Affordable Elegance: Planning a Wedding on a Budget
- September 14, 2023
As one of the most popular months to tie the knot, September can be a spendy month for couples saying “I Do.” According to the matrimonial number crunchers over at The Knot, 43% of 2022 weddings took place between September and November, with the average wedding costing $30,000.
And then there’s inflation: an unwelcome guest on your invite list, but highly likely to make an appearance all the same. So how can you plan for a memorable and meaningful affair without breaking the bank? We have some suggestions.
When you envision your dream wedding, what are the elements that matter the most? Is it a beautifully ornate cake, a venue with a view or a coveted photographer? Reflect on what matters most and allocate the larger portion of your budget to align. By focusing on what’s most important, you can make mindful decisions and avoid overspending in secondary categories.
Opt for Off-Peak
While it’s tempting to celebrate in warmer months when outdoor venues are a possibility, opting for a wedding date during the off-peak season (or even on a weekday) can often result in significant savings. Venues and vendors may offer discounts during less popular times, allowing you to get more value for your money. Colder months offer ample opportunities for creativity where aesthetics is concerned—winter wonderland, anyone?
Make it an Intimate Affair
Keeping your guest list intimate can have a significant impact on your overall budget, especially where reception catering is concerned. If a small wedding is a priority for you, consider being selective with plus-one invitations, limiting the number of casual acquaintances who can attend. You can also create separate events, such as a small post-wedding dinner or party to celebrate with extended friends and family.
Consider Non-Traditional Venues
As one of the larger costs in wedding planning, it literally pays to shop around when it comes to venues. Resorts, hotels and event halls often charge a premium (especially in downtown zip codes). Explore unconventional locations such as public parks or beaches, libraries or local lodges, or a friend or family member’s backyard. These options can be gentler on your budget and offer a memorable backdrop.
You don’t have to be a devout Pinterest planner or crafter to get hands-on with your wedding decorations. There are countless online How-Tos and YouTube tutorials for creating simple floral arrangements, table centerpieces, and signage. Enlist willing friends and family to help with assembly, making sure to acknowledge their efforts with a mention in the wedding speech or program or with a small gift bag.
Go Minimalist on the Cake
If you intend to serve cake during the wedding reception, another way to save is to embrace the simplicity of a cake with a minimalist design. Focus on the flavor and quality of the cake over ornate customizations and embrace getting creative with alternatives. Donuts, a candy buffet, or a milk and cookie bar are just a few sweet ways to serve your guests.
Scope out local bridal consignment boutiques or online platforms for quality second-hand wedding dresses, suits, and wedding party accessories. If you’re willing to forego a purchase, renting attire and wedding supplies is gaining popularity as an affordable (and environmentally conscious) alternative to buying everything brand new.
Select In-Season Flowers
Choosing blooms that are in-season can significantly reduce your floral budget. Price-compare local florists who can guide you on the best seasonal options that fit your theme and color palette. If fresh flowers aren’t high on your priority list, you can also consider carrying simple greenery, candles, or even paper or silk flowers which can be more affordable as a bulk purchase.
DIY Music and Entertainment
Having a memorable playlist on your wedding day doesn’t have to cost much. Create your own playlist and rent sound equipment to save on DJ or band costs. Have any musically talented friends or family? Invite them to perform. If you do wish to hire someone, a solo performer or aspiring musician at a local college music program may offer favorable price packages.
Feeding your guests is often the largest wedding expense so get creative with dining options if you’re looking to save big. Family-style potlucks aren’t your only possibility here—you might also consider a dessert reception, food trucks which can offer festive and distinctly local flavor to your wedding or lunch or brunch options which traditionally cost less than dinner catering.
Celebratory wedding traditions look different for everyone, but there are always creative ways to save. If you’re planning a wedding and putting expenses on a credit card without a pay-off plan, let’s make a plan together. Our certified counselors can determine how you might make space in your household budget for wedding expenses—give us a ring!
Tara Spicer (She/Her)
Tara Spicer is a writer for GreenPath Financial Wellness, covering everything from budgeting best practices to financial literacy for families. A former book editor and University of Michigan alum, she divides her time between the page and parenting in Seattle, Washington.
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