How to Have the Wedding of Your Dreams on a Budget

Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the most memorable days of your life. However, the average cost of that special day can be as much as $26,000. Our own Executive Assistant, Natalie, was recently married and wanted to share some tips on how to cut back on expenses but still have the wedding of your dreams.

Save Money on Your Wedding by Planning Ahead

First and foremost, use websites such as TheKnot.com or WeddingWire.com. These websites come in handy during the research portion of your wedding. They can assist you with finding vendors and venues in your area that are within your budget. In addition, The Knot offers a wedding planner booklet that can be purchased online or at a local book store.

Have a long engagement! You’ll have lots of research time, as well as ability to book venues earlier and cheaper. Natalie also recommends signing up for information from a variety of vendors to see if they have any promo codes or coupons over the next few months.

Most importantly, planning ahead allows you to have more time to put money away and save up for the big day.

Find a Venue within Your Budget

When it comes to venues, timing is everything! A wedding during the months of June through September will automatically be more expensive, as those are the peak wedding months. You can also consider getting married on a Friday or Sunday. Friday and Sunday venue rentals and DJs are normally less expensive. True, it’s more inconvenient for your guests, but if you plan ahead you can find a Sunday during a holiday weekend.

Look for a venue that has an event planner on staff. They will be able to assist you with the set-up and help ensure your special day runs smoothly. Hiring a wedding planner on your own is extremely expensive!

DIY Wedding Décor

Find a venue that allows you to choose your own vendors. You’ll also have the flexibility to make more cost-effective choices and do more DIY decorating. Here are some quick tips from Natalie:

  • Flowers can become super expensive so choose ones that are in season. Your best bet is to keep an open mind and take recommendations from your florist.
  • Some places offer lighting, however DJs and other vendors can provide their own lighting for a better price than most venue packages.
  • To make your own decorations utilize places like Hobby Lobby or Michaels, and websites such as Etsy.com. You can find a variety of options that are already created or items you can put together yourself and create from scratch.

Don’t Waste Money on Throw-Away Things

Before you start stressing out over every little thing, take a moment to think about how many of your guests will actually pay attention or remember it in the long run. Here are a few things that you can save money on:

  • Save the Dates, Invitations, Ceremony pamphlets, aka all paper products

    • Use websites such as Vista Print to create Save the Dates and other items.
    • Do not choose expensive wedding invitation paper. Other than immediate family members, people will throw them away, lose them, or damage them to the point of them needing to reach out to you for details of the wedding. TIP: You WILL need at least 25 extras of all paper items that are mailed out. People do forget to mail in RSVPs on time, or you will need to send invites to people who were accidentally left out of the guest list
  • Wedding Favors and Hotel Guest gifts

    • People leave them or throw them away, so don’t stress about them!
    • If you absolutely have to have gifts for your guests, choose small mementos or ones you can order in bulk -- a bag of candy, a drink holder (Cozies), matches with your last name on them, etc.
  • The Cake

    • Don’t invest in a cake big enough to serve all guests. Not everyone eats cake, and you will end up only serving a portion of the cake and having leftover tiers.
    • Choose plain cake. The more complicated the cake icing, flavors and layers the more expensive it is. A nice idea is to have the florist set aside flowers to use for cake decorations.
    • Consider having a fancier small tiered cake for the wedding party, and a sheet cake or cupcakes to serve to the guests.

Manage Your Guest List

As hard as it may seem to exclude people from your wedding – it’s necessary if you want to stay within your budget. Natalie recommends making an A, B, and C list.

  • A list – individuals that are close family members and family friends on both sides. People you must invite.
  • B list – All close friends, you would love to celebrate your special day with.
  • C list – Work friends, the “we see each other every few months” friends, and friends of your parents that you probably don’t know.

Think of your guest list like this: All the people you are inviting are people that you are WILLING to pay for and they genuinely care about your celebration and well-being.

Keep in mind the more guests you have, the more expensive dinner and alcohol will be. Larger weddings are less expensive when a buffet is offered. Smaller weddings are less expensive if a plated option is given.

Dress to Impress without Overspending

It is important to look your best on your wedding day. After all, all eye will be on you and you’ll be the center of attention. Not to mention all the pictures and videos capturing your special day.

The Wedding Dress

The dress is the second biggest highlight of the wedding (the first being the bride and groom, of course). Yes, you’ve dreamt of this moment your whole life and want to look and feel your most beautiful. However, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a dress that you will only wear ONE TIME.

Look at shops that don’t cater to brides or look at those that sell second hand dresses. More likely than not these dresses will be gently used and look brand new at half the cost.

Don’t invest in something you will be afraid to get slightly messy. It is inevitable that you will spill, drop, or get SOMETHING on the dress.

Tuxedo or Suit?

Weigh your options with renting a tuxedo or buying a suit. Think about how many groomsmen you have and what is most cost effective for them.

A suit can be a worthwhile investment to have for a guy, as they can re-wear it for other events. Just keep the colors plain and versatile. However, if your guy is not someone who wears suits a lot, then renting a tux is the way to go. Normally renting a tux is much cheaper than buying a suit.

Tip to the guys: Consult with your bride before making any decisions…

Prioritize What’s Important for Your Wedding

Don’t overspend. There are a variety of ways to save money while planning a wedding. A wedding can still look top of the line without hurting your bank account. Think carefully what is most important to you, and find ways to cut back on the rest.