While weddings are a wonderful way to celebrate the love between two people, it can come with a hefty price tag. But it doesn’t have to. You can have the wedding you want without going broke. I did. Here’s how beautiful party without blowing your wedding budget.
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It is important to bear in mind during the whole process that a wedding and marriage are two separate things. What is crucial on your wedding day is you, the one you love, a marriage officiant and your wedding license – everything else is extra.
Your wedding will last a few hours, but your marriage is for a lifetime.
With that said, who doesn’t want to have a party and share that special day with all the people they care about? There is a lot of planning and money that comes along with it, and it can quickly become out of control.
Who is Paying?
Your wedding is probably the priciest party you’ll ever throw in your life. As of 2015, the average wedding in the U.S. ran about $32,000. Of course, it depends on where you live and what kind of wedding you want to have.
Last year in NYC, the average wedding cost $86,000. Yup, that’s a down payment for a home. Who is dishing out that kind of money?
In the past, it was traditional for the bride’s parents to pay for the wedding, but lately, more couples are paying for their wedding giving them control over how and where the money is spent.
Couples paying for everything themselves have maximum flexibility.
Just like you have dreamed of what your big day will look like, so do your parents. If they are paying, they can have a say in planning as well. If mom wants to invite 45 of her closest friends, then she can.
Many couples make concessions to make their family happy but it’s so important to remember, this day is about the two of you, not the whole family.
Paying your way is much easier because you can make all the decisions. If the family is paying, make sure there is clear communication and expectations are set.
What To Spend On
Day Of Coordinator
You want to enjoy the day as much as possible and having a day of coordinator will help you do that. I had one, and it was the best thing I ever did. Everything happened seamlessly while I danced, drank and had a great time.
A coordinator is a cheaper alternative to a wedding planner.
Although they are not with you for months planning the whole event, the day of they act as a liaison between the DJ, caterer, florist, and coordinate the logistics of your wedding day to make sure that everything goes as planned, so you don’t have to.
They can also act as a “Brides Guard” to help fend off anyone trying to steal your attention when you need a minute to yourself. You don’t necessarily have to hire someone to do this; it could just be a friend who likes to take control.
After all the food is eaten, drinks drank and favors given out, the only thing you two walk away with are photos of the day (and a whole lot of envelopes filled with money). Those the memories you’ll have forever so don’t skip on a photographer.
You can find one for a great price, just make sure to look at their portfolio. Check that they have experience taking photos of people moving. If you only see still life pictures in their portfolio, they probably won’t be the best fit for your wedding.
We ended up getting a friend of the family who was a wedding photographer on the side and spent next to nothing. We have wonderful memories and even saw things we missed! Also, check out an app called Wed Pics where guests can join your party and take their pictures and videos that are shared with you and all of your guests.
Food & Booze (but mostly booze)
Don’t skimp on the bar! People are coming to a party and expect to have a drink….or five. Make sure you have the bar on lockdown. If you need to get your bar budget down but don’t know where to cut, The Broke-Ass Bride Wedding Guide will give you tips to keep your booze budget under control.
People, of course, expect to eat, but most of the time they are socializing. If you decide to have a fancy sit-down three-course meal that’s fine, but if you are not that kind of people then why do it. The party should be reflective of who you are.
If your taco truck and margarita type of people then do that! Andrew and I did an afternoon cocktail party with passed around hors ‘dourves, some stationary appetizers and a whole lot of cocktails.
Yes, I know. Technically the honeymoon is not part of the wedding but after months of planning and stress, you and your hubby need some time to enjoy each other. Even if it’s just for a day or two, try to get away after the wedding for some rest, relaxation and a little fun under the sheets.
You can also do a honeymoon wedding combo. A friends destination wedding in Hawaii was only $18,000, and impromptu karaoke happened. Best. Wedding. Ever.
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Where You Can Save
The venue is going to be your biggest cost. There are two types of places, the all-inclusive that provides the whole nine yards. Linens, waitstaff, food, bar, tables and chairs are all included. The other option is the bare bones warehouse space where you have to bring in everything yourself.
The first is easier and will most likely be the cheaper option. Andrew and I looked into bare bones spaces, and after all was said and done, the cost well surpassed the all-inclusive.
However, I REALLY didn’t want to get married in a typical wedding hall, so these all-inclusive places were out of the question. Plus, although they were cheaper, they were still very expensive.
Go the restaurant route. That’s what we did. They have all you need when it comes to waitstaff, bartenders and linens catering but it’s way cheaper than going to your typical wedding hall. You can rent out the whole restaurant or some even have small party rooms you can use for the night.
Try and book on off-peak times. Depending on where you live the offseason will be different so do your research. Also, Friday or Sunday will cost you less than a Saturday.
DJ & Decor
Flowers are more expensive than you think. I had these luxurious flower arrangements on my Pinterest board but after finding out each would cost me hundreds of dollars I changed my tune. Look to using more lush greenery. It is much cheaper than flowers.
There are plenty of DIY projects you can do even with the smallest amount of craftiness. Making a bouquet is way easier than it looks. Check out YouTube and Craftsy for great tutorials.
DJ’s can be very expensive and kind of cheesy. If you are going more low-key and don’t need an MC at your wedding, create your playlist on your iPod or laptop. Have one of your music loving friends play DJ for the day.
The whole “you have to wear white on your wedding day” crap started in 1840 with the wedding dress of Queen Victoria. These days it’s ok to wear whatever you want. Wear what feels good, looks good and makes you feel awesome. If it’s white great, if it’s not great.
You don’t have to go to a bridal shop and spend an obscene amount of money on a dress. Check retail stores. I got mine at Macys for $50. Many mainstream brands like ModCloth and J. Crew now have Bridal lines as well. And of course, there is always Rent The Runway.
Brides always look beautiful no matter how much they paid for their dress.
Guys, there is no need to buy a fancy tux. You will never wear it again. Suits are versatile, and it can be worn again. You won’t be wasting your money. The Black Tux has reinvented suit and tux rentals. They have an excellent online service for Grooms and their Groomsmen delivering menswear right to your door. If you are looking to buy, check out Banana Republic, Macys, or Frank and Oak for well priced sharp suits.
In the last five years, there has seen a change in the way people are planning their weddings. More and more couples are steering away from the most traditional wedding set up and going towards a more laid-back approach to save money.
If you are looking for some more great tips, check out the The Broke-Ass Bride Wedding Guide that will cover covers sample budget breakdowns ($1,000, $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 +), top money-saving rules, budget engagement party and rehearsal dinner ideas that won’t break the bank, becoming a negotiation ninja as well as tool and websites you’ll need to plan your wedding without going broke.
What We Did To Save:
- No bridal party. We saved money on rehearsal and gifts. Had siblings be Man of Honor and Best Maid and parents walked down the aisle.
- Sunday afternoon party. Much cheaper than Saturday night
- Had a Cocktail Party saved on food, drink sand centerpieces.
- Reused bouquets and after the ceremony for decor.
- Cut our guest list in half. If you haven’t seen to them in a couple years, cross them off
- Had a family friend for DJ and Marriage Officiant– Ask around. Everyone “knows someone”.
- I did not buy a “wedding” dress. Just a white dress or any dress you love. Andrew wore a suit, not a tux.