How To Plan A Wedding On A Small Budget

Weddings are expensive, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like dishing out $30,000 – $40,000 dollars for one day (albeit a special day). That money could go to a newlywed couples house, bank account, or could be used for an out of this world honeymoon. So how do you save money on a wedding and work with a small budget, so that you can have your cake and eat it too?

The amount required for a wedding will be a personal figure for each couple depending on what they require, but there are lots of ways that you can save and were going to break it down for you in less than four steps.

How to plan a wedding on a small budget

  1. Determine what you require to be a must for the wedding (ex. Wedding dress, venue, etc.)
  2. Figure out who will be attending your wedding (less guests = less money)
  3. Out of your must-haves list see where you can save money 
  4. Ascertain if there is any way that you can raise money or if your families will be contributing money

Determine What You Need

Every wedding is unique and can range from a simple backyard wedding to an extravagant destination wedding. Your personality, family size, budget, and lifestyle are all dictating factors.

The chart below is based upon the average cost of a wedding. Surveyed in 2017 by The Knot, they concluded that the cost of an average wedding was 33,391 dollars. Each value for the budget below was also determined by The Knot’s survey.

This chart is for demonstration purposes to show what a budget of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 dollars can provide you for your wedding. It is based on the average price concluded by The Knot’s survey and may assist you in determining what elements of the wedding you can save money for.

See below the chart for specific ways to save in each category.

Average Wedding Costs$20,000 $10,000$5,000
Venue $16,107 $7,000$3,573$1,000
Photographer $2,783$1,000$1000$500
Reception Band/Music $4,158$500$0$0
Florist $2,534$1534$700$367
Videographer $1,995$1000$0$0
Wedding Dress $1,564$1,000$1000$500
Groom’s Attire $280$280$280$280
Wedding Cake $582$582$200$100
Ceremony Site $2,197$1,197$500$500
Ceremony Musicians $755$685$200$100
Invitations $462$200$150$100
Transportation $859$0$0$0
Favors $286$286$150$50
Rehearsal Dinner $1,378$689$500$500
Officiant $278$278$278$278
Catering $7,100
(guests x 100/ $71 per person)
$3,550
(x50/$71)
$1,250
(x25/$50)
$625
(x25/$25)
Wedding Day Hair $119$119$119$100
Wedding Day Makeup $100$100$100$0
Totals$20,000$10,000$5,000

The chart above is an example of how reducing costs in certain areas can give you a wedding budget of $20,000, $10,000, or $5,000. Obviously it would have to be tailored to each person specifically.

I reduced amounts based on costs that could “reasonably” be lowered, but the table is simply a demonstration to show how much each category would affect the different areas of your budget. This is the first step that you will have to complete to determine what is necessary for your wedding and what is not. This will also assist you with the second step, in calculating how many guests will be in attendance.

Determine who will be attending

Based on your own personal balance sheet, you now have to decide how many people you can afford to host at your wedding. First create a list of family and friends that you require at your wedding. From there create a second list of people who you would like to attend, if you have the available budget. Reassess your balance sheet based on your essential list of guests and from there determine if you have the budget to include some or all of the guests on your second list. (You can always come back to this step at the end if you find more ways to make or save money)

Ways to save money

On to my favorite part, how to save money! Depending on what you are willing to sacrifice, there are a lot of ways that you can save money. Some may require more work and time from you, but can also keep your budget lower. Below you will find a list of some ideas that you can use to decrease your costs.

1. Skip the DJ and band

Skip the DJ or band and create a playlist on your phone or other smart device. If you wanted to hire someone to respond to peoples music requests you could hire a family friend or student for probably $50 – $100 for the night. For speakers, use your own or borrow some.

2. Rent rather than buy

To save money on the grooms attire, if he doesn’t already have a tux, or suit, renting is often cheaper than buying.

3. Save with second hand or sale rack dresses

The brides dress is another factor that can vary greatly in price. You can get dresses that cost $10,000 plus or some as low as $200 dollars. Repurposing your mother or grandmother’s old dress may get you a free one, if not try the sale rack or a cheaper store like David’s Bridal. I also found two sites called Pre Owned Wedding Dresses and Still White, where you can purchase used designer dresses for a fraction of the cost.

4. Size down the cake

Rather than buying a large wedding cake, why not have a small cake that you can cut and cupcakes for your guests instead. You can DIY your own cupcakes or have a family friend do them for you and in the process save a lot of money.

5. DIY your own decorations

By purchasing cheap supplies from the dollar store and amazon, you can DIY all your decorations for the wedding. It’s amazing what a few dollar store vases and some flowers or candles can do to create a beautiful centerpiece.

6. Skip the traditional invitations or buy in bulk

Why mail all your invitations by hand? Its time consuming and eats up costs in your budget. Instead download an invitation template and send it out in an email. You can purchase one for as low as $10 that can be customized and that way your guests can RSVP immediately. If you still prefer an actual invitation to an electronic one than buy them in bulk. The more you buy the more you save.

7. Find alternative venue options

The venue is almost always the largest part of the wedding budget, so by reducing or eliminating the cost you can save a lot of money. The ideal option would be to host the wedding at your or a family member’s house. If that is not an option, other non-traditional venues such as an Air-BnB or bed and breakfast could save you some money. If you are interested in a destination wedding Sandles resorts offer a “free wedding” package with a stay of three or more nights. This could save you some money since its technically a honeymoon and wedding combined. plus if you go with their basic package there would be minimal extra fees that would incur.

8. Have a potluck dinner

This an unconventional idea, but if you are not hosting the wedding at a venue then it could work. Between hosting the wedding at home and having a pot luck your wedding expenses would be cut in half. It also saves money for your guests as bringing food is much cheaper than a wedding gift, and who doesn’t love a good potluck. If you decide to use this idea make sure to include an RSVP on your wedding invite explaining that no gift is necessary, but to bring some food instead.

Figure out if you can add to the budget

At this stage, you are almost done planning your wedding budget. Here you need to figure out if your families will be contributing to your wedding fund. If so, you can revisit the initial budget outline and determine if there are any areas you would like to add money too, or if there are more guests you would like to invite. Keep in mind it is always a good idea to have a small fund of money for extra unexpected expenses.

In addition to asking parents for help, couples often hold a stag and doe to raise money for their wedding. If you have never heard of a stag and doe, its a pre-wedding celebration where family and friends of the couple purchase tickets to an event, usually held at a reception hall. There, alcoholic beverages and snacks are served and games arranged. The games are often set up to raise additional funds by paying to participate. Stag and doe’s are great because you can raise a significant amount of money for the wedding, some of which can go back to your generous guests in the form of party favors or free drinks.

I hope you found some different ways that you can save for your wedding and remember that no matter how big or small the day, it will be special either way!

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