Are you wondering how to throw a wedding on a budget? Can you believe that the average cost of a wedding hovers right around $30,000, give or take a little. That's a significant portion of many Americans' annual income! If you don't have a budget, you'll pretty much always spend more than you wanted, which is why planning your wedding on a budget is super important.
For those of you who don't know – I was divorced a few years ago. I then met and fell in love with my man Tommy! He has two sons and we are SO excited to become one family.
We are your current day Brady Bunch with 3 boys and 3 girls!
As someone who is getting married for a second time in a couple months, I have been learning how to save money in ways that I didn't know existed.
The first way that we are saving money is to get married at an all-inclusive location. We chose Mohegan Manor is Baldwinsville, NY as our venue. He gave us an amazing deal where we are paying only $3,900 for the reception, DJ, chapel, cocktail hour, and top notch service.
By doing this in an all-inclusive location we don't have to worry about centerpieces (they have those), booking a DJ (he has one), planning a menu (they will cook whatever we want and fit into the price we paid). We also don't have to worry about transportation between venues because they have a 3rd floor chapel, an outdoor garden for pictures, and a 2nd floor reception area.
They are providing the linens, centerpieces, decor, food, DJ, cake service, cocktail hour and much more for one simple price!
Destination weddings are also becoming a great deal and Mohegan Manor is a great place to have a destination wedding. There are a couple Airbnb apartments right next door to the restaurant, so it makes it really easy for out of town guests to find a place to stay.
In case you are looking for more tips on how to throw a wedding a budget, check out my tips below.
1. Set Your Budget Number
This might seem obvious, but if you want to have a wedding on a budget, you'll need to know your budget limit when you start. If your parents are paying for the wedding or giving you a portion to help out, get that hard and fast number.
Next, set your limit a few hundred or $1,000 less than your top dollar. This will give you some wiggle room for things that pop up.
2. Organize the Wedding Expenses
If you Google “Wedding Checklist” you'll get a bunch of options for some pre-made and free wedding checklists. I personally prefer The Knot Wedding Planner because it keeps all your details in a single place.
These resources are a great place to start and get you thinking about things you might have forgotten. But your major categories are pretty simple to nail down:
Do a little homework and assign an initial cost to each one of these categories.
Wedding.com is a great website that will help you organize your wedding planning, negotiate with vendors, and design the perfect wedding for your budget.
3. Decide Your Non-Negotiables
In my opinion, this is the most important step. With certain things, like a photographer, going cheap usually doesn't pan out. If having stunning wedding pictures is a high priority for you, pay for it. If having a memorable and classy cake is important to you, you're probably going to have to pay for it. Whatever they are,
Decide on the items you will not compromise cost on, and plan and cut your other expenses around those.
Also, as a word of caution, do NOT take someone's word for it. If they are a friend, or friend-of-a-friend, or a family member, and they say they can make wedding cakes, ask to see some of their work. If they say they can take pictures, ask to see some of what they've done. I've talked with couples that skimped on the pictures and cake specifically and were not happy with the results. Just be aware of what you're going to get.
What am I doing? I am making cupcakes for our wedding and sticking them in the freezer. The night before I am going to frost them and bring them to the event on the day of.
1. Scrap the DJ – Sign up for a Spotify 30 Day free trial
Spotify has a 30-day ad-free trial option. 30 days is more than enough time before the wedding to sign up and make a few different playlists of ad-free music. You might need to rent some speakers… but chances are, you know someone who has decent speakers they'd be willing to let you borrow for the day.
What am I doing? My venue provides a DJ for no extra cost! I plan on making a play list and giving it to the DJ the day of.
2. Venue – Look into Airbnb
You can use Airbnb for much more than finding a place for a night. You might be able to find an awesome venue for a fraction of the cost! Try this:
What am I doing? We have an all inclusive place (Mohegan Manor) where we are getting married. We decided it was too stressful to plan and organize a huge wedding with our lives the way they are right now, so we opted for a simpler approach.
3. Dress – Check out a used one on Once Wed
Once Wed has a bunch of great resources to inspire the wedding theme you might want, they even have a DIY section with some great tips! But they also have a wedding dress selling section where brides sell their dresses for a fraction of the cost. You could find your dream dress right in your price range and in your size! Or, if you need alterations, getting a ‘once worn' dress could give you the leeway to afford alterations.
What am I doing? I splurged on my dress. I spent $1,000 (OUCH!). I wanted a dress that I would LOVE and I found it.
4. Food – Think about take out, and disposable dinnerware
Event catering can get very expensive very fast. But, you can still have a great meal for much less. Why not contact your favorite restaurant ahead of time, even if it's barbecue, and see if they can give you a good carry out price. Give someone the job of picking up the food for you. Next, “splurge” on the nicer plastic plates, napkins, cups, and flatware. Check and see if Amazon has what you're looking for.
Even if this is a little more casual, that could be worth it. Weddings are supposed to be a joyous celebration, and ‘fancy' doesn't always equal ‘fun'. And a wedding on a budget can be something that fits your personalities perfectly!
What am I doing? I opted for an all-inclusive place because I didn't want to have to do anything on my wedding day. I just wanted to go and sit down and eat. I didn't want to plan and have it catered. I just want to enjoy the day.
5. Decorations – Plan for Dual Purpose
This is a place where you can get some friends to help make some Pinterest-inspired decorations. What if you made the decorations double as the party favors? Try and think of a way to make those nice thank-you gifts be the table decorations. This will make the clean-up much easier too.
We used the wedding party bouquets to decorate the head table. I bought some cheap vases and set them on the head table and that's where the wedding party kept their flowers during the reception. It was cheap, easy, beautiful, and functional. I'm not saying do this with everything, but considering the versatility of some decorations might save you a few hundred dollars.
What am I doing? The place where we are getting married includes decorations. They may not all be my style but I am not going to spend hundreds on decor when they already have it there. Since this is my second marriage, I am focusing much more on the people then on the look.
6. Keep things in Perspective
Here's the bottom line – when that wedding day comes, you're going to get married. Whether you got the tulle draped on the reserved rows or not, whether you got the perfect cake or not, whether the guests got a salad, dinner, and dessert fork or not. Keep everything in perspective. This day is about celebrating the union of two people, not about some decorations that will get thrown away after a few hours use.
The limo ride can be fun but weigh the costs. Is a few hundred dollars worth a 10-minute limo ride?
7. Find Cheaper alternatives for flower girls dresses and groomsman suits.
Tom and I have 6 kids between us I found these adorable flower girl dresses on Amazon for $33.99 each. When looking at the bridal store for flower girls dresses, I almost passed out when I saw a price tag of over $150 each!
The boys and Tom are buying suits from JC Penney for 20% off with a coupon that I have. It is a much cheaper option that way.
I found that after talking to some brides-to-be, they feel pressured to spend more based on appearances. This is actually true in other areas of life. Plan your wedding on a budget, stick to that budget, and focus your money on what you will remember most, and what is the most important.
I would love to hear how you kept your wedding on a budget – please share your tips below.