The intangible joy of tying the knot often goes hand-in-hand with the tangible reality of paying the bill.
Weddings are famously expensive, with their layers of traditions and expectations. Each detail contributes to an escalating wedding budget, from opulent venues to gourmet catering, floral decorations, wedding rings, and designer attires.
But that doesn’t mean your journey to marital bliss has to leave you penniless.
With a dash of creativity, savvy planning, and a healthy determination, it’s possible to orchestrate your dream wedding and maintain financial sanity. This guide will walk you through 12 practical tips to slash your wedding expenses, ensuring you kick-start your marital journey on a savvy and fiscally sound note.
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Creating a wedding budget is more than just a list of expenses — it’s a strategic tool that can help you prioritize your spending and ensure that your hard-earned money goes toward what matters most.
List all potential expenditures — venue, catering, attire, rings, decorations, photography, and wedding cake — and then allocate a set amount to each category. Don’t forget to set aside a small portion of your budget, ideally 5%-8%, for unexpected wedding costs. Apps like Mint or Honeydue can help you track your expenses in real time, ensuring you stay within your pre-set limits.
An effective budget also helps prevent overspending — it’s easy to be swept up by the excitement of wedding planning and lose track of your expenses. With a budget, you’ll have a constant reminder to make cost-effective choices. It can also guide vendor conversations, as you’ll clearly understand your limits.
Remember, it’s your wedding day — not your wedding debt. Stick to your budget and resist the allure of unnecessary, last-minute splurges. Make the day memorable for the joy it brings, not the financial stress it could potentially leave behind.
Hiring a wedding planner may seem unnecessary, but it’s a savvy investment that could save you money in the long run. Their expertise, connections, and negotiation skills can help you get more out of your budget.
They are adept at working within different financial limits and skilled at spotting areas where you can cut costs without sacrificing the integrity of your special day. Their long-standing relationships with vendors can often translate into discounts or special deals that you might not have the connections for.
You also save the valuable time you would spend researching vendors, comparing prices, and coordinating logistics. So, if it’s within your means, consider investing in a wedding planner — it could be the key to having an unforgettable wedding at a fraction of the cost.
Whittling down your guest list could be one of the toughest yet most significant ways to slash your wedding budget. Each person you invite adds to the cost of catering, seating, venue rental, and wedding invitations. Therefore, reducing your guest count is a direct method of controlling your wedding expenditure.
It’s understandable if you wish to celebrate your special day with everyone you know. But remember, it’s quality over quantity.
A smaller, more intimate guest list allows for a more personal experience. You’ll have additional time to spend with each guest, and you could possibly afford to splurge on the details that matter to you. This way, you can create a memorable experience for everyone without stretching your budget too thin.
Peak wedding season (September, October, and June) means peak prices. Wedding venues, caterers, and vendors tend to bump up their costs during the wedding season — so it pays to consider planning your nuptials in the off-season.
December, January, and February are the most cost-effective months to get married. Plus, you could save money on wedding decorations — think twinkling lights and snowflakes instead of fresh flowers and outdoor venues. Additionally, your guests’ travel and accommodation costs are lower during the off-season.
The plus-one dilemma has caused many headaches for couples planning their wedding day. While it’s sensible to give your close friends and family a chance to bring along a date, it is by no means mandatory to invite everyone’s “plus one.”
Instead of giving out plus-ones indiscriminately, limit them to married couples, those in a serious relationship, and your closest friends. This way, you can save on catering, seating, and other wedding-related expenses that depend on the number of guests attending. When sending out the invites, set clear expectations that “plus ones” are by special invitation only. You can also include this message on your wedding website.
Traditional paper invitations can be expensive, considering the costs of high-quality paper, printing, and postage. Digital invitations are a low-cost and eco-friendly option that offers creative, customizable designs at no printing cost. Websites like Paperless Post and Evite offer beautiful, customizable digital invites that can be sent via email, with options to track RSVPs in real time.
If you still prefer a tangible invitation, consider a DIY approach. Crafting your own invitations gives you control over the cost of materials and allows you to add a personal touch to your wedding correspondence. Websites like Etsy provide printable wedding invitation templates that you can customize and print from the comfort of your own home.
Catering costs account for 29% of wedding budgets, with Americans shelling out an average of $75 per guest. The easiest way to reduce your food and drink expenses is to switch from plated catering to buffet-style. This can help you save up to 30% of the cost per head.
With a buffet, you’re typically charged per head, and since wedding guests serve themselves, you can save on staff costs. Plus, buffet-style dining allows for a wider variety of food options, beneficial when catering to a diverse group of guests with different dietary preferences and restrictions.
Keep your guests entertained with stations featuring small bites, salads, and main courses they can help themselves from. You could cut costs even further by upgrading side dishes and opting for more affordable main dishes. For example, replace a fresh fish entrée with a vegetarian lasagna or an affordable cut of meat such as flank steak or chicken.
Extras, while they can make your wedding unique and memorable, can also inflate your wedding budget significantly. These may include items such as:
- Photo booths
- Wedding favors
- Open bar
- Extravagant centerpieces and floral arrangements
- Expensive transportation
- Bridesmaids’ bouquets
- Groomsmen’s boutonnieres
While each item individually may seem affordable, collectively, they can add up. As a compromise, seek out more affordable alternatives — or even DIY options — so you don’t have to sacrifice all those little extras that make a wedding special.
For instance, instead of hiring a professional to set up an expensive photo booth, you could set up your own area with a nice backdrop, props, and a Polaroid camera or a phone on a tripod. Guests can take their own pictures and have fun with it, creating memorable moments without breaking the bank.
Remember, it’s your day — simplicity can be beautiful too! It’s the love and joy that truly makes a wedding special, not the extras.
Live entertainment can add a certain wow factor to your wedding but also comes with a hefty price tag. Bands, with multiple members to pay and potential travel and accommodation costs, are typically more expensive than a DJ. If you want to cut costs without compromising the fun factor, consider hiring a DJ instead.
A good DJ can read the room, keep the energy high, and play a wide range of music that appeals to all ages and musical preferences. Moreover, they are often more versatile and can adapt to changes in the schedule or mood of the event.
Do your research, read reviews, and ask for recommendations from friends and family members to find a reliable, budget-friendly DJ who will make your wedding ceremony incredible.
While wedding flowers are traditionally a big part of the décor, opting for greenery instead can significantly reduce your budget. Greenery is often more affordable than flowers and covers more space, so you’ll need less decorating.
Consider using greenery for your centerpieces, backdrop, and even your bouquet. Ferns, eucalyptus, ivy, and succulents are popular and affordable options that create a rustic, fresh, and elegant atmosphere.
You can also include flowers sparingly as accents. Choose seasonal blooms native to your region since these will be more affordable than imported varieties. For example, you could use garden roses in the summer or ranunculus and peonies in the spring.
Repurpose the greenery from your ceremony to decorate the reception. This will add a sense of continuity and save you money on additional floral arrangements.
Out-of-town photographers and videographers often add travel and accommodation expenses to their fees. Instead, hire a local photographer or videographer to capture your special day without the additional expense.
Local professionals have an intimate knowledge of the area and scope out the best locations for your photos or videos. They will also be familiar with the lighting, wind, and other seasonal conditions that can affect your photos.
Ask around your circle of trusted friends and loved ones or research online to find photography and videography services near you. Get quotes and portfolios, compare prices, and read reviews from previous clients before deciding on the right fit for you.
Set up an initial meeting with the photographer or videographer in person (or via video call) to discuss packages, budgets, styles, and special requests. Ask for discounts or package deals for more savings. Get everything in writing and review the contract carefully before signing it.
Save on your wedding with Accrue Savings
Whether planning a traditional or destination wedding, many costs can quickly add up. You must budget for the venue, catering, bridal party, cake, decor, and entertainment. Creating a personalized wedding budget helps you track spending and prevent overspending, which could lead to debt.
With Accrue Savings, you can easily create a dedicated FDIC-insured wedding savings account that helps you save for your big day. Set up automatic deposits for hassle-free saving and track progress with our intuitive dashboard.
Sign up for a free Accrue Savings account and shop with our partners, such as Kiefer, to earn 10% cash back on jewelry.