Planning a wedding on a budget can be challenging. For many brides, it’s the first time we’ve planned an event of this magnitude or scale. According to Business Insider, the average U.S. wedding costs $33,391. There are a million little details to juggle and the costs add up fast! Looking back on our wedding, I realized that many small decisions added up to big savings. The ten choices below helped us stretch our budget. I hope you find some inspiration here as you plan your event!
1. Selecting a Less Established Venue
Our wedding venue is drop dead gorgeous and has developed quite the following in the area. But the year we got married? It was their first full season of weddings and they were still relatively unknown. While the cost per person was on the high end, it was reasonable for our part of the country. And it’s since gone up considerably.
There was some trepidation from our families, who encouraged us to go with a better known wedding venue. But after meeting the team at our wedding location, we were confident they could pull off an incredible event. While new, they had deep experience in the industry. And the few brides I spoke with who’d hosted their weddings at the site had nothing but good things to say about their experiences.
2. Choosing a Venue that Didn’t Need Much Décor
The venue we went with was beyond beautiful on its own. An old estate in the woods surrounded by breathtaking gardens, it looked like something out of a fairytale. A top of the line tent was installed seasonally for outdoor receptions and the building itself was full of period details that had been painstakingly restored. We added lots of candles and personal photos, but there was no need for anything more, as it would only compete with the venue.
3. Hosting the Wedding and Reception at Same Location
When you’re planning a wedding on a budget, hosting the entire event at one location can save you a lot of money. Rather than pay for a church and a reception location, look for a location where you can hold your ceremony and reception on-site. Not only does it save time, but it helps keep costs down. Plus, you won’t need to decide whether to cover the cost of transportation between the two for your guests. Whether you opt to host your reception in your church hall, or to celebrate your wedding elsewhere, limiting complexity often cuts down on cost.
4. Stretching Our Wedding Budget with a BYOB Venue
We knew we wanted to offer an open bar to our guests, but the alcohol packages at a number of the venues we considered were crazy expensive. Thankfully, some of the towns in our area were dry towns, but allowed wedding venues to serve alcohol if the bride and groom provided their own. Buying direct from a local liquor store was a huge savings. As an added bonus, they took back any unopened bottles at the end of the event. While we didn’t provide a full bar, we offered beer, wine, champagne and the basic liquors for a mere fraction of the cost of a lesser package at a comparable venue one town over. All in, we spent roughly 20% of the quote received for an open bar from the backup venue and we served higher quality drinks!
5. Maximizing our Wedding Budget By Selecting a Less Popular Day
We had our wedding on a Sunday. While we hadn’t planned to do so, the venue we loved only had a couple Sundays available for the entire four-month period we were considering for wedding dates. Across the board, packages for Friday and Sunday weddings were cheaper than a Saturday night bash. We figured that either way our out-of-town guests would need to take off Friday or Monday for travel, and our local guests were on board with a Sunday event. While the party didn’t go late into the night, we had a wonderful time.
6. Cutting Costs by Asking a Family Member to Officiate
We asked a family member to officiate our wedding and couldn’t be more pleased with the decision. The ceremony was personal and it was incredibly meaningful to us to be married by someone we knew and loved. We definitely saved money, but in this instance, it was more of an afterthought. Because we would have paid extra to be married by someone who knew us so well.
7. Skipping the Limo and Fancy Transportation Options
Since we were holding the wedding and reception in one location and meeting there early for photos, it didn’t make a lot of sense to pay for transportation. I caught a ride to the wedding with my maid of honor and her father and it was delightful to see him on my wedding day. We didn’t miss having a limo at all and it was an easy way to save money for details that mattered to us more.
8. Choosing Seasonal Wedding Flowers
Flowers were an area where I wanted them to be pretty, but had very little opinion on exactly which ones were used. We searched for a vendor whose style we liked and set a reasonable budget and a very rough color scheme. She had free range to work within it and created the most beautiful arrangements with seasonal blooms. Choosing which elements of your wedding are important to you and splurging on those while minimizing cost on the rest is an easy way to stretch your wedding budget.
9. Finding a Videographer Who Was Just Starting Out
At first, I thought we’d never want a videographer, but as planning progressed, I realized I wanted to fit one into the budget if I could. But since we hadn’t budgeted for the expense, we needed to get creative. I viewed the portfolios of a ton of local vendors and did a bunch of research online to find a videographer whose style I loved, but who was just starting out. At the time it was his side hustle, but he had a raw talent and a passion for wedding videography. I’m so glad we splurged. The video captured the emotions of the day in a different way than photography could.
10. Deciding to Make Our Own Favors
While I didn’t want to cram in too many too DIY projects on our tight timeline, I’m so glad we made our favors. It added a personal touch to our wedding and was a ton of fun for my fiancé and I to work on together. They were affordable and because we went with something edible, we knew we weren’t creating additional clutter for our guests.
Are you planning a wedding? What’s your best tip for staying within budget?