Planning a wedding is often a paradoxical experience: it makes you incredibly excited and incredibly stressed. One of the biggest prenuptial challenges is figuring out how to plan a wedding on a budget.
In the past several decades, the price of a wedding has ballooned in size. As of today, the average wedding cost can be over $30,000, depending on the location.
Fortunately, you can still have a magical day without draining your savings. With the proper planning, your wedding can be beautiful and budget-friendly.
How To Plan a Wedding on a Budget?
How To Plan a Wedding on a Low Budget
The key to planning a wedding on a budget is prioritization. You and your partner should pick two to three aspects of the wedding that matter the most to you and frame your budget around them.
After you’ve identified the things you’ll be splurging on, you can start finding ways to save money on the rest of your wedding plans.
Have a Small Wedding
The easiest way to save money on your wedding is to keep your wedding small. When you have fewer guests, all of your major wedding expenses decrease. Having fewer guests means saving money on elements such as:
- Chair and table rental
Although having a small wedding is an easy money-saving strategy, it can be a difficult decision. If you choose to have a more intimate event, you may want to find a way to include your extended family and friends who weren’t invited. For this reason, some couples have a micro wedding with just immediate family and a larger, more casual party a few weeks later.
Having a shorter guest list frees up funds for more extravagant food, decor, and venues, which may be appealing if you like the sound of an intimate and ornate wedding. However, if it is important to you to have your entire extended family and all of your friends there to witness your wedding, be prepared to cut spending in other areas of the event.
Contrary to what popular bridal magazines may tell you, it is possible to find a lovely wedding venue without going into debt. When it comes to affordable wedding venues, there are several directions you can go in.
One option is to look for public parks and buildings. Many cities and counties have gorgeous park spaces and historic buildings that can be rented out for a lower cost than private venues, especially if you are a legal resident of that location.
If public parks aren’t your style, you can also look for all-inclusive private venue options. Venues with amenities such as food, decor, or entertainment included in the price can simplify planning and lower overall costs.
You may also be planning to have your wedding ceremony in a house of worship. Pricing for religious venues can be a bit of a toss-up. Many religious organizations request a small donation, but a historic building or religious community in a high-cost-of-living area may have a higher price. If you can, stick to the religious community where you have an official membership, as the price is usually lower for locals.
Food is another expensive part of wedding planning. To find catering within your budget, you will need to spend time doing research and comparing prices.
If your venue includes catering, congrats—you’re all set. If not, it’s time for some important decisions about cuisine and format.
Generally, buffets are cheaper than a seated meal. Buffets may even be preferable to guests, who can choose which dishes they want to have and go back for seconds if they wish. You can have a seated dinner if the formality matters to you, but you will likely have to serve cheaper food to stay within your budget.
When it comes to cuisine, you can get creative with selecting dishes that are affordable and suitable for your event. For instance, barbecue tends to be low-cost and a big hit at the buffet table. Other budget-friendly options include family-style Italian dishes or, if you have a daytime wedding, classic brunch food.
Depending on how small your budget is, you could also organize a potluck wedding reception. This is a fun option if you are having a casual backyard wedding with close family and friends.
Save Money on the Clothes
You can free up a large portion of your budget if you spend less money on your wedding outfits. While the bridal boutique is tempting, there is no reason to spend thousands of dollars on a dress you wear for one day.
Many department stores and clothing retailers have beautiful and trendy bridal gowns that will suit a lower budget. You can look into traditional department stores such as Nordstrom or Macy’s, or you can investigate online brands such as ASOS or Lulus.
You can also rent a designer gown for a fraction of the sale price through services like Rent the Runway. Other brides on a budget swear by used clothing marketplaces like Nearly Newlywed.
For accessories, consider looking on Etsy. Artists on Etsy make beautiful veils, shoes, and jewelry that you wouldn’t find elsewhere, and many of the shops have lower price ranges than mainstream bridal brands.
Formal suits and tuxedos can be rented for a reasonable price, or you can purchase a less expensive ensemble from a department store or online retailer.
Invitations are a sneakily expensive line item on your wedding budget. The individual invitation may feel affordable, but the cost adds up once you multiply it by the number of guests and factor in envelopes, RSVP cards, and postage.
Help the environment and your bank account by sending digital invitations. Several companies offer digital wedding invite services for either a low fee or no cost at all. Digital invitations now come in a wide range of elegant designs and are usually connected to your wedding website and RSVP tracking system.
Most of your guests will appreciate having digital invitations: the RSVP process is easier, and they won’t have a paper invite creating clutter in their home. Many digital invitations are also available in a print version, so you can order physical copies for close relatives who would value it as a keepsake.