“The bride, a princess, looks glorious in her golden gown.” (Psalm 45:13, NLT)
You have a ring! You have a date! Now how are you going to make this wedding happen without wrecking your budget?
According to a 2014 study, the average American wedding cost $31,213. And that doesn’t even count the cost of a honeymoon! But don’t worry; you can still have a beautiful and meaningful wedding for a fraction of that cost. Figure out exactly what your budget will be for the ceremony, and get creative to find ways to make it happen.
Shopping around and careful planning can help you make memories, not bills, that will last a lifetime. We’ve come up with some simple ways to save on wedding costs while still maintaining your sense of style.
1. Keep it quiet. Vendors often jack up prices when they hear the word “wedding.” So avoid mentioning that the event will be a wedding or a reception when you ask for rate quotes. This can get you lower rates on things like hair and makeup, as well as venue rentals.
2. Flowers for less. You don’t need to hire an expert florist to make beautiful bouquets for your wedding. If you have a wholesale flower market in your area, you can save big on flowers. To make your budget go further, choose one or two main flower types and buy lots of greenery to go with them. Greenery costs less than flowers but can make bouquets look lush and elegant.
If you’d prefer a bouquet that will last for years, silk flowers are a great alternative. Silk flowers can also make lovely centerpieces if placed in inexpensive glass vases filled with water. Add a floating candle on top for a dramatic touch at an evening reception!
3. Dollar store delights. Try shopping at discount or dollar stores for small décor items like ribbon, glass vases (see tip 2 above) and candles. This is a great way to find items for guest favors and centerpieces. For example, inexpensive wineglasses or Mason jars can be personalized with guests’ names and placed at their tables.
4. Rent, borrow, recycle. If you really want to save some serious money, look for ways to rent or borrow things you need. Can you borrow a dress from a relative or friend? Or consider renting a dress from sites like Vow To Be Chic and Rent The Runway (which both also offer bridesmaid dress rentals.)
Recycle Your Wedding and Wedding-Recycle offer lightly-used dresses, décor, and even linens for greatly reduced prices. If any of your friends have gotten married recently, it wouldn’t hurt to ask them whether they have any décor left and where they got the best deals.
5. Think smaller. Consider holding a smaller wedding for only a few friends and family. This can be tough for those with large circles of family and friends, but in the end, this wedding is about you and your spouse-to-be. You’re responsible for the expenses, so you get to call the shots.
6. BYO Food. More couples these days are turning to making their own food for the reception. Enlist some friends and family to help and create a meal, or a selection of appetizers, that you and your guests will enjoy.
7. Go barless. An open bar can be a real budget disaster. For a cost-saving alternative, avoid alcohol altogether. Toast your marriage with soda and sparkling juices!
8. Explore different venues. If weather permits, getting married outdoors can save on venue rentals. If a friend or relative has a big backyard, this can be a great and intimate setting. Or try asking places that don’t normally host weddings, like art galleries, aquariums, or bed and breakfasts.
9. Photo opportunities. Professional photographers and videographers can be expensive. Try hiring a photography student or someone who does photos or videos as a side job. You may have a friend or family member who takes great photos, or knows someone who does.
You can also skip the pros altogether. Ask your friends and family to take and share pictures with you on social media or a wedding website you can create on TheKnot.com or Zola.com for free. Invent your own wedding hashtag so friends and family can participate whether they’re at the wedding or not.
10. Save a tree, send an e-mail. Save money and paper by sending all of your invitations via e-mail on Paperless Post or Evite. You’ll avoid paying for postage and you’ll always know exactly who’s responded so you can send follow-ups to the rest of the list.
Be sure to discuss all of your ideas and plans with your spouse-to-be to avoid any misunderstandings. And keep depositing all the spare cash you can into your savings account. That way, if anything unexpected comes up, you’ll be ready!
This article should not be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. You may wish to consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation. Christian Community Credit Union is an Equal Housing Lender.
This article was updated 12/13/16 for accuracy of links.