No matter the number, you have a budget that you want to stick to for your wedding… and that isn’t always the easiest. Figuring out the actual cost of a wedding day is difficult enough; figuring out how to come up with the money is a whole different story. So today we’re sharing our 18 tips and tricks to stretch your wedding budget, make the most out of your finances and keep you calm through the planning process.
1. Learn to Love DIY
Having an active part in creating the special details of your wedding can be really fun, and it’s a great way to spend time with your bridal party during this busy season. It’s great to cut cost and bring your own vision to life – but keep in mind that DIY doesn’t guarantee a savings. You’ll want to consider the cost to purchase something versus buying everything and taking the time to make it.
2. Don’t Get Caught up on a Dream Wedding
Remember that the wedding of your dreams and the wedding of your reality are probably very different things – and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Beautiful doesn’t have to be extravagant, and affordable doesn’t have to mean a lack of quality. Instead of focusing on the wedding you dreamed up as a kid, create new ideas that incorporate the love of your life & who you are together.
3. Give Yourself Enough Time to Plan
Shorter engagements often lead to rushed decisions and limited options based on time. With more time to research options, you’re likely to get a better deal, and you’ll have more time to think about your priorities and how to save for them.
4. Date and Time
If everyone wants a spring or fall wedding on a Saturday evening, you can bet the cost will rise for those popular times. Pick a less popular month or consider options like weekdays or brunch weddings to offset the cost. Maybe your dream venue is all booked for the time frame you had in mind; never be afraid to ask if they have any available dates for weekdays, or even Sunday mornings! They may be willing to cut the cost in order to fill a time slot that they struggle to book.
5. Use a Single Venue
If you can have your ceremony and reception at the same site, you’ll save yourself some money, add convenience to your guests, and allow more time to celebrate rather than drive. Your guests and wallet will thank you.
6. Look Into All-Inclusive Services
Some vendors have multiple services, like a caterer who can bake, a DJ + photographer combo, or even a venue with in-house services that are available for a discounted, combined rate. These options lead to fewer down payments and generally lower costs.
7. Consider a Smaller Guest Count
The greatest way to decrease your cost and enhance the overall experience is to limit your guest list to the people who really matter. This doesn’t mean cutting the list to 20 people – just knocking some distant relatives and long-lost friends off the list. This can be a tricky tactic if your parents have a lot of “suggestions” for the list, but if they aren’t helping pay for the wedding, you may need to lovingly put your foot down.
8. Smart Favors
Wedding favors are a special part of saying thank you to your guests, but they don’t have to break the bank. Consider glassware that they use during the ceremony and then take home, or a tasty treat that won’t take up space in their home.
9. Brunch or Lunch
Early day meals are cheaper than a 3 course dinner, so having your wedding early in the day with a breakfast buffet and endless Mimosas is a tasty and easy way to cut costs. An 11 am ceremony followed by a nice lunch is also a nice way to celebrate on a budget.
10. In-Season Foods
Sure, you may love summer veggies, but if they’re out of season, they’ll hike up the overall price of dinner. Be sure to consider what produce is in season when you work with your caterer, and don’t be afraid to ask them ways to cut costs while building a delicious menu.
11. Fake the Cake
Sheet cuts are much cheaper, but far less elegant. Consider showcasing an elegant artificial wedding cake with just one real layer, ready to be cut, or show off a smaller cake that fits your style. Then have the caterer pull this small or fake cake into the back and serve sheet cake. Your guests won’t know the difference!
12. Skip the Champagne
While everyone loves a good wedding toast, don’t feel obligated to serve champagne. Encourage guests to toast with whatever they’re drinking so you don’t have to splurge on the bubbly.
13. His & Hers Signature Drinks
An open bar is out of the question for many couples on a budget, but a great option is to have two or three signature drinks. This limits the amount of alcohol purchased but still gives your guests some options. Pair the two signature liquor drinks with 2 wine options and 2 beer options to round out your bar menu.
14. DIY Video
Maybe you want a wedding video but can’t afford the videographer. Consider renting (or borrowing from a friend) a nice video camera and set it up wherever you want to catch the most important moments, like your vows, dinner toasts and the dance floor.
15. Consider the Linens
The tablecloth or table runner is an important part of the reception decor, but using a shorter tablecloth is an easy way to save big bucks. The smaller linens will cost much less, and once everyone is seated, no one will notice. For even less coverage, a table runner over a pretty table adds a pop of color for much less.
16. Artificial Flowers
Not only are they beautiful, artificial flowers can drastically cut your costs, are automatically preserved, and they can even be resold after. Keeping your bridal bouquet for years after is a very special memento, and your bridesmaids may also love the token. We love silk, paper and wood flowers as alternatives to real blooms.
17. Barter Services
Perhaps you or your groom own a business or can provide a service that vendors might enjoy. Consider offering your services free of charge to vendors who are willing to give you a discount. Remember, the worst thing someone can say is no, and there’s always the chance they say yes!
18. Don’t be Afraid to Say Please
Sometimes we feel like asking our friends or family to help is a burden, but often they’ll love to be included and can consider it their wedding gift to you. Have an aunt who loves to bake? A girlfriend who is a makeup guru? A grandpa who is ordained? Including these people and their skills will make the day more special for everyone, a much cheaper for you.