When your bestie gets engaged and tells you she’s on a budget, something happens inside of you. The little wedding monster that’s laid dormant for years since your big day wakes up…with a slobbery vengeance. The creature won’t be satisfied with anything less than “the perfect day,” so in order to tame it, you feed it with research and ideas and hopeful one-liners. You got the wedding of your dreams, and she deserves one too.
Planning a wedding on a budget doesn’t have to be a monster-burdened nightmare. Thankfully, the brave and frugal brides that have gone before us have paved a path for us to follow.
The first thing for brides on a budget to do is to make a priority list. Think about the parts of your wedding that are most important to you, and create a numbered list to prioritize their importance. What are your non-negotiables? What have you spent your childhood dreaming of? If you’ve always wanted beautiful flowers, the perfect venue, or a large wedding full of people that love you, add it to your list. Prioritizing these things will help you allocate your funds in the most memorable way. You might choose to offer drinks and appetizers in place of dinner because it’s important for you to have an extra 50 people present.
Having a wedding on a budget requires a lot of planning, but it’s more than doable. And if you can stay flexible and light-hearted about it all, there’s a chance you might actually enjoy it. After all, you only get to plan a wedding once. You might as well enjoy it.
Without further ado, here are 10 ideas to lower wedding costs for the bride on a budget:
- Keep your guest list small(er). The number of guests you invite will determine every other wedding expense that you have, so the smaller you can keep the guest list, the more you can spend in other areas. If a large wedding is important to you, keep in mind that you will have to sacrifice in almost every other area of your budget to accommodate your guests. If a large wedding isn’t important to you or your partner, keep it small. You won’t be the first bride to not invite all of your second cousins and high school friends.
- Get married on a different day. Saturday is, by far, the most expensive day of the week to get married. On average, you’ll spend half as much getting married on a Friday or a Sunday. And if you choose to get married on a weekday, you’ll save even more on your favorite venues.
- From some guests, ask for help instead of gifts. Do you have a friend that’s a DJ or who’s in a band? Ask for a discounted rate in place of a gift. Is your mother-in-law the best cook you know? Ask her if she can prepare food for your 50 guests ahead of time, and you can hire a catering company to heat and serve it the day of. Do you know someone who’s a great baker? Ask them to help you with your cake.
- Handle the food and drinks yourself. A lot of venues up-charge for catering services, so ask ahead of time if you can handle the catering on your own. Family owned businesses are a great option for catering, and a lot of times, the food is better too. Oh, and if possible, stock the bar yourself. Purchasing wine and beer from a discount liquor store is much cheaper than using a caterer for alcohol.
- Get your bridal party and family involved. Divvying out wedding tasks among family and friends gives the people closest to you an opportunity to contribute to the celebration in a real way. Save time, money and stress by getting people involved in areas that they enjoy. Side note: if you have bridezilla tendencies, this suggestion probably sounds like hell on earth—feel free to discard it.
- Get your flowers at Trader Joe’s or another discount store. If the idea of making your own bouquets and centerpieces doesn’t freak you out, you can save a ton on flowers. This is an important (but fun) task for your bridal party or female family members to handle the day of.
- Make your own invitations. The days of crazy-expensive wedding invitations are over. There are a ton of websites that offer invitation templates, so with a little research, you can save on design and printing costs. Then, visit a craft store for ribbon or any other elements you want to incorporate and ask for help putting them together.
- Check Craig’s list for centerpieces and decorations. Recently married brides are a gold mine for brides-to-be. After the wedding, brides are often willing to give away a lot of their wedding elements. Browse Craig’s List every Sunday/Monday during the months leading up to your wedding to find decor at a fraction of the price.
- Don’t mention the word “wedding” when shopping around. Bakers, caterers and other services often mark up their prices for weddings. So if you ask a caterer what their pricing would be for a dinner for 75 people, don’t mention that it’s for a wedding, and you might get their non-wedding event price instead.
- Consider a non-traditional venue. Parks, bed and breakfasts, and other non-traditional event spaces that don’t typically host weddings often have lower rental prices. Also, if you plan to get married in a large city, consider your options outside of town. Prices will be lower.
If you’re intentional with your plans and prioritize spending, it’s more than possible to have a wedding on a budget. So whether you’re the best friend or the bride on a budget, keep these ideas in your back pocket to keep the wedding monster at bay and to plan the perfect wedding day.