For many couples, getting married is a lifelong dream. But while planning a wedding can be exciting, it can also be incredibly expensive. In fact, The Knot found that the average cost of a wedding in 2018 was $33,931 — and that doesn’t even include the honeymoon!
That means that you’re likely going to have to save up (and maybe even rely on the generosity of loved ones) if you plan to have the dream wedding you’ve always wanted. Even so, you’ll want to make smart spending decisions. Otherwise, you could end up going over-budget or running out of resources before you ever even say “I do.”
While it might seem like spending a small fortune on your wedding is a foregone conclusion, there are actually a number of ways to save and to get the most for your money. Here are just a few ways to keep costs low and stretch your budget for your big day.
Decide on Non-Negotiables
Before you ever book the venue or decide on the date, you’ll need to make a list of your priorities. What are the aspects you aren’t willing to compromise on? And which components are you fine with letting go of? Once you know what your non-negotiables are, you can make sure to prioritize them in your budget and make appropriate cuts to accommodate them. If you know your fiancee has strong feelings about the food but doesn’t care about the music, you can make better financial decisions that reflect what you want most. That way, the aspects you do spend a little bit more on will really be worth it.
Limit Your Guest Count
Most people realize that the bigger the wedding, the bigger the costs. You might feel forced to invite lots of family members or old friends to the reception to keep up appearances, but you should resist the urge to give in to social pressures. If you can whittle down your guest list to the must-invites, you’ll have a much easier time crunching the numbers. Don’t feel obligated to invite people you don’t know well or to even out the number of attendees from each side. Having a more intimate celebration will allow you to save money on catering, alcohol, linen rentals, flowers, and the venue. If you feel guilty about leaving people out, compromise by having a get-together sometime before or after the wedding at your home. That way, your friends and relatives can still take part in the festivities without adding any financial pressure.
Put a Twist on Tradition
Sticking with tradition can come with a price. If you feel like it’s necessary to be married on a weekend or at a conventional wedding venue, you’re going to pay more for the privilege. If you want to get more for your money, try picking a less desirable date and time for your nuptials. Sundays and weeknights tend to come with less expensive fees and greater vendor or venue availability. Getting married outside of the June-to-October busy season can also allow you to save some money and may ensure your guests can attend. Opting for a less traditional venue space can also put your money to better use. Don’t be afraid to explore unique options like parks, libraries, museums, breweries, or botanical gardens to see what they might have to offer. In many cases, you’ll benefit from a picturesque and private setting without having to pay a premium.
Make It All-Inclusive
That said, you don’t have to give up on the idea of a fancier wedding venue just to stretch your budget. You’ll just need to find a venue that’s all-inclusive. Many hotels will offer all-inclusive packages for weddings and events that make costs more manageable and operations more central. In other words, your guests can stay overnight at the location where your wedding will take place. Even more importantly, the venue will often offer on-site catering or have a list of preferred vendors prepared for couples to make things even easier (and less expensive, in some cases). Since you won’t have to cobble together a plan using a bunch of outside vendors, you can be assured you’re getting a great price without the headache. You may not even need to enlist the help of a wedding planner. Some hotels that offer these packages will also have spa services or other special offerings that can make your celebrations all the sweeter.
With these budget-friendly tips in mind, you’ll be able to create a wedding that perfectly captures your unique partnership — all without going into debt.