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Tips for Planning a Wedding on a Small Budget

Wedding details

Planning a wedding can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. With some creativity and planning, you can have your dream wedding while sticking to a small budget. Here are some great tips for planning an affordable yet memorable wedding.

Wedding details

Set a Realistic Budget

The first step is to figure out how much you realistically can afford to spend on your wedding. As a general rule, try to keep your overall wedding budget to less than $10,000 if possible. Sit down with your partner and have an open conversation about finances. List out your must haves and prioritize the elements that are most important to you, then allocate spending accordingly.

Choose an Off-Season or Non-Standard Day/Time

One of the biggest things that drives up wedding costs is timing. If you get married on a Saturday in June, venues and vendors charge premium rates. Instead, think about a Friday or Sunday wedding, or an off-season date like the Fall or Winter. You’ll likely get significant discounts, especially on the venue. Plus, your guests may appreciate a reason to look forward to a fun weekend getaway!

Opt for an All-In-One Venue

Consider finding a venue that offers not just the ceremony and reception space, but other services like catering, bar packages, tables, chairs, linens, and décor as well. Many hotels, restaurants/banquet halls, barns, vineyards, and other venues offer all-inclusive wedding packages that can save you money compared to booking everything á la carte.

wedding venue aisle with candles in glass lanterns and arch

Stick to a Limited Guest List

Figure out your must-invite list, including only your nearest and dearest friends and family. Don’t feel pressured to invite cousins twice removed or every single co-worker. Remember, the fewer guests, the lower your overall wedding costs will be. Plus, you’ll have a more intimate affair.

Send Online Invites

Skip the paper invites and postage costs by using online wedding invitations. Sites like Paperless Post, Evite, and Punchbowl offer beautiful e-vites for free or very affordably. This is a easy way to check sending wedding invites off your to-do list while sticking to your budget.

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Look for an Up-and-Coming Caterer

Established, premium caterers can be very expensive for wedding menus. Instead, consider using a newer catering company, culinary school trainees gaining experience, or even asking a talented chef friend to cater in exchange for a discount. Just be sure to still sign a contract and get liability insurance.

Toasts and canapes

Serve Beer and Wine Only

Having an open bar with a full liquor selection drives up wedding bar tabs exponentially. Sticking to just beer, wine, and a signature cocktail or two that you provide the ingredients for can save thousands of dollars. Plus your guests will still have fun with fewer overindulgences!

Buy Alcohol in Bulk from a Wholesaler

Speaking of bar costs, skip the individual bottles of wine and cases of beer from your local liquor store. You can get much better rates buying in bulk from a restaurant/bar supply wholesaler. Just be sure to plan ahead and order early, as you may need to meet order minimums.

Offer Limited Seating

Your ceremony costs are largely driven by the number of seats you need to rent for guests. But do your guests really need to sit down for a short 15-20 minute ceremony? Consider an intimate standing ceremony, with seating just reserved for elderly guests needing accommodation.

Decorations from Nature

Flowers, lighting, draping, and other wedding décor are notorious budget suckers. Save big by keeping your wedding decor simple and using elements found in nature. Think wildflowers, herbs, greenery, stones, wood, candles. Craft stores are also great for inexpensive vases, lanterns and other decorative items to spruce up your nature finds.

Wedding Table Decoration

Make Your Own Centerpieces and Decor

Speaking of DIY decor, tap into your creative side (and your family/friends’ talents) to make your own wedding decorations and floral arrangements. Head to a craft or dollar store to buy in bulk – vases, candle holders, ribbons, and artificial flowers/greenery can be very affordable. Use Pinterest for inspiration on how to create gorgeous centerpieces and decor on the cheap.

Mix and Match China and Silverware

No need to stress about extravagant china place settings all matching. Use an eclectic mix of your own plates and glasses supplemented with mismatched finds from thrift stores. Same goes with silverware – just be sure it’s all “real” so you don’t end up with plastic cutlery. The random assortment will add to the informal, fun vibe.

Rent Attire and Accessories

From your wedding dress to suits and ties to jewelry, renting attire and accessories can save you a ton compared to buying. Rent the Runway, Vow to be Chic, Union Station, and other sites offer stylish rentals that still make you look like a million bucks for a fraction of retail cost.

Groom at wedding tuxedo in the forest

Have an iPod DJ or Playlist

A live band or DJ can blow up your reception budget. If dancing isn’t a priority, simply create your own playlist to set the mood. Or have a tech savvy friend or family member serve as your iPod DJ to take requests and keep the music going.

Cut Down on Other Details

There are lots of little details that may not seem expensive on their own but add up fast. Scale back or nix altogether things like wedding favors, signage around the venue, printed menus, valet parking, coat checks, multi-tiered wedding cakes, limo transportation, videographers, and more. Focus your dollars only on what’s important to you as a couple.

Enlist Helping Hands

Speaking of things that add up cost-wise, all those vendor service charges, fees and labor costs really have potential to drain a wedding budget quickly. Combat this by having friends and family chip in to help where they can – maybe someone loans you furniture/yard games, another helps assemble centerpieces or makes food, someone can serve as your day-of coordinator. What talents can your nearest and dearest lend to trim costs?

Planning a wedding on a budget takes some extra creativity and effort. But ultimately, your wedding day is about you and your partner starting your lives together surrounded by love. Keep the big picture in mind, get thrifty with the details, and you can have a beautiful, intimate, affordable celebration.

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Laura Pucker

A sociable content creator and social media expert, who loves dance, makeup, and has an upbeat attitude towards life.


Lindsey Chastain

Lindsey Chastain

A creative writer passionate about helping others succeed in living their best life, creating art and making a positive impact.


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