How to Have a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget
He finally popped the question, and of course you said yes! Now the wedding planning begins. It should be fun, but the average cost of a wedding these days is over $31,000.1 That's enough to make some brides and grooms seriously consider eloping! However, enough of them still want weddings that it's a viable and thriving industry. Fortunately, there are ways you can have a beautiful and memorable wedding without breaking the bank.
Some wedding dates are chosen for sentimental reasons. Others are chosen because they revolve around a holiday or a 3-day weekend when more out-of-town guests can come. Getting married on a holiday weekend will generally cost more though. To save money, avoid the more popular wedding months of June, August, September and October. Venues go for a lot less January through March.
Similar to choosing the right date, the day of the week you choose could save you money as well. Saturdays are the most popular days for weddings, so venues often charge more. Instead, get married on a Friday night, Sunday or even a Saturday afternoon and you could save a lot of money. If you get married on the east coast, consider a sunrise wedding on the beach to cut the cost of food at the reception.
Hotels and venues designed specifically to host wedding receptions generally cost more than other sites. If you don't mind an outdoor venue, look into local parks or beaches. If you get married in a church, they sometimes have reception halls, and some restaurants do too. You might also consider a winery—or even a barn for a wedding with a rustic theme.
Forget what you see on "Four Weddings." There's no need for a cocktail hour, appetizers, a plated meal and dessert, followed by cake. Instead, have a buffet--it could save you 20-30% according to Bridal Guide.2 Some brides and grooms are opting for heavy appetizers instead of a meal too. And remember the suggestion about having a sunrise wedding? Brunches are less expensive than food at evening weddings.
One way to save on flowers is to use flowers that are in season. Trying to get tulips in November is probably going to cost you a pretty penny. Another way to save is to go simple. You'll need a bouquet, but why not a single long stemmed rose (or even three) with greenery and baby's breath for your bridesmaids? This is a simple, yet elegant way to save.
As far as venue decorations, consider bows on church pews instead of flowers. Candles also add special ambiance to the ceremony, and you can buy them at a dollar store. Use lots of candles, dim the lights a bit at the church and you can still have a beautiful, elegant ceremony without the added cost of extra flowers.
If your reception venue doesn't include centerpieces in the cost, check out Pinterest for creative and interesting ideas. One idea is to go to the dollar store and buy clear glass vases, fill them with rose petals or colored glass pebbles and water, and add a floating candle. Depending on the style of vase, you could have one to three at each table. It sure beats expensive flowers or $25 per centerpiece—and looks just as elegant! You could do the same thing with Mason jars if your wedding theme is more rustic.
Think you have to go to Kleinfeld's to "Say Yes to the Dress"? Most bridal shops can cater to all budgets, so don't think you have to spend a lot of money. You can buy "off the rack"—who will know? Really! Who will know? And when you're choosing your bridesmaids dresses, try not to pick the most expensive thing you find. Whether you're buying their dresses or they are, you don't need to go overboard.
Invitations are getting creative these days! You don't need one that folds, and you can even get creative with pictures and design your own on various photo sites like Shutterfly. If you have a creative friend, maybe they would be willing to do it for you.
The Guest List
If you don't want to cut corners in some of these other areas, you could always cut the guest list. A guest list can get out of control quickly and send costs soaring. If it's not in the budget, seriously scrutinize the guest list and make cuts where you can.
It's easy to get caught up in the details of planning the wedding, but at the end of the day, you're married to your true love, and isn't that the whole point anyway?