We know weddings can be one of the most expensive events in your life, but how much more are you spending just because it’s your special day?
Here are a few ways to avoid overpaying for your wedding
Making your wedding day “special” can be overwhelming — especially considering the average American wedding costs around $35,000. Try these tips to stay in your budget.
Keep a secret
Not from your loved ones — just the vendors! The simplest way to save on your wedding and reception is to call it a party when you talk to vendors. Many upcharge as soon as you let slip it’s the big day. Instead, tell the vendor it’s a gathering with the same number of guests — you might be shocked at the price difference.
Ask married friends for advice about planning — they might have some good tips and referrals to help you. To cut more costs, you could also approach talented friends to contribute to the wedding rather than asking them for gifts. Know a photographer? Musician? Excellent baker? Ask your talented guests if they’d be willing to contribute to your wedding day, rather than through your registry.
Read more: It costs $703 just to attend a wedding now
When engaged people break up, what happens to those non-refundable services they booked? Enter CanceledWeddings.com! They buy broken contracts and offer them at a discount.
Read the fine print!
A Consumer Reports study found that some services charge up to 26% just for gratuity and may include up to a $7 per person charge — just to cut the cake! Make sure you read the fine print of any contract before you sign so you don’t get stuck with huge unexpected fees.
Read more: How to negotiate a dream wedding
Pinterest is an amazing place, especially for DIY wedding projects. Here’s a short list of the some of the many wedding items you can create and personalize.
- Bouquets and Boutonnieres: Arrange your own in-season flowers for the freshest low-cost bouquets. You can also create your own paper flowers that look so real you can almost smell them!
- Centerpieces: There are a huge range of options, but candles in a creative container or suspended on water can be created from dollar store purchases. Bonus tip: Use the bridesmaids bouquets as centerpieces and save on buying separate decorations!
- Reception Displays: Print some photos the old fashioned way or get a fun chalkboard display to give your tables a personal touch. You can even combine seat finders and party favors!
- Instead of rice or rose petals: You can make confetti with your home shredder. One of our writers even made ribbon wands for her guests to wave as they walked out!
- Create your own photo booth: Rather than rent a photo booth, set up a photo area where people can take photos with their phones. You can also set up a space in the cloud or create a hashtag to gather the photos from your guests.
- Invitations: They aren’t part of the decorations, but they’re an important part of wedding preparations! Make your own online or try your hand with Microsoft Office. Either way, you’ll save.
Choose food carefully
You can apply some DIY spirit to your food too! While you probably shouldn’t try to cater your own wedding, you can buy the ingredients for large scale desserts — like this ingenious s’mores bar — with grocery store ingredients. Going with sheet cake rather than a multi-tiered cake will also save you a bundle. Top off those savings by buying at Costco, Target, or another grocery store bakery.
Bonus tip — see if your caterer will make you a to-go basket for you and your new spouse to enjoy later.
Another way to save is by limiting your drink choices. This could mean only providing beer and wine (and maybe a signature drink), offering a cash bar, or serving no alcohol at all. Whatever you choose, think about what you want and what your budget needs and try to compromise. Also, check out this handy infographic to calculate approximate drink costs.
Rent or buy a used dress
Let’s face it — most people can’t tell if your dress is designer or from a chain. So, if you aren’t attached to a specific dress or designer, try BorrowingMagnolia.com. If you want your own dress, but the budget is on the tighter side, H&M, J. Crew and Ann Taylor sell wedding dresses. If you’re after a big name, you can still buy a designer dress on deep discount from NearlyNewlywed.com. Another option is to try out the sample dresses that bridal stores carry, since these are also often discounted.
Know your options
You don’t always have to go with all of the venue’s vendor items — you can often supply your own chairs, tables, seat covers and more. Don’t let venues push you into spending more than you need to. Ask smart questions about what each service entails and see if you can live without some. Also, ask the venue if you can bring in your own own drinks — you’ll avoid their huge markup.