Planning a wedding sounds pretty magical until you actually start adding up things like venue fees, catering costs, and even the money you’ll spend on invitations to the big day. Sticking to your budget might seem impossible. But the best ways to save money on your wedding don’t have to be super extreme. With a little careful planning or prioritization, a simple swap could end up saving you hundreds of dollars.
An important overall tip is to figure out what’s important to you and your partner, and what isn’t. “Eliminate things that are not important to you or don’t add value to your priorities,” Boston’s Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center’s wedding expert, Leah Malin, tells Bustle. “Don’t feel the pressure to have a completely branded and customized wedding with lots of signage and over-the-top favors if that is not authentic to your taste and style.” Instead, figure out what choices will do the best job reflecting your personalities, and work from there. If something doesn’t bring any true value to the wedding for you, throw it out.
That being said, Malin says that there are some things that probably shouldn’t be skimped on, regardless of your taste and style. “There is nothing worse than inviting friends and family to a celebration and then running out of food or beverage, or not having enough staff to take care of those that have come from near and far to celebrate with you,” she says. Food for you could mean a three-course open bar wedding, or homemade finger food for everyone to munch on. Whatever route you go, be sure that nobody will go hungry.
Here are nine ways to cut costs on your wedding, according to experts.
1. Skip The Traditional Champagne
Traditionally, lots of couples have champagne or sparkling wine on-hand during speeches or toasts, but that’s really not necessary, wedding planner Catherine Bachelier tells Bustle. “If you time it right (just before dinner is served) most people will have a glass of wine or cocktail ready to go,” she says. This will completely eliminate the added expense of glassware and champagne. Besides, most people would only take a sip of two of the bubbly stuff anyway, says Bachelier.
2. Don’t Assume Everyone Will Eat Cake
You might assume that everybody loves cake, but that isn’t necessarily true. “Another cost-saving tip for the day of celebration is to remember that the cake does not have to serve all your guests,” Bachelier says. “80 percent of guests will opt out of eating cake after dinner.” If you’re super worried about running out, keep an extra less expensive sheet cake in the kitchen just in case.
3. Bring Your Own Alcohol
If you’re planning on having alcoholic drinks at your wedding, save a ton of money by opting for a venue that allows you to bring your own alcohol for the event, Katie Elder, owner of destination wedding venue Overlook Barn, tells Bustle. “Couples can literally go to their local big club store like Sam’s or Costco and get bulk pricing on alcohol rather than a major up-charge that other venues charge,” she says. “Just remember, it’s always best to hire professional bartenders for safety and sanity during the reception.”
4. Stick To One Location
Some couples decide to hold the wedding ceremony in one venue, and then ask their guests to travel to a separate event space for a reception, but keeping things to one building is a great way to save thousands of dollars of cash, not to mention stress, says Malin. “There is also the ease of streamlining the planning process and working with one contact for all elements, as well as leveraging the spending for more flexibility in fees,” she says. Using tables, chairs, and linens provided by a hotel in which the wedding is being held, for example, can mean that you don’t need to rent them elsewhere.
5. Use In-Season Flowers
Bouquet upon bouquet of stunning flowers can transform a ceremony or reception space into a magical wonderland, but paying for all of the scented blooms can really add up. “Selecting inexpensive flowers that are in season can reduce costs considerably, especially if you plan on ordering a lot of florals,” Whitney Cox, a wedding planner, coordinator, and reception hostess at Vegas Weddings, tells Bustle. “If you have an expensive flower you can’t live without, be sure to include it in your bouquet,” she says, “but try an alternative when it comes to bridesmaids bouquets or reception centerpieces.” Work closely with your florist or wedding planner if you aren’t sure where to cut corners and where to opt for the exact arrangement you’ve been dreaming of, and they’ll be sure to have some expert advice.
6. Keep Things Intimate
Cutting down your guest list is one of the biggest ways you can keep your nuptials cost-effective. The babysitter you had for three months in second grade? Probably one you can skip. Your lifelong bestie? One you’ll likely want to include. “Let your celebration be about quality not quantity,” wedding planner Guerdy Abraira, tells Bustle. “The more intimate the affair, the more personalized and design details you will be able to bring to life to create the perfect day,” she says. If you’re worried that some folks will feel left out, follow the wedding with an announcement card with a photo of the two of you as a token of inclusion.
7. Don’t Get Married On A Saturday
“Getting married on a day other than Saturday can save you money,” wedding and event planner Brian Worley, tells Bustle. Because weddings traditionally have been on Saturdays, venues will give you better deals if you get married on a Friday or a Sunday. If you’d really like to shake things up, you could probably try to tie the knot on a Wednesday, but you might risk some of your guests being unavailable.
8. Serve Seasonal Vegetables
Professional wedding and event planner Greg Jenkins tells Bustle that something as seemingly small as the produce you’re serving at a wedding reception dinner can make a big difference in how much you’re spending on the occasion. “Request the venue or your caterer to provide seasonal vegetables instead of more pricey items that are out-of-season such as asparagus, artichokes, and exotic fruits,” he says. Such a simple swap can make a $200 to $300 dent in your bill, which is definitely nothing to sneeze at.
9. Do Your Own Math
Taking the time to do some research can save you the big bucks on your wedding, says Jenkins. Instead of just accepting your venue’s wedding package (which might mark up prices of individual items), check into what each component would cost you if you were to outsource it. For example, he says, “many venues hire a florist to create the centerpieces and then mark up the price when offering them to you.” Hiring your own florist might really be worth it. At the end of the day, remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
As you’re planning and budgeting for your special day, don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s, above all, a celebration of your love. If the two of you are happy with the things you’ve chosen, it’s sure to be a magical occasion.