Your wedding is meant to be one of the most memorable moments of your life.
However, if you have a small budget, you may be worried that your family and friends won’t enjoy it as much – but that doesn’t need to be the case.
With the right planning you can make your budget wedding truly magical. Let us show you how!
In This Article
Planning Your Wedding
Planning your wedding is both a really exciting experience but also really stressful. However, it gets more stressful if you do things in the wrong order or miss something out. So, before you start getting your heart set on specifics, you need to look at the basics first.
Don’t get all wrapped up in the dress, caterer, or music just yet. Make notes, of course, but let’s get this stuff out of the way first!
Settle On A Budget
We know, this bit isn’t exactly fun, but it will help you overall. Budget is a word that scares people, but you shouldn’t be so afraid of it. This is the thing that will determine what you can afford and what you can’t.
Before you groan and wonder how you will ever afford your dream wedding on a small budget, just remember, this gives you a chance to get creative with your wedding.
You do not need to buy expensive things, instead, getting creative with your wedding on a small budget allows you to make it even more personal.
Look at your savings, find out if your parents will contribute, consider hat it is not easy to get everything you want at your wedding. So, get yourself a big sheet of paper, or even a cork board and note down the things that are absolutely imperative to you.
Band or DJ? Buffet or set menu? Is a photographer super important to you, or is your buddy with the latest iPhone a good call? Do you need a wedding planner or have you got this? Wt is important, and make note of this. Later on you can consider how to get these most important things done in a creative way that both befits your budget and still gives you your dream.
Decide On What Type Of Wedding You Both Would Like
Sit down with your fiancé and talk about what you both imagine when you picture your wedding. Venue, who’s there, what is the food like? All the important things. This will help you paint a picture of what is important to you both.
If you are struggling, think of popular culture, TV shows, movies, or even the weddings you’ve been to. What are the things you love, and what are the things that gross you out?
You do not need to get too intense about the little things just yet, but it will give you an idea of how you want the wedding to be.
You could even create a ‘definitely’ and ‘definitely not’ list, to clarify all the things you both want, and things you do not want.
Remember, a budget wedding is about priorities.
What Time Of Year You Would Like To Get Married
Consider when you want to get married as well. Everyone wants a gorgeous summer ceremony, which makes it the most expensive time of year to get married.
In order to save money you might want to look at fall and winter, consider October, November, and December. At this time of year, vendors will also be shorter on work, so they’re going to be more open to negotiations.
You should also remember to consider the days of the week. Weekends will always be more expensive, and while most of your friends and family won’t be at work, it will cost more, so consider a weekday wedding. Even a Friday will be cheaper than a Saturday!
Also, if you have a wedding around the holiday season, you can save on decorations as the venue will be decorated for the holidays.
Who You Would Invite
The more guests you have, the more expensive your wedding will be. Once you know what the cost of the reception will be, you simply divide it by how many guests you have.
Consider that everyone needs to be fed, if there is an open bar, you will be charged either a set price or per guest. Seating alone can add up.
So, sit down with your fiancé and list everyone you want to invite, from there you can start cutting down numbers until you have a guest list that fits your budget.
Some may be worried that there will be some tension if Uncle Jamie is not invited but your Great Aunt Sue is. Remember you’re on a budget and prioritizing is important. Even if some people don’t like it.
Have A Timeline
Setting out a timeline is good. Have an idea of when you want to get married and when you want each thing sorted by. This doesn’t just help you get organized, but it can help you budget as well.
If you plan in advance, you end up spending less than you thought. This can be the case because in a rush we tend to forget about costs, but having the time to shop around allows us the time to find a good deal.
If you create a wedding calendar, you can note down all your wedding details, when you want catering sorted by, or need the dress/tux picked out. It helps you keep on top of everything and helps you prioritize, which is key to a budget wedding.
Use Your Savings
Savings are a great thing, and even if you do not have a huge amount of savings, having them can help. Even with a budget wedding there will still be things that cost a lot, and your savings can take the brunt of that.
If you’re planning far in advance, note that some banks will offer savings accounts in which you gain interest on your savings. If you are considering getting married in a year or two, why not start saving into an account that accumulates interest?
Your savings will lower costs, and if you were thinking about taking out a loan to afford your wedding, with savings you may not have to!
Make A Wish List Of Gifts You Would Like
Making a gift list can help you, especially if you will be moving into a new home after the wedding. Let guests know what you need, and it can save you money in the long run.
However, you can also ask for services instead of gifts. If you have a friend who is a baker, why not ask if they can do the cake instead of buying you a gift? Any musicians in the family? Perhaps they could be the entertainment.
There is no shame in asking for services instead of gifts. If you have friends or family who are still rising in their specialty, having a wedding on their resume can be a career boost, but don’t ask for ridiculous things just because it’s a wedding gift.
And never bring on a family member or friend for a service they can’t do. Just because your friend Dan has a new camera doesn’t mean he will make a good wedding photographer.
Different Types Of Budget Friendly Wedding Ideas
Most people will relate a budget wedding to the kind of thing you see in the movies, where there is not a lot of time to get married. This is not true, there are many ways you can have a budget friendly wedding and make it great.
Remember your chat with your partner about the kind of wedding you want to have? This is the time to think about venues that you talked about.
City Hall Wedding
A city hall wedding can be a nice small event. You could even keep your budget to as little as $500!
Your spending could look something like this:
- Venue: $25-$100. (state dependent) For a small ceremony with an included officiant.
- $250 for lunch for 10 people.
- Attire: $0 to wear a suit you own (you do not need a tux, just a nice suit you already have), $150 for a dress.
- $50 to get 12 roses.
- $0 for a talented camera wielding photographer friend.
Of course, some of these things are dependent on your individual situation. You may not have a friend or family member who is a skilled photographer, and you may want 20 people instead of 10.
However, this gives you an idea of what you can get for as little as $500.
One of the most expensive parts of any wedding is the venue. If you have a large enough home, or a family member who is willing to host, why not have a home wedding? You won’t have to worry about a lot of transport or venue fees this way.
A home wedding can see the ceremony in the yard, and the reception in a living/dining area.
You will also not need to worry about an open bar, you can just buy enough drinks from the store per guest, or even make it a BYOB event.
Alcoholic beverages often cost around $2,500 for a normal reception, so by having a home wedding, you can cut down this cost enormously.
But why have a wedding inside your home? If you do not need to worry about venue costs during the summer, have a backyard summer wedding. All you need is a sizable backyard and some creativity.
This is what you can afford for a backyard wedding if you have a budget at around $3,500:
- Venue: $0.
- $750 for all the drinks and a buffet that is prepared by you, or friends and family.
- Clothing: $200 dress and $200 suit (rented).
- $0 for flowers. Pick out a bouquet of wildflowers, you can also use wildflowers for bridesmaids bouquets and boutonnieres.
- Decor: $1,500 for a tent/gazebo, tables and chairs (rented), DIY centerpieces, a dance floor, and lighting.
- $0 for a wedding planner, and enthusiastic aunt, friend, or even mother-in-law can help to coordinate the details of the day.
- Photographer: $500 for a professional photographer friend, or even a photography student.
- Dessert: For a cutting cake, cupcakes or pies from a bakery $50 to $200.
- Invitations: $50 (Max), DIY it.
- Entertainment: $75 to rent speakers.
Small Venue Wedding
Do not forget that there are other options, you can choose small venues such as theaters, nature centers, or a villa. Think of your favorite places, maybe somewhere you went on your first date, and see if you can have your wedding there.
Depending on the place you may be able to have your dream wedding for $15,000 in a location that is a bit out of the ordinary, but perfect for you.
The venue will still cost, but it will be more minimal. The highest costs will likely be food, rentals, and attire.
You can lways go traditional, for the church ceremony. Having the church ceremony in itself is not that expensive, usually $400. However, it is the reception where the costs get high.
You could choose to have a church ceremony and a ballroom reception. This is what it could look like on a $30,000 budget.
- Church: $400.
- Venue & catering (including chairs, tables, food, linens, beverages, and full staffing) $15,000.
- Decor: Including bouquets, lighting, centerpieces, etc. $2,000.
- Full service wedding planner: $4,000.
- Entertainment: Live band = $4,000.
- Invitations: $200.
- Dessert: Wedding cake = $500.
- Photographer: $2,000 for a professional photographer + assistant.
Some of these costs could go up or down depending on the situation. Some venues may be more expensive than others, and catering will differ depending on the food.
Small Destination Wedding
You could decide that for your wedding you want to get away from it all. No one would blame you, so why not go off to a villa somewhere to get married?
You can do this easily on a budget of only half of a church wedding and ballroom reception! (As noted above).
- Venue: averages at $8,000
- Flights: $1,000 (depending on the location).
- Catering: $2,000 for a budget + drinks.
- Attire: $150 sale suit, $300 dress.
- Tables, chairs, lighting and linens: $700.
- Decor: bouquets, centerpieces, and boutonnieres: $400.
- Wedding planner/ coordinator:$0 (comes with venue).
- Entertainment: $100 speakers (rented).
- Invitations: $50 (DIY it).
- Professional photographer: $2,000
- Desserts: $300 for a cutting cake and cupcakes.
Like other options, this is not set in stone, but you could have a vacation wedding for a week, making it an affordable honeymoon at the same time!
Tips And Tricks For Budgeting
Budgeting is a careful art and when it comes to wedding planning, money management is often quite frustrating. Yet, part of creating the perfect budget wedding is about being creative.
Prioritizing correctly and getting creative with what you want and need will help you to still obtain your ideal wedding even if you are on a tight budget.
In that spirit, we have 12 tips and tricks to help you budget better for your wedding and still make it a dream come true!
Prioritize What Is Important
Planning a budget wedding is about prioritizing where your money goes. Do you really need to give out paper invitations, or will an electronic invitation do? Do you need to have your hair and makeup done by a professional, or can you do it yourself?
You can avoid a traditional wedding cake, or typical catering styles, you can get a normal cake and try a food truck instead.
Instead, prioritize the non-negotiables you and your partner discussed, things that are important to you both and put the majority of your budget into those.
Prioritizing where your money goes will make a budget wedding easier.
Limit Your Guest List As Much As Possible
A big part of budgeting is cutting down your guest list, whether you choose to have a backyard wedding or a venue wedding, the more guests you have, the more it will cost.
You need to seat the guests, feed them, water them, and ensure they are all entertained. Lowering the number of guests allows you to save more money on your special day.
When you make your list of guests, think about who in your life is a must, and who is not so necessary. Immediate family and best friends are must-haves, but distant relatives, and those guys from work are not necessary.
Even if you and your fiancé have a large family and many friends, it is easy enough to achieve a guest list of 30 to 40 guests maximum between you.
Talk To Your Fiancé About Nonnegotiables
Take the time to talk to your partner about what is not up for negotiation. Is your heart set on a proper traditional wedding cake? Does your partner insist on having a DJ and not a band? Whatever the case, make sure you know that this is something important to them.
This is key in knowing what is important to you both, so you can make reductions in costs elsewhere, so the day is special equally for both of you.
You might not be able to afford your partner’s dream venue, but you may be able to afford their dream cake if you cut down on guests, or maybe DIY invites and some decor.
Make compromises and know what’s not up for debate.
Take Advantage Of Skilled Friends/Family Members
Don’t be afraid to call in a favor. If you have family and friends who are skilled in a way that could be useful to you, take advantage. Ask them for their services in place of a wedding gift, you could save a lot of money this way.
Is your friend an artist? Maybe they could help with centerpieces, or decor. A musician friend can provide entertainment. A family member who is a chef can help with the catering for a backyard or home wedding.
Some people might worry that it could sound rude, just remember if you are asking a friend or family member for their services, and they are a professional, you might just get a discounted rate with them, but it will still save you money.
Do It Yourself
There is a great deal you can do yourself. Menus? Get a bit tech-savvy with Microsoft Word, and make your own, then photocopy them, or print at a local library. You can do the same with invites. If you are artistic, you could design the lot by hand, although that is time-consuming!
Centerpieces can also be DIY done, as can some decor. Having a backyard wedding and want a beautiful archway? All you need is a plain archway, some wildflowers, and some clean, white cloth, and you can create something showstopping.
Consider all the craft activities you learned as a kid and put them to the test. Want a veil but don’t want to pay for it. YouTube is full of tutorials, and if you have some free time you could even DIY that!
Think of just how many tutorials there are online now, you can make anything if you have the patience and the time. It is worth a try considering how much you could save!
Never simply choose the first vendor you see, always shop around, read reviews and get an insight into what they offer for their prices.
Also, note that when you are asking vendors for a quote on their services, avoid telling them it is for a wedding if you can help it. Places like bakeries, suit rentals, and catering companies will jack the prices up for weddings.
If you want a cake, but do not mind it not looking traditional, you can get an amazing cake for a deal if you avoid telling them it is for a wedding.
Always look around and get quotes before you choose any vendor. This is why creating a plan and having a wedding calendar can come in handy. Do not rush your choices.
Make Your Own Wedding Decorations
You do not need to go all out on decor. In fact, if you have an outdoor wedding, backyard or home wedding, you may have everything you need already.
You can make the most of Christmas lights and general garden decorations such as solar lights and such. You can also use things such as paper lanterns, or battery operated party lights.
You can get solar operated mason jar lids that you can hang from trees and bushes.
For flowers, you can always buy flowers off of someone else who is having a wedding near to yours. Or you could make use of nature, or even buy some from a local garden store. You need not go to a florist.
Consider Making The Food Yourself
With a small enough guest list you could do the catering yourself as well. If you are proficient in the kitchen and have a small wedding, you can save a massive amount of money by preparing food yourself.
With a home or backyard wedding, summer means you can whip out the grill and some salads and have a wonderful feast.
If you aren’t a proficient enough cook, note if someone in your family or a close friend is a kitchen legend, if so, ask for some help. You could easily make 10 people a three-course meal for less than $150 if you put your mind to it.
Create Your Own Centerpieces
Decor and florals are often an unnecessary expense at weddings. Hire a primary focused floral arrangement in photographs if you want. But, you can always take a class at floral arrangement and give DIY a try.
Faux flowers are a great way to go, and they won’t either, so they will continue to look great even if it is boiling hot on a very sunny day. They can also work as a keepsake afterwards.
The best materials for faux flowers are silk and sola wood.
Many of these things are easily accessible to buy online, or even at a craft store, they are not expensive and can be purchased at a fraction of the price you would pay to get a professional decorator in.
If you do not want flowers, you can try origami centerpieces, or LED candles.
Simplify Your Menu
Food is one of the biggest wedding costs next to the cost of the venue. Dialing down the menu can take off a huge chunk of the cost. You do not need to have various options. If you have people coming who have specific diets, you can cater specifically to them, but for standard food, you can have just one meat option.
To make it even easier you can just use similar recipes. Pasta is a much loved dish and goes with everything, and it is easy to make a pasta dish a meat dish, vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian.
You could have one option, and then just tailor it to different needs. Or you could just have one option for each of the dietary requirements of those attending.
You also needn’t have a 3-course meal, there will be a dessert/ cake available. Who needs starters, really?
Borrow When Needed
While some things are nice to buy, borrowing is an option much more friendly to your bank account. You can easily rent a dress or a suit for the day, or a few days. You can also borrow furniture and even some decor, like a wedding arch.
You can borrow anything from attire, to furniture, to decor. Of course, you can’t borrow food and drink, but almost everything else you can.
Most things are also DIY do-able, however, if you cannot DIY it, borrowing is the next best choice. Buying is always going to be more expensive. Thinking realistically and prioritizing will help you decide what to borrow and what to buy.
Do you really need to buy a suit or tux? Will you wear it again? Sure, it’s nice to keep your wedding dress, but what will it do after the wedding? Borrowing can cut costs by a massive amount.
Have The Ceremony And Reception In One Place
Having the ceremony and reception in separate places is typical of a religious wedding, as you can hardly have the reception in the church. If you do not want a religious wedding, you can easily have the ceremony and reception in the same place.
This cuts down on venue costs. If you have a big enough backyard, you could easily have both the ceremony and reception in your yard.
Outdoorsy types with an outdoor wedding will often do this. The $400 to $500 you would pay for a ceremony venue can then be put towards other costs. What’s even better is if you can also get a friend or family member to officiate the ceremony as well.
Your wedding should be about you and your partner joining together for the rest of your lives. It’s about your love, and the strength of your union
Weddings can be expensive, but as long as you remember that the main thing is how much you and your partner love each other, a budget wedding or a blow out wedding are both magical options.
You can easily save yourself some money by using our tips, it can be stylish, affordable, but also unique and special, as unique and as special as the relationship you have as a couple.