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How to Save Money on Wedding Planning

by Hunter Kemp
Last updated on October 18, 2023

While no one expects their wedding to be cheap, few people are prepared for just how much they may have to spend on planning their big day. Not only are there the obvious expenses like the wedding dress and wedding venue, but there will also be hidden costs and small details that add up quickly. Don’t worry, though– you can still have the wedding of your dreams. There are so many ways for you to save money on your big celebration without sacrificing everything that makes the big day so special. With these simple yet effective tips to save money on your wedding, you’ll be able to have the magical celebration you’ve been dreaming about without going over your budget.

Setting a Wedding Budget and Discussing Priorities

One of the most important parts of the planning process is setting a budget. It’s a crucial first step before you start the bulk of your wedding planning. Sit down with your partner and to discuss your budget, and make sure to also talk about what parts of the wedding are most important to you. What are your priorities for wedding day, and what areas don’t matter as much? This will give you guidance on where you could save some money and where you can’t.

Hire a Wedding Planner

It may seem ironic to hire a wedding planner as a way of saving money. It’s another expense, after all! But trust us– a wedding planner can do a tremendous amount to help you save money in the long run. First of all, they’ll ensure that you stay within your budget. Wedding planners typically have years of experience working within a variety of budgets, so you can trust that they’ll be able to stick to yours while maximizing what you can get out of it. Another perk of using a wedding planner is the connections they’ll have with vendors and other industry contracts. This allows them to secure better deals for you on some of the most costly parts of your wedding.

Choose an Off-Peak Wedding Date

By having your wedding ceremony either during the wedding off-season or on a less popular day of the week, you can immediately save thousands of dollars. Most couples get married between May and October, and the fewest tie the knot during any of the winter months. This means that you’ll typically find the lowest prices in December, January, and February. Just be sure to steer clear of any major holidays, when costs for things like flowers and food will be higher. And keep in mind that for a destination wedding at a place like a ski resort, the off-season may be different. As far as days of the week, the biggest thing you can do for your budget is avoid Saturdays. This is by far the most popular day to get married, and wedding costs are highest. Having a mid-week wedding ceremony would be the cheapest, but even moving the date to a Friday or Sunday will do a lot to save money.

Trim Your Guest List

Most experts agree that trimming your guest list is one of the best ways to save money on your wedding. The Knot reports that the average couple spends $266 on each guest, so making the guest list even slightly smaller could mean much bigger savings. Fewer guests means fewer tables and chairs, fewer centerpieces, and less space to pay for. Many wedding venues charge per-person for menus, so you’ll save money there as well. By cutting the guest list down, you can also focus on providing the best experience possible for everyone there.

Skip the Traditional Wedding Invitations

Going completely digital with your wedding invitations will save you lots of money, but it’s ok if you’re set on paper wedding invites. There are still a number of ways to cut costs! One option is to print the invitations yourself, especially if you stick to a minimalist black-and-white color theme. If you’re getting the invitations professionally printed, choosing digital printing over other more expensive printing techniques will save money. Finally, you can cut down the number of things included in your wedding invitation suite. This typically includes the invitation itself, an inner envelope, the response card and its envelope, and other cards that may contain information about the reception, accommodations, and directions. If you condense everything onto one invitation and handle RSVPs online, this is another great way to save money.

Find One Place to Do It All

Go for a wedding venue that can accommodate your wedding ceremony as well as your reception. Hosting both events in the same place means that you won’t have to pay for transportation between the two sites, and it’ll also eliminate the need to purchase and set up decor in both places. If you’re paying vendors by the hour, you’ll also save money because they won’t have to travel between two locations.

It’s also a good idea to book a wedding venue that is as all-inclusive as possible. The upfront cost may appear to be higher, but buying everything as one package will often give you the best value for your money. All-inclusive venues provide a variety of additional services for you to take advantage of, including accommodations for guests, catering, alcohol, staff, rentals, and even wedding cake. By booking separate vendors for all of these things, you’ll almost always end up spending much more.

Get a Smaller Wedding Cake and Keep It Simple

By purchasing a smaller size wedding cake, you’ll be able to get a gorgeous cake that fits your wedding budget. Use this cake for photos and cake cutting, and supplement it with cupcakes or a larger, less expensive sheet cake. As for the decorations design of the cake itself, there are ways you can further cut costs while still having a beautiful traditional wedding cake. Opting for a simpler design with fewer complex decorative elements like sugar flowers will certainly help cut the cost. So will covering the cake with buttercream instead of fondant. This will make it taste better, too!

Use Your Wedding Flowers in Multiple Ways

Wedding flowers are expensive, so making the most of the ones you spend money on is always a smart idea. Have your bridesmaid bouquets do double duty by using them as table centerpieces, and use the floral arrangements from your wedding ceremony at your reception.

Be Smart with Your Flower Selection

There are other ways to be resourceful with your wedding flowers, too. One of the best tips is to choose flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding (and preferably local!). This way, you won’t have to pay for them to be shipped halfway around the world. They’ll also be fresher! Another way to save some money is to replace the most expensive flowers with affordable but similar-looking varieties. A few carnations taped together can look like the full blossom of a peony, for example. Finally, choosing flowers like hydrangeas that create a lot of volume in a bouquet with few stems is another smart strategy.

Pick a Naturally Beautiful Venue

If the setting itself provides a lot in terms of beauty, you won’t need to spend as much on decor– particularly floral decor, which can get expensive quickly. Choose a venue with a stunning view, beautiful gardens, or breathtaking design elements like you might find in a cathedral.

Have a Smaller Bridal Party

It can be difficult to shrink the size of your wedding party. There are so many important people you want to be part of it! But if you feel that it’s doable, this can be another good way to cut your wedding expenses. The couple typically pays for things like bridesmaid bouquets, boutonnières, hair and makeup, and gifts for all members of the party. A few items, like each person’s wedding attire, are covered by the bridesmaids and groomsmen, but most other expenses will be yours.

Skip or Limit the Passed Appetizers

Even having a few passed hors d’oeuvres can be quite expensive– you’ll be paying for serving staff on top of the already pricey food. Instead, create a self-serve appetizer station for guests to enjoy. You can fill it with crudité, charcuterie boards, or anything else your heart desires.

Start Wedding Dress Shopping Early

This is one of the easiest ways to save money on your wedding without sacrificing anything at all. By shopping for your wedding dress well in advance of your wedding, you’ll be able to dodge some hefty yet easily avoidable fees. Alix Childs from the bridal salon Ceremony in Boston tells that she recommends for brides to order their wedding gowns eight or nine months before wedding day. This way, she says, they can “avoid rush fees of as much as $500 and last-minute alterations of $100 to $300.”

Take Advantage of Sample Sales and Trunk Shows

Before you start dress shopping, check with nearby dress salons to see if there are any upcoming sample sales or trunk shows. If you’ve never heard of these before, a trunk show is an event when a wedding boutique invites a specific bridal designer in to show the store’s customers a more complete range of wedding gown samples than the store usually carries. If you buy your dress during a trunk show, you’ll almost always be able to get a discount on it. Sample sales are a little different from trunk shows, but they’re another great option. At a sample sale, wedding gowns from a variety of designers are discounted for off-the-rack purchase. These are often discontinued styles, so you likely won’t be able to find these anywhere else.

Save on Wedding Favors

Wedding favors definitely aren’t necessary, so there’s nothing wrong with skipping them altogether. But if you’re set on the idea of giving your guests something when they leave, don’t worry. There are plenty of options that will keep you within your wedding budget! To give you some ideas, The Knot has a list of twenty wedding favors that are all under $1 each!

Ask for Help

Don’t feel bad about asking friends and family to help you out, whether it’s during the planning process or on wedding day. People are happy to help and are often excited to contribute something to your special day! There are a variety of things they can do to help you save money on your wedding, too. You could borrow a beautiful piece of clothing or jewelry from a family member, which could be especially useful if you plan to wear a variety of outfits for things like your rehearsal dinner and engagement party. If you have a friend that loves baking, let them make some delicious cookies or cake pops. You can either serve these at the wedding or give them out to guests as edible wedding favors. If you have a loved one who’s artistic and creative, they’d likely love to help with designing wedding invites , creating some decor. If they like makeup, maybe they’d even want to do yours! And anyone can give you a hand with things like moving decor, preparing centerpieces, and cleaning up. All of these small things can help reduce the overall wedding cost.

Limit the Alcohol Offerings

Trust us– your guests won’t enjoy your wedding any less if you don’t have an extensive selection of top-shelf liquor. Sticking just to beer and wine is a great way to stay within your wedding budget, and you could even include a few signature cocktails along with that if there are some you really enjoy.

Use Champagne Sparingly

You don’t have to skip champagne altogether, but you’ll make it easier on your wallet if you serve bubbly only at the bar. Passing glasses around to all the guests or having it pre-poured at every seat will get expensive quickly. On top of that, you’ll often end up with some flat or wasted champagne. If you’re ok with it, you could also use another drink in place of champagne. Prosecco or another more affordable sparkling wine would be a good alternative.

Ask About Package Deals for Photography

It’s absolutely worth it to pay for a good wedding photographer– wedding photos are important! But this doesn’t mean that you can’t get stunning photos for a reasonable price. The first thing to do is to look into any package deals that your wedding photographer might offer. Sometimes, you’ll be able to get both photography and videography with a discount on both services. They may also provide a photo booth, which will typically be cheaper than getting it from a different vendor. If a package happens to include certain things that you don’t need and don’t want to pay for, most photographers will allow you to customize the package to fit your preferences.

Book an Associate Photographer

If there are certain wedding photographers whose pictures you really love, see if they have any associate photographers they recommend. These people work for the lead photographer’s company and will deliver a similar vibe and style at a lower price.

Final Thoughts

Trying to figure out how to save money on wedding plans can be daunting. Your wedding is a huge deal, and it may feel impossible to have the celebration of your dreams without spending more than you can afford. We hope these tips have given you some ideas for simple ways to cut costs while maintaining everything that will make your big day magical.

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Congratulations on your wedding– we’re thrilled for you and hope your big day is amazing!