A wedding is meant to be a happy occasion, so why end yours with the unpleasantness of financial stress. That’s why budgets, not diamonds, are a girl’s best friend when it comes to her wedding.
Budgets are the perfect solution to keeping your wedding day a happy memory. It’s the sticking to budget part that can be a bit intimidating at times.
No worries though, if you follow these guidelines you can more easily avoid going over budget.
Focus on long term vs. short term.
Be in love with your fiancé, not your wedding. Why spend, or waste, so much money on something that you and your guests will experience for a few hours? Of course you should make your guests feel welcome and appreciated, as long as the cost is not creating debt.
Your main focus should be your marriage anyway, right? Marriage should last a lifetime, so don’t put any unnecessary financial pressure(s) on your relationship.
Ask others what they spent on their own weddings.
The more you ask friends & family the better you’ll be able to plan ahead for your own wedding expenses. Ask for itemized totals of their cake, flowers, food, drinks, decorations, wedding dress/tux, entertainment, etc. to get an idea of what you will need to plan for.
Plan for what you want to include and guesstimate what you can afford in order to prioritize what your wedding will include.
Come up with a wedding budget.
Whatever amount the wedding financers (you, your spouse, and or parents) can agree upon will become the limit of money that will be spent on your wedding. Make sure no one depletes their savings or goes into debt to cover the wedding expenses. Your budget should create minimal financial and lifestyle changes for everyone involved in financing the wedding.
For me this meant keeping it under $1000; my parents gave me $500 and I matched the other $500 toward expenses. This prevented all of us from breaking the bank and we got to enjoy life after the wedding.
Remember your wedding budget at ALL times.
Create an expense sheet, like I did, to list and keep track of ever wedding expense. Refer back to your budget after every expense, if necessary. Keep in mind how much you’ve spent up till the next purchase and so forth.
Tip: I made sure to keep all my receipts from wedding expenses, so that I could create my expense sheet. Also, so I’d know just what I spent on itemized items for the wedding.
Now, you should provide an atmosphere that allows your wedding guests to enjoy themselves. I just don’t think you have to empty your pockets to ensure that everyone enjoys being at your wedding and/or reception.
Buy your wedding bands online.
My husband not only followed this with our wedding bands, but my engagement ring as well. He bought my engagement ring from James Allen and later my wedding band from Blue Nile. I bought his wedding band off of Amazon, since he only wanted a cheap $20 tungsten ring.
If you really want to keep costs low, then you might try delaying your wedding band purchase like I did. I actually waited until our 1st anniversary to buy my wedding band.
If you compare brick and mortar prices with online retailers you may be pleasantly surprised, so be sure to check online before you buy. You could also buy gold filled or plated rings off Ebay as temporary rings for the ceremony & save up for the real ones to be purchased later on.
Keep the guest list as short as you’re comfortable with.
If you’re experiencing any problems with the number of guests and entertainment costs you may want consider shortening your guest list. Or limit the number of guest attending the wedding portion and open up the reception portion to everyone else you’d like to invite.
Stick to the plan.
Don’t continually change or add expenses to the list if it means going above your budget. Trust me, you only add to your stress when you go back and forth on wedding details that were never part of the plan to begin with or don’t make financial sense.
*Remember to be creative in the entertainment area of your wedding
Ex. Use a laptop hooked up to speakers to play a playlist of songs you want to play in the background of your wedding reception.
Seek help from family and friends.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help concerning your big day! Family members and close friends are often ready and willing to be put to work on your special day. Then again, maybe that’s just my awesome family!
If your family or friends have connections take them up on their referrals. Check out who and what they offer. You never know how much you might save by using their go to people. For me these included florists and card printing services (announcements/invitations & thank you cards).
You could also ask for volunteers from your church to help out during the wedding reception. I was lucky enough to get a couple of volunteers from my ward to help out in the kitchen during the reception.
Prepare your own food.
Forget about catering; possibly even a professional wedding cake. Cook and bake your own food prior to the wedding and freeze them until the day of.
Ask family members if they are willing to help you do this and would prepare some items to bring the day of. And make sure you buy everything and get it to those who said they would make something.
When planning the menu look for easy to prepare and inexpensive food items to serve. We served breads and soups after our wedding to our wedding guests and then only desserts during the reception to all of our guests to stick to our low budget. Lucky for me, family members prepared the soups and desserts to be served.
Borrow or make it yourself.
When and where possible do the work yourself or delegate it out to family and friends who are willing to help. There are so many tutorials to be found on Pinterest, YouTube, Google, etc. when you’re looking for ideas and the how to. If you don’t mind a little hard work, then save yourself some money & do it yourself.
Majority of my wedding décor was handmade or borrowed. This is the best way to keep costs down; be sure you start these DIY crafts & projects early to ensure you’re not too stressed the week leading up to the wedding day.
Ask a church leader to officiate.
My husband and I asked my bishop to officiate our marriage ceremony. We didn’t pay anything and he did an amazing job. If you don’t belong to a church or would rather have someone you know perform your marriage ceremony, then a free ordination website might be another option.
Do your own hair & make up.
I didn’t actually do my own makeup, other than my mascara. I had talented family members do my makeup and hairdo. Though, if you don’t have any talented family or friends in the beauty department you could always do your makeup & hair yourself. After all you know what you like best and there would be no surprises involved.
If you’re not makeup or hairstyle savvy, like me, then I suggest you watch a few YouTube videos to brush up or enhance your skills.
Hire an amateur photographer & videographer.
We did this for our wedding and spent very little. Though you should know what you’re signing up for when you hire your photographer. Look at their past work before you sign anything, so you’re not disappointed with their photos. Also, see if someone you trust, who is attending the wedding ceremony, is willing to record the ceremony to save money on a videographer.
It’s fun to look back at these photos and watch the ceremony on anniversaries, so make sure you use caution as you hire a photographer and videographer.
Also, I didn’t know this was even a thing when I got married, but you can use an easy to use photo share app to use everyone attending as your photographers. You could do this to avoid any photography costs, since apps like Wedding Snap are free. Or use it in addition to your photographer by placing signs near the entrance letting your guest know about it.
Be your own DJ.
Smart phones are capable of so much these days, so why not have it double as a DJ at your reception. You could connect your smart phone or even an iPod to a pair of blue tooth speakers for a cheap entertainment alternative. Just make sure you designate someone to keep the music playlist going.
Say “yes” to the (inexpensive) dress.
And say “no” to ALL the expensive ones. Keep in mind that you will only be wearing this dress for a few hours when searching for “the dress”. Also be creative when thinking of where to purchase your wedding dress.
Be open to buying a used dress or renting one. Look on OfferUp or Craigslist or even at a consignment shop to find a used wedding dress. The cool thing about buying used is that you can turn around a sell it for around the same price after the wedding. You could also look into renting or borrowing one in order to keep your costs low.
Or you could be like me and buy an evening gown from a department store to wear as your wedding dress. By going this route I was able to buy a gorgeous $160 gown from Dillard’s. Buying a gown that could pass as a wedding dress is a great way to avoid the typical wedding dress price tag.
Keep free wedding locations in mind.
Figure out if you want an indoor or outdoor wedding. Also, determine your flexibility or openness to having it either way. My guess is that outdoor weddings on average are the least expensive. So I support backyard weddings all the way.
There might even be someone in the family willing to host the wedding in their backyard, so keep your ears open if anyone offers. We were lucky enough to have a family friend offer to let us use their backyard for our wedding ceremony and reception.
Our backup venue was our church building, since it would be free to have both the ceremony and reception on the property. Plus, the chairs & tables were already there.
If you belong to a church, then it might be wise to check out what they have to offer. Otherwise look into cheap alternative locations, like the cost of a permit to have a wedding in a park, etc.
Having a budget wedding is worth the short term stress of keeping expenses low, especially when you think about the long term stress of spending too much on a wedding. Trust me, there is such thing as spending too much on a wedding. That’s not to say this price range doesn’t differ individually.
No matter your appropriate price range you can have financial peace and a beautiful wedding too. It’s your marriage that is your #1 priority; your wedding comes second. Start your marriage off right, by avoiding debt from the beginning.
You can do this! It’s as easy as setting the budget and not forgetting it. Simple enough, right?
Leave a comment: Are you planning an inexpensive wedding? Do you have a budget set already? How do you feel about sticking to your wedding budget?
Tawnya is the founder of The Dancing Dollar, a blog about frugality & personal finance. She writes about how frugal living can help other individuals & families live [happily] below their means. She & her husband are on the path to pay off their home in less than half the time. Click here to learn more.