Pick up any wedding magazine these days and you will surely think that you need to find a money tree to shake to be able to afford a nice wedding. How about Mr. and Mrs. Kanye West? If you have a spare $14-$20 million, sure you can have a wedding of the century. Let’s be honest though. How many of us can afford something as grand, and is it even necessary?
Does the sound of a “budget” wedding make you cringe? For me, it conjures up images of dollies, chocolate covered almonds, bubbles, and food that should be used as doorstops instead of being consumed by humans.
It can be a little discouraging trying to plan your dream wedding with no financial assistance. Today, it is more and more common for couples to pay for all of wedding costs themselves rather than relying on parents. Can you still have your dream wedding while you are covering all costs alone? Yes you can (and you will!) as long as you have a game plan think outside of the box.
I was recently married last year and we were able to keep out total costs under $5000. Our special day was beautiful and exactly what we wanted. You can make a budget wedding work for you as long as you are willing to roll your sleeves up and do some things on your own!
Before you look at where you need to cut your costs, you both need to sit down and decide together what your total budget will be. This shouldn’t come as a shock to you. But you would be surprised at the amount of people that simply forget this important step. Know your numbers — know what you can spend, and where it is coming from, where it is going, and be as detailed as possible.
Where to Cut:
Cut the guest list. I am not saying keep the wedding as intimate as your immediate family and friends, but you can leave off your second cousin Joey that lives 5 hours away and your co-worker that seems to have an over interest in your wedding but you do not actually associate with outside of the office. The amount will affect not only your location but your drink, food and cake costs.
Hold your ceremony and reception in one spot- it will cut travel time for vendors you pay by the hour.
Host your wedding earlier in the day and do a wedding brunch. That helps to ensure that you guys will not drink too many cocktails and you will actually be able to ensure you wedding night together.
Look into having your wedding out of the peak season. This can depend on where you are located as well. If you have your heart set on that outdoor wedding then make sure you do your research on weather patterns in advance.
Look at what your city has to offer. There were many sweet local parks that we looked at through the city that were either free or they had an extremely small fee. I was determined to have a outdoor wedding so we used Bicentennial Park in Downtown New Albany. Since the park was owned by the city all we had to do was a get a permit to use the park for a few hours. We were able to use all of the electric for free as well. For us it was perfect because we love to support our local community and the park was less 1 block away from the reception so our guests were able to walk over.
Bicentennial Park, Erica Rucker
Food and Drink.
Skip the main course- just have small plates. Everyone loves some good appetizers and no one looks back on a wedding and thinks about how wonderful the food was.
Offer beer, wine and a signature cocktail instead of a full bar.
Buy the alcohol yourself and then hire your own bartender if you are able to. Some venues require you to purchase the alcohol through them which comes along with price mark-ups and higher paid staff.
Look into maybe doing some of the food on your own. We had all of our ‘hot’ items catered and my sisters and Mom helped me to do all of the ‘cold’ items. We spent a third of the price we would for a caterer and we were able to make so many options. We used Pinterest for several ideas and made sure everything was presented to look beautiful. I did receive several compliments on the food and everyone said they had no idea that we did it ourselves.
Order a smaller cake. Do a two tier cake and small amount of cupcakes. We did a small cake and kept everything very simple. I love the look of a pretty white cake. Our total came to less than $100. We added some extra cupcakes just in case and we still have plenty of left-over’s of both after the reception (and post wedding I loved being able to eat sweets again!).
Keep the add-ons simple.
Use fresh flowers and not sugar flowers.
Band or DJ.
Opt for a smaller band.
Rent the equipment and create your own playlist. We did this for our wedding ceremony and with all of the speakers, mikes, headsets and cord it came to a total of around $150 and the rental lasted a full week. I would recommend setting up a few days in advance and testing everything out.
Hire a DJ that will do both the ceremony and the reception.
Flowers and Décor.
Three words. Buy in bulk. There are so many options for floral through stores like Costco and Sam’s Club that offer great pricing when you buy in bulk. The same applies for any décor items.
Buy items used. Brides are always re-selling their décor for a lower price after the wedding. Look on Facebook pages, Craiglist and site like Tradesy.
Check with your venue. Many venues have a variety of linens and décor that they offer for events. First see what you can use of their before you purchase any of your own.
DO IT YOURSELF. Check out Pinterest. There are so many great ideas for every style and color scheme. You can create your own black tie event décor without the price tag, just be creative!
Just remember that having a budget friendly wedding does not meant you have to do everything at a discount! Decide what is the most important to you and what is not. If you do not care about it, cut it from your budget. If you have a dream wedding dress that you cannot live without, BUY IT! There will always be a place to cut a cost somewhere else.