60 Wedding Budget Tips and Tricks for Engaged Couples
By Wedding Spot
Weddings come in all shapes and sizes and with varying price tags. Hosting a beautiful wedding doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. We’ve used our collective experience to put together a list of the best wedding budget tips, tricks, and hacks.
Don’t put yourself in debt for a wedding. That’s a sure-fire way to start your marriage off on the wrong foot. Preparation and research can help save you a lot of hard-earned money as you plan the big day.
Throw the wedding of your dreams with these 60 wedding budget tips and money-savings secrets
You can have the wedding you’ve always wanted without wiping out your savings. Sit down with your partner and explore which of these cheap wedding ideas will help you stay within your budget.
Setting a date
Plan your wedding during a less traditional time of year or time of day to make your dollar go further.
1. Book in the off-season
If you’re interested in a destination wedding, choosing a wedding date during slower seasons can save you a lot of money on venue rental, overnight accommodations, and more.
2. Avoid holidays
Avoid holidays and other special events that raise local prices.
3. Choose a weekday
Wed during the week to help cut expensive weekend costs.
4. Consider a breakfast or brunch wedding
Breakfast/brunch menus and cocktails will be less expensive than dinner service options. Venue rental and catering service will also likely be more affordable as these are lower demand times for vendors.
5. Try to book a year in advance
Vendors often offer a discount for bookings a year or more in advance as it helps them plan and prepare for their upcoming season. For destination weddings, advance bookings help secure the best rates on hotel rooms and airfare. Book as far ahead of time as you can.
6. Are last-minute bookings right for you?
If you’re a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of couple, booking last-minute can help you save loads as vendors are trying to capture last-minute business.
Booking the venue
Picking a wedding venue is one of the most important planning decisions you will make. Research and visit all of the venues in your area or destination location. Look for the best deals and discounts before putting a deposit on a wedding venue.
7. Stay in one place
Strive to book the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception at the same venue to save money on multiple rentals.
8. Keep the guest list small
A small, intimate wedding will save the bride and the groom money on venue rental as well as food and beverage service.
9. Look for all-inclusive deals within your budget
Look for venues who provide package discounts that include event space, catering, bar service and entertainment.
10. Avoid venues that require in-house catering
If you’re seeking to save money on food and beverage costs by providing your own, avoid reserving venues that require in-house catering or vendor service.
11. Look for venues that allow outside vendor setup
Bringing in external vendors is often cheaper than using the in-house version. Make sure to ask about additional fees for using outside vendors, set up/tear down fees, gratuity, and any other fees that may unexpectedly arise. Ask to see an example contract and compare various venue policies.
12. Price out tent rentals vs venue rentals
For spring and fall weddings, compare the cost of venue rental against tent rentals for outdoor celebrations.
13. Look for a venue with built-in decorations
Venues with built-in beauty will help you offset the cost of additional decorations later. Look for impressive architecture, gardens, chandeliers or other accoutrements while venue shopping. Don’t forget about the outdoors as well—a great view needs no decoration.
Choosing your menu
Make the most of your meal budget by minimizing food and service expenses.
14. Set it up yourself
Shop early for catering equipment, linen, or other self-setup needs. Set Google alerts for items and get email alerts when the price drops.
15. Choose make-ahead “meal prep” friendly menu items
Prepare and refrigerate as much of your menu as possible to make the day run more smoothly.
16. Select dishes that share affordable ingredients
Focus on versatile ingredients like asparagus that can be used in appetizers and main courses.
17. Kick the traditional cake to the curb
Instead of purchasing a large, expensive wedding cake, consider getting a small 6” cake for the cutting, and serve guests more affordable individual desserts. Cupcakes and donuts are guest favorites.
18. Limit the menu
Skip a full-plated dinner service that requires serving staff and includes multiple courses.
19. Extend your cocktail hour to transition into the reception
As cocktail hour is wrapping up, unveil a slider bar, charcuterie station and break out the entertainment to seamlessly transition into the reception without including dinner service.
20. Buffets are budget friendly
Buffet-style meals can help cut costs on service, gratuity, and cleanup fees.
21. Serve family style
Family style serving also encourages guests to relax and converse.
22. Hire a food truck
To save on catering costs, look for food trucks that can cater your event. Food trucks are a great option for “laid back” or outdoor weddings.
23. Serve a “tasting menu”
Serving small plates or a “tasting menu” allows your guests to a variety of delectable dishes and will save you money on a full dinner service.
24. Include in-season items
Plan a menu that includes fresh in-season fruits and vegetables to cut down on costs.
25. Grow a wedding garden in preparation
Grow vegetables, herbs and flowers that will be in-season during your wedding to save on food and decorations.
Budgeting for beverages
Alcohol expenses can quickly take over your wedding budget, but don’t be fooled! Engaged couples can throw a party and pinch pennies at the same time!
26. Versatile Cocktails
Choose versatile mixers and garnishes that can be used in many different cocktails and mocktails to save on bar costs.
27. Stick to 1-2 custom drink options
Limit custom cocktails while providing an array of wine and beer options.
28. Tap a keg from a local brewery
Show off your local flair with a brewery keg—one of the most affordable ways to purchase a large quantity of beer.
29. Chuck the champagne toast
Have guests toast with whatever beverage they have instead, eliminating a huge portion of your alcohol expenses.
30. Estimate your bar costs
Choose between a cash bar or open bar. Get open bar quotes from your venue or catering service so you can set a savings plan in advance.
31. Keep the booze safe
Don’t allow open access to alcohol. Even with the best of intentions, wedding guests can get out of hand. Set up a designated area where alcohol is stored and ensure someone’s keeping an eye on it.
32. Serve heavier snacks during cocktail hour
Consider serving hefty hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour to help fill up your guests’ bellies and cut down on overall alcohol consumption totals.
33. Don’t include alcoholic beverages during dinner service
Don’t feel pressured to have alcohol constantly available. Encourage guests to grab a drink before dinner starts, eliminating additional dinner expenses.
Spend your money where it matters most. Don’t allow decorations to take over your wedding budget; save money with these thrifty tips.
34. Stick with one theme
Choose one style—one color scheme—and stick to it. Extra flowers, tissue paper, or linen can easily be repurposed to save elsewhere.
35. Paper flowers
Instead of shelling out major money for fresh flowers, consider origami flowers or other crafty DIY alternatives. Not only are they a bargain, they last a lot longer than “the real thing.”
36. Reuse bouquets
If you’re using fresh flowers, repurpose bridal party bouquets in centerpieces or other reception decorations.
37. Upcycle old decor or craft something new
Do you have an attic full of craft items or unused decorations? Look through them and see if anything can be upcycled into something fresh, new, and wedding worthy. Visit thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets regularly.
38. Grow a wedding flower garden to accompany your veggie garden
Plant bulbs and seeds the year prior to your wedding to save you bundles on bouquet costs.
On average, brides spend around $1,500 on a wedding dress. You can keep that price much, much lower by dress shopping a little differently.
39. Know what you want in a dress before starting to shop
Choose a style or styles that you’re interested in, and inform dress shops of your budget and preferences when booking an appointment.
40. Research fabric prices
Certain fabrics are more expensive than others. Do some research ahead of time and find fabrics that are appealing and affordable.
41. Don’t consider options outside of your price range
Be kind to yourself. Once you set a dress budget, don’t even allow yourself to try on dresses outside of that range.
42. Forgo extra fabric
Wedding dress prices often correspond with the amount of fabric, texture, and detail work they include. Avoid high-volume dresses with layers of silk, tulle or lace that can add up quickly.
43. Buy a simple dress and then customize yourself or add alterations
The simpler the dress, the lower the cost. Instead of purchasing a dress with embellishments, consider adding embroidery, beading or lace work yourself. You can also get quotes from small businesses in your area.
44. Scour mass retailers
Don’t discount “on the rack” options. Search mass retailers like Macy’s or other big box options for discount designer dresses.
45. Go non-traditional
There’s no rule saying that brides must wear white traditional gowns on their wedding day. Cut out the majority of your dress expenses by donning a non-traditional outfit.
We all want to look our best on our wedding day; that’s a given. You can still go glam without gutting your expense budget.
46. Accentuate a simple dress with standout accessories
Simple, classic dresses can easily be taken up a notch with an eye-catching accessory. Choose jewelry, hair accessories, or shoes that stand out when paired with an affordable gown.
47. Do your own makeup
Choose makeup looks you like, and watch a few online tutorials in preparation. Practice different styles and skills beforehand so there’s no need to hire an artist on the day.
48. Choose a simple hairstyle and add a headband or barrette
Stylists are typically needed for excessive updos. Choose a simple, elegant hairstyle accentuated by a headband or barrette to save on styling costs.
Whether you’re hosting an elegant and understated affair, or you’re throwing a rip-roaring rager, we’ve got entertainment cost-cutters for all energy levels.
49. Book half the band for the ceremony
If you’re hiring a full band for the reception, see if you can book a portion of the band (only the guitarist, pianist, etc.) for the ceremony.
50. Look for DJ packages that cover the whole event
Many DJ services offer deeper discounts for lengthier bookings.
51. Search for talent at showcases
Attend open mic nights, showcases or small concerts in your area to find excellent bands looking to book gigs and make a name for themselves.
52. Reach out to local music programs to book classical music
If you’re looking for a violinist, pianist, guitarist, or even harpist, consider reaching out to local music programs. Many collegiate classical music programs have prolific students looking to make a few extra bucks.
53. Make your own mix
Whether you use Spotify, Apple Music, your iTunes library, or burn some CDs, you can save some cash at the reception by crafting your own playlist. All you’ll need is a speaker hookup, and maybe a family member or friend to emcee. Plus, you’ll know only your favorite songs will be played!
Financial responsibility is essential to wedding planning with less stress. It’s also a core component of a healthy marriage foundation. Start your marriage off right by setting financial goals, tracking expenses, and working with your partner to stay within a designated budget.
54. Discuss your budget with your partner and agree early on
Set goals and limits that you both agree on. Ensuring that you’re on the same page from the beginning will help avoid unnecessary drama down the line.
55. Decide what details are negotiable
Pinpoint “must have” and “can definitely live without” wedding details so that you can allocate money to what you want most.
56. Set a credit limit, and don’t go over it
Be financially responsible with your wedding planning. If you are comfortable paying off $500 of credit card debt this year, for example, set that limit and stick to it. If you can’t afford it, don’t charge anything at all. Only purchase what you can afford right now.
57. Take advantage of credit rewards and benefits
If you already have a credit card or two, research your reward benefits. See which retailers your creditor partners with to find unadvertised discounts and cash-back opportunities.
58. Create an email account specifically for savings
You never know when the price for a desired item will drop, or when retailers you’re eyeing will run a promotion. Set up an email account that you only use for wedding planning. Sign up for newsletters, price alerts, promotions and other email services that could help you save a bit here and there.
59. Look for unexpected expenses
Try to anticipate any unforeseen expenses. Will you need to rent restroom trailers for an outdoor wedding? Is there ample parking? If not, will you need to purchase overflow parking for guests elsewhere?
60. You can never have too many options
Shop around for everything! Get quotes from various venues, carters and entertainers. Don’t forget to include accommodations for your guests as well. Cvent allows planners to request wedding room block quotes from multiple hotels at once, allowing you to compare rates and amenities for out-of town-attendees.