A friend attended his cousin’s wedding last year. At almost $100,000, it was quite costly. Hardly a wedding on a budget.
The couple isn’t famous; just regular people with middle-class parents. The bride wanted the best of everything. Costs spiraled out of control, to the point where potential guests were being asked to contribute money, or were told that they would probably not be getting an invitation. A week before the wedding, the couple still owed almost $15,000 to vendors, and were in danger of having the wedding cancelled for lack of payments.
And while this is an extreme example, it’s hardly the only one showing the out-of-control costs of a wedding these days.
There are creative ways to plan a wedding on a budget.
Couples currently spend an average of $30,000 for their wedding, with the range anywhere from about $17,000 in rural areas to almost $90,000 in big cities.
12 tips to start married life richer, rather than poorer:
- Trim must-haves. Those could include a good photographer, a venue, food/refreshments, a person to perform the service and decorations. Beyond those basics, everything else is optional.
- Negotiate. You don’t have to accept the stated price. Be honest with potential vendors and yourself in terms of what you can afford. Offer to pay cash in exchange for a discount.
- Shop then compare. It’s great to use local vendors, but check online to see if you can get what you need cheaper. A wedding on a budget means saving money where you can so you can spend money where you really need it.
- Frugal bridal party. A wedding on a budget extends to your attendants, too. You can lose friends fast if being a bridesmaid becomes too expensive for them to share in the joy of the special day.
- Timing is everything. The more time you have to plan, the better prepared you’ll be. But even with as little as ten weeks of planning, you can have a nice wedding on a budget.
- Visit Expos. Bridal expos can be a dream or a disaster for a cost-conscious bride. All that temptation from those nice, friendly, vendors who want your wedding to be perfect with their services. An expo is a great place to compare services, gather prices and ideas. It can be a budget-friendly way to meet local vendors without driving all over town. Find a bridal expo near you.
- Dress early. Wedding gown styles anticipate the coming season, so if you plan to marry in June, look for a dress at the end of the summer before the wedding. If you buy it in March or April, it will not only be more expensive, you’ll be competing for fittings with all the other summer brides.
- Go alternative. Does it have to be a wedding dress? This is a one-time event. Consider wearing a something that’s actually old (as in vintage or gently used), borrowed (from a friend or relative) or blue (or another color besides white). Make a statement with your dress and dare to be different.
- Package deal. An all-inclusive event can be the perfect wedding on a budget. Las Vegas is a good example: most hotels offer a range of package deals, and the city even has its own wedding planning website. You can save time and stress in addition to money by leaving all the details to a single venue.
- Ask for help. Although this is a wedding on a budget, work out a fee for services rendered. Don’t guilt anyone into providing a freebie, just because they know and love you. You make a good faith offer to pay, and they may gift the goods/services and turn down the money. Or, ask them if they would do something for you instead of giving a gift.
- Offbeat sites. Your state or county park system has pavilions and cabins for rental. A friend or relative with a really big backyard. How about a museum, a lighthouse or a diner’s back room?
- Break it up. Have a simple courthouse ceremony first and fund a more lavish party afterwards.