27 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding
You’ve found that special someone and you’re ready to start your lives together. As you plan your big day, though, you start to realize how much it will cost. It can be very expensive to celebrate your marriage with all the important people in your lives, so you may be wondering how to save money on a wedding.
How to save money on a wedding
According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding is $34,000 —and that’s before it even comes to the honeymoon. This celebration can cost a significant amount of money, and many couples may even use wedding loans. It can be stressful to figure out how you’ll pay for everything, but fortunately there are money-saving wedding tips that can keep you under budget.
1. Find an affordable venue
The venue is the most expensive part of a wedding, so it’s important to choose wisely when deciding where to be wed. Newer wedding venues may be more expensive — unless they’re trying to fill spots. Non-traditional venues also may be cheaper. Look around for restaurants or breweries that host weddings.
2. Choose an off-peak season
Wedding venues tend to have different prices depending on the time of year. Especially if you live in a region with colder winters, a winter wedding may be significantly cheaper than a late spring or summer wedding. Those venues can charge higher prices during peak season because of high demand, which allows you to get a discount during low season.
3. Consider a Sunday or weekday
Likewise, many people tend to get married on a Saturday, so if you’re looking for cheaper rates, venues may be willing to discount other days of the week. Fridays and Sundays may still cost a weekend premium, so the best deals at your venue might be from Monday through Thursday. If your guests can make it work, it could be an option to save some money.
4. Only use one venue
Hosting your ceremony and reception at one location has some benefits: the logistics for setting up could be easier, guests won’t have to travel and you could save some money. If you’re considering renting a church for the ceremony and a banquet hall for the reception, consolidating both events into one venue could be a better financial move.
5. Hire a wedding planner
It might seem counterintuitive — after all, they cost money — but wedding planners have more experience when it comes to finding the best deals and helping couples stay under budget. Especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t have enough time to figure out everything for yourself, wedding planners can feel like a godsend.
6. Trim your headcount
Each person you invite makes the wedding more expensive. Larger guest lists mean bigger venues, more catering, more alcohol, more… everything. If you have a bigger family or group of friends, it can be tough to decide who makes the cut. Try creating lists of who you need to invite and who you want to invite — it might help you make those tough decisions.
7. Limit plus-ones
Relatedly, plus-ones can make the guest list much bigger. Consider what criteria you’d like to use for granting plus-one invites: Does the couple need to be married or engaged? What if the couple has been dating for a while? If you’re looking to keep costs low, it’s important to be judicious about plus-ones.
8. Send out digital invitations…
Wedding websites are en vogue these days: Couples can accept RSVPs, provide information about the big day, list their wedding registries and so much more through an affordable wedding website. Beautiful stationery and hand-written notes might seem like a nice touch, but it makes each wedding invitation very expensive.
9. …or print your own invitations
Of course, many couples want to send a cute invite out for their wedding — and people like keeping “save the dates” with a nice picture of the couple on their refrigerator. If you want to send out invites, consider printing your own. You can choose the material you’d like to use (some cardstock can be really expensive) and keep those costs under control.
10. Search for consignment dresses
There’s a lot of pressure to find the perfect dress for your big day, and wedding gowns can be extremely expensive. Consignment bridal shops help brides find more affordable alternatives to high-priced designer dresses, and you’re likely to find a much better deal, even if you may need to get the dress tailored after you buy it.
11. Borrow your jewelry
You’re already spending a lot of money on an engagement ring and wedding bands, so it’s probably not in the budget to buy a new necklace, pair of earrings or bracelet. Wearing a family heirloom on your wedding day can be a special connection to your loved ones; some services offer jewelry rentals if you’d like to wear your own style.
12. Rent your formalwear
Renting a wedding dress might not be realistic, but renting a tuxedo or suit might be. Clothiers may be willing to give you a deal on menswear or dresses for your bridal party if you rent or buy the outfits at the same place. Chances are you probably won’t be wearing a tuxedo very often, so renting instead of buying might be the sensible choice.
13. Find flowers that are in season
Flowers are an unexpectedly significant expense, especially if the bride and bridesmaids carry large bouquets down the aisle. If you love flowers, you’ll want the most beautiful floral arrangements — and florists can help you determine exactly how much your flowers will cost. Finding in-season flowers (or flowers that never go out of season) may be more affordable.
14. Use other greenery
You can augment your floral selections with cheaper greenery: think ferns, sage, eucalyptus, ruscus and so on. They can complement your bouquets and make them much more affordable, double as decor during the reception and even work as wedding favors for your guests. Maybe a cute little succulent will remind them of your big day.
15. DIY for some decor
Think creatively when it comes to decorating for your ceremony and reception. Bridal arches are a popular item right now, and you could save some money if you know someone with some carpentry skills (or if you could build it yourself). It may take some effort, but you could also make some crafts for the tables at the reception.
16. Choose cheaper linens
Finding the best possible versions of each item might be tempting, but you could save some money if you find cheaper alternatives. Linens won’t be at the top of your mind when wedding planning, but you’ll probably need them. Some venues might also be able to provide tablecloths, napkins and other things as part of your wedding package.
17. Use the venue’s caterer
If your venue has preferred vendors (like caterers or bartenders), there’s a chance they may give some perks or discounts for their services. Catering can be a significant cost per plate, and there’s a lot you can do to find more affordable options, like a buffet-style dinner. On the other hand, if a venue forces you to use an expensive caterer, you may want to find a different venue.
18. Skip the hors d’oeuvres
So, how much food should you get? It really depends on what time of day you’ll have your ceremony — and you’ll probably want to feed your guests dinner at the reception. While some couples offer their guests hors d’oeuvres, especially if they’re getting the dining area ready, you may just want to skip it. Those light bites can be costly, especially for a big crowd.
19. Provide fewer entree options
As much as you may want to serve prime rib and lobster, it’s much more costly. Generally, guests get a few options for dinner — perhaps red meat, fish and a vegetarian option. You’ll save money on your catering costs by cutting down your options. Just be sure to keep any dietary restrictions your guests have in mind.
20. Avoid an open bar…
Alcohol costs are a significant part of your overall wedding budget. Open bars are pretty common, and they can get expensive. Asking your guests to pay for drinks is an option for couples planning a wedding on a shoestring budget who still want to serve alcohol. If you have a wedding earlier in the day, maybe you can skip alcohol entirely.
21. …or use a drink menu
Of course, serving alcohol at weddings is non-negotiable for many couples. Sticking to beer and wine only may lower your costs, especially if you host your wedding at a brewery or winery. Otherwise, “signature” cocktails help limit the liquor you serve. Paying for unlimited top-shelf alcohol for dozens (or hundreds) of guests gets very expensive.
22. Find a smaller cake
Cutting the cake is an important American wedding tradition. Wedding cakes can cost a lot of money, though, and you don’t necessarily need to serve one cake to the entire crowd. Find a smaller cake for the photo-op, cut a slice for the cameras and then serve more affordable cake to the guests. You could also just skip the cake entirely and go with other desserts, if you’d like.
23. Reuse or combine decorations
Not every table needs an ornate, expensive centerpiece. You don’t need to have separate flowers for the ceremony and reception. Reusing decor can help cut costs if you’d otherwise be paying more for separate pieces for each part of the ceremony and the reception. Use some bridal bouquets at the head table — you may not need more flowers.
24. Find a DJ instead of a band
Chances are you’ll want music and dancing at your reception. Live music tends to be more expensive than a DJ — although you might be able to get a “friends and family” discount if you know a good musician. You could go with your own playlists too, but a DJ will probably have a better feel for the crowd’s energy during the reception.
25. Maximize your photographer’s time
Couples want to remember their special day, so they hire photographers (and often videographers, as well). Many photographers charge by the hour, so if you want to capture those memories, try to plan a tight photography schedule. You may be able to keep the party going without the photographer later in the night.
26. Minimize the late night snacks
Speaking of the late night party, many couples provide extra food for the attendees. A nice slice of pizza is a great way to finish the evening. Just remember that many of your guests will have left by that point, and many will still be full from dinner and dessert. You don’t need to order a proportional amount of food — chances are that much less will suffice.
27. Elope instead of having a wedding
Of course, most people who are caught up in the wedding planning process have considered elopement. It’s much cheaper, after all! If you’re looking for the ultimate budget-friendly wedding option, an elopement might be the answer.