The Budget Savvy Bride Part 1: Overall Wedding Savings


Weddings are big business.  According to, the cost of the average wedding last year was $32,641.  And that's an average. That means that while, yes, some people are spending significantly less, another [crazy] portion are spending significantly more.

Why so high?

Thanks to movies, magazines, tv and the internet, we've all grown up with this idea of a huge, sparkling, fairy-tale day complete with dancing, candlelight, an abundance of flowers and a dress that makes us feel like a glittery cupcake.  And there's nothing inherently wrong with that.  But the truth of the matter is that it's a cornered market.  It's a once in a lifetime event that companies know you're not going to want to skimp on, so the rates for all of the pieces go sky high. (Sadly, this is also true of funerals, but that's another rant for a different day.  Also, there tends to be less dancing there.)

For those who are budget conscious (read: strapped for cash), those wedding costs are no where near acceptable.

I'm currently in the process of planning another budget wedding, and as I sift through notes and ideas, I thought I'd pass some tips on to the rest of the Do-Not-Pass-Go crowd.  Over the next couple of weeks I'll outline some of my best ideas for ways to save while still turning out a spectacular event.

So, without further ado...

Money Talks...

Create a Savings Plan
This kind of goes hand in hand with setting a budget.  These both may seem obvious, but in the excitement of All Things Wedding, they both often get overlooked til later in the process.  If you do that, you may find yourself having to make some major changes to plans you already had in the works.  So to start...

How much do you already have in your savings that you're willing to put toward your big day?  What changes can you make to your current lifestyle to increase that number?  Are you planning to add to that savings with odd jobs or yard sales (etc)?

A year before our wedding, we made some major decisions on how much we would spend for bills, how much we would spend on going out (trust me, that's still important), and how much we would be putting away for our wedding.  I also took on a few small jobs in addition to my full time one to increase our savings.  And that leads into...

Set a budget
Much like losing weight, having a very specific number in mind when you start planning makes meeting your goal much more attainable.  You know how much you have and/or will have in your account - so how much can you realistically afford?  What is the max you can pull out of your savings and still feel comfortable?  What is the max you can put on a credit card without putting yourself in a tough position later on?

Once you have this number, stick to it.  Revisit it on a regular basis and match it against all of the decisions you're making and going to make.  Make sure all of the key players (financiers) are on the same page.

Making a List; Prioritizin' It Twice
Okay, it's not as fun as trying on dresses or crafting something but the single best thing you can do for yourself (after setting a budget), starts by creating an itemized list of all of the expenses associated with a wedding.  Include everything - from the invites to the DJ to the place cards to the cake - and then, spend some real time prioritizingWhat are you willing to scale back on?  What can you nix completely?  Be brutal.  The costs add up quickly.

For our wedding, the limo, live music and other assorted things like aisle makers, a runner and tschotchke favors were among the items axed.  On the other hand, the location and food were very important to us, so we allotted more money to those categories. 

Plan to DIY... In Moderation 
Pinterest is a B****.  Don't get me wrong - I love it.  But when it comes to planning anything, it has the magical ability to make you feel like you A) Must create a Martha Stewart worthy affair and B) Should be capable of doing it all yourself.  Do Not Get Sucked Into This Trap.

Your wedding does not need to have every little detail ever thought of incorporated into it.  The wedding is about you and your honey and celebrating a beautiful promise of a life together.  Do not overbook your time, resources or sanity.

That said, doing some things yourself can be a great way to save money.  I saved a ton of money by doing my flowers, programs, invitations and favors myself.  But more on that later...

wedding venue money saving  site fee
We were able to save over 75% on our site fee by having our wedding on a Thursday night before a holiday weekend.  That means we got THIS gorgeous venue for far cheaper than smaller, more run of the mill venues!

Out of the Box 

Saturday's are Over-Rated Priced
Have your wedding on a weekday or a Sunday night.  Generally, the price structure from most expensive to least goes: Saturday night, Saturday afternoon, Friday night, Sunday Afternoon, Weekday.  If you can have your wedding mid-week it will drop your price significantly (it also may cut down on the available guests, which will cut down on your costs as well...) 

Gift It
Consider registering for some parts of your wedding.  There are sites that allow you to register for anything you find on the web.  Add items that you could use for the wedding (tablecloths, gift cards to a bakery or wine store etc.).   Be prepared, however: some people (particularly older generations) may find this tacky - like you're asking for money.  

I personally feel that in an era where many people have established an arsenal of household goods pre-nuptials, registering for something a little less mainstream can simply be more practical.  That said, if you choose to go this route, make sure that you still have a more traditional registry for those who are uncomfortable with this avant-garde direction.  (FYI you can also register for honeymoons and house funds.)

If you're a photographer, a writer, a tax specialist, a graphic designer, whatever, consider offering small businesses a trade.  I WISH I had done this.  Sure, some people might say no.  But if a new business sees it as an opportunity to get their name out there or acquire a service they need, they might be very willing to create your bouquet or give you a tux rental (or whatever) for free! 

Charge People Admittance
Totally kidding.  But wouldn't it be nice...? 

Some Related Sites

The Knot has tons of great information and resources, including a free website builder and a free Wedding Cost Calculator
Simple Registry lets you register for anything on the web
Honey Fund is a honeymoon registry first and foremost but has several other unconventional registries

Check here for more money saving tips in the Budget Savvy Bride Part 2: Venues, Food & Alcohol 

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  1. So helpful! I'm planning my wedding now and costs can get crazy, so it's nice to hear some great tips!

    1. Thanks! I'm so glad they help! Much more to come! (And if you have any to add, please feel free!!)


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