Weddings are expensive. In 2017, the average wedding in the U.S. cost more than $25,000. Wowsers. But there are ways to cut your budget without sacrificing a stylish wedding. Check out these ideas on how to save money on your wedding.
1. Don't overspend on your wedding dress.
It goes without saying, all eyes will be on you on your wedding day, so you want to look gorgeous, but you also don't want to go into debt over a dress you're going to wear for 1 day. There are plenty of budget friendly wedding dress options these days like Camille La Vie, BHLDN and Jasmine Bridal. And don't limit yourself to bridal only dresses, make sure to check out bridesmaid dress options, too, because some are just as fancy as you may want and come in white. If your heart is set on a designer gown - check out your pre-owned options. Look on your local Facebook groups, ask around for any returns at local bridal stores and check out the online sites like Pre-owned Wedding Dresses and Nearly Newlywed - a pre-owned wedding dress is a great way to save money on your wedding.
2. Cut your guest list.
This is the single most effective way to cut down on your wedding cost. Look at your guest list and then look again. Make your initial cuts, give it a few days and make a few more cuts. There is something special about an intimate wedding and reception - including only those who you're really close with and who will be around in your lives for years to come.
3. Be smart with food and drinks.
A sit-down dinner will be the most expensive option for your wedding. Choosing a buffet or food stations will definitely save you money. If you need to get even cheaper, think 'cocktail style' with passed appetizers only. Just make sure they're hearty apps and you're serving good-sized portions of desserts. A barbecue or other family-style food option is also a good way to save money on your wedding. As for drinks, a full open bar is going to add up quickly. Stick with one signature cocktail, plus beer and wine to save money on your wedding.
4. Rethink your wedding cake.
You do not have to have an elaborate wedding cake to have a beautiful (and delicious) wedding cake. You have several options in the wedding cake arena to save money. You can buy your cake from your local grocery store (instead of a fancy bakery) and have your florist add some flowers and greenery to spruce it up. Or you could opt for a small, but fancy, bakery cake and serve grocery store sheet cake for the majority of your guests. You could also completely opt out of the cake and instead serve pie, cupcakes, ice cream or have a dessert table. Do your research, but wedding cake alternatives are usually cheaper than a fancy wedding cake.
Cake by: Kuchen mit Still
Photo by: Thomas Steibl
5. Think outside the hotel.
Your wedding venue can quickly escalate your wedding bill. If you're not having your ceremony at a church, try and choose a venue than can accommodate both your ceremony and reception - you'll usually save money that way. Do your research. See which venues will let you use the vendors you want; and not just the ones on their list. Remember, food and drink will eat up a lot of your budget - so you need your venue to be up front with their vendor list so you can see if they'll work for your taste and budget.
6. Double up on decor.
Choose decorations for your ceremony that can be reused at your reception. Have vases on your head table for the bridesmaids to put their flowers in so they'll add to the floral decor at your reception. Use both your favors and your escort cards to add elegance and decor to your tables. Check on your local Facebook swap sites and wedding swap sites for decorations other brides have used and want to sell. Purchasing wedding decorations from another bride is a great way to save some cash. Plus, since it was only used for a few hours, it's more than likely in great shape! Make sure you check everything over (or get lots of pictures) before you purchase.
7. Timing is everything.
If you're on a strict wedding budget, you'll need to look at the 'when'. Friday and Sunday weddings are usually going to be cheaper than a Saturday. Winter or early Spring weddings are usually going to be cheaper than your peak wedding times like late Spring, most of Summer and Fall. And a brunch reception is almost always going to save you money compared to a dinner.
Photo: Kelcy Leigh
8. Keep the florals in check.
It's stunning when you look at how much wedding flowers can cost. The number one way to keep this cost in check is to simply use less - smaller bouquets, plus smaller and fewer centerpieces. Try every other centerpiece as a floral one - with candles or other decor items on the other half of your tables. Choosing flowers that are in-season is another way to save money on wedding flowers. And make sure to mix in some less expensive flowers in with your favorite flowers. All peonies is going to make for an expensive flower bill. Add in more greenery, dahlias, carnations and even hydrangeas (since they're big and take up a lot of space) to replace some of the more expensive flowers. Talk with your florist about your goal of planning a wedding on a budget to get even more ideas.
Planning out your budget at the very beginning will help you stay on track. You can estimate what you want (or are able) to spend in each category. This is when you can prioritize your budget, as well. Thinking about what's most important to you (maybe photographer? maybe venue?) will help you decide what's worth shelling out the big bucks for; and maybe cutting costs in some other areas. Also, think about your family members and enlist help where you can. Anyone musically inclined? Anyone have gorgeous penmanship? Ask your talented fam to help out. They'll probably be happy to! Remember to send thank you notes and thank you gifts to make sure their kindness is appreciated.
Brides love the idea of sending a small gift home with every guest, but you have to be realistic that it may not be in your budget. Your guests won't hold it against you, we promise. If you really want to have something try some DIY wedding favors as a money saving wedding idea. You may have to get crafty, but you'll be saving some money on wedding favors.
Weddings can add up so quickly, but they don't have to be super extravagant and expensive. Remember, your new husband and the people who are standing by your side on this day is the most important part. Try not to stress - especially when it comes to saving money on your wedding.