Here’s How to Save Money on a Wedding (and Still Make It Awesome)Save on Big Purchases
Money Done Right does not accept sponsorships to promote particular products or services. However, we may receive a commission if you purchase or sign up through links on this page. Here's more information about how we make money.
So you’re planning your wedding . How exciting! This is a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event for both you and your future spouse, so you want your special day to be amazing.
But you also want this day to not burn a hole in your pocket that it will take you years to recover from. The last thing you want to do is start your marital life in an unfortunate financial situation — and wedding expenses that get out of hand could lead to that.
In this article, I give you the scoop on how to have an incredible wedding on the cheap.
Set an upper limit for how much you and your partner are willing to spend on your wedding.
Wedding costs can really get out of hand so you need to set priorities and limitations before you get started.
This isn’t an arbitrary process. First you need to look at your financial status and how much you can realistically afford to spend.
Figure out what’s essential and what’s not.
Next you should list the essentials such as venue, DJ/band, and food to come up with the estimated wedding costs.
Try to get a rough estimate of how much each will cost from people you know or from the Internet.
Dig into the details.
Once that’s done, you can start creating a wedding budget that is as detailed as possible knowing how much you’ve decided to spend on each given item.
When you’re figuring out how to budget for a wedding keep in mind that things don’t always go according to plan and that there are often surprising expenses that you weren’t previously aware of.
Build what is called a buffer for those unexpected or sudden expenses. Your buffer can range between 5% and 30% of your solid budget but hopefully you need as little of it as possible.
Saving Money on a Venue
This can be the most difficult part of planning a wedding and not just for monetary reasons.
You and your future spouse need to select your preferred time and a time that’ll suit the important people in your life.
Be open to non-traditional locations.
Amidst all the frustration it can be easy to just go for the most convenient option, but that could be a huge mistake.
Explore all options even if they make you a little uncomfortable at first because the venue will arguably eat up the largest portion of your budget.
Some creative options include Airbnbs, recreational centers, public spaces, or even museums and galleries.
These options are pleasant without being expensive.
Your guests will matter to you more than the location.
People will tell you the only way you can have a great wedding is at a hotel and a massive budget, but that’s not true.
You can have a lovely wedding wherever you like as long as you’re surrounded by the people you love.
Saving Money on Your Invitations
Like it or not, people probably aren’t going to pay as much attention to your wedding invitations as you are.
That being the case, invitations are one part of your wedding where you can really trim your wedding budget.
Physical invitations don’t have to be pricey.
If you do insist on having physical invitations to send your guests, consider using a site like Minted that can help you streamline the process.
Or, if you want to go super budget with your physical invitations, you could just print your own invites on regular paper and send them out through mail.
Also consider e-invites.
In this modern age everything is electronic and online so it makes little sense to send out invitations on fancy paper using the mail.
Sure some people prefer being traditional and all that, but if you’re looking for ways to save money and wedding budget tips then perhaps you can discard the traditional in favor of more financial savvy options.
Obviously the easiest and most convenient option would be to take advantage of the Internet.
There are websites online that can help you set up invitations and track RSVPs. It’ll help you get organized as well as save you money.
Saving Money on Your Dress
Remember that weddings aren’t about showing off and being fancy through spending money.
You could have the classiest of weddings by spending less than most but spending that money wisely.
Let’s face it: you’re probably (hopefully?) only going to wear a wedding dress once in your life, and that’s on your wedding day.
So why spend thousands of dollars on a garment that you are going to wear once?
Then, once you receive the dress, feel free to splurge a bit on hiring an excellent seamstress specializing in wedding dresses.
Also consider renting.
Renting a wedding dress can be an excellent alternative to buying.
Look in your area for bridal shops that do wedding dress rentals, and try a few on.
Put Your Friends to Work
Yup, we know that sounds sinister but we mean well.
Additionally, your friends should be happy to help out with your wedding and be a part of your big day.
Use your bridesmaids or groomsmen.
Remember, this is your day, and your bridesmaids and groomsmen are there to support you.
So make them support you!
Have them run last-minute errands, arrange seating charts, make decorations, perform ushering duties, etc.
Tap into your network.
Somewhere in you and your partner’s circles, you probably know a bartender, a photographer, and a videographer.
Rather than hiring some outside third party who might charge you an arm and a leg, why not first check in with your friends and friends of friends to see if they will cut you a deal?
Saving Money on Transportation
Ceremonies and reception parties aren’t always at the same venue. This could be planned or simply because you had no alternative while planning for whatever reason.
Have your bridesmaids or groomsmen arrange carpooling.
Like we mentioned before you can always rely on friends for carpooling and transporting all the guests.
Rent small buses.
You could also rent small buses which would be less expensive than using cabs if your guests don’t have enough cars for carpooling or you’re too shy to ask.
By knowing how many people will need transportation you could rent the right amount of vehicles.
Don’t Feel Pressured to Invite Everybody
Most couples will tell you they would only invite 30-40 people to their wedding.
It’s not just one of the ways to save money on a wedding, but mainly about comfort and being surrounded by the people you love.
Don’t let anyone pressure you to invite somebody you don’t want to invite.
Don’t feel pressured to invite anyone you don’t want to invite regardless of how long you’ve known them or any expectations.
Ask yourself if you would enjoy dancing with and talking to that person at your wedding. If the answer is no then you probably shouldn’t invite them.
Don’t assume you have to give everyone a plus-one.
Try to limit plus-ones too. It makes very little sense to provide everyone with the option of bringing a plus-one.
Some people will bring plus-ones just for the sake of not being alone at your wedding.
If you know that one of your guests is in a serious relationship then you can invite their significant other too, and invite the couples you enjoy hanging out with.
Keeping your guest list short will save you more money than you think. Leaving 15 people out of your wedding can help you save 1,000 dollars.
Guests don’t just take up space at the venue; each guest means extra money spent on food and drinks.
Saving Money on Food
Check to see if you can bring your own food.
Some venues won’t allow you to bring any food or utensils from outside.
At these locations the price of catering is added to the price of the venue while booking, or you may have to pay some kind of buyout if you want to bring your own food.
So if you’re considering saving money by bringing your own food, be sure to check with your venue what their policy is.
Have the reception at a restaurant.
Of course instead of bringing food to the venue you could bring the venue to the food by having your wedding at a fancy restaurant.
Although this may sound costly, it will likely be far less expensive — with potentially far better food — than paying $100+ per plate at a fancy wedding venue.
Saving Money on Alcohol
Let’s be honest, many venues will rip you off when it comes to alcohol.
You could save a ton of money by buying your own alcohol from a local warehouse and bringing it to the venue.
A glass of wine at the venue could cost up to $9, while a box of wine from your local warehouse will cost about $20.
Your guests won’t be able to tell the difference and certainly won’t be bothered.
As long as there’s alcohol they’ll be satisfied.
An open bar is not a must.
Look, you’re already going to be feeding your guests.
So don’t feel like you have to give them an open bar as well.
If anyone gives you a hard time for not having free booze at your wedding, tell them to shove it.
How Did You Save Money on Your Wedding?
We’ve covered everything from venue and catering to transportation and even invitations letters.
Saving money on a wedding isn’t easy and can take a lot of time and effort. But hey, no one said planning a wedding was easy anyway.
Having a great time doesn’t always equate to spending lots of money.
Think of all the times you had a crazy amount of fun in your life and we’re sure that very few of them involved spending extravagant amounts of cash.
At the end of it all this is YOUR day not anyone else’s and you shouldn’t start your marital life with money problems just so you can please people.
We’ve provided you with tips on how to save money on a wedding. How you choose to use it for your magical day is up to you.
We all know weddings can be very expensive. What are your favorite hacks or tips to lower the costs of a wedding?
Let us know in a comment below!
Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.