Tips for saving money on your wedding
Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Continuing with blog posts related to my own wedding I wanted to focus on something that was important to us, which was not spending a ton of money. Here’s the thing, weddings are expensive. Unless you plan on having a pretty small wedding or get lucky with a free venue you’re looking at spending a decent amount. However, there are lots of ways that you can keep your wedding. According to WeddingWire the average cost of a wedding in 2019 was around $30,000. That was far too much for us, and full transparency we spent around $12,000 for our wedding. So without further ado, let’s get into some of my tips for how to save money on your wedding.
My #1 Tip: This many not work for everyone, but if you’re willing and able my top tip is to take your time. Giving yourself time will make a huge difference in how you spend your money, and it can ease a lot of the typical wedding stress. We were engaged for about a year and a half which gave me a lot of room to do things little by little, shop around, and DIY things overtime. The less time you give yourself the more you’ll be forced into making decisions quickly, sometimes based on vendor availability.
My #2 Tip: Make a list early about what you really care about and what you’re willing to be flexible on. For me, having a fun reception for us and our guests was the top priority for me. That drove us to decisions like spending less on décor and putting money toward a shuttle for guests to and from the venue. I didn’t care as much about having things look very fancy and over the top. For example when it came to save the dates and invites, I wanted them to look nice, but I cared more about their function than their look.
My #3 Tip: Ask your friends and family! I'm not always the best at asking for help, but when it came down to it I have so many talented people in my life that were willing to help out with things either for free or at a discount. You should never expect this from anyone, but asking never hurts. Even if you don't use them as an actual vendor, they might have supplies, connections, skills, or even just time that you can utilize to save yourself money and stress.
Tips on specific actions we took to save money:
Disclaimer: These tips certainly don’t make sense for everyone, depending on what is important to you and what look and feel you’re going for at your event – hence tip #2. The most important thing is always making sure your wedding is what you want it to be, including being within the budget you’re comfortable with.
If you’re flexible on your date, many venues (and other vendors) have different rates for Sundays and/or off-peak times of the year.There isn’t much else I have to say about this, just something to keep in mind and be sure to research and ask about when you’re doing a vendor search.
Find a venue that gives you flexibility on your vendors. Many venues will have a list of vendors, mainly caterers, that you must choose from. If you have your heart set on a venue that has these rules, definitely be sure you understand them in full and research the vendor options before settling with that venue.
Catering can certainly be one of the biggest expenses of your wedding, especially depending on your guest count. I’m going to share a secret I’ve learned over time with you – people rarely remember the food from an event unless it really blew their mind. I’ve been to countless events and weddings and often when there’s a stand or even “fancy” plated dinner, no one really remembers it. The meals I do remember are the weddings that served barbecue, pizza, etc. This can also depend on the vibe you’re going for. For us, we wanted our wedding to be a lot of fun and we knew our guests didn’t care about things being “fancy” but about having drinks and getting on the dance floor so we chose to have Chipotle for dinner – and people still bring it up to us now! There is of course a trade off here, because Chipotle isn’t a catering company and doesn’t come with servers and a clean up crew but if you plan ahead with your coordinator you can work around those types of things. Along with your food is your bar, if you choose to have one. Our venue let us do whatever we wanted for our bar, so we stocked up on liquor at Costco, bought a keg, and some cases of wine. From there all we needed was a licensed bartender, so we asked a friend that bartends at a local spot and called it good. You could also do self-serve drinks, especially if you’re just serving beer and wine with bottles of wine on tables and cans or a keg set up for people to serve themselves.
If you’re up for it, DIY is certainly a huge way that you can save money on your wedding. I like being creative but I wouldn’t call myself a hugely crafty person, so I kept it pretty simple and I think it’s safe to say that all the DIYs I did are attainable for everyone.
Save the dates: As I said before, the look of these didn’t matter to me as much as the functionality so I made them myself using a template on Canva and got them printed at FedEx. Also, because we had a long timeline I ordered envelopes and stickers in our wedding colors addressed and stamped them all myself. I liked that they were still on theme and personal, but they were a fraction of the cost it would have been to have someone else create and mail them.
Invites: These weren’t as much of a DIY because we ordered them through Minted, which has a TON of options and I spent weeks looking through just about every design (another benefit of taking your time). Once we did order these I went the simplest route, just having the invitations printed through them and worked with a friend to address and stamp them all.
Décor: One thing that was a big benefit for us was that I loved the way our venue looked all on its own. Venues have gotten more creative over time and I think this can be true for a lot them, so décor can generally be pretty minimal. For our ceremony all we had an archway that my husband built with his grandfather. Our rehearsal was in a barn where we hung some lights and did table centerpieces. For the centerpieces, we saved wine bottles over a series of months (and asked some friends to) and painted them. I also ordered some wood numbers off Amazon and painted those. I also got some fabric to put underneath and wood pieces from Amazon, and that was it. Centerpieces can be beautiful and over the top, and I did want ours to look nice but I again put function first and the main thing that mattered was the table numbers.
Things to pull back on:
Florals: Unless you’ve done them before the price tag on florals will probably be the most shocking one. Yes, they look beautiful but they cost at TON and they can’t be saved or reused. I wouldn’t recommend skipping the florals altogether, but I’m not a fan of using them as a big piece of décor. I decided to get the bouquet I really wanted (which I loved) and kept everything else pretty simple. Other than my bouquet I just ordered a large bunch of baby’s breath for my bridesmaids to each take bundles and to put some on the tables and boutonnieres for the guys.
Dessert: The trend that I’ve seen at most weddings is that by the time dessert rolls around, people are too full or distracted to give it that much attention. Let me be clear – I love dessert, I’m all for it. My recommendation is just to order less than your actual guest count. We got a cake that served much less people than we had and we also had donuts.
Favors: I personally skipped favors altogether, and guests never seem to notice one way or another. I will say that the favors I have seen go over are generally food related – my favorites being home made jam or macaroon boxes. Same with dessert, by the end of the night people tend to be so distracted with the party of the night that many people forget to take their favor anyway so one way to save is to have them on a table as people exit or a few in the middle of the table rather than one at every place setting so you can order less than your guest count. It’s also a saver if you can work it into being multipurpose, such as having it be part of your centerpiece décor or seating assignments.
And finally, ask your coordinator or planner for help! Chances are we have lots of specific recommendations and tips for your situation that can help with your budget.