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Tips for Planning your Wedding on a Budget

The following is a guest post from Ellen at Fun With English, where she explores the origin of English words and expressions. In her spare time, she is on her own journey to improve her financial knowledge!  She’s guest posted here several times before with ones like How to Save Money on a Road Trip and Impulse Shopping and Discount Chocolate.

I’ve noticed a lot of ads for wedding shows, so I know it is wedding planning season.   I’ll freely admit my wedding was not nearly as economical as Crystal’s :-) , but I think I’ve still got some good planning tips to share!

Tips for a Wedding on a Budget

1.  Start saving now.  As soon as you get engaged, you should start putting money away.  We had a rough idea of the overall budget that what we wanted to spend on our wedding, so, once we got engaged, we started putting a lump sum away each month.  Our goal was to have enough money saved by our wedding date (we got married about a year after we got engaged) that we would have enough to cover all our costs.

2.  Figure out what is really important to you in your wedding.  Do you want something small and intimate? A big blowout?  Perhaps you’re not big on a sit down dinner, but an open bar is a must.  Talk things through with your better half (and other family members if you’re feeling generous/crazy), and see what matters to them.  Your significant other may want photo wedding invitations or a videographer.  For me – I really wanted a 3-tier cake. I don’t know why, but in my head, my wedding cake was always 3 tiers, so that was a must.

3.  Search for talented and connected friends and family members.   My now sister-in-law is an excellent photographer and kindly did our photos.  Ask around – perhaps someone you know would like to DJ, or works at a flower shop and can give you a discount.  Make sure you budget in something to compensate them for their time and efforts.

4.  Reduce, reuse, recycle.  You can reuse family rings as is (hey, Prince William did it!) or have them reset into a new setting.  Reuse flowers from the ceremony at the reception – we put our bridesmaid’s boquets in vases to decorate the head table. And speaking of wedding party – try to save costs for them as well.  We picked the least expensive tux for our ushers, and I let my bridesmaid pick out their own dresses, all just keeping in a common colour scheme.

My Summary

In the end – with a sit down dinner and open bar, my wedding ran a bit over $ 10,000 (this was 8 years ago). Not frugal by any stretch, but certainly cheaper than the average cost of a wedding!

My last tip is this – plan wisely, but don’t overdo it. I had $10,000 as a budget in my head and freaked out any time I thought we might go over.  I also cheaped out on my bridesmaid hair and makeup (I should have helped cover it, but didn’t), and I really regret that.

What is the best money saving tip you have? Is there something you spent money on you shouldn’t have? Or  something you wish you had spent money on?

Crystal’s Comments:  I highly suggest having a videographer if you think you may want a video of the ceremony later.  That is my only regret.  We didn’t splurge on much at all and had a fantastic wedding – really, we absolutely loved it.

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15 comments to Tips for Planning your Wedding on a Budget

  • Great tips! I plan to get married in the next year or so (it will be my 2nd marriage). I’d love a small wedding, but my boyfriend has never been married before and wants a big wedding, so we’ll probably go that route. I’m dreading the planning and the cost. I’m not into planning parties like that and the idea of spending $10k or more on a wedding just blows my mind!

    I think I will sew my own wedding dress…for one thing I’m over 40 with chubby arms and those sleeveless dresses that are so popular right now do nothing for me…

    I’d love to hear other frugal wedding planning ideas if anyone has any…

  • I got married last June and my wife did most (and by most I mean ALL) of the planning for it. I was amazed at how many little things popped up along the way. It may only be $50 extra but when those little extras keep popping up–they can really increase the total cost of the wedding.

    I don’t know how much our wedding cost total but the one piece of advice I would say is to get someone with experience to help (either a planner or a friend who has been through a wedding) because they will help you to better account for ALL the expenses from the start. Otherwise, you may mess up by spending too much early on and then having the unexpected expenses push you way over your initial budget.

  • I think we spend about $2,500 for our wedding… Nice and cheap!

    We got married at a park on Lake Erie which was free (park was free and $100 for the officiant). The photographers were the most expensive at $800 (including a tip). We then had the reception in my mom’s backyard (4 acres of enjoyment)!

  • Crystal raises a good point – I wish I’d asked someone to videotape the ceremony.
    Cheryl: Congrats! I can’t sew to save my life. My only general tips are – look for less expensive options (i.e. carnations vs roses, hand made favours, or a charitable donation instead of them etc.)
    Scott: Excellent tip! After my wedding was done,I was longing to share my experience with everyone! :)
    David: Sounds like a lovely wedding!

  • Great tips! I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding, and we plan on getting married soon (probably not for like a couple years), but it’s never too early to start saving.

  • I don’t know that I would have done anything different for my wedding. For what we had, the cost per head was really reasonable.

    Here’s my tip–pay attention to WHEN you get married. Sundays and off-season dates are always going to be cheaper than a Saturday night during peak wedding season. Most brides dream of the beautiful June wedding but it’s going to cost you. Literally. I got married in April, right before the peak season kicked in, and the price difference was pretty amazing (about $25 per person). And I got married on a Saturday night.

  • My first wedding (my starter marriage) cost over $15,000 (big Catholic wedding) the planning was stressful, the wedding day was stressful, and the marriage lasted 5 year. My second marriage cost less than $500, was done at a gorgeous bed and breakfast in the Shenandoah mountains, and there was absolutely zero stress. I would recommend to anyone that bigger is not always better. Save the money for your marriage, don’t blow it on your wedding day.

  • My wife had the best wedding in the world.

    I asked her to marry me on 14th street on 5th ave in NYC.

    A week later we went down to the illustrious City Hall and paid a whopping $35.

    Everybody got dressed up and came down to watch. 3 minutes later we were married.

    We saved about $20k. :)

  • Good tips, Crystal; will come in handy for me in not soooo long from now. ;)

  • My tip is to plan an out of town, destination wedding! While at first this sounds more expensive, but in reality it’s quite the opposite. When you go out of town, your guest list will drop dramatically. And if you’re looking at 100-200 per head……having a tactful way to exclude some long lost relatives (when they decline travelling) can really help your budget!

  • Great tips all – weddings definitely come in all shapes and sizes, and there are plenty of ways to save money and still have a great day!

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