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With wedding costs averaging over $30K, it can feel like an impossible task for some couples to plan a wedding on a budget. But we have some good news: it can be done. Thousands of couples have incredible weddings every year without sacrificing on style or going over budget, and you can do it too. All it takes is planning ahead and a little savvy. See our guide on how to plan a wedding on budget below.

Set Your Budget

The first step to planning your wedding on a budget is to figure out what the “budget” is:

  1. Determine out who is paying for the wedding. Is it just you and your partner? Are your families helping? How much can everyone contribute?

  2. Next, crunch the numbers to figure out your total spending limit. Keep in mind that it’s never a good idea to acquire debt while paying for your wedding—stick to a budget amount that doesn’t require loans or credit card charges that you cannot repay within a few months.

Trim Your Guest list

After you set your budget, begin to build your guest list. While we understand that you might want to invite many people to your celebration, bear in mind that the more people you invite, the more you spend. Here are a few tricks to help you trim your guest list:

  1. Break down your list into A and B lists. The A list should include people who are the most important to you and whose presence would make your day feel completel. The B list should include anyone whom you would like to invite, but could be removed from the guest list if you need to trim totals.

  2. Host an adults-only wedding. Even if you love children, excluding kids from your guest list will help reduce your overall costs.

  3. Limit +1s. Reserve +1s for guests who are married or in a long-term relationship.

Research Average Costs

The average cost of a wedding and vendor prices vary a lot by location. For example, a wedding florist in Los Angeles, CA might be less expensive compared to vendors in Boston, MA or Tampa, FL. Do a little research to figure out typical costs in your area and what percentage of your total budget should be allocated to the vendors you absolutely need to pull off your wedding day. A lot of couples experience sticker shock when they receive price quotes from vendors. Knowing what to expect will help you stay within budget and let you start to hone in on areas where you might be able to cut costs.

Determine Your Priorities

Speaking of cutting costs, a great way to scale back on spending is to figure out what’s important to you as a couple and prioritize those areas. For example, your wedding day vision might place great food as a focal point. In that case, set aside a larger portion of your budget for booking a wedding caterer with a great reputation. On the other hand, if live music isn’t going to make or break your ideal celebration, you can explore DIY options like creating your own playlist and broadcasting it over a speaker using a laptop or cell phone.

We recommend that you and your partner each list your top three priorities for the wedding day separately, and then come together to discuss your lists. This will give you the opportunity to think about what’s most important to you without influencing each other, after which you can begin to talk through how you will allocate your wedding funds.

Cut Costs Where You Can

A common strategy for couples planning a wedding on a budget is to think outside of the box. Here are a few ways you might save:

  1. Explore non-traditional wedding venues, such as breweries, public libraries, art parks, and summer camps.

  2. Recycle and buy used whenever you can.

  3. Have a small wedding cake and supplement with sheet cakes or other desserts.

  4. Opt for informal wedding attire.

  5. Send digital wedding invitations.

  6. Host a potluck wedding.

  7. Choose an off-season or weekday wedding date.

  8. Limit your bar to beer and wine only.

  9. Explore alternatives to real flowers for your table decor (such as potted plants, fruit, books, teacups, etc. ) or DIY your florals.

  10. Repurpose ceremony decor at the reception.

  11. DIY your ceremony and reception music.

  12. Have a friend of family member officiate the wedding.

  13. DIY a selfie station (with a cool backdrop) instead of booking a photobooth.

  14. Host a brunch or breakfast wedding.

  15. Skip wedding programs and favors.

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