should be no more than your immediate family and best friend or two. Capping it off at 4 or 5 bridesmaids and the same number of groomsmen allows you to still treat them without going way over budget.
Keep the bachelorette and bachelor party low-key and do a staycation or combine the two parties to save money. Get small personalized gifts off Esty or even make them yourself. You can get bridesmaids robes online for much less than in stores and iron on the “bridesmaid” stickers yourself.
It’s far too easy to go overboard on wedding decorations. You’ll watch your budget disappear quickly with wedding-specific signs and customized menus. Rather than buying items that are specific to your big day, buy decor that can be used again in your home or even for a friend’s wedding. For example, skip the metal cutouts that specify the guestbook table and gift table. Instead, buy cute gold frames from the dollar store and print signs from home to display information about signature drinks, guest books, dinner menu, etc. Also, don’t focus too much on small details, such as getting custom napkins or fancy straws. Chances are the guests may not really pay attention to these small items, and much of it will end up in the trash by the end of the night.
Your guests have likely taken time off work, flown or road tripped to help celebrate your big day. We aren’t suggesting they don’t deserve a take-home favor, we just think it’s okay to be a bit creative! Print photos of the two of you on stickers and glue them to a water bottle, Chapstick or magnet. This is much cheaper than ordering these custom items from a manufacturer. Also, make sure to consider the time and travel they are taking out of their day. Suggest nearby airports, inexpensive yet nice hotels, and fun activities they can enjoy during their stay.
Where to splurge
Although there are plenty of ways to cut costs when it comes to planning a wedding on a budget, it’s just as important to know what areas you should splurge on.
One of the biggest items that newlywed couples say was worth every penny, were the photos. Out of all the things you pay for on your wedding day, photos are one of the few that actually end up coming home with you. Do some research online or through word of mouth to see who does great photography work that doesn’t overcharge on wedding bundles. And pairing your photographer up with a videographer might not be such a bad idea. You could even get a lower priced package for hiring two services instead of just one.
At the end of the day, having the best wedding ever mostly depends on seeing all your loved ones and enjoying a wonderful evening with them. Customized items may seem nice at the time, but the wedding experience is what will truly be remembered. Don’t get caught up in the wedding glamour of renting limos, customized items and fancy transportation. Saving on your wedding can help you reach your goals of buying a new house, a family SUV, or that extravagant honeymoon.
The best thing you should take away from your wedding is wonderful memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. So, if you’re planning a wedding on a budget, just remember that materialistic things only add so much. Happy planning!
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About the author: Abigail is a DIY bride with an upcoming wedding date in September! She's been planning her Colorado wedding from her home in Arizona with a some help from her wonderful friends, family, and of course, her future hubby. She is a Freelance Content Writer who loves to share a great story. Originally from Colorado, Abigail grew up in a small town called Montrose and she still spends much of her free time in the mountains hiking and skiing.