There’s a huge difference between a “cheap wedding” and a “frugal wedding”. You can probably tell by the way you just visualized each of those weddings in your head.
The main difference between these two types of weddings is all in the planning. Cheap weddings usually consist of the lowest-price option of everything, while frugal weddings balance quality and cost based on a well-planned budget and research.
Cheap weddings can be made into spectacular (yet still frugal) weddings with the right tips, and we’ve got them! Keep reading for the best tips on how to save for a wedding.
How to Save for a Wedding: Make a Priority List
The first thing you should do when planning a budget-friendly wedding is create a priority list. This should list everything you want to have at your wedding (guests included) on a scale from most important to least important.
Remember: This is your wedding, so you should budget for what means the most to you and your partner.
Separating each category into a priority list will ease a lot of budget headaches and make for easy cuts when necessary.
For example: Say you created a priority list of guests with your partner before planning your wedding budget. You find out later during planning that cutting down 20 attendees will drop the price of your wedding significantly.
Instead of having an emotionally charged duel with your partner over who to cut, you can reference the priority list you both created and agreed upon to take the pain out of cutting guests.
Having a priority list for each part of your wedding makes budgeting a much less emotional task. Save the tears for the big day! (Make sure to fit some waterproof mascara in the budget, though.)
How to Budget for a Wedding
“How to Budget for a Wedding” should not have to be a scary phrase to type into Google. Budgeting can come in many different formats, and finding the right one for you and your partner is easy.
It is important to start with a ballpark estimate. While the cost of a wedding greatly differs between areas/couples, you can find ranges online that can help you to build the framework of your budget. You should always over budget, however, because most couples find that they end up going over budget from last-minute fixes and surprise expenses.
After coming up with an estimate for your wedding budget, you should create a budget formula. Don’t start having algebra flashbacks, though, because this formula is easy!
Budget formulas are a great way to track your wedding savings each month leading up to the big day. Use this formula when coming up with a budget schedule:
Number of months until wedding x realistic savings each month + contributions and existing savings = total wedding budget
You can also factor in additional income to this formula, such as contributions from the family, personal loans for weddings, or passive income from a side hustle.
If you’re looking for tips on earning passive income to support your wedding, we’ve got you covered! Check out our blog post on “4 Ways to Make Passive Income”.
While budgeting does not have to be linear over the months leading up to your wedding, making a formula can help you ensure that you have enough liquid assets each month to cover your costs. This is very important for paying your vendors on time.
Budgeting still a scary topic? We understand. Check out another one of our blog posts, “How to Battle Stress on a Budget“, for more tips on budgeting.
Useful Tips for Each Wedding Essential
Now that you’ve worked out your guidelines for your budget, it’s time to put that money to use! We’ll give you helpful wedding budget tips for each item in your celebration in the next few sections.
You have a lot of flexibility when it comes to saving money on the venue.
If you are set on a specific location/feel, try to book that venue on off-season dates. For example, many weddings are held in the summer, so you may be able to snag your dream venue for a lower price in the fall/winter.
Specific days of the week can also affect the price of the venue. While Saturday weddings may be desirable for travel time and guest flexibility, many venues are drastically cheaper for a Friday or Sunday booking.
In addition to dates, location is also a huge factor in venue pricing. Try booking a non-traditional wedding venue, such as a restaurant, as many of these do not charge the same fees as a wedding venue. Additionally, booking a ceremony venue that is within walking distance to your reception venue can cut down travel/parking expenses drastically.
Once you’ve figured out the location, it’s time to get people inside it! Let’s talk about invitations next.
2020 made the world go virtual, so why not make your wedding invites virtual too?
Virtual invites are not only more reliable when it comes to delivery, but they can also cut down your wedding expenses drastically.
For your not-so-tech-savvy guests, printed invites can still be facilitated (a lesser quantity still means fewer expenses!)
If printed invitations are still part of your vision, you can save money by printing your own either at home or at an office supply store. Additionally, addressing your own envelopes with your own writing or a stamp can cut down on hand-lettering costs.
Good music is key to having a fun reception, but it doesn’t have to be expensive to be good!
If you’re looking for a live music option, try reaching out to up-and-coming musicians, such as graduate school music majors. This way, you can still hire well-trained musicians without the cost of a full professional ensemble.
If you happen to have an arsenal of talented friends, such as singers or musicians, it can’t hurt to ask them to perform something! Many performers would seize the opportunity to do what they love at an event centered around someone they love!
Make sure you compensate any performer you book, though. (Even if they are your close friend.)
Food can also be served in many money-saving ways. One of the best ways to save money on food is to offer a buffet at your wedding.
Buffets allow everyone the opportunity to pick and choose what kind/what quantity of food they want. This saves on food waste and usually balances out between guests, as different guests will consume varying amounts of food. This also cuts down the need for wait staff, which is another cost.
A discounted wedding dress doesn’t have to look like it was discounted!
Wedding dresses, much like venues, can be seasonal. The best month to buy a discounted wedding dress is in January, so if you can swing that timeline, you can find a great deal!
Other options for discounted wedding dresses include secondhand stores or sample sales, which may be more difficult to sort through but can make a major difference in your wedding budget.
If you have a certain designer or brand of wedding dresses that caught your eye, make sure to follow them on social media, as they often post deals online.
These tips can free up some wiggle room in your wedding budget, leaving space for more of your wedding wants.
Much like with musicians, up and coming or photography students can be a great deal. Many of these photographers also have portfolios you can scroll through, so there is no need to worry that the quality might be lower just because of their status.
Additionally, make sure you hire a photographer only for the time you actually need them. 8-10 hours should be sufficient for the ceremony and reception. Getting ready/behind-the-scenes shots can easily be taken by a second shooter (who may be less expensive than the ceremony shooter).
You Deserve the Wedding of Your Dreams
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice the wedding you want just to fit it into your budget. With thorough planning and financial advice, you can still have the wedding of your dreams and the financial future you deserve.
When making a personal decision on how to save for a wedding, remember that you are allowed to be selfish! This is you and your partner’s day, so make it beautiful.
Now that you’ve learned how to save for a wedding, let’s save for more big life events! Check out our article “Small Changes, Big Savings”, which offers more budgeting tips to support your future.