Getting married doesn’t have to cost a fortune. While there are plenty of brides who happily dish out thousands of dollars for the fairy tale weddings of their dreams (and that is totally fine!), there is no reason to feel like your big day has to be the event of the year regardless of the cost.
Whether you’re saving up to put a down payment on your first home, your bank account can’t fund a huge event, or you’d just rather put the money toward something else—like an amazing honeymoon—being frugal is perfectly acceptable. After all, it is your big day, and you should do what makes you and your spouse-to-be happy without worrying about what your guests might think.
Budget-friendly wedding planning is definitely a thing, and it is possible to have a beautiful yet frugal ceremony without coming off as “cheap.” Here are a few of our favorite budget-friendly wedding planning tips for brides (and grooms!) who don’t want to break the bank..
Start with a Conservative Guest List
Though you may want to invite everyone you know to your wedding, creating a more conservative guest list is an easy way to lower your out-of-pocket costs. The more people you invite, the more food, beverages, etc. you will need. Inviting tons of people also means that you will need to rent a larger venue. Save yourself a lot of money and make your special day a bit more intimate by inviting only close family members and friends who feel like family.
Have the Ceremony Outdoors or at Home
Renting out a venue for your wedding and reception can be extremely expensive. Why not save yourself some cash by having the event at a picturesque park or even in your own backyard? Getting married at the home of a friend or family member works well, too.
If you plan on saying your “I do”s outside, just remember to have a backup plan in case of bad weather. If rain is in the forecast, you might want to rent a few tents or have your ceremony close to a pavilion so you and your guests have a dry spot to escape to.
Skip the Caterer
Professional catering is not cheap. Handling the food prep yourself can easily save you thousands of dollars. Enlist the help of your mom and other family members, as well as any friends who have a knack for cooking. You could even ask everyone to bring a dish to pass and have a potluck-style reception.
If you absolutely must have someone else handle your catering, talk to family-owned restaurants or food carts in your area rather than high-priced professional caterers. It’s even better if you have a friend or family member who owns a restaurant and may be willing to give you an amazing deal as a wedding gift! Family-owned restaurant owners are usually more mindful of a couple’s budget than larger catering companies, so they are worth checking out.
Do Your Own Printing
If you have an inkjet printer, there is no reason to have your wedding invitations or place cards professionally printed. Printers have come a long way in the past few decades, and even basic models are capable of producing high-quality printed documents. You can buy blank kits and download templates that allow you to simply fill in the blanks and print. These kits are extremely economical, and you don’t need to be an expert to use them.
Pro Tip: If you are printing your own invitations, place cards, etc. for your wedding, install a fresh printer ink cartridge. This ensures optimal quality and makes it much less likely for you to run out of ink in the middle of printing.
Don’t Blow Your Budget on Flowers
No matter how much you spend on flowers for your wedding, they wilt within a few days. Why waste all that money on something that won’t even last? Go with a small but beautiful bouquet for the bride and single roses (or a flower of your choice) for the bridesmaids. You don’t really need any other flower arrangements.
You can save yourself even more by making your own arrangements using fake flowers. Find lifelike flowers at your local craft store and arrange them yourself. Chances are, no one who attends your wedding will even notice. And if anyone does notice, they won’t care. As a bonus, using artificial flowers means that your bouquet will last, so you can keep it as a treasured memory from the big day.
Buy Dresses Off the Rack – and on Sale
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a dress for yourself and for your bridesmaids, avoid ordering custom gowns. They are way more expensive, and you can find ones that are just as nice hanging on the racks. If you start planning your wedding far enough in advance, you should be able to catch a good sale and further maximize your savings.
Also, consider ditching the “traditional” gown idea altogether. You will look just as beautiful in a $50 sundress as you will in a $5000 gown, and your bridesmaids will look nice in inexpensive dresses, too. While it has become a big part of the day for many people, an expensive dress simply isn’t a necessity. Why spend thousands of dollars on something you will wear once, then put in storage? If you have a limited budget, modestly priced dresses will save you a lot of money.
Get Married in the Off Season
Getting married during peak wedding season almost always costs more than getting hitched in the offseason. Instead of planning a June wedding, consider getting married in January or February. You’ll likely spend a lot less on the venue, and vendors will probably give you great deals, too. Hotel rooms are also cheaper during the offseason, so you could save your wedding guests a bundle as well.
No matter how much money you can afford to spend, remember the most important part is the commitment between yourself and your spouse-to-be.