Your wedding is one of the most wonderful days of your life. But what makes weddings so special is the fact that it is the beginning of something special, not the culmination. And tacking a $45,000 wedding on top of student loans, a mortgage, car payments, and anything you might have on the credit card.
Of course, most people don’t intend to spend so much on their wedding and many people don’t feel they have other options. But the good news is that your wedding doesn’t have to be the start of something expensive but it does have to be a time of celebration and an expression of your new identity as a couple. Here’s how you can start of your marriage without going in the red.
One of the easiest ways to save on your wedding is simply not to have it on a Saturday. Because so many weddings are on a Saturday it is possible to save thousands of dollars just by having the wedding on Friday or Saturday. Many venues only charge a fraction of a cost if you can manage a weekday wedding.
Even if you are set on a Saturday wedding, the time of year makes a big difference. Most venues are busiest during the summer and around holidays. Getting married around a holiday can also cause issues later on when you want to celebrate your anniversary and restaurants and hotels are booked up or more expensive. Having a day that’s all your own makes it special and a great way to keep your focus on your marriage in years to come.
Where you get married also makes a big difference in cost. Many wedding planners recommend attempting to have your wedding and reception at the same location if possible. This saves on travel time for everyone, hourly wages for photographers, caterers, and others. It can also be cheaper to have everything bundled together.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the chapel as well. Is there a location that has special meaning to both of you? Is there a relative with enough space to host everyone? Did you meet in college? Many universities and colleges have beautiful campuses, lower venue costs, and less going on during the weekends.
Limiting the number of people that you invite to your wedding is the biggest reason that your wedding costs get so big. Factoring food, invitations, and venue size means that cutting back on the guest list will definitely save you thousands.
But keeping the guest list small doesn’t mean you have to snub all of your friends and coworkers. Many couples choose to have a second reception that is much more casual (and cheap). If one of you is from another town, consider having a big barbecue as a secondary reception. Or throw a party that is more indicative of your personality as a couple. The goal of the reception is to be a celebration of your marriage and opportunity to have introduce yourselves as a couple. The wedding is the formal ceremony that brings the solemnity and seriousness of the promises that you are making. The reception is meant to be more of a party! Have some fun, get cheap good food, set up a great playlist, have an instagram booth in the corner and leave plenty of space for speeches and dancing and save hundreds or thousands of dollars on the fancier reception.
There are a lot of great ways to save on the little things that add up. Here are some great small ideas that, when taken together, can save thousands off of your total wedding bill:
- Instead of sending out notices, invitations, and save the dates to everyone, simply send them one invitation that directs your guests to your website which can share and notify them of all that information.
- Consider just serving dessert (or hors d’oeuvres). This can save a significant amount of money and even makes a lot of sense if you have a Friday night wedding instead of Saturday afternoon. These two combined can cut your wedding costs by over a third.
- Avoid the liquor, stick to beer and wine. This surprising tip comes up over and over from wedding planners. It is a great way to save money without your guests complaining about you going too cheap.
- Ditch the expensive cake. Cake has been replaced more and more often over the past several years. There are a lot of great options, especially for couples who aren’t really fans of cake to begin with. Even if you are, cupcakes can often be a cheaper option than a professionally decorated cake.
- Borrow items from everyone else who is having weddings. This is especially great if you have your wedding after the main wedding season. Many of your friends may have purchased some cool decorations or setups that can be repurposed to match your theme. And don’t forget to check out ThriftSmart for potential ideas. There are a lot of fun ways to make your wedding uniquely you with making it look uniquely cheap.
- Cut out the things you don’t need (like monogrammed napkins). You want your wedding to be an expression of you as a couple. Taking the time to think through that is a great exercise to perform together. Often times people spend more money than is necessary because they don’t take the time to find out what most expresses their personality and just pay for something that they think looks nice instead. That’s like going to the store and instead of planning out your meal for the night, just buying whatever looks fanciest. You’re going to spend way more money for an inferior meal.
Most of all, your wedding day is going to be a busy, emotional, crazy day. Make sure that money doesn’t add to your stress. Take the time to make memories and enjoy conversations, dancing, and spending time with your loved ones!