the journal

Read all about the latest and greatest

Read all about
the latest and greatest

the journal

The Wedding Series

How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget

Budget. It can be a scary word right after getting engaged! I was in your shoes not even a year ago, so I do really understand! You want everything to look beautiful and romantic, but almost every wedding website you look at says that the more money you spend, the more beautiful your day will be.

I believe that much of what makes a wedding so beautiful is the people there, demonstrating their love and support for you and your fiance.

Weddings do not have to cost a fortune to be beautiful. Sometimes simple is better, and in the long run, your marriage is much more important than your wedding day. That being said, recognize that a cheap wedding is much different than a frugal/inexpensive wedding. You don’t have to get everything full price for it to look good, I pinky promise!

From me, to you, this is several things I did to keep within my wedding budget while still having a gorgeous wedding day!

Know what your budget is.

To do this, you and your fiance will have to look over your bank accounts and do some number crunching. While number crunching, you have to take into consideration that you need to pay house costs, loans, and that you’ll need some emergency buffer room.

One you’ve taken inventory, create some kind of spreadsheet to write down the different categories of wedding expenses. This could include flowers, paper goods, dinner, dessert, dress, photographer, videographer… the list keeps on going. Write down the top amount that you would be willing to spend and then look for vendors that stay under that amount.

You will most likely need to skimp on certain areas so that you can get really good quality in other areas. Keep in mind that your vendors are trying to make a living off of their work and respect them enough to not ask for a discount.

In order to keep within your budget, you may have to keep your guest list low, have a Friday wedding, or elope and just have a reception later on.

Make a list of most important to least important.

Like I stated earlier, if you have a tight budget, you will have to cut some corners somewhere. Sit down and talk with your fiance – find out what is really important to them and make sure to voice what is important to you. Then make a list of in whatever order you decide on.

When M and I were planning our wedding, the most important thing to me was the photography *surprise!* and the most important to him was to have homemade hard ice cream. I wouldn’t have guessed about the ice cream, so it was a good thing we talked about it!

Keep the guest list small.

Some venues charge per amount of people. If you have less than 100 guests, it would be much cheaper than having 300 guests. If your group of guests is small this will also eliminate much of the cost of food, as many caterers charge per head.

Hold the ceremony at a park or at your church. If you do an outdoor ceremony, you can even consider doing a standing ceremony and skip on having to rent chairs!

National Parks and State parks are beautiful places! They might have a fee to get in, but it would by no means be more expensive than a venue. If you want to get married at a local park, you might have to check into reserving it or renting it for the day.

If you want to make it even cheaper, have a quick ceremony and just have people stand. You should provide 10 or so chairs just in case there’s folks who need to sit, but this is becoming more and more popular!

If someone in your family goes to a church regularly, many times you’ll be able to have your wedding there for cheap, if not free!

Make your own invitations

This CAN be done in a classy way – I promise! Look on instagram and see what styles you like, then go off that! Print in black and white and then glue it to card-stock. It doesn’t have to be complicated! My invitations were printed on brown paper and wrapped with paper doilies – cheap and cute!

Buy your dress off the rack

If you can get a discount on your wedding dress, go for it! Buying off the rack can often save you 50% or more! There are online stores that are cheap, but be cautious about buying a dress online without trying it on first.

If you choose to order online, maybe have a backup wedding dress fund, just in case it does end up looking like a shower curtain. 🙂 Look into buying a used dress from a wedding consignment store! There’s often hundreds of dresses there.

Use coupons for everything

This was possibly my favorite part of wedding planning – making sure I got a deal. If you get something from Hobby Lobby, use their 40% off coupon. I know JoAnn’s also has one, and places like Kohl’s and JcPenny’s often run sales. The only thing we paid full price for at our wedding was Matthew’s vest and the ice cream. Everything else we used a coupon for.

Do it yourself whenever possible.

I know it’s so fun to have cute signs at your wedding. Consider finding a font you like and then just copying it onto wood. It’s not nearly as hard as it looks!

At our wedding, I ordered flowers in bulk and used them for decoration and bouquets. Looking back, I wish I had gotten my bouquet professionally done, but that was one area we knew we had to skimp on.

Enlist family and friends help in the food department.

This is one of the ways we saved a lot of money in our wedding. Instead of having cake, which neither of us like, we had cookies and ice cream. My mother-in-law baked 500+ cookies in the couple days before our wedding. One of Matthew’s grandma’s also helped with this.

Make cookie dough balls months ahead of time and just freeze them till you need them baked. If someone wants to help, hand them a bag of frozen cookie dough balls and ask them to bake them and bring them!

Whew! That was a LOT of information!

Now that you’ve read all of this, I have even MORE information for you! I asked past brides what things to NOT skimp on, and here are their answers:

They all told me one thing: Do not skimp on your photographer and videographer. You might have a friend who takes photos and has a nice camera, but they’re not as prepared for a wedding day as someone who captures weddings for a living. Other than the marriage, the photographs and videos are really the only part of your wedding that will last past the wedding day.

The next thing that was mentioned had to do with flowers. I personally wish I would have had a florist do my flowers – they were beautiful, but not what I had been imagining. This came from not knowing what I was doing and arranging flowers myself. If you get fake flowers, get the really good quality ones – which can often actually be the same price as real flowers.

It was also mentioned how important it was to have a day-of wedding coordinator! And I will second this one whole heartedly! My wedding coordinator was a life saver during the reception and wedding day…. I didn’t have to worry about a thing.

One friend said “Stick to the basics! Don’t go all out with decorations. At the end of the day nobody remembers exactly how your decorations looked…they remember the atmosphere, the romance, and the food. If you do spend more money on something at the reception have it be the food. People will appreciate a nice meal.”

I hope all of this was helpful for you! Happy wedding planning!


Read more from The Wedding Series here.

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