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Planning a Wedding on a Budget – 15 Ideas to Get Married for Less

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Currently, the average cost of a wedding is more than $20,000, making it one of the most expensive life events. In fact, it’s more expensive than the cost of most births (even without insurance), most first cars, home down payments, and funerals. For many students who receive scholarships, even four years of college can cost less than a one-day wedding!

If you don’t have $20,000 to blow, don’t worry. You can still have a stylish, fun, memorable wedding, while saving money at the same time. Here are 15 ways to do just that.

Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Wedding Planning

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If you give yourself at least a year to book things like your venue and photographer, you have that much more time to shop around for the best price.

1. Wedding Venue
The only two things that are usually decided on before the wedding venue are whether or not to get married and the date. The wedding venue can be costly, but you can save a lot of money by getting married on a day other than Saturday and by finding a place outside the city limits.

2. Reception Food and Drink Menu
The best way to save on food, drink, and desserts for your wedding is to provide your own. Enlist your friends and family to help, and make sure that you don’t overextend yourself with complicated fare. If you don’t want to make your own, consider serving heavy appetizers instead of a sit-down meal, and find a venue that allows you to bring your own liquor, beer, and wine. The bar tab is generally the most expensive part of the refreshments.

3. Wedding Photographer and Videographer
When your wedding is all said and done, you want to make sure that you have a keepsake that will remind you of every moment and every emotion of that day, which unfortunately can be very expensive. Consider ways to save, like hiring someone that’s just getting started in their career or someone who shoots weddings as a side gig.

4. Wedding Ceremony and Reception Music
It can be expensive to hire a professional musician, a band, or a DJ, but luckily there are many ways to save in this category. You can hire a student musician, or consider a friend or family member to perform.

Wedding Decor

It’s easy to go overboard and let the budget get out of control when decorating your venue, but luckily there are many ways to save.

5. Wedding Flowers

Save Wedding Flowers

Wedding flowers can cost thousands of dollars, but if you are frugal you can easily cut your flower bill down to only a couple hundred dollars and still have beautiful arrangements. Be smart about what types of flowers you choose, and think about how you can repurpose them throughout the wedding.

6. Ceremony Decorations
Sometimes less is more, and this will help you keep the price of decorating your wedding ceremony venue reasonable. Keep in mind that depending on your venue, the setting itself may be all you need.

7. Reception Decorations
The best way to save money on wedding reception decorations is to have a little fun with it. Get creative and pick a good, solid theme. Once you do that, everything else will fall into place.

8. Reception Table Centerpieces
Similar to the other reception decorations, this is another area where you can have a lot of fun but not have to spend much money, especially if you make all the centerpieces yourself.

Wedding Attire

9. Wedding Dress
It’s easy to get out of control when it comes to spending money on what is usually the bride’s favorite element of the wedding – her wedding dress. Fortunately, it is also easy to save money on the dress if the bride sticks to her budget and shops wisely.

10. Menswear
Even though most people will be looking at the bride, it’s also important that the groom looks good. And luckily, menswear is not nearly as costly as the bride’s dress. Men need to be flexible when choosing what they will wear on the big day and should consider alternatives to tuxedos.

11. Bride’s Hair
Having a stylist come to you on your big day may be convenient, but the big bill may cause unwanted stress. Doing your own hair or going to a cosmetology school are two great ways to avoid spending a fortune on your hairdo.

12. Bride’s Makeup
The same holds true for the bride’s makeup. If you have a professional do your makeup, it can be expensive. Alternatively, you can buy your own makeup and do it yourself, but that also can be costly. Consider ways to cut makeup costs, such as by using coupons to buy makeup or by visiting a department store’s cosmetics counter for a free makeover.

13. Wedding Jewelry

Save Wedding Jewelry

Not only will there be an exchanging of rings during the wedding ceremony, but the bride will most likely want to wear a few pieces of jewelry to complement her wedding gown. The best way to avoid spending above your jewelry budget is to stay out of high-end stores, and borrow from friends and family.

Other Wedding Costs

14. Wedding Invitations
The wedding invitations are another category where you can save a ton of money by doing part of it or all of it yourself. Consider providing your own cardstock to the printer or go electronic by sending out email invitations.

15. Wedding Favors
It is traditional to give wedding favors to your guests as an appreciation for their loving support of your marriage. When you have a large wedding, the cost of favors can be fairly expensive, so consider making them yourself, by doing something as simple as bagging up some candy or burning a CD.

Final Word

You will hopefully save a lot of money on your wedding using the above tips, but regardless, you will be spending some money on each and every one of your guests. They will want to spend money on you, too, to show their appreciation for being invited to your wedding and to show their support and happiness for your marriage. Make sure you create the perfect wedding registry so that there is an absolute guarantee that they will buy you a gift that you truly love.

And above all remember, the amount of money you spend on your wedding day is not a direct correlation to how wonderful it will be. You can have a beautiful, memorable day for far less than the average $20,000.

What did you do to save money in preparation for your big wedding day?

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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