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So you are newly engaged and it is time to start planning for the wedding of your dreams.
The first thing you will probably do is look over your finances and set a budget for your wedding.
Not everyone will be able to have a huge, luxury wedding and that is perfectly okay!
The tips below prove that you can still have the wedding of your dreams with a small budget.
1. Set Realistic Goals : Wants vs. Needs
The main thing you will need to remember when it comes to planning your wedding is to set realistic goals.
This means, that you are planning a wedding that fits your income.
This may mean making a list of needs versus wants.
Needs and wants will vary for each individual, especially when you factor in your budget and income.
For some, their needs may include a designer dress and shoes, while for others they would rather splurge on a great caterer.
Whatever the case, the list will help you have a clear picture of the type of wedding you want to have.
It’s a good idea for your partner to make a list too so that you can compare your needs and wants and get on the same page for your wedding.
Sometimes this may mean compromising on things, like getting a quality photographer over an awesome DJ or ditching both and opting for a cool venue.
2. Save Money In Advance
The day my husband and I got engaged we started saving money for our wedding.
We knew we would be engaged for at least two years for various reasons, so that gave us plenty of time to save.
Even if you are planning a wedding in a short amount of time, it is still smart to set aside money.
With every paycheck, you should aim to save a certain amount.
For instance if you want to save $1,000 in three months, you need to save about $335 a month or $167 per pay period if you get paid twice a month.
As marriage is a joint effort, your partner should be saving money too, either to contribute another $1,000 or help you meet your goal.
3. Shop Like You Are On A Budget
Once you have your wedding budget together and your money saved, it is time to start doing some shopping. When you make your list of the items you need, you need to remember your budget when you are out and about.
It is really easy to get caught up in wanting a fancy dress, shoes, accessories and more. But if you can’t afford a $500 dress, then don’t even bother looking at them so that you are not tempted.
When shopping on a budget here are two tips when it comes to your wedding attire
- Consider buying a suit versus a tuxedo, as you’ll get more wears out of it (i.e. attending other weddings or going to job interviews)
- Buy a used wedding dress by checking out consignment shops or even craigslist. Keep in mind this is not something you will likely wear again so need to spend a lot on it
4. Keep the Guest Count Small
Your guest count can cause a wedding to be expensive really quickly. The more people you invite, the more people you have to fit into a venue, feed and provide drinks.
When it comes to expenses, catering and alcohol are commonly the most expensive items on your budget and often charged on a per person basis.
It can be hard to keep the guest count small without offending family members and friends, but when it comes to your expenses it is okay to offend a few people to keep your cost to a minimum.
Just invite those key people that mean the most to you and explain to everyone else your reasoning, they will understand.
5. Stay Local
Destination weddings will typically be more expensive than getting married locally. Destination weddings will cost you airfare, lodging, transportation and more.
When planning a wedding on a budget, it is best to keep things local. Not only will you have more options in terms of where you hold your wedding, you’ll also be able to go home at the end of the night and save on the cost of a hotel.
Keeping your wedding local will also allow you to check out more caterers, florists, djs, photographers and bakeries directly without needing to rely on a third party in a different state or country.
6. Ask For Money As A Gift
Instead of making a full wedding registry, consider asking for money as your primary wedding gift. Though put a few items on your registry for the people that prefer to give an actual item.
You could say the funds are for a specific item, like hardwood floors in your house or your honeymoon.
Or you can ask for money without any need to explain and later use that to cover any costs you accrued during your wedding that you didn’t budget enough for.
Or set the money aside as a rainy day fund.
Trust me, the extra cash will come in handy more than a new set of pots and pans.
7. Do It Yourself
If you really want to save money when it comes to having a dream wedding, try to do as much as you can directly.
Some DIY Projects include:
- Save the Dates and Invitations
- Wedding Hairpiece
- Place cards
- Seating Chart
In addition to craft projects, you can also tackle things like food and photos on your own. If you’re a baker consider making your own cake or setting out treats like cookies, brownies and cupcakes.
If you are more of a chef, consider making some dishes and serve your meal buffet style. As for photos, plop a few disposable cameras on the table and have your guests work as your free photographers.
And if you already have a solid beauty routine and go-to look, opt to do your own hair and makeup. You’ll be familiar with your own products and will be able to get the exact look you want versus paying someone to do it.
8. Enlist Help
Speaking of doing stuff yourself, it is okay to ask for help, especially when you explain you are trying to keep your wedding costs low.
Brides have a tendency to put everything on their shoulders and find themselves stressed and overwhelmed before their big day even arrives. To avoid this, ask family and friends to help you with your DIY projects.
This will be especially helpful if you want to make the food yourself. Contact your best bakers and chefs and give them a dish to make for your big day in lieu of a gift.
If you know a graphic designer, see if they’ll design your weddings invitations for free as long as you cover the cost of printing.
While it may feel like you’re taking advantage of their generosity, keep in mind that most people love weddings and would be happy to help out in any way they can.
When I mentioned DIY projects above, I put down things like party favors and table centerpieces, but really you could have a totally minimalist wedding and go without these kinds of things.
Other things you can skip to keep your wedding minimal are a wedding guest book (I have one and haven’t looked at it since I got married), a photo book (not worth the expense), and seating chart or place cards (have guests sit where they want).
A minimalist wedding can still be beautiful and without all of that extra stuff you can splurge on things like special flowers and food.
10. Skip Tradition
Traditional weddings will include bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearers, gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen, gifts for mother and father of the bride/groom and so much more.
Tradition is expensive. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a bridesmaid or groom, but I don’t think you need to get them a gift as that can get too pricey, especially if you have a large wedding party.
The thing to keep in mind when planning your wedding is just that. It is your wedding and you can shape it how you wish. You can hold to tradition or completely move away from it.
If it means saving more money, consider having a non-traditional wedding.
11. Look for Free or Cheap Venues
Fancy venues can be really beautiful, but are often more expensive, especially if it is a really popular wedding space in a popular city.
When planning a wedding, look for the venues that will cost you the least or even better, look for FREE venues.
Free venues could be a park, though sometimes you have to pay a cleaning deposit (which is refunded if the park is cleaned up after).
Or if you know someone with a large backyard, you could see if they’ll host your wedding, that way you only have to worry about the cost of renting chairs and tables.
Having your wedding ceremony in a church could also be a cheap option (depending on the church). As long as you are a member, most churches simply require a few hours of marriage counseling and maybe a donation in order to officiate your wedding.
Another option is to have your ceremony at the courthouse for less than $100 and have only immediate family attend and then follow up with a reception somewhere else.
If you end up renting a space, look for options that include things like tables, chairs and the use of their sound system in the cost. If the venue comes with an in-house caterer, that could also help keep your costs low as everything will be all in one place.
12. Skip the DJ
Music is pretty much essential at any wedding…unless you are having a wedding ceremony and reception before noon.
While most people will go with a DJ or band, another option would be to load your favorite songs onto an iPod or smartphone and create a playlist to last you through your reception.
While you won’t have a traditional DJ as MC for the night, you could enlist a friend or family member to pause the music when needed and announce things like the first dance or father and daughter dance, before letting the iPod resume.
Another cheap option would be to check with your local high school or colleges to see if the band or orchestra would be willing to play a few songs at your reception for free. You can have them cover the special dances and then switch over to the iPod for the rest of the night.
13. Provide Your Own Booze
I learned in my corporate job that it is much cheaper to bring your own booze to a party than to rely on the bar package at the venue.
If your venue allows, see if they will let you bring in alcohol versus using their bar as you will be able to get alcohol at a much cheaper price and afford better quality too when you can bring it in yourself.
Some places may say beer and wine only, which can actually be a good thing as with beer and wine, you can have the bar be self serve and skip the cost of a bartender making drinks.
Even if you want to have mixed drinks, buying your own alcohol will still save on your weddings costs tremendously.
P.S. Keep your receipts and return any unopened alcohol.
14. Choose Plain Wedding Bands
Sometimes, a plain simple wedding band is best. No need for fancy diamonds or even fancy materials.
While gold, white gold and platinum are good band options, some cheaper alternatives are tungsten or even wood. I like tungsten as it holds up to rough handling and you won’t feel too bad when it’s scratched as you didn’t spend a ton on it.
Wood is great, but get one reinforced with quality stainless steel so that it lasts you a lifetime.
15. Hold Off On the Honeymoon
Some may choose to take their honeymoon immediately after a wedding and this is great if you have factored this into your wedding budget.
If you haven’t budgeted for a honeymoon, don’t worry, you can always plan something special later on down the road when your finances look better or after you have recovered from all of your wedding expenses.
Those planning an immediate honeymoon can save money by going someplace fairly local. You could do something cheap like camping, visiting a local beach or even hitting up a few breweries or wineries in your area.
I’m currently helping my sister plan and budget for her wedding next year so she’s taking a lot of these tips to heart and they are definitely working to keep her budget under control. She inspired the first tip to be honest.
If you are planning your own wedding, let me know in the comments below if any of this advice will help you as you go about planning your dream event. Thanks for reading and happy planning!