9 Budget-Friendly Wedding Planning Tips

From skipping the favors to opting for buffet-style catering, these clever tips can help you save big without sacrificing your wedding vision.

Make sure to track every penny spent and stick to your priorities list. Adding in small savings here and there can add up quickly.

Consider incorporating DIY elements like homemade decor or a non-floral centerpiece. Also, try to avoid renting things that you can easily provide on your own.

Shop secondhand or rent your wedding attire

Purchasing a wedding dress is a major expense, but you can find affordable options online or at secondhand boutiques. If you’re willing to be patient, some high street and online wedding dresses go on sale in the summer or winter when brides are less likely to buy them, saving you up to 50%!

Also, don’t forget to consider non-wedding-related expenses when creating your budget. These may include current daily bills, debt payments, future travel plans, or even a new car down payment.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help. Whether they’re helping you design wedding invitations or baking your cake, using talent from your personal network can save you money!

Opt for buffet-style catering

A buffet-style meal can be cheaper than a plated dinner because you’re paying for fewer dishes. Plus, it’s usually easier on the catering staff than serving a large number of guests at once.

Fresh florals are beautiful, but they’re often quite pricey. Instead, opt for more affordable filler flowers and greenery to create a gorgeous wedding display without blowing your budget.

Likewise, instead of a tiered cake, consider a cupcake, pie, or donut station. These alternative sweets are more cost-effective than a fancy fondant cake and they’re just as delicious! Plus, you can also save on venue rental costs by choosing a daytime reception. A brunch celebration is a great option for many couples and is usually more affordable than a traditional dinner reception. Lastly, choose to BYOB to save on alcohol costs. Booze is a major line item for most weddings.

Make your own decorations

Depending on how you plan to cover wedding costs, you may want to make some DIY projects as a way to add unique touches that would be too costly to hire someone else to do. This can be especially helpful if you’re bringing in family members to help with set-up and break down.

For example, raid your own recycling bins to look for glass jars and bottles you can use as unique flower vases. A coat of spray paint can transform them into something truly stunning.

Another cost-saving idea is to skip the personalized favors and instead send guests home with a delicious treat like a box of cookies or a jar of jam. That’s a wedding favor that will actually be used and enjoyed, not tossed in the trash! You can also create an eye-catching table setting by painting napkins with fabric paint.

Ask your guests to contribute to the reception

Fresh flowers are a beautiful addition to any wedding, but they come with a steep price tag. Ask your florist for flower swaps to make your bouquets and centerpieces more affordable. For example, hydrangeas are larger and look fuller than roses, so you may be able to get away with less of them for your bridal bouquets, and use the remaining flowers as centerpieces for the reception.

If you’d prefer to skip the traditional gift registry, let your guests know on your wedding website or in your invitation. Be sure to include a small registry option for those who still want to give physical gifts.

Saving money is a great way to help you stay within your budget for the big day, but don’t forget to factor in other life expenses as well. Be honest with yourself about your current monthly expenses and future goals to set a realistic budget.

Opt for digital invitations

From a wedding photographer to invitations and RSVP cards, there are many small expenses that can quickly add up. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can save on those wedding costs without sacrificing style or vision.

Consider e-invitations from a stylish site like Paperless Post to save on printing and postage. Similarly, find a photographer who will give you full rights to your digital photos, so that you can print them at home for your guests.

Try to trim your guest list as much as possible to save on food, beverages, rental items and decorations. Also, consider serving a dessert that you and your partner love (like pie or ice cream) instead of a fancy cake. You’ll still impress your guests, but you’ll save big on the cost of a cake. Plus, everyone will be happy to take a piece of the leftovers home.

Look for venues that offer affordable packages

When selecting a venue, look for options that offer all-inclusive packages. This will help you cut out a lot of the extra fees that can add up quickly, like corkage fees, venue tax, food service taxes, rights to play music, wedding license, service staff tips, and more.

Explore online resources like Nearly Newlywed and Rent the Runway to find affordable original wedding dresses. Also, opt for a shorter dress length to keep your costs down. Ask for help from talented friends and family to do wedding-related tasks, such as a friend with a flair for calligraphy helping with the wedding invitations or an aunt with a green thumb who can supply you with beautiful flora to decorate your venue. Recruiting your network will lower the overall costs of your big day. And they’ll appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your special day!

Rent decor items

Many wedding items are a necessity, but you can often save money by renting them instead of buying them outright. This includes things like tables, chairs and linens. However, you may be able to skip the rental of some items, such as a dance floor (unless your guests are planning to do the Electric Slide!).

Another option for saving on decor is to shop wholesale flowers. By doing so, you can bypass the mark-up that florists typically charge and create a beautiful floral arrangement that’s uniquely yours.

Finally, you can often save on rentals by picking a venue that doesn’t normally host weddings, such as a restaurant, brewery or vacation home. This can also make your wedding feel more unique and intimate! This can help you keep your guest list smaller, too, which will save on catering costs.

Allocate a bit more of your budget to professional photography

If capturing the perfect wedding photos is a priority for you, consider allocating just a bit more of your budget to this expense. After all, those pictures will last a lifetime.

One way to save on this cost is by trimming your guest list. This may not be a popular idea, but it will reduce both your venue and catering costs.

You can also trim costs by choosing cheaper dessert options such as a fruit or cheese platter, or even a simple cake with buttercream frosting rather than fancy fondant.

When planning your wedding budget, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the engagement ring. On average, engagement rings cost around $6,600, which can be a significant portion of your overall wedding expenses. To save money on the ring, consider opting for a smaller center stone or a less expensive metal, such as white gold instead of platinum. You can also look for deals and discounts at online retailers or during holiday sales. Remember, the sentiment behind the ring is more important than its size or cost.

Look for venues that offer all-inclusive packages

Depending on the venue, all-inclusive packages can be more affordable than hiring outside vendors for services like flowers and rentals. They often include table and chairs, china, flatware, linens and more.

Many venues offer wedding packages that include music for both the ceremony and reception. This can save you a lot of money on entertainment, as it eliminates the need for musicians or DJs.

All-inclusive venues also often have lodging on site, which can save you a lot of money on transportation costs. This can be especially helpful if you’re planning an out-of-town wedding! Having a place for guests to sleep nearby can save on the cost of shuttles and cars, not to mention the stress of transporting guests after a night of drinking.

Bonus Tip: Rent your wedding attire

The cost of a wedding dress is an important expense to consider. But renting your gown may not only be a more budget-friendly option but also a savvier one in terms of sustainable fashion.

Consider that a wedding dress can take up valuable closet space for years to come. Renting it for the day only makes sense, especially if you’re unsure whether or not you’ll want to wear it again.

Forgoing a dance floor or hiring an acoustic musician to play your big day can be an easy way to cut costs. Just make sure your venue allows BYOB to help you save on alcohol costs. And if you’re bringing in your own beverages, you can keep those costs low by serving only wine and beer. This is an especially helpful tip for brides with a limited guest list.