In the United States, the average wedding will set the happy couple back $38,700.
This makes the wedding one of the costliest events you’ll have in your life. It’s more expensive than the cost of most first cars and home down payments. In fact, a wedding may cost you more than a 4-year college education!
The good news: having a wedding on a budget is a great way to slash these exorbitant rates. Not sure where to start? Here are 10 things that you can save money on and still have a wedding to remember.
1. Expensive Wedding Rings
The wedding ring is a key part of the marriage ceremony, and the prices reflect that. These days, even the standard 14-karat wedding band can cost over $1,500. Add the engagement ring costs, and your head may start spinning.
Now, a lot of people will tell you that this is still a worthwhile investment. They’ll say, “If you wear this ring for the rest of your life, it should look good.” This is true, but it doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune on it.
One thing you can do is look for rings made of titanium or sterling silver. These materials are both durable and less expensive than their counterparts. You can also personalize them for deeper meaning.
2. Wedding Venue
Renting a venue is another big hit on your wedding budget. Instead, consider holding the ceremony at your home or at a public park. In each case, having the reception outdoors would eliminate the need for a wedding venue.
Of course, going the outdoors route means you’ll need a plan for bad weather. Take a look at the forecast for your wedding day. If you see rain, rent a resilient tent or prepare for moving everyone inside the house to wait out the storm.
3. Ceremony Music
No, we’re not suggesting having a ceremony without musical accompaniment. That said, you don’t need to go overboard in this regard. Your local university’s music department is a great place to find lower-cost musicians.
Start by contacting the university to find out if there are any students studying particular instruments. If there are, see if they’re available for your wedding. For them, this can be a good chance to develop a resume and earn some money.
Buying wedding decorations at full price is something you can easily avoid. After all, most online decoration stores have sales throughout the year. If you know what to look for, all you need to do is wait for the right moment to strike.
For an even bigger discount, consider buying used decorations. Many recent brides sell their stuff on Craigslist and similar sites. Remember, the best wedding themes don’t require brand-new decorations to come to life.
5. Professional Invitations
Do you have a decent home printer and some free time? If so, there’s nothing stopping you from making your own wedding invitations. Grab a blank invitation kit from a nearby store, pick a classy font, and go to town.
If you want something a bit more elaborate, hire a graphic designer to create a custom invitation. Sites such as Fiverr allow you to find freelance designers at an affordable cost. As the name implies, the prices start at $5.
6. Guest List Bloat
With weddings on a budget, keeping a neat guest list is of paramount importance. As tempting as it may be, don’t start inviting everyone you know. Each person you add leads to extra costs and a less intimate wedding.
One trap that many couples fall into is that they invite people out of obligation. To avoid this issue, take radical measures and cut your list down by 20%. If you still see room for improvement, repeat the process until you’re satisfied.
Flowers always enrich a wedding ceremony, but they die shortly after it. For that reason, you don’t want to spend too much money on them. In most cases, all you need is a bouquet for the bride and one rose for each bridesmaid.
Speaking of flowers-related wedding ideas, why not go with fake flowers? This allows you to get the best deal possible by making the arrangements ahead of time. Plus, it’s not likely that anyone will notice the difference.
8. Catering Services
Catering and food preparation is something your family may be able to help with. By doing this yourself, you can reduce the ceremony costs in a big way. This also gives you more control over the catering options.
If this isn’t an option, look for family-owned restaurants in your vicinity. If you can get the owners to cater your wedding, go for it. Traditionally, these restaurants will be more understanding of your needs and budget priorities.
9. Pricey Bridesmaid Dresses
Custom dresses look great, but their prices may put them out of your reach. Instead of ordering those, look for off-the-rack dresses in budget-friendly stores. It helps if the store offers various sizes and if you choose colors ahead of time.
For best results, have your bridesmaids only try dresses you approve of. This should help prevent spats within the wedding party. If you can’t find anything you like, consider having the bridesmaids wear dresses they already own.
10. Big Honeymoon
The ostentatious honeymoon is a sworn enemy of the frugal wedding. As fun as a big trip can be, the purpose of a honeymoon is to help you unwind after a hectic time. Going on a 16-hour connecting flight across the world won’t help there.
The best way to avoid that stress is to stay closer to home. If you insist on a distant honeymoon, pay your expenses with a travel rewards credit card. This should cover some of the costs of your flight.
More on Having a Wedding on a Budget
By following the above tips, you can have your dream wedding at a fraction of what you’d pay in an average situation.
One final thing to keep in mind: don’t stress too much. No matter how well you plan your wedding, many things can go wrong at the last minute. Make peace with that and don’t try to fix every detail by throwing more money at it.
Want to know more about organizing a wedding on a budget? Interested in tips that can help you prepare for married life? Check out our Budgeting archives!