Budgeting for a Wedding - 21 Ideas to Save
What Kind of Wedding Would You Like to Have?
Not every wedding has to cost $30-, $10-, or even $5,000 in order for the couple to want to save some money. But, knowing what kind of wedding you would like to have will help you narrow down the kind of wedding budget you need to have. If you’re looking for a white, horse-drawn carriage for your grand entrance, then you know you probably need to have a larger budget and find a lot of smaller things to save money on, but if you’re looking for a down-to-earth outdoor wedding in a field, your wedding budget may not require as much of you.
The best thing to do before you really get into the planning of your wedding is to find out what aspects of the day are the most important to you. Maybe you don’t care THAT much about having a fancy cake, but you KNOW you want a band or a DJ to help make sure the dance floor is fun. Maybe the invitations you send out don’t HAVE to have thick gold foil with return envelopes and custom monograms that seal the invitations close, but you DEFINITELY want to make sure you have great photos. Having your partner in on these decisions is a must - while one of you may think having the cheaper white folding chairs would be just fine, the other might have their dreams set on those nicer wooden ones that cost a little more. Rather than waiting until one of you makes those choices and end up in a long-winded, possibly less than productive conversation, talking about both of your priorities and non-negotiables will help prevent time loss on things like venues and caterers that need the most notice ahead of time.
But no matter what you both decide on, our budgeting tips will help you discover ways to save money on the wedding that you may not have thought about.
Having the Talk (About the Budget)
Aside from your personal budget, getting some help from family is a pretty traditional route to go as well. Many, many times the parents of the bride and groom help if not take care of the whole bill for the wedding, allowing the lucky couple to splurge their own money on the honeymoon. And while starting the conversation might be a little awkward, it’s important to find out who will be dealing with the bill. And honestly, you might get a surprise with what your family may have put aside for you that you didn’t even know was there, giving you more of an opportunity to have a bigger wedding than you might have imagined. So don’t let the possibility of weirdness keep you down. Just ask!
While these are some of the first things that come to mind when you start planning your wedding, sometimes it’s hard to think about them once you’ve started talking about other details over and over again. Have you ever forgotten something important, say, like wrapping a gift for a birthday party before going? Or have you maybe thought over and over again about what you’re making for dinner, but forgot that you needed chicken? Here are some of the bigger things that you can expect to save money on when you’re in the middle of wedding planning.
Officiant - Did you know you don’t have to shell out the big bucks for a pastor or preacher? If you’re looking to save a little dough and maybe create a special memory, you can ask if any of your friends or family are already ordained or could be. By asking a special, long time friend or sister or brother, you not only honor them by asking, but you can save the fees that come along with having a typical ordained minister come and officiate for you.
Venue - Everyone knows larger and nicer venues can cost a pretty penny, but they don’t always have to. Be sure to check with the venue you would like to use to see what items are included in the rental prices, such as cleaning and setup. These are items that, if you’re willing to do yourself, can save you some money on your budget. Or of course, you can choose another
Restaurant - Where do you plan to have your reception? Many couples choose to have a reception at a special or favorite restaurant, however, if the restaurant isn’t that special or has no real significance to you or your spouse, you may choose to find another or ask if the restaurant has any specials or deals for larger groups, or ask your visitors if they can pay for their own dinner to help your new budding family save a little.
Catering - Price shop! Find similar, well-liked caterers and ask them for their prices, rather than just going with the first 2 or 3 names people give you, do a little more research on Google or poll your friends on Facebook. You really never know who you know or who they know that might have a new business or partnership that can get you amazing food and a good deal.
Alcohol - Do you NEED alcohol? Do you need to have 5 different kinds of wine? Probably not. When you’re looking into getting beverages for your event, go to a wine bar and ask a sommelier about well priced, budget friendly reds and whites. Limit your beer options and liquor to a few main staples that will still make a variety of drinks rather than a fully stocked bar. This is easily one of the bigger staples that can eat up a large portion of your budget, so talk to a lot of people and be honest about what you’re trying to do to get the best pricing.
Photographer/Video - This is perfect for us to talk about! Good photographers and videographers can run anywhere from $1000-$6000 for the big day, and some charge even more for the package with all the bells and whistles. While we are decidedly low in that range, we certainly aren’t there for free. Our photographers are experienced professionals, not just “someone you know with a camera”. If the photos or video aren’t THAT important, feel free to find a friend with a camera to take care of documenting the big day! But if photos or videos ARE important, do NOT assume your friend with a pretty instagram (but little wedding experience) will be able to capture the day in a way you envision. We are obviously heavily biased here, but from our perspective, this is one of the most important decisions for the day! The only way to be sure YOUR big day will be taken care of is by going with someone who has a track record of consistent success WOW’ing their clients with beautiful work - and those professionals cost money. How MUCH money will depend on a lot of things - it’s a really good idea here to find someone who has really good work, call around to a few different places, then do some comparing on who has a better offering. Watchout for “fees” like travel, or hourly fees that can get out of control quickly. With a lot of moving pieces, weddings are notorious for not exact to the timeline, and you may need to plan on a little wiggle room time wise to get all of the shots you want to get.
Event Planner - An event planner will absolutely make your job a TON easier. They have connections with all of the people you would normally need to talk to in order to get your wedding planned. However, they can also be expensive, especially if you want them to handle everything themselves. So instead, see what pieces of the planning you can handle yourself to take that part of the work off their plate, thus saving you money. Or else, reconsider using one at all and save that money for something else you really have your hearts set on.
DJ/Music - Of the two major options (a band or a DJ) a band will typically be significantly more expensive - especially if they are good! Similar to photographers, DJs can cost quite a bit of money, too, depending on what you’re looking for. Many charge per the hour and if you go over the initial agreed to amount of time, they will charge even more per hour. So if and when you decide to use one, find out how they can help you shave off a bit from their prices, such as having no lighting equipment, or making sure they already have the music you would like in their music library rather than asking them to buy songs they may not have. If you have an event of 100+ people though, and have any desire for things to move along according to some direction, having a DJ or band that can Emcee the event is crucial. Having your phone hooked up to some blue-tooth speakers sounds like a great idea, until you are trying to get anyone to pay attention to the cake cutting or father/bride dance.
Cake - While many couples go to get their wedding cakes from the most well-known bakeries in their area, and get magnificent results, there are plenty of amazing bakers that work in smaller, lesser known bakeries that will charge less, while still making an amazing cake. Call around and visit some shops and even grocery store bakeries to see what they can do for you and how close to your dreams they can get.
Dress/Tux/Suit - No one enjoys the idea of buying a dress, suit, or tux that they can’t envision ever using again, and they can be pricey. Instead of buying, rent. And if that is still too heavy on your budget, check out well loved, used clothes at local consignment stores to find even better prices.
Smaller Things for the Wedding
While there are quite a few big things to worry about before the wedding, there are a lot more smaller items to worry yourselves about and its why many couples have help from family or friends in order to make sure everything goes smoothly. In fact, when these items come up, it might help your plans if you started to make a list of items that you could delegate to a special friend, like your Maid of Honor, or your mother so that you don’t have to spend as much time on those items and they can simply ask you for your decisions based on the information they have gathered for you, while you had your mind focused on other important things.
Flowers/Boutonniere - Why buy flowers if you can get them yourself? This is easier said than done if you’re having a fall or winter wedding, of course, but even then, nicely arranged dry flowers can be lovely. Or why not choose to have handmade flowers created by friends? Or even faux flowers from a local do-it-yourself shop? Yarn made items are also becoming a thing in recent years, so if you like the look of a knitted lace or a yarn flower, you might see if someone can make those for you, like your grandmother, who would probably love to create something so special for you.
Centerpieces - While many brides and grooms enjoy the thought of a large and colorful display for their family and friends, there really is no need to create expensive pieces, when that money could be used on other more special items. Look on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist (yeah, it’s still around) or even ask friends for their previously loved centerpieces or items you can use to create your own, rather than trying to buy everything and buy it all brand new.
Decor - This is one of the easiest ways to save money. Since minimalism is trendy and can bring an air of class and sophistication to your wedding, it’s simple to pick just a few items that mean a lot to you, and leave out the rest. So choose that lovely floral archway, and leave out the centerpieces. Less is more!
Honeymoon - Not everyone can go to Jamaica or Tahiti for their honeymoon, especially when they are on a tight budget. But there are often plenty of staycations at local state parks, lakes, cabins, or even Air Bnbs that are in areas with beautiful landscapes and things to do for much, much less money while still allowing you to make beautiful memories with your newly betrothed.
Rentals (Linens/Chairs/Porta Potties/Tents etc.) - Some venues may have some of these items for rent, and maybe their prices are good, but maybe not. Don’t just take their prices and decide you have no other options! Check other party rental places to see what their prices are before you just take the venue’s items. Who knows what you may find!
Groom’s Cake - Does your husband really want a Groom’s Cake? Find out. If not, that’s one less item to worry about and some men really don’t care. Some however, do, so be sure to take our advice about wedding cakes and check around at smaller shops, or maybe even opt for cupcakes.
Bridesmaids/Groomsmen Gifts- While you do love your friends and you chose them to be in your wedding for a reason, you don’t necessarily have to give them big fancy gifts. Why not take them all on a dinner and dancing night or give them small mementos of your appreciation that you’ve handmade? A framed photo of the two of you together doing something you both enjoyed together with a handwritten note as to why they are so cherished could mean the world AND save your budget.
Invitations - Handwritten or hand lettering is the way to go now-a-days! Both are very popular and add the perfect touch to your invites without having to spend a ton on special paper. When looking at your options, really think about what is important to you, and what you can live without.
Flights- Flights are well known for being expensive, so if you have any credit cards or reward programs that will help you save money on them, we suggest starting to save up those frequent fliers’ miles now! Another option is to ask family members if they have miles you can use or even find cheaper airlines and routes that you can fly on. Sometimes layovers that last a few hours can mean a small adventure that will only add to your memories! You can also sign up for sites like AirFareWatchDog that can alert you to price drops on your favorite routes.
Hotels - Just like flights, hotels can be expensive, so ask family or friends if anyone has any rewards they wouldn’t mind gifting to you, or save up your own for this big trip. However, there are sites all over the internet, that you can sign up for notifications on price drops for your favorites, or check for cheaper rates. Just be sure to check around.
Transportation - Do you need to be sure that your family coming in from out of state can make it to your wedding? Ask family members to take turns picking people up as they fly in, or offer to help Aunt Edna with Uber rather than a taxi. Are you planning to transport everyone to the reception away from the wedding venue? Or a rehearsal dinner? Ask everyone to drive themselves. While it may make you feel a little bad, everyone will understand that you can’t afford to transport everyone, and will gladly get it figured it out for you.
So that’s that! When you are unsure about if you can afford something, reaching out to friends, family, and groups that you are a part of can really help because you just never know what people have that can help you save money. And even if it’s a few small items, enough of them together can make a world of difference to the happy couple looking to make the most of their wedding budget.
When you’re ready to get some help with finding a wedding photographer that can help you try and stay in your budget, let us know! We love Love and we’re ready to help you capture the best day of your life.