How to Save on Your Wedding

Point of Interest

Set your wedding budget and reduce the expenses of your big day by limiting guests, decorating the venue yourself and cutting cake costs.

The average cost of a wedding ceremony and reception in 2019 was $28,000, according to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study. For many, that’s a significant expense that they may not be prepared to handle. While TV, reality shows and the media may lead you to believe you have to spend an arm and a leg to have a beautiful wedding, many couples are tweaking their wedding budget to save significantly.

Determining the wedding budget

The first step in the wedding planning process should be developing a budget. By knowing exactly how much you can spend and how much you are comfortable spending, you can start to see what is and what is not possible. If you skip this step before you start shopping for ideas, you may find it hard to get away from venues, vendors, and visions that are too expensive, you’ve already fallen in love with.

Should you dip into savings or put part of the wedding on credit cards? It depends. If a grandiose wedding is important to you both and you have the funds in savings, you can probably get away with the spend.

If it’s going to require a loan or putting expenses on a credit card, you need to give things a closer look. Are you wanting to start your new life as a married couple off behind the curve financially? Are you ready to make payments for months or years on a one-day event? You’ll need to be the one to answer these questions.

For those with a wedding date far out enough on the calendar, you can start saving to cover the costs. Ideally, the sooner you start saving for a wedding, the easier it will be. Again, this is only if you have the ability with your current budget to save, and if it does not get in the way of other financial commitments.

There are several things a couple can do to save on their wedding budget. Being creative and smart in your planning process can help to drive down the overall cost of a wedding and move it more in line with your desired spend.

How to reduce wedding costs

Limit your guest list

Weddings have a lot of fixed costs that don’t change as your guest count changes. For example, a DJ is not going to charge you more or less based on the number of guests attending your wedding. But many other costs of a wedding fluctuate based on the number of guests. Things like food, alcohol, rentals, and even the size of the venue needed are affected by the guest count.

Before you send out the invites, take a moment to think. Do you need to invite everyone on that list? Have you talked to this person in the past few years? Are you just inviting them out of fear of awkwardness or obligation? If you dig into your guest list, you may be able to make some changes that can save a lot on your overall wedding budget.

For example, let’s say you’re having a wedding, and your food cost is $60 per person, alcohol is $45 per person, a table rental is $60, chairs are $9 each and flatware and linens for the table are $140. If you’re able to remove 10 people off of your guest list, you’d be saving a big chunk of cash for your big day.

Negotiate rates

When you go to buy a car, you probably don’t pay the sticker price on the car. Most people know you can and should negotiate with the dealer or seller to try and get a better rate. The same is true when it comes to the major expenses for your wedding. Many places have posted pricing, but they still want to make a sale. See if they’re willing to lower the costs or make concessions/throw things in for free with your payment. The worst they can say is no, and you’d be surprised how many places are willing to work with you to make a sale.

Additionally, you may want to call your wedding an “event” when talking with some vendors. There’s no need to lie if pressed for the reason for your event, but there are reasons it might be wise to change what you call the wedding. Many vendors and venues raise their prices on services and rentals the second they hear it’s a wedding. They have their standard event rates and their wedding rates for the identical service.

If it’s critical to the wedding that the vendor or venue knows it’s a wedding, you will want to tell them. But many vendors will never ask what the event is for; they’re just concerned with what you need.

Cut the cake costs

According to Wedding Wire, most couples spend between $300 and $700 on a wedding cake. These costs can escalate the more guests you have and the more intricate your cake design.

First, if you have a large wedding, you don’t necessarily need a designer cake that’s big enough to feed everyone. You can get a smaller fancy cake made for display and cutting, and then purchase cheaper sheet cakes. When the cake is brought out on plates to your guests, no one is going to know the difference.

Additionally, you can always opt for a simpler cake and dress it up with decorations yourself. You can purchase fresh flowers or cake decorations, and when the cake shows up, customize it how you want.

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Jason Lee

Personal Finance Contributor

Jason Lee is a seasoned copywriter with a passion for writing about banking, tech, personal growth, and personal finance. As a business owner, relationship strategist, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base and skill set with the rest of the world.