How to Have a Budget Wedding

A bride being tossed into the air by her wedding party

Anyone who’s planning for a wedding will be quite familiar with some of the problems associated with it. Previously it was one main problem, which was the cost. Last year, an unexpected problem cropped up, which was COVID restrictions. However creative minimonies, elopements, and Zoom weddings flourished. 

The average wedding is estimated to run you about $35,000! While some people have the resources to spend as much on their special day as a downpayment on a house, most people would love to be able to afford life after they say “I do.”

The key to having a budget wedding doesn’t have to be a frugal and stingy ceremony, however; that road can lead to disappointment, and you might regret the decision before the wedding is over. Instead, you should look at the items that usually run up a wedding cost, and then find a way to bring those down. These four tips show how each item on the wedding list can help you plan a budget wedding.

Average Cost

You can’t have a budget wedding without a budget! The first thing you need to do is decide how much you want to spend on the wedding. Even if the current standard is around $35,000, you can plan to spend a fraction of that and still have a great time. It may sound extreme, but it’s definitely doable.

Planning a budget wedding means sticking to the basics and forgoing all the extravagant details like white doves and lots of flowers. A simple budget should include:

  • Wedding Dress
  • Tuxedo / Suit
  • Photographer
  • Food and drinks
  • Venue

It can also include other things like a photo booth for your friends and swag bags for guests, but the key is that you must justify them as essential.

Rent a Dress

The average wedding dress costs about $1,100. Although owning your own wedding dress is something to be proud of, you have to remember that you’re only going to wear it once. As a result, it might be simply better to rent a dress. Or make the effort to resell the wedding dress after the festivities. 

You can rent a good wedding dress for a fraction of the cost of buying a new one, and it will fit just as well and look just as good in the photos. There are places that rent out gorgeous dresses for people on a budget wedding like you. You can get a wedding dress for as low as $70.

Affordable Venues

Your wedding doesn’t have to be set at a beach house or a lake overlooking the sunset for it to be beautiful. You can get a reasonably priced venue that will fit nicely into a budget and still accommodate your friends and family. A great way to find cheap venues is to fix your wedding date during the week instead of on the weekend. Most venues are less costly during off-peak days, and the owners will be willing to give you a nice discount.

Also, it’s safer to make a down payment on the venue, as you don’t want the owners to give it out to other bargain-hunting couples looking for deals on venues.

Look for parks, community spaces, some churches, private homes, and restaurants. Many brides are also going with a small ceremony with immediate family only and holding a separate restaurant reception at a later date to cut costs as well!

Save on Food

There are several ways you can save money on the food you serve your guests, without going to a cut-rate vendor. If you’re willing to try a daytime reception, you’ll save a ton of money because it’s much cheaper to serve lunch than dinner. Buffets cost less than a fully catered meal, and a signature cocktail is cheaper to create in batches than having an entire bar. If you do have your reception during the day, you can take your closest friends to a local bar for an evening after-party.

Speaking of skipping, you can also skip the traditional sit-down wedding reception and have a cocktail reception instead. Here, you can serve cake and cocktails, and your guests will still have an amazing time.

Wedding Rings

There are so many different options for rings that it could be a little overwhelming. Some of our favorites include supporting local artists on Etsy and brands that create ethical rings and support causes like Holden Rings and DoAmore. You can also check Rare Carat to find the best prices on natural or lab-grown diamonds. 

For those that prefer to change up their ring finger frequently, retailers like ModernGents Trading Co., offer alternative stones (that look real) at a fraction of the price. With costs around $95 for a wedding set, you can get a couple to play with!

The Bottom Line

Cutting down costs and planning a wedding on a budget might seem difficult at first, but when you really break it down, you’ll find that you can save money on almost every item on your wedding list. 

Good luck!

Learn how to save now and retire early: Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) Explained.