How to save money on your wedding

Published February 12, 2024

When you get married, the amount of money you spend on your wedding is entirely up to you. You can choose to have a small wedding with a limited guest list or invite every person you know to a big wedding bash. If you anticipate a wedding in your future, but haven’t started saving yet, a good way to start is by breaking down your everyday expenses and budgeting out extra money to set aside.

So how much could a wedding cost overall? Well, that will depend on your guest list. It will always cost more to feed and provide favors to more people, so cutting back your guest list is the most efficient way to cut down on costs. Some consider the average number of wedding guests to be between 75-150. The average cost of a wedding with 150 guests in the United States is between $20,000 and $40,000.1 2 3

Some may decide to take out loans for their wedding expenses. A personal loan or home equity line of credit can help you with some extra funds to plan your dream wedding.

 

What should be in a wedding budget?

There are many different costs associated with a wedding. Deciding how much of your total budget you’d like to spend in each area can be a tough task. And if you decide not to skimp in one area, how can you save in another?

There are certain things you need to have at a wedding. You need a place to host it. You need to feed your guests. The rest is up to you. You could have a DJ or a live band, a buffet or plated dinner, a photo booth or disposable cameras. Talk it over with your partner and decide what is most important to you both.

According to theknot.com, this is a good guideline to follow for a wedding budget breakdown. Note that these percentages do not add up to 100%. This is because they are based on national averages and ultimately, you and your significant other will decide what’s important to you based on your budget. For example: you may decide not to use a wedding planner, or maybe your venue will provide all tables and chairs at no extra cost. That eliminates two categories from this list. This is a loose guideline for you to follow.

  • 37% – Venue
  • 29% – Catering
  • 13% – Music
  • 9% – Photography
  • 9% – Wedding rings/bands
  • 8% – Alcohol/liquor
  • 8% – Flowers
  • 7% – Videography
  • 7% – Wardrobe
  • 6% – Wedding planner
  • 6% – Event rentals (tables and chairs, linens, tents)
  • 6% – Lighting & décor

Keep the money you plan to spend on your wedding in a special savings account, so those funds don’t get mixed in with other savings. This will help you stay within your budget by not allowing you to overspend. Our All Purpose Club account is great for setting aside money for a specific goal.

 

10 Tips to save money on your wedding costs

Consider a weekday or shoulder season

Saturdays and Sundays before a Monday holiday are the most expensive days of the week to book a wedding. You can save by choosing a weekday or a Sunday night which doesn’t precede a holiday. You could also save by picking a “shoulder-season” date. Shoulder season is typically late winter and early spring.

Shop for your dress and suits early

Don’t forget you will most likely need time to have alterations done to your dress or suit after you pick it out. To ensure your outfit is tailored in time for your wedding day, a tailor can add a rush fee which could cost as much as $500.

Cut back on florals

Every table doesn’t need a bouquet of flowers. There are many creative and beautiful alternatives for centerpieces that can cost much less. In fact, every bridesmaid doesn’t need a bouquet either. Consider having them carry a minimalist floral like a single rose, or just one type of flower like baby’s breath as an example. Buy flowers that are in season, because out of season florals will cost extra.

Skip top shelf liquor

If you’re having an open bar, whether for the whole night or just the cocktail hour, limit the types of alcohol that will be free for your guests. Otherwise, you could end up paying a hefty bill when your guests are ordering $50 glasses of whiskey. Another way to reduce your alcohol costs is by keeping a limited bar stock. Choose signature cocktails along with just beer and wine. If guests are looking for the hard stuff, your specialty drink will take care of that.

Save on your cake

Some couples will opt for a small cake just big enough for the bride and groom cake cutting ceremony. They will serve cupcakes or pastries to the rest of the guests. This may not only be cheaper to make (less decorations like piped flowers and fondant = less money), but will also eliminate the cake-cutting fee that a lot of venues charge to cut a large, multi-tiered cake.

Cut out unnecessary stationary

Name cards on plates can look nice, but really aren’t necessary. If you have a seating chart which lists who will sit at each table, the guests only need to find the table and can determine amongst themselves who sits where. If you’re brave, skip the seating chart altogether and let your guests sit wherever they want. For your invites, skip the deluxe cardstock and go with the basic. Digital printing is also a much cheaper option than engraved printing or foil stamping. A typical 5”x7” sized invitation works fine. Anything larger will be costlier. Keep in mind that most of your guest list will end up throwing the invites away after the event.

Save on an officiant

Ask someone you know personally if they will officiate your wedding for free. There are a couple ways to go about this. It is now very easy to become ordained online. If your friend or family member is willing to do that, they can wed you just as officially as any other ordained minister. Alternatively, you can tie the knot ahead of your ceremony at your city or town hall. This way, anybody can officiate your wedding as it is purely ceremonial.

Hire a planner

It may seem counter productive that to save money, we’re suggesting paying a planner. But a planner’s job is to make sure you have everything you want while also staying in your budget. They also possess the expertise and industry contacts to find you the best deals.

Cut back on photographer hours

This is always an option but is entirely up to you and what you find most important. As we stated before, the photos from your wedding will live forever. Do you need the photographer to stay around for the whole reception? Dancing photos often show people in strange poses making weird faces. They are in motion and not ready for a photo to be taken, so they may not be “pretty.” Only having your photographer there until the reception starts, or for just an hour into the reception will be less costly than keeping them there all night. Additionally, you don’t need to pay extra to get your raw photos from the photographer. Photographers are professional editors and the raw files are what exists before they make them look professional.

Choose entrée options wisely

It certainly is nice to have a filet mignon as your steak option, but consider a cheaper cut if available. Flank steak can taste just as good and plates nicely when sliced. Or, leave steak off the table and choose an alternative meat with a smaller price tag. A buffet can sometimes be a cheaper option for catering than plated dinners, but it may surprise you to know that most of the time it isn’t! Brides.com says “From a caterer’s standpoint, there is so much more volume required for a buffet or stations…This means that caterers have to factor in additional portions to ensure that the displays look great and also to account for seconds or even thirds from your guests.”

If you’re ready to start saving for your wedding, check out some of our account options.

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