How to Have a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget


Did the new year bring you a new ring? Or, maybe your Valentine surprised you with a proposal for life-long love. No matter when or how it happened, congratulations!

Engagement season can be full of anticipation and lots of growth, but for many couples, finances and the lack-there-of can be a heavy weight anchoring you down from head-in-the-clouds love and bliss. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always end after the “I do” either, sorry. But there can be freedom! Money does not have to be the dream crusher!

Your wedding can be beautiful, even better than you imagined in your head, and still your best day ever while staying within your budget, I promise.

Plus, wise budgeting for the wedding can prep you and your soon-to-be husband for conversations about what your finances will look like once they’re combined (it’s okay to be scared). Some couples pay for their wedding themselves, some have one or two sets of parents helping, while others have single parents willing to fund parts of the big day.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of we-should-just-elope to Pinterest-in-real-life, here are some things to remember to get the most out of your pretty pennies:

1. Your day. Your rules.
Despite the many traditions thrown in your face during this season and maybe even some not-so-gentle nudging from family members, you can form the day however you and your wallet will like. I had friends who did dessert only after an evening wedding and it was lovely. You can still be married without an open bar (and a lot more cash in your wallet). Some with bigger ceremonies have a brief cocktail hour with everyone and invite only their closest friends and family for a more intimate dinner, saving a ton on catering and table settings.

2. Make your guest list first.
Almost all costs will come down to how many people you have attending. Make your guest list step one of planning so that you can better assess costs of everything else. This step can also help you see that you may need to have a smaller reception or rethink who needs to be there (hey, extroverts, this is for you).

3. Prioritize.
What is the one detail you’ve been dreaming and pinning to a secret wedding board since before you were engaged that you can’t imagine your day without? Do it (within some reason). Single splurges can make all else seem less important as you pinch yourself that you’re getting the man and you-fill-in-the-blank. For many ladies it’s the dress or the venue, but maybe it’s the flowers or décor for you.

4. Consider your venue.
More expensive venues seem to be out of the question, but always consider what’s included and compare against what it would cost (don’t forget about good ole’ time and energy too) to do everything yourself. Also consider the space, is it a blank canvas to make your vision come alive, or is it going to take more money to distract from the country club golf memorabilia? My venue was a slightly imperfect building owned by the city (look for government-owned venues!) but on the water with totally blank walls. Tables and set up were completely included for no extra cost. It had ugly bathrooms and hallways but who cares when everyone should be on the dance floor, right?

5. Find new vendors.
People who are just starting out in the wedding industry love new brides and may be willing to make a deal to get their name more known. The gold chivari chairs I thought were totally out of budget scooted their way in by my mom bargaining for a better price and we were the first wedding they were used in.

6. Figure out flowers.
The wild flower whimsy look is rather trendy these days and it’s helping the bank accounts for ladies willing to DIY. I would highly recommend Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Each can special order flowers on the days they get deliveries for you to pick up. Whole Foods also does arrangements. Three days before my wedding, Trader Joes held their whole shipment of eucalyptus and snapdragons for me and Whole Foods, to my (best) surprise (ever), had boxes of peonies I could take all for myself. Get to know the person in charge of ordering a few months before and be clear on what you need to do in order to get exactly what you want. I hired a florist for the wedding party and honestly wish I would have gone through Whole Foods.

7. Buy what you could rent.
It may seem foolish to buy things you won’t ever use again, but compare prices! Some items may be worth purchasing and selling after the wedding if you can make the investment rather than renting, especially if it’s a specific item you want. I purchased over 600 feet of string globe lights on clearance at Big Lots and saved hundreds on renting them. Our navy table cloths were found online, used in many friends’ weddings, and sold on Craigslist later. Engaged along with a friend? Talk about splitting costs for an item you both will use.

8. Accept help, but don’t demand it.
This may be one of the most important tips, especially for the introverted, “I can do it myself” girls (like me). If someone mentioned lending an appliance, décor, discount, or a helping hand, take it! For this day more than most, people want to gift you with their help and talents and you can save big on hiring professionals. As for the “don’t demand” part, if you have talented and professional friends that you want to be a part of your day, acknowledge and honor their expertise by not expecting them to perform for free. Have gracious and somewhat professional conversations, asking how they can help rather than asking and expecting no charge or deep discounts.

Did you have a cash saving victory while planning your big day? Share with us in the comments below!

You’ll also like 7 Money Tips When You’re Thinking MarriageWedding Registry Tipsand 5 Things I’ve Learned in a Decade of Wifing

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