If you’re planning to take a trip down the aisle, one of your biggest concerns is likely the price tag that comes along with saying “I do.” This is no surprise considering the average wedding costs a little more than $25,000. However, there are plenty of things you can do to cut costs. Before you do anything, you’ll need to start by devising a realistic budget.
“This is perhaps the most important to-do on your list. It will help you prioritize what areas in which to spend, splurge, and save. Approach your wedding planning by focusing on one or two areas that will have big impact (like photography and food), then simplify the rest. Don’t forget to budget for last-minute items like tips on the big day!” says author Cara Davis in her book Wedding on a Budget: 120 Ways to Cut Costs Without Cutting Style.
Here are four ways to reduce wedding costs.
1. Ditch the wedding planner
A wedding planner can cost as much as 20% of your total wedding bill, according to TheKnot.com. So take time to decide if you can really afford this additional cost. You might want to consider eliminating the planner altogether and just coordinating the wedding on your own.
“The most crucial part of the DIY wedding-planning puzzle is figuring out what your resources are — monetary and otherwise — and how to allocate them. You can break the process into three distinct — but interdependent — chunks: set your budget, set your priorities, and set your team,” said Kelly Bare and Natalie Zee Drieu in The DIY Wedding: Celebrate Your Day Your Way.
2. Change the date
Now is a good time to be flexible when it comes to dates. Since June through August tends to be popular months for weddings, you may want to play around with some alternatives. Also be open to choosing a different location. Instead of an event hall, move your reception to a local restaurant. If you play your cards right, some restaurants may be willing to negotiate a special group discount.
3. Reduce the guest list
The more people you have on the guest list, the more you will have to shell out. Think about the additional costs for food, invitations, decorations, and even thank you cards and stamps. Do you really want to still be paying for your wedding long after the ceremony is over?
“A wedding often takes on a life of its own, expanding into a hideous creature several times larger than you ever imagined. This process usually begins with what we call Guest List Inflation. Here, the guest list grows because each family simply must invite personal friends, close business associates, and people whom they haven’t seen in 15 years. The main problem: adding to the guest list has a direct, negative impact on your budget,” said Denise Fields and Alan Fields in Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Planning a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget.
4. Cut out extras
Months after the wedding is over, no one will remember whether you had extra flowers on each table or if you had fancy linen. Look for ways to scale back on expenses by having a buffet or cocktail reception instead of an entire dinner, for example.
“In essence, you don’t really need a lot of things in order for your wedding to push through. At the very core of it, a wedding only needs three things: two consenting adults, an officiant, and several witnesses. It is very much possible to have a fun and meaningful wedding on a shoestring budget,” said authors Sam Siv and Andrea L. Mortenson in Wedding Planning on a Budget: The Ultimate Wedding Planner and Wedding Organizer to Help Plan Your Dream Wedding on a Budget.