In 2022, the average cost of a wedding is around $27,000. For some people, this cost is just a drop in the bucket, but for others, it’s not realistic. Though an extremely important day of your life, it’s ultimately just one day. Some people spend more on this day than they can afford, and they immediately enter marriage with debt. But you can have a beautiful wedding without spending a ton of money or going “wedding broke.” Here are some other options for each aspect of the wedding that will help you save money.
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It’s estimated that couples spend around 50% of their wedding budget on just the venue. There’s a wide range of wedding venue prices, but on average, a couple will spend around $10,500. But some couples spend upwards of $20,000. If you’re set on having your wedding at a fancier wedding venue, but want to save where you can, here are some different options.
Host your wedding on a weekday. Weekdays are cheaper than weekends. If you feel that the guests you want at the wedding could come during the week, you can save money with this (this works especially well for destination weddings). Many venues discount Friday weddings, which is still considered part of the weekend for a lot of people.
Have a morning wedding. Evening weddings are more expensive because they’re more popular. Morning weddings are usually discounted. You will have to account for getting ready and setting up, but if you can make it work, it might be the way to go!
Have a destination wedding. In the long run, a destination wedding can end up being cheaper, because it’s fewer people, and the price is sometimes all-inclusive. Invite the most important people in your life, and go somewhere fun. Have your honeymoon at the same location to save on travel expenses.
Rent a restaurant banquet room. If you hold your reception at a restaurant, the food and venue price is wrapped into one (and is usually discounted) since the restaurant will cater the event.
The Guest List
This is a stressful part of wedding planning for some people. Trying to be frugal but also not offending people isn’t an easy task. But this is your and your fiancé’s wedding day, not anyone else’s. Try not to worry about the opinion of others. Invite the people you want to be there.
If having a big wedding isn’t appealing to you, a small and intimate wedding can be a beautiful, special thing. Usually, with fewer people attending the wedding, the price of the food, chairs, and other set-up fees will cost less. Also, you have more options for the venue because some venues only hold fewer than 100 people. Or, if you’re like me and hate being the center of attention, you could have a small wedding in someone’s yard.
If you aren’t sure how to break the news to people when they ask about your wedding, you can tell them, “My fiancé and I decided to have a small, private wedding with just family. Financially and logistically, it works best for us.” Most people, especially if they have experienced and paid for a wedding, will understand this. There will always be a few people who try to make you feel bad about it, but do you really want them at the wedding if that’s going to be their attitude?
Depending on where you purchase invitations, you could be spending $5-$10 per invite. If you’re inviting over 100 people, this might be too expensive. Let me break down a little hack I discovered for saving on wedding invites.
The internet is full of templates for invitations. One website with some unique template options is Etsy. Typically, you’ll pay around $4 for a template, and when purchasing it, you’ll be redirected to the website used to edit the template. Once you finish editing it, you can save the file as a PDF or JPG. Then, use this file to print hundreds of invitations at a place like Staples. The average pricing for 100 invites is less than $80. Had you spent $5 on each invite, you would’ve spent at least $500 for 100 invitations.
Something else to consider with invitations is using a wedding website, like Zola or The Knot, that has a space for wedding RSVPs. On your wedding invitation, you can create a QR code or provide a link, where your guests can go online and RSVP rather than sending one in the mail. This is a faster and more convenient option for guests, and it’s easier to create invites since you won’t need an extra envelope or paper for responses, or pay for the extra postage.
Another DIY option is to buy wedding invitation kits from Michaels or Hobby Lobby (don’t forget to bring your coupon!). These kits usually include the invitations, envelopes, and RSVP cards and envelopes. Instructions for printing at home will be included, along with an extra invitation to use as a test run. Check their websites for more options than what the retail stores carry.
Attire for the Big Day
The wedding dress, bridesmaids' dresses, and suits for the guys can really hike up the price tag for the wedding day. Going to a bridal or formalwear shop used to be the norm for these things, but there are cheaper options online for those on a budget.
Azazie is a lifesaver for bridesmaids on a budget. Most dresses are under $100, and there is a wide range of color options and sizes. They also sell wedding dresses for a great price, and reviews show that buyers were not disappointed.
Similar to Azazie, Birdy Grey is another online bridal company with bridesmaid dresses under $100. They don’t yet have their own bridal gowns, but they do have suits and groomsmen accessories.
Another online shopping option is Lulus. They have an entire selection of wedding attire from wedding dresses, bridesmaids' dresses, shoes, and accessories.
As of now, there are more options online for brides than for grooms. But I have a feeling that in the near future we will see more available for them as the online shopping experience grows. But for the grooms trying to save money, they might want to consider buying a suit from somewhere like Macy’s, Boscov’s, or JCPenny. You will get less tailored options there, but renting a suit is $200 or more in some cases, and sometimes you can spend the same price online when you buy.
Another option for the men is suit separates with jeans. If you’re having a rustic, farm-style wedding, consider having the men wear jeans, boots, and a button-up and vest. There are really no rules for wedding attire, so do what works best for you.
The menu options really depend on the location of the wedding. Different towns provide different options. Certain types of meals will be more expensive. Plated meals are usually pricier than a buffet-style meal. Again, do whatever you want to do, not what you “should” do. If you want to spend a bit more on the meal, maybe save on the desserts.
If you aren’t a big fan of cake, don’t have cake at the wedding! You can have assorted desserts at the wedding like cookies, cupcakes, or even donuts. Some people do a donut wall in place of a cake. These options are often less expensive than a traditional wedding cake. If you still want the “cut the cake” picture, buy a mini cake for you and your husband to share. I had a mini cheesecake for my wedding, and it was perfect.
Call around to your local catering places and food options to compare prices. Usually, there are different price packages to choose from depending on if you want hors d'oeuvres, the meal, and the dessert. Also, don’t feel pressured to have an open bar. They’re so expensive, and usually this option leads to a hectic night, because of those who abuse it. You can still have the option for people to order drinks if it’s important to you.
Technology has come a long way. It’s not always necessary to have an expensive band or DJ for your wedding. Most venues have the equipment to play music off a phone or laptop. So if it’s a better option for you, just set up a playlist and have someone coordinate the music for you. Premium Spotify is $10 a month, and the ads are all removed. Create separate playlists for your ceremony and reception, and use that for the wedding. A DJ is good for moving the night along and keeping things lively, but maybe you have a friend who is good at this. Have them announce things and hit play on your playlist.
I once was in a wedding where the bride had a good friend sing and play guitar for her first dance, and it was really special. Consider this if you want a moment with a live band, but don’t need it for the entire night.
Did you know that many places make faux flowers that look extremely realistic? Couples are spending an average of $2,000-$3,000 on flowers for their wedding. I don’t want to be pessimistic, but flowers die. If flowers are really important to you, maybe you’re okay with the cost. But for those who don’t have much knowledge or opinion on flowers (aka me), just use faux flowers for the wedding. I had a farm wedding and still used faux flowers. No one knew the difference, and several people have asked me who my florist was, even though I didn’t have one.
Go to your local crafting store to find faux florals, like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or even a HomeGoods. These places sell faux bouquets, boutonnieres, and separate floral pieces. You can create your own from separate florals or buy one as a whole. You’ll spend less than $20 on a faux bouquet. (Again, don’t forget your coupons!)
If you really want fresh flowers, there are a few ways to cut costs with a little bit of DIY spirit. You can order flowers in bulk from your big chain grocery store, or if you want specific flowers or colors, you can order several large arrangements from your local florist. Break down the arrangements and then rearrange them into your bouquet, the bridesmaids’ bouquets, and the boutonnieres. You’ll need some sharp scissors, green floral wire, green floral tape, and pins. Use some ribbon to hide the wire and tape on the bouquets.
Reception Décor and Centerpieces
Pinterest is a lifesaver when it comes to getting ideas for your décor! Sometimes the most simple pieces make all the difference. Keep in mind when you’re shopping for wedding decor, you can borrow and rent items to use rather than buying everything. My local church rents out wedding decorations and centerpiece items for a cheap price. Facebook Marketplace sells second-hand items that look brand new! You could also ask your family and friends who were recently married if you can borrow something or even offer to buy it if you can get it cheaper than what the store sells it for. Typically for centerpieces you need multiples of one item, so consider buying something you can get in bulk. This will be cheaper than buying separate individual items.
I completely understand wanting to have a wedding planner. It can be overwhelming trying to organize everything yourself. But if you don’t have the money to pay for a planner, ask a friend or family member for help. I'm sure we all have at least one friend who is great at planning things. Sit down with this person, and have them help you organize every aspect of the wedding. Check-in with them throughout the planning process.
There are also very detailed wedding planner agendas that you can buy online. It will lay out each part of the wedding and help you write down everything you need to get done. Here are a few options:
Sometimes we put this unrealistic expectation on weddings, thinking it all has to be a certain way. But why? Weddings are changing and becoming less traditional as time goes by. The most important thing about the wedding is marrying your fiancé. Try not to let the rest of it overwhelm you. Not all of us can afford a $30,000 wedding, and that’s okay. If someone is judging you for saving money so you can enter marriage being financially stable, then maybe they shouldn’t be at the wedding. This is your and your fiancé’s day. Do the things that mean the most to you, and don’t worry about the rest.
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