Weddings are expensive, and over the years, costs for the ceremony and reception have continued to soar. While the average cost for a wedding now sits at around the price of a nice new car—we’re talking more than $35,000, according to The Knot—you don’t have to spend tens of thousands to host your dream wedding.
If you’re paying for the big day yourself—or even if your parents are helping or footing the bill—you likely have a certain budget that you cannot exceed. Of course, every couple’s budget and financial situation is unique…so what works for one couple might not work for you. However, a wedding can be accommodated for all budget ranges, and there are many solutions that can help you keep costs within reason.
If you are on a tighter budget, you will need to shop around to price out different vendors. This really isn’t an option—it’s a must! Before you begin searching for florists, venues, photographers and other vendors, you and your partner need to figure out where you want to spend your money.
Some couples value photography over their venue. Others want a top of the line menu, but are willing to cut costs with flowers or other details. Cutting out alcohol or limiting beverage choices also may help lower your costs.
Think about and discuss your financial priorities. And do not rule out ways to save money so you can invest in the details you demand. When looking at budget-saving options, don’t rule out DIY alternatives. Yes, the idea of “doing it yourself” might seem overwhelming, for some details DIY options are the best money-saving solutions.
A florist is an artist, and they paint with flowers. Florists create amazing sculptural bouquets and fragrant meaningful arrangements. If you’re looking to cut costs, though, floral costs may hit your budget hard. You can DIY your own bouquet, but you also can talk to your florist to discuss money-saving alternatives. Smaller ‘nosegay’ bouquets or having the bridesmaids carry a single flower are both elegant choices. Choosing in-season flowers also may save money.
Garden wedding receptions are cozy and can be quite chic. Plus, you save on the venue cost! If your family has a garden large enough to accommodate guests, keep this option open. You may also investigate local parks or other alternative locations.
A wedding dress is typically worn once and then packed away never to see the light of day again. Maybe you’ll have a daughter who may wear it again…or maybe not. If you’re not ready to commit to the full-price of buying a wedding dress, rent one instead! You also can find off-the-rack deals at sample sales, borrow a dress from a friend or even thrift a vintage wedding gown!
Weddings are typically Saturday events, but hosting a wedding on a Friday or Sunday can save you money as these days are not as popular. When planning a Sunday event, writer Nancy Mattia, of Martha Stewart Weddings, recommends hosting an earlier daytime ceremony and reception. Some couples may even choose to get married on a weekday like Monday. Just understand that choosing a weekday wedding may limit your guest attendance—of course, a smaller guest list also means a lower cost event!
Nixing the bar from the reception isn’t really practical for guests, and, no, you shouldn’t ask them to pay at a cash bar! However, some venues let you bring in your own drinks, and this can save you some money. You also can limit options to beer and wine, while skipping more expensive mixed drinks.
One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to cut the guest list. Sometimes the most practical way to save money is to limit the event to close friends and immediate family. Intimate weddings create personalized memories. And if you don’t want to sacrifice other details, this may be your best option.
Weddings are expensive events, and couples on a budget might be struggling with ways to cut costs. A budget-friendly wedding is possible, and it doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the beauty or sentimentality of the event. Sit down together, set your budget and then begin looking at the details that you’d like to splurge, scrap, DIY or cost-cut.