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Planning Your Wedding on a Budget

You need no encouragement to plan for your wedding day. But working out a budget and sticking to it, that’s different. There you could use both encouragement and some help. We’ll, we’re here to encourage you and to help you make a budget—and your budget is your plan—for your wedding day.

Can you do this alone—without your partner’s participation. Well, yes, you could, but only if you must. Your wedding budget is really a task the two of you should do together, for many reasons. Making and keeping your wedding budget is a harbinger of tasks to come. It is a test of your “coupleness.” Can you agree on a common goal? Can you both, each to the satisfaction of the other, perform this task together? Can you do so amicably? The answer is yes, especially if you talk things over, listen to each other, and then agree upon how to do something that is very important to each of you.

If you read about weddings, in print or online, you will encounter the assertion that the “average” wedding costs $25,000. You’re right to be skeptical of this assertion; after all who do you know that has been asked—and if asked responded truthfully—to the question, “How much did your wedding cost? I suspect that the only persons asked, if any, were wedding planners. After all, a wedding costs only what one can afford or is willing to pay; and I certainly know many persons who got married at low or little cost. For ordinary people, getting married on a budget is the norm. So, how do you go about getting married—and having fun with friends while doing so—on a budget.

The first step to getting married on a budget is to avoid excess and to spend only for things that are “practically necessary or personally important.” As Dave Ramsey says:

First Things First

Don’t spend one penny on anything that isn’t either practically necessary or personally important to you. Figure out what your priorities are and make a budget. If you give yourself some breathing room, you won’t get stressed out about overspending a bit here and there as needed. —blondchen

Keep the frills to a minimum. Bathroom baskets, out-of-town bags, candy buffets, midnight snacks, brunch the next day, and things like that are nice touches but unnecessary budget busters.

Date and Time

Have your wedding in the afternoon so you avoid mealtimes and can have a finger-food reception. Our wedding was at 2 p.m. and the reception was over by 6:30 p.m.

Consider a Sunday wedding. Our reception location fee was half the price on Sunday versus Saturday. Also, we had far greater availability of vendors like bakeries, photographers, and other stuff since they get booked up quickly on Saturdays. —blondchen

Guest List

We are having a family-only wedding with a public reception afterward. People are bringing finger foods, and we’re just going to make it a get-together. It has really helped our budget, and people feel more comfortable since it’s not really going to be a formal affair. —Raybobus

Keep your guest list down. Food and drinks are one of the most expensive parts of the reception, so fewer people equals less expense. —Brianandlibby


Meet with at least three of each vendor and shop several stores to make sure you are getting the best price and are happy with the services provided.

Shop locations and get creative. Consider local parks, friend’s/family’s backyards, botanical gardens, churches/reception halls, local farms, museums, local businesses, etc.

Look at all package deals with a highly critical eye. Packages are often more expensive. —Brianandlibby

Know what’s a good deal and what’s not. I wandered around in several craft stores before buying anything so I knew what prices were and what I wanted to pay for things. —tigerfreak23

Expensive food doesn’t mean good food. My uncle is a chef, and he catered our wedding, buying all the food in bulk and cooking as his wedding present to us. It was a great deal for both parties—it saved us tons of money and saved him money, too! —tigerfreak23

If you shop for dresses for your bridesmaids, look at prom dresses. They are much cheaper than dresses from a bridal boutique and can be just as beautiful. —tigerfreak23

Do-It-Yourself Stuff

Do as much as you can yourself (like invitations, flowers, set-up, etc.). At the same time, be careful, since doing it yourself is not always cheaper and sometimes the expense is worth the stress you are saved.

Do the music yourself. You can rent a public address system for about $100 and use a laptop or iPod to play the music. —Brianandlibby

Use dollar stores! They have great things to make centerpieces—I used candles from them as my centerpieces and they doubled as guest favors. It cut down costs and I didn’t have to wonder what to do with the leftover centerpieces.

I made origami napkin rings. I bought some light blue transparent scrapbook paper on clearance and followed instructions I found online. It was a nice touch and much, much cheaper than buying “real” rings. —tigerfreak23

Additionally, consider asking family or friends for help.

Inside Planning Your Wedding on a Budget