This coming July will mark seven years of marriage for me and my husband. On every anniversary we have it’s always fun to look back and think about how far we have come and what we would do differently if we had to repeat the day today. We chose really classic decor and outfits for our day so I’d like to think I’m not going to look back on my wedding album in 25 years and wonder what we were thinking.
Of course we wanted a beautiful wedding and with a little extra planning and research, we were able to plan what we felt was our dream wedding on a budget. There were things we splurged on (a photo booth) and things we saved on (minimal decorations) but all in all we were able to pull it off without breaking the bank. I want to share some tips that we followed that really helped us plan a fun wedding for less.
1) Employ the help of friends. Since I went to school for music, I have a lot of talented musician friends. We had awesome live music at our wedding and were also able to support our friends’ livelihoods by paying them to play. Everybody wins! The same idea could work if you have a seamstress friend, baker friend, hairstylist friend, etc.
2) Cut corners with dessert. We priced out desserts in our area and found that cupcakes for 150 guests was cheaper than cake by hundreds of dollars. I’ve heard of people doing an ice cream bar too to save money.
3) Find a venue that’s already special without the fancy decor. We had our wedding in a vintage hotel ballroom that was already decorated for the era. It was a cozy venue and there was already a lot going on stylistically. We didn’t feel a need to go fancy on the decor, which saved us lots of money.
4) Go minimalist with centerpieces and flowers. Simple is in style right now, so why not try a centerpiece with a single flower in a vase? You could also try the local farmer’s market for flowers, which are bound to be much cheaper than your florist shop. If you aren’t attached to the idea of flowers, you could go a completely different direction and save even more money by skipping them altogether. We used a cupcake stand as our centerpiece. We also spray painted tiles with chalk paint and labeled them for seating arrangements.
5) Put limits on the open bar. Unfortunately some guests will see open bar and drink top shelf all night on your tab. Why not choose a complementary wine or beer, and limit the open bar to those options all night? It’s also not outrageous to nix it altogether if free drinks are not in the budget!
6) Don’t invite kids. This one might seem harsh but I promise your guest list understands. Kids add to the headcount for catering and only eat a tiny bit of food anyway. If you have tons of kids in your extended family this is a quick way to whittle down your guest list as well.
7) Choose a party bus rather than a limo. This was one of the best choices we made for our wedding. We actually used a service called the Redneck Express that was a school bus transformed into a party bus. It was really fun and several hundred dollars cheaper than a limo.
8) Don’t break the bank for your wedding party. Be a friend and don’t make your buddies shell out thousands to be in your wedding. Between taking time off of work, gas, hotels, and more, they are bound to be pinching pennies to be part of your day already. Choose attire that they can reasonably pay for without breaking the bank. We had our bridesmaids wear a black dress of their choice from the wedding shop we liked, their jewelry was a gift from me, and lunch was provided while they were getting ready.
9) Consider price per use when you are budgeting. A wedding dress will get worn once. Centerpieces will get used once. Photographic memories last forever. Wedding rings are worn every day. You don’t need the most expensive ring on the planet but it makes sense to spend more on things like that than a one time use item.
10) When wedding planning, thinking about your marriage and not just your wedding. A wedding is one day and it’s easy to get wrapped up in wanting it to be perfect. You don’t want to be in debt for years over one day of your life. No party is worth that much burden!
Looking back on my wedding day, I don’t have any regrets. I had a small budget to work with, but we were able to plan a wedding we loved on a dime and didn’t feel like we sacrificed much. Years later we still fondly remember things we splurged on (photo booth- best idea ever!) and don’t remember the unimportant things (what were our centerpieces again?) and if I had it to do over again, I’d do it all the same.
What are your favorite money saving wedding tips? Share with me in the comments below!