There are many things we associate with weddings, but debt doesn’t have to be one of them. Instead, there are ways you can approach your big day with a budget in mind—and yes, you can still manage to make it a day to remember.
Listed below are 10 ways you can rein in your wedding spending. After all, the more you can save on this very special day, the better your finances will be starting your new life together. Remember, it really is just one day.
First Comes Love, Then Comes A Budget
Like any large purchase, establishing what you can afford first separates the rookies from the professionals. Whether it’s house-hunting, purchasing a car, or planning your wedding, knowing your limits sets the tone.
There are plenty of budgeting apps out there, including ones for your wedding. Whether you choose one of these applications or break out pen, paper, and a calculator, working together on a budget will put you both at ease. Just remember to break down your overall cost into categories, from venue and decorations to invitations and thank-you cards.
This is Your Wedding—Not Social Media’s
Getting lost in your beloved’s eyes is one thing, but drowning yourself in pages and pages of Pinterest weddings is another. Put the phone down, shut the laptop, and ignore social media when it comes to your special day. We know you’ve watched the celebrity weddings, drooled over the extravagant settings, and maybe even envied the to-be-weds, but it’s not worth it.
Your wedding day is about you and your spouse. Tap into your personal social network and leave it to the paparazzi to worry about what goes on in Hollywood.
Network, Call in Favors, and Go Local
Speaking of your personal network—use it. Take advantage of the acquaintances you’ve made. If your mother-in-law’s hairdresser’s nephew runs a deli, see if he can cater. And if Aunt Nancy knows how to make killer place settings and decorations, by all means, give that woman a gift card to JOANN, Michaels, or Hobby Lobby.
Another way to cut costs is to take a chance on local small businesses. Do your research, of course, but give the little guys a chance, too. After all, it is free advertising for them if they do accept your contract—which you should read carefully.
Think Beyond Just 24 Hours
Your wedding day is 24 hours. Your marriage lasts much longer. Think of your long-term goals as a newlywed couple. If you want a honeymoon, find a place in the budget for that as well. Otherwise, you could save up for a one-year anniversary trip. Maybe you want to pool your savings and buy a house a few years down the road. It’s not a crime to splurge a bit on your wedding day, but keep the overall picture in mind, too.
Get Creative With Phrasing
As in any business deal, it’s all in how you present yourself. Rather than announcing to the whole world that you’re getting married, tell venues, caterers, florists, and the rest that you’re having a “large family gathering” or a “family get-together.” Mentioning the word “wedding” could cost you—literally.
Think of it this way. You’re a bakery shop and you sell cakes for all kinds of celebrations. Heck, it could be anything from Sunday dinner to someone’s grandmother’s 95th birthday. But big events—like weddings—well, they call for grandeur. And a price to match. After all, this is the day that (hopefully) only happens once. But if you don’t know that 4-tiered cake will be the first bite of food the newlyweds consume as a married couple, then how can you justify an upcharge? It’s all in the wording.
Embrace Package Deals
The term “one-stop shop” can be a God-send when it comes to weddings. Don’t be afraid to look into package deals. You may end up saving money and time. If the venue you’re looking into offers catering and clean-up afterwards, consider that killing three birds with one stone. Just keep your budget and your expectations in mind.
Take Advantage of the Off-Season
Hunting, sports, holidays, and weddings: what do they all have in common?
But though the main wedding season falls in the summer months, there’s nothing saying you can’t exchange vows during any other time of the year. In fact, choosing an off-season date might just save you hundreds on venue bookings, decorations, music, etc.
Signature Dishes Trump Variety
Too many couples take pleasing their guests to a higher level than necessary when planning their weddings. Offering a buffet while compromising your budget isn’t the answer. Instead, focus on a handful of options. These dishes should reflect your tastes while still keeping your guest list in mind.
If you plan on having children attend your wedding, consider simpler options. You may even be able to convince your caterer to give you a discount on these meals since they are far less intricate. Other options include eating family-style or much sooner in the day, such as brunch or lunch.
Hand-picking menu items extends to the alcohol offerings as well. You could choose to go with a limited variety of spirits or create signature cocktails to choose from. You don’t really need a fully stocked bar. Again, personalization and meaning can be as much of a factor as you like.
Hiring a Professional is Not a Cop-Out
The saying goes, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” But when it comes to weddings, that’s not always the case. In fact, hiring a wedding planner might be just the thing the two of you need to de-stress and focus on what matters most — your relationship.
When it comes down to it, these professionals have been there and done that. They know the dos and don’ts, which strings to pull, and when to redirect you if the situation calls for it. Be up-front about your budget and your expectations. And if you prefer to handle a certain part of the ceremony yourself, reserve that right from the get-go.
Keep Your Friends Close and Officiant Closer
A wedding is nothing if not official. But that doesn’t mean you need to hire the best of the best. In fact, the wedding planners at Martha Stewart advise ordaining a person of your choosing to officiate the wedding. Both the Universal Life Church and the Esoteric Interfaith Church offer such services. But make sure you check with local officials to verify the validity of this method. The last thing you need on your wedding day is to find out it’s not officially recognized.
Life’s New Journey
All wedding cliché’s aside, there’s much more to your special day than just spending money. Don’t waste time stressing over the bottom line. Focus instead on what your values are, what experiences you and your partner share, and what memories you want to make. How you handle this day will set the tone for the way you approach all the other challenges life has in store.