Do you have $32,000 sitting in your wallet right now? Unless you’re a Kardashian, probably not—but according to The Knot, that’s the average cost of a wedding in the US.
While it may be fun to flip through wedding magazines and Pinterest dreaming of an extravagant wedding, that just isn’t a reality for most brides. Wedding budgets are real, but they can be hard to remember when vendors are encouraging you to upgrade and your mother-in-law insists your guests be greeted with top of the line champagne.
However, there are plenty of ways to cut costs from your wedding budget and still achieve the wedding of your dreams. Here are a few wedding budget tips!
1. Figure out who can give what
Do not automatically assume your mom and dad will foot the bill. With the rising cost of events, it’s important to remember that your parents aren’t ATMs. Maybe you and your groom are footing the entire bill, or your new in-laws want to help pay for catering. Whatever the scenario, it’s important to sit down with both sets of parents and kindly, clearly ask if they’d like to be involved in the financial side of the wedding. Most parents will probably volunteer this information without being asked, but if you come from a don’t-talk-about-money family, you may need to be straightforward. Then graciously accept their reply!
Ready to start planning your wedding budget? Check out these super helpful online wedding budget planners.
2. Decide on your priorities
OK, so you can’t have your dream wedding photographer, a Vera Wang gown, and letterpress wedding invitations. But you may be able to swing one or two of those things. Once you have your wedding budget (what your parents can give + what his parents can give + what you’ll be giving), decide on a few factors you can’t live without. Those can be the largest slices of your budget pie.
Looking to cut more wedding costs? Here’s what you should splurge vs. save on.
3. Consider your time and place
If you live in a bustling city, consider getting married in the ‘burbs. The cost of vendors and venues will go way down. Also, weekday weddings can often snag you discounts—but it may make it harder for your guests to get there.
Want to figure out how much that dream wedding venue costs? Check out our wedding venue review section where we break it all down for you!
4. Ask for photography on your wedding registry.
Wedding photography can take up a huge chunk of your budget. Add a wedding album to your registry so that friends and family can help you afford your gorgeous snapshots! Another way to save some photo money? Have an “early exit” where you and your groom “leave” but then return to the dance party—that way you can eliminate a couple of hours of drunk dancing photos but still get that awesome sparkler cover photo.
Find out how much wedding photography will cost you.
5. Find friendors
Do you have a friend who side-hustles as a makeup artist, baker or calligrapher? If you were going to invite them to the wedding anyway, ask for their services as a wedding gift! It can also add an extra special feel to your day to have friends be the ones making your wedding beautiful.
6. Rent your wedding dress
Renting your wedding dress can be a great way to get a glamorous gown while saving some dollars. It’s not like you’re ever going to wear it again, so paying less to rock an amazing dress and then sending it back makes sense to some budget-friendly brides.
7. Do the math for your catering
While most people think a buffet is the way to go to save money, plated meals can actually be more affordable in some cases. It depends on the amount of sides a meal would have as well as the type of protein. Sit down with your caterer and a calculator to work out how to get the most bite for your buck. Find out how much wedding catering costs around the country.
8. Skip the wedding favors
How many times have you gotten a wedding favor that you actually wanted to keep from a wedding? Exactly. If you’d really like to thank your guests, consider a DIY project that won’t break the bank.
Discover more ways to save money on your wedding here.
9. Have a local honeymoon
You don’t have to jet off to an exotic locale to celebrate your new marriage. Plan a “staycation” a couple of towns over—far enough away so that you won’t bump into anyone you know in the hotel lobby, but close enough to avoid air fare! Outdoorsy? Consider camping; it tends to be super affordable and you can snuggle under the stars. Discover our favorite North American Honeymoon locations here!