wedding costs

There are ways to have a budget wedding without looking “cheap.” A wedding should not be something you worry about years after because you can’t pay it off. With a multi-billion dollar wedding industry, there are people who want to pressure you to spend all of your money on your wedding. We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to! Your wedding budget should be something you are comfortable with and not what the industry tells you it should be.

Here are 100 tips to keep you on budget:

1. Keep your guest list small.

2. Consider a different time of day for your wedding, such as morning or afternoon.

3. Consider a buffet or family-style meal rather than a plated meal.

4. Stick with flowers that are in season.

5. Consider getting married during off-peak wedding season. June tends to be the most popular month for weddings.

6. Print your own invitations at home.

7. Purchase handmade items directly from the designer on places like Etsy–and cut out the middle man.

8. Consider a wedding location that isn’t a traditional “wedding” location, such as a beach, picnic area, municipal building or school.

9. Have less formal food options. Everyone loves comfort food and snacks!

10. Consider a wedding dress that is not from a traditional bridal store. Browse a major retailer or online store for white dresses at a good price

11. Bridesmaid dresses can also be found at a discount store or outlet or have your bridal party where something they already own all in the same color.

12. Shop sample sales or go dress shopping while there are sales. This could mean shopping way ahead of time to get a good price.

13. Consider doing your own hair or makeup. Or go to a makeup store and have a professional teach you how to apply a good look.

14. Instead of buying something, consider renting it, with things such as a tuxedo.

15. Choose silk or paper flowers over real flowers.

16. Consider not having favors to cut down on costs or limit them to one per couple instead of one per person.

17. Buy fabric by the yard to sew yourself instead of pre-made linens or table runners.

18. Some brides rent their wedding dresses. This also takes away the problem of what to do with the dress after the wedding.

19. Ask friends to help out with anything they can contribute. Maybe one of them could even officiate the wedding.

20. Have the ceremony and reception at one place to cut down on costs of transportation, rentals and decorations.

21. Skip the dessert course and have cake or a candy table as the dessert of the meal.

22. Buy your own alcohol for the reception.

23. Local, seasonal food options are usually always cheaper for dinner.

24. Consider a cocktail reception with only appetizers to cut down on food costs.

25. Ask a cake baker who is just starting out to make your cake instead of a large bakery.

26. The same goes for musicians or live entertainment. Think about hiring a music student or someone early in their career.

27. Consider cupcakes or small desserts instead of cake.

28. Depending your views, you could not serve alcohol or limit the number of bar hours.

29. Although the up-front costs of a wedding planner may seem high, they are often great at scoring deals and working with vendors.

30. Use coupons to find deals on craft items, wedding supplies and accessories.

31. If you’re paying for things for the wedding on a credit card, make sure you’re getting something back in return with a cash-back rebates or loyalty points.

32. Fill your centerpieces and bouquets with more greenery and filler. Or use wildflowers.

33. Skip the champagne and opt for white wine or sparkling wine instead.

34. Simplify your invitations and keep them down to one page instead of a fold-out with ribbon, to save on postage.

35. Cut down on photographer costs by only having one photographer instead of second or third shooters.

36. Alternatively, ask the photography company if an assistant or associate could be your main photographer instead. They may charge a lower rate.

37. Attend a bridal show or wedding fair to score deals on vendors.

38. If you’re going to splurge, make sure it’s on something you and your guests will enjoy, such as food or photography.

39. Go for a single-flower bouquet or a less expensive flower (peonies come with a price) for your bouquet.

40. Your guests still need to be fed, but don’t overdo it on the food. More than three courses for a sit down meal might be excessive for some people.

41. Have a small display cake as your wedding cake and a larger sheet cake in the back that can be switched out when the cake is cut. No one will know the difference!

42. Plan things like the cake cutting and first dance earlier in the night, so you can limit the hours of photography needed.

43. The same thing goes for DJ services. Have an iPod hooked up for the ceremony and cocktail hour and have the DJ work the reception only to cut back on hours.

44. Use decorations that you already have at home instead of buying, such as candles, lanterns or frames. Or go thrifting at yard sales.

45. Cocktails and shots usually cost more with bar service, so have beer and wine only for the bar.

46. Opt for the house wines instead of a specialty brand.

47. Having larger tables instead of smaller ones means less centerpieces and decorations.

48. Consider emailing save-the-dates instead of mailing them.

49. Design a centerpiece that doesn’t use flowers, such as something with lanterns, candles or jars.

50. DIY your own wedding items!

51. An elopement or small destination wedding may be a less expensive option than a traditional reception.

52. Not having  a wedding party, ring bearer or flower girl means less costs for outfits, gifts and flowers.

53. A smaller wedding party also equals less cost–and sometimes less hassle.

54. If someone else is having a reception on the same day as you, ask them to keep some of their decorations or rentals up so you can use them as well.

55. Avoid using the word “wedding” when talking to some vendors unless it is absolutely necessary. Sometimes, “wedding” costs come with a premium.

56. Only invite people to your wedding you are close to, you know well or who you have seen in the last five years.

57. Buy wedding items in bulk instead of smaller sizes. For example, some vendors may give you a lower price for each item once you buy more than 50.

58. Save money on rehearsal dinner, bachelorette or bridal shower food, by opting for an at-home celebration instead of going to a restaurant.

59. Have the servers serve the wine instead of leaving it on the table, so the wine consumption is staggered throughout the night.

60. Factor additional costs, such as shipping, taxes, fees and tips when you create your budget, so you make sure to stay in budget.

61. Buttercream icing is usually a cheaper choice for cakes than fondant. Better yet, a naked cake looks just as nice.

62. Browse online marketplaces for used wedding items or search a bridal swap listing service.

63. Once you are done with your wedding items, sell them to make some extra cash.

64. Limit the meal options to one option with a vegetarian option instead of three or four different–and more expensive–choices. More choices equals more money.

65. Ask your photographer if they will add videography to your package instead of hiring an additional videographer.

66. When considering your guest list, make a rule about whether people can bring plus ones or not. Otherwise, costs can add up for additional guests.

67. When deciding whether to allow kids or not, remember that kids meals are often cheaper. Or you can choose a no-children wedding.

68. Borrow wedding items from a friend or family member or use family heirlooms in your accessories instead of buying.

69. We’re not saying you should haggle for wedding contracts, but in some situations, it may be alright to negotiate terms.

70. Do your research and shop around for vendors and wedding items before you buy to make sure you get the best price.

71. Read contracts carefully before you sign, in case you run into any hairy situations where a vendor drops out, doesn’t deliver or overcharges you.

72. Have your photographer and videographer only cover the ceremony.

73. Less is more, so cut out things you don’t think you necessarily need. Try a wedding venue that already has decorative elements or doesn’t need many decorations.

74. Some venue packages may be a good deal, but some require you to use their vendors exclusively, which may come at a price. Check to see if you can use your own.

74. Create an easy wedding website and online RSVPs instead of traditional paper invitations.

75. Serve the meal family style. Not only can you save money by serving food this way, but the interactive nature of family style eating will also encourage a wonderfully intimate atmosphere amongst your guests.

76. Don’t get married on Saturday, the most popular–and expensive–day of the week for weddings.

77. Cut down the passed appetizers to 1-2 a person per hour instead of 3-4. Or set out a few nibbles on the tables instead. Keep in mind, caterers may try to up-sell you.

78. It is alright to say no or “we don’t need that” when discussing contracts. Don’t feel pushed into something you don’t actually want.

79. Research other budget weddings and see what other couples did to reduce costs.

80. Carefully evaluate wedding trends. Popular items may cost more because everyone else wants them.

81. It is important to thank your wedding party, however an expensive gift for each person adds up. A hand written note or personal thank you may be enough.

82. Create handwritten place cards and escort cards instead of having them professionally printed.

83. Go through each budget item and see how you can trim each item down to the bare necessity. Really think about how necessary some of the costs are.

84. Most florists charge more for the labor of putting flowers together than the flowers themselves. Buy the flowers in bulk or wholesale and create your own bouquets.

85. Keep receipts of everything you buy for the wedding and track each item, so you know how much you are spending.

86. Have a signature drink. Having a signature cocktail passed around to guests during the cocktail hour is a nice way to personalize your wedding and save on alcohol costs. Guests will appreciate the gesture, you’ll be able to stick to your booze budget, and you’ll be on trend.

87. Consider a wedding location that is not in a major city. Some downtown costs may be more expensive for you and your guests.

88. Instead of response cards with your invitations, ask guests to email or phone you with their RSVP.

89. Take advantage of free printables for your wedding stationery.

90. We know shoes are a big deal. If you’re wearing a long dress, chances are people won’t really see them anyway. So why break the budget on them?

91. Borrow a nice car or truck from a friend instead of renting a limo.

92. Take your honeymoon at a time when you can get a better vacation deal instead of right after the wedding.

93. Find a dress that fits instead of a size off the rack to cut down on alteration costs.

94. Buying a smaller dress you hope to fit into by the wedding is never a good idea. If you do need alterations, making a dress fit smaller is cheaper than making the dress bigger.

95. Enter wedding blog giveaways and contests for a chance to win free wedding things.

96. Having a shorter time to plan a wedding means you will be more ruthless when it comes to things you need vs. want.

97. Buy flowers, food items and candy at the grocery store or a bulk food store instead of a speciality store.

98. Leave an empty vase on the head table and use your bridal bouquet as a centerpiece.

99. Ask a hotel for a discounted rate for booking a block of rooms.

100. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to the wedding budget. The last thing you want is for him to go and splurge on something he wanted while you promised to make cutbacks on things you wanted. Marriage is all about compromise!