It’s common knowledge these days that weddings are expensive affairs.
According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in 2022 was roughly $30,000. That’s nearly $2000 higher than the average just ten years ago in 2012 – and we can expect the number to grow higher as the costs of goods and services increase.
While it may not be the most fun part of planning a wedding, experts suggest that setting a budget right away is the most important part of the planning process.
“It’s essential to have the money talk right away,” says Maria Roloff, a wealth management advisor for Northwestern Mutual in an interview with Brides Magazine. “You’ll want to know how much money you need to have set aside – and what your strategies for saving will be – before starting to plan and book items for your big day.”
So, how can you achieve the elegant, fun and special wedding of your dreams without blowing your budget out of the water? Thinking carefully about how and where to spend your money can make all of the difference. With a few helpful hints, it may actually be easier than you think to create the big day you’ve always dreamed of, no matter your budget..
- Shrink Your Guest List
Creating your guest list can often be one of the most stressful parts of planning for a wedding. Pressure from friends and family, as well as a desire to avoid hurt feelings, can often cause guest lists to swell to unmanageable numbers.
The more guests you have, the larger the venue will need to be to accommodate them. You will also have to provide more food for the reception, which often takes up the largest portion of your wedding budget.
Don’t be afraid to keep your guest list small and intimate. You may have to put your foot down when friends or family members expect you to extend invitations to people you barely know, and don’t budge if anyone tries to make you feel guilty.
- Consider a Weekday Wedding
Have you ever found the perfect venue, but felt your heart sink when you looked at their rates? This can happen to a lot of couples. However, you may be surprised to find that there are many event spaces that charge much lower rates for events that take place during the week, or even on Sunday.
Because Saturday tends to be the most popular day of the week for weddings, it also tends to be the most expensive. But, calling your venue of choice and asking if they offer a weekday rate may help you to score the venue of your dreams without breaking the budget.
- Thrift Decorations
While decorations aren’t usually the biggest budget-killers in wedding planning, they tend to add up quickly. Table linens, streamers, balloons, centerpieces and place cards are all small expenses that can turn into a budget-devouring monster if you aren’t careful.
The solution? Instead of purchasing brand new, full-priced decorations, you can save a great deal of money by putting together decorations yourself, or buying them secondhand.
Gently used candle holders, linens, chalkboards, and other wedding paraphernalia can all be found online or at thrift stores nearby, which can save you hundreds of dollars on making your wedding look picture-perfect.
- Skip the Open Bar
Let’s be honest – everyone loves an open bar. Especially when it’s being paid for with other people’s money! But, an open bar can cost upwards of $2,500, or roughly $15-$45 per person depending upon your location and the offerings included.
If you still want to provide alcohol at your reception, purchasing beer and wine and keeping them on ice for your guests to enjoy is more than enough, especially on a hot day. You can also opt for a cash bar, which may set you back a few hundred dollars, but gives guests the option to purchase alcohol if they really want it.
- Shop Online for Dresses
While reality shows tend to make dress shopping look like an enjoyable bonding activity, the truth of the matter is that shopping in stores for wedding attire can take a lot of time and money. Store employees will often try to sell you dresses that are outside of your price range, and you may spend all afternoon driving from place to place in search of the perfect dress.
There are many more options available online, often for a fraction of what you might pay in a bridal shop. Buying bridesmaids dresses online is also highly recommended – many brides save a ton of money by purchasing an elegant white or off-white bridesmaids dress instead.
While the costs of throwing a wedding continue to rise, couples are having to come up with new and creative ways to stay within their budgets. However, this does not mean that you can’t still have a wonderful celebration that you will remember for years to come.
Shopping smart and looking for alternatives to large expenses can save you bundles of cash, and your wallets will thank you for it later!