As of 2016, the average cost of a wedding in the United States was estimated to be a whopping $35,329. Yes — you heard that right — enough money to make a sizeable downpayment on a house, start a business, pay off your student loans, or take an epic trip around the world.
If this number has you questioning whether you should ditch your wedding dreams for a practical courtroom ceremony — stay calm. It isn’t time to throw in the towel quite yet because we have good news! It is actually very easy to plan a beautiful and memorable wedding without breaking the bank. All it takes is a little bit of strategic planning and a clear-cut budget.
In this post we share five of our top tips for planning your perfect wedding on a budget. And we promise — only you will know it was cheap.
1. Choose your priorities wisely
When it comes to planning a wedding on a budget, Alyssa Griffith of A Practical Wedding suggests that you and your partner each make a list of your top three priorities. This could be live music, gourmet food, an open bar, over-the-top floral design, or a talented photographer. Clearly defining the elements of your wedding that are most important to you and your partner will help you determine the areas that you want to spend the majority of your budget on, and the areas in which you can save.
2. Be resourceful when it comes to location
The wedding venue often ends up being one of the most expensive parts of a wedding budget. Because of this, getting creative with your venue can save you some major money. This could mean calling in a favor to a friend or family member that has an incredible waterfront backyard, choosing a public venue, or even asking a dream venue about working out a reduce cost in exchange for skills or services that you may have.
3. Save on alcohol
Another area which can easily eat up a large portion of your budget is alcohol. And don’t worry, we aren’t suggesting you have a dry wedding! However, this is an area where you can save a lot of money by thinking outside of the box. For instance, instead of offering an open bar, you may want to consider serving guests a selection of beer and wine with just one or two signature cocktails. Another way to save major money on wedding alcohol is to stock your own bar with beer, wine, liquor, and mixers instead of relying on your venue.
4. Get creative with your menu
If it is in your budget, sticking with professional caterers can be wonderful. However, this is another area where you can easily cut expenses by experimenting with alternatives. The most obvious way to save money on your wedding food is to do the catering yourself with the help of friends and family. By purchasing and preparing your own food, you will save a pretty penny. Not up for all that work? We hear you! If this is the case, you may want to consider other unique and money-saving catering options like hiring a talented friend, booking a food truck, or even having guests pitch in for a potluck dinner!
5. Mix things up with your send off
For many couples, the culmination of the wedding is a grand wedding exit. We understand that it can be easy to get a little over-the-top with wedding send offs. However, you don’t need an elaborate firework display and an expensive getaway car to have a memorable wedding exit that your friends and family will talk about for years to come! Some affordable alternatives for a cheap wedding send off include having guests toss leaves (perfect for Fall weddings), handing out bubbles for guests to blow as you exit (looks amazing in photos), and DIY confetti.
Just because you are planning your wedding on a budget doesn’t mean it’s time to give up and head to the courthouse. With some careful planning, a clear budget, and a little bit of creativity, you can host a wedding to remember without going into debt.