Planning a Wedding
7 Ways to Cut Wedding Expenses That Will Save You Thousands
It’s no secret that getting married can be pretty expensive. According to the 2020 Newlywed Report by WeddingWire, the average wedding and reception costs $28,000. And with almost 60% of couples increasing their original budget, that price ends up being more than what they bargained for.
Tying the knot shouldn’t have your stomach in knots, especially when it comes to having a wedding you’ll never forget at a price you can live with. The good news is that with the cost-saving options we’ve listed below, you can get hitched without breaking the bank.
According to the report by WeddingWire, the top three wedding expenses for 2019 were venue, band, and photographer, with venue topping the list at an average cost of $10,500. Although your venue is likely to be your wedding’s most expensive line item, you also have the most opportunity to save significantly on venue costs. Opting for an outdoor spot, like a public park, the beach, or some other meaningful location, can lessen the strain on your budget. A simple public beach wedding can range from $200-$2,000, significantly less than the average venue cost.
The sky is really the limit when you’re searching for less expensive spaces that still provide an excellent backdrop to your special day. But even if you don’t want to risk unexpected mishaps from the outside elements, you can opt for inside options, like an elegant restaurant or a hall in the church where you are planning to get married, and still save on costs.
The Guest List
There’s no doubt you have your heart set on a list of friends and family you want to be at your wedding. But if you’re looking to save some cold hard cash, a good place to look is the guest list. The average cost per guest can be as high as $225, considering you’re paying for everything from the invite to the meal, not to mention the alcohol. Opting to scale down the invites can boost your savings while still allowing you to enjoy your special day.
According to MarthStewartWeddings.com, a good way to make the hard decision of who ends up on the list is to consider who will play an important role in the future of you and your partner. Instead of inviting from an ever-growing list of people who’ve come and gone throughout your life, an endless string of friends on social media, or people that you’ve barely talked to in years, consider who you have the most meaningful relationships with now and who you see continuing to be a part of your new life.
Vogue suggests another way to narrow down your list: choose those who will make the day complete. If “neither you nor your spouse could imagine the day without them dancing at your reception or raising a glass of champagne in your honor,” that’s a pretty good indication you should invite them, according to Gina Wade, entertaining and lifestyle expert and special events planner. Once you’ve settled on these must-haves, then you can decide whether or not to add more people to the list.
Picking the wrong time to say “I do” can cost you 30% or more on your wedding expenses, so it’s best to stay flexible with dates and plan carefully. The peak wedding season is generally the warm months of May through October, with winter months being the least popular. So, choosing a date in December, January, or February could save you money, so long as you’re not going to be in a location with a large winter tourist season.
The day of the week and time affect cost, too. Everyone wants to get married on a Saturday evening, so you’ll want to try to look for a less popular day, think a Sunday afternoon or Thursday evening. Saving money is all about getting creative and being flexible when it comes to finding the best day.
Many couples find that food is one area where they end up increasing their budget, but you don’t have to follow this trend. For example, instead of doing plated dinners, try a buffet to cut down on the expenses of having servers – it’s generally the least expensive serving style you can choose ($27 per person for buffet versus $40 per person for a plated meal). If you’re set on a plate dinner, look for less expensive protein options. Or for something a little more out-of-the-box, reserve your favorite food truck for the night.
From appetizers, to alcohol, to dessert, you can make choices to cut what you really don’t need or downsize what you must have to something a little more economical. Paying close attention to the date can save you even more on food costs. Food items that are specific to weddings, like wedding cake, can vary with the wedding season, and expectations on the elaborateness of the food to be served will vary with the time of day you choose.
Couples spend an average of $3,500 on flowers, or 8-10% of their budget. When it comes to this wedding day detail, re-think everything. The bridal bouquet and wedding party flowers may be essential, but other flowers, like those at the tables at the reception, can be replaced with low-cost alternatives. To get a discount on these beautiful, but sometimes pricey additions, go for flowers that are in season and cheaper than varieties that are shipped in or grown in a greenhouse. Pair this strategy with Item #1 in our list – The Venue – by making use of an already beautiful outdoor space that doesn’t need a lot of extra help from flowers.
The Wedding Planner
One of the biggest misconceptions about planning a wedding is that hiring a wedding planner will break the budget. However, when you hire a professional to get the job done, you can save money by avoiding the costly mistakes that can come from trying to do everything on your own. A good wedding planner will pair you with the right vendors, get you discounts on pricing, and offer suggestions to help you stay on budget. You can also consider hiring a day-of coordinator to provide you with support for the activities on the day of the wedding instead of investing in a full service wedding planner – going this route can save you half the cost of a wedding planner. Just be sure you’ve hired someone reputable who has been certified by the American Academy of Wedding Professionals or the Association of Bridal Consultants.
However, if you do want to go it alone, either for cost reasons or personal preference, technology these days makes it easy to manage the process. You can find mobile apps for pretty much every aspect of the process, like Zola for keeping track of planning or setting up your registry, or Appy Couple for digitally sending out all the information on your special day to your guests. Whether or not you decide to get help with the planning, you should still educate yourself on the basics to gain insight and information that can help cut some costs in areas that you can handle yourself.
The “Something Old” and the “Something Borrowed”
If you stick to the old saying that brides must wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” your budget will thank you. With all of the many online resources providing couples with low-cost used and new options, you may not need to break the bank for the wedding you want. Do a Google search and you’ll come across sites where you can buy everything from gently used wedding dresses to paraphernalia from weddings that were canceled. For example, the ONBB app lets you shop for used, or new, wedding items and then sell your own items when you are done with them. And with sustainable weddings on the rise, you won’t be alone on this front. More couples are opting for eco-friendly options like wearing something borrowed (38%) or sending digital invites (10%), according to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study .
Weddings can be a huge financial burden, especially when you think you need to spend a lot to get the wedding you’ve always dreamed of. Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank at the start of your new life with your partner just to have your special day. Careful planning of the details, and flexibility with things like the who, the when, and the where, can earn you surprise savings that you won’t want pass up. With research, and perhaps a little rethinking of your priorities, you’ll create a day to remember at cost you’ll be able to live with.