25 Tips To Plan Your Wedding On A Budget

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: April 2, 2021

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Planning a wedding on a budget can be a difficult endeavor for couples. There are so many considerations and expenses that it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

Thankfully, your wedding doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to be a beautiful, memorable occasion. In fact, many of the best weddings, aren’t necessarily the most expensive!

You can plan a wedding on a budget – it just requires some extra creativity and intentionality.

So, if you’re ready to celebrate your marriage in style, but don’t want to break the bank, here are 25 tips to plan your wedding on a budget.

1. Define Your Priorities And Nonnegotiables

Before you start planning your wedding, it’s important to make sure you and your fiancé are on the same page about the top priorities for your wedding day.

In other words, what are the most important details to each of you?

If you can agree on a few priorities, the rest of the planning process will likely be much smoother.

You’ll be able to allocate more of your budget to the details that mean the most to both of you, and then you can aim to cut costs elsewhere.

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2. Create And Stick To A Budget

After you’ve defined your priorities, the most important thing you can do is get on a well-defined wedding budget. And when I say well-defined, I mean that you should plan out every expense you can think of, before you ever even spend a dime.

Seriously, coming up with a budget ahead of time is one of the best ways to avoid overspending. Not only that, but it will help keep your finances on-track throughout the entire wedding process.

Decide how much money you’re going to spend on your wedding; then, divide that money among the items in your budget. This may require some initial price shopping so you can get a ballpark idea of how much certain vendors charge.

But trust me, once you’re finished with your budget, all the planning and researching will have been well worth it.

Finally, remember it’s not enough to simply write down your budget – you have to actually stick to it.

That’s exactly why I recommend sitting down with your fiancé once a week to log all your wedding expenses into your budget and assess how things are going. I know that might seem like overkill at first, but the more consistent you are with your budget, the easier it will be–and the more likely you will be to keep stay within your budget.

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3. Plan Ahead Of Time

If you’re planning a wedding on a budget, try to brainstorm and plan the details of your wedding very early on.

The less you leave to the last minute, the fewer opportunities there will be to stress out, and you won’t have to make as many urgent decisions.

Give yourself time to shop around so you won’t be shopping and spending from a place of urgent need. You’ll likely spend more when you have urgent fires that need to be put out. 

4. Limit The Size Of Your Guest List

You may be tempted to invite every friend in your contacts list to your wedding, but before you do, remember that every person you invite equals an additional expense.

It may sound harsh, but it’s the truth!

Consider having a smaller, more intimate wedding. In some cases, especially if you’re nervous to cut people from your wedding list, you may even be better off having a destination wedding.

Just weigh your options, and figure out what works best for your finances.

5. Stock The Bar Yourself

When it comes to weddings, alcohol tends to be a huge expense.

So, consider asking your bartender or venue if you can purchase the alcohol for them to use. Buying your own liquor from the grocery store tends to be less expensive than what vendors charge.

Another way to save money on alcohol is to only offer beer and wine. Or, you could offer a free cocktail hour followed by a cash bar.

6. Ask For Help Instead Of Gifts

Is there someone in your life who is a phenomenal singer?

Do you have a friend with an amazing photography portfolio?

Does your grandma arrange flowers beautifully?

Think of people in your life whose skills align with your wedding needs.

Many friends and family members will be happy to offer their skills and services in lieu of a wedding gift. And this could end up saving you a lot of money on vendors.

7. Host The Ceremony Or Reception At Home Or Outdoors

According to The Knot, wedding venues typically eat up half of your wedding budget.

With that in mind, if you can host the ceremony or reception at a parent’s home or an outdoor location, you’ll be able to save some big bucks.

Even if you have your heart set on a location for the ceremony, hosting your reception outdoors will help cut costs significantly. If you do end up hosting all or part of the event outside, just be sure to have a backup plan in case of bad weather.

8. When Possible, Do It Yourself

As you’re thinking of all of the little tasks that need to be done for your big day, consider which ones you can do yourself. You’d be surprised how fast the smaller expenses of a wedding add up.

Anything you can handle on your own or with the help of friends or family may be worth the extra effort.

For instance, do you really need to drop a few hundred dollars on custom calligraphy for your invitations? Or can you save that money and address them yourself?

Whenever you decide to go the DIY route, be sure to give yourself ample time to take care of everything. You don’t want your wedding day to feel rushed, hectic, or last-minute.

9. Hire A Local Or Family-Owned Restaurant For Catering

Hiring a local restaurant to cater your wedding can save you lots of cash. So, if you’re planning a wedding on a budget, think of restaurants you love in your city or town. Many smaller or family-owned restaurants are willing to work with your budget.

You could even hire a food truck or two, which can be really fun.

10. Make Your Own Bridesmaid Or Groomsmen Gifts

It’s customary to give the members of your wedding party a small gift, but these can be costly.

You could choose to forgo the tradition altogether and write each person a heartfelt note instead. However, another option is to give hand-made gifts that don’t cost very much to make.

Chances are, your wedding party will understand if you’re trying to plan your wedding frugally.

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25 tips to plan a wedding on a budget | Be The Budget

11. Borrow Or Use Your Own Stereo Equipment

Instead of hiring a DJ, bring your own stereo equipment or borrow it from someone you know. Set up speakers around the dance floor, make your own wedding playlist, and play it from your phone or computer.

12. Buy Used Or Reduced-Price Decorations

Why spend a ton of money on decorations that will only be used for a day? Well, you might not have to!

Sometimes, newly married couples will unload their used decorations on websites like craigslist. This is a great way to find an inexpensive set of cohesive decorations, saving you money and effort.

Another option for decorating on a budget is to shop around at stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s to get an idea of what you want your decorations to look like. Then, wait for those items to go on sale, and purchase them when prices are low.

13. Use Fewer Vendors

Look for vendors that offer more than one wedding service, such as a florist who can do your flower arrangements and offer small party favors.

Or, maybe there’s a photographer who also offers wedding videography services.

When you buy more than one service from a single vendor, you’ll likely save money because you’ll reduce the number of people you need to pay for things like transportation and setup.

Some vendors may also offer you discounts when you purchase multiple services from them.

14. Go With Minimal Or Fake Flowers

Floral arrangements are another expense that can be really costly, and they tend to wilt and die soon after the ceremony. Therefore, if you want to save money on your wedding planning, try to cut back on the amount of flowers you have to purchase by focusing on small, simple bouquets.

Alternatively, you could opt for fake flowers.

Many faux blooms look so realistic, no one will ever be able to tell the difference. They’re also usually much cheaper than fresh flowers. As a bonus, you could even sell them to another couple after your wedding day.

15. Do A Group Tuxedo Rental

Most people don’t have a reason to own a tuxedo, and renting one is almost always a better option.

If you and your groomsmen all rent tuxedos from the same retailer, you may be able to get a group rate on your rentals, cutting down costs.

Another option is to scale back the formalities, go the more casual route, and have everyone wear a matching suit instead.

16. Buy Dresses Off-The-Rack

Ordering custom dresses for your bridesmaids can be expensive, and many of them will never wear the dress on another occasion.

Instead, you could find a retailer that sells off-the-rack dresses in the color you want and allow your bridesmaids to choose from a pre-set selection of your choosing.

If you don’t mind some variation in dress styles, you could offer your bridesmaids some guidelines for acceptable colors and ask them to wear dresses they already own.

17. Adjust The Timing Of Your Wedding

According to The Knot, September and October tend to be the most popular months to get married. And when the demand for wedding resources is up, you’re likely to pay more. For this reason, it may be a good idea to plan your wedding for a different, less expensive time of year.

You may also want to consider which day of the week you get married.

If you’re willing to get married on a Friday or Sunday, you could end up saving up to half the cost of your wedding venue. You’ll also likely have more options for vendors, since many wedding vendors get booked on Saturdays.

18. Use A Fake Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes can get extremely expensive compared to ordinary cakes.

So, if you have a crafty friend or a family member with great icing skills, ask them to decorate a tiered cake-shaped block of Styrofoam, and serve your guests a store-bought cake instead.

If you have your heart set on the cake-cutting tradition, you could purchase a smaller cake and use it as the fake cake’s topper.

19. Shop Around For Vendors

Don’t just book the first vendor you meet. Give yourself plenty of time to shop around and compare vendors’ prices.

Ask for family and friend recommendations, and make sure they’re aware of your budget ahead of time.

Then, you can compare prices and do your best to strike a balance between good quality and affordable price.

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How to plan a beautiful wedding on a budget | Be The Budget

20. Select Affordable Wedding Rings

Your wedding day will come and go faster than you think, but your wedding ring is something you’ll wear every day for the rest of your life. You need to love it, but that doesn’t mean it has to cost you a fortune.

Look for wedding bands you like but are made from less expensive, durable materials such as sterling silver or titanium.

There are many affordable resources for less expensive wedding rings online.

Remember, you can always upgrade your wedding rings at a later stage of life when you have a bigger budget.

21. Scope Out The Local Musical Talent

You know that guitarist that’s always playing at the local coffee shop? What about the woman who plays piano at church? Well, they might be the perfect option for the music in your wedding ceremony.

You could even contact a local university that has a band and ask about musicians who play certain instruments.

Hiring local music talent to play you down the aisle can be a great way to reduce the cost of your wedding.

22. Promote Vendors For Reduced Rates

Do you have a big social following? Or, do you have a few friends that are getting married around the same time as you?

If so, ask your vendors if they would be willing to reduce their rates in exchange for your willingness to promote their services or refer them to your soon-to-be-married friends.

This is great advertising for wedding vendors, as much of their business tends to come from client referrals.

23. Plan A Simple Honeymoon

Sure, you could book a 20-hour flight to an exotic location for your honeymoon, or you could choose a less-expensive but equally as enjoyable getaway closer to home.

When planning your honeymoon, try to focus on what matters – relaxing after the long weeks of wedding prep and enjoying time with your new spouse.

Remember you don’t need to travel across the world to have a great time together.

Another variation on this budget wedding tip is to create a fund for your honeymoon and place it on your wedding registry. This way, people can contribute to your honeymoon instead of buying you a gift.

24. Utilize Your Network

As you’re going about your wedding prep, involve your friends and family. Chances are, they know people who can help provide less expensive skills and services for your wedding.

The more minds you have working to bring down the cost of your wedding, the more opportunities there will be for money-saving ideas.

You’re not alone in your wedding planning process. Your loved ones will likely be more than willing to help you.

25. Prepare For Surprises

As most married couples will tell you, not everything will go according to plan on your wedding day.

So try not to stress out about things going wrong, and avoid the temptation to throw money at any problems that arise.

Do your best to focus on enjoying the day, and let the surprises and inconveniences roll off your back. Even if your wedding day isn’t perfect, it will almost certainly be a memorable, happy occasion.

Final Thoughts

If you’re planning a wedding on a budget, there’s no need to stress. As long as you stay organized, get creative, and remain intentional, your big day can be both beautiful and inexpensive.

I genuinely hope that the tips in this article have provided you with a few great ways to pinch a few pennies along the way.

Just remember, your wedding will be here and gone in what seems like the blink of an eye. So, take a breath, take it in, and make sure to savor the beautiful memories!

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How to plan a wedding on a budget: 25 tips | Be The Budget

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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