Your wedding day is one of the most important events in your life—and can also be one of the most expensive. According to Brides magazine, the average couple spends $26,989 on their wedding. “That is the price of a car or a down payment on a house!” says Meg Elaine Schneider, author of Budget Weddings for Dummies.
And if you watch Bridezillas or My Fair Wedding, you know how hard it is for couples to stick with their wedding budget, with nearly one-third of all brides exceeding their intended wedding day spending. Is it possible for couples to create a day they’ll always remember without developing a debt they’d prefer to forget? Yes—just follow some of these simple tips to save money and stick to your budget.
Set your priorities. Once you get engaged, sit down with your fiancé and figure out what is most important to you on your wedding day. “When I got married, I was more concerned with having really great food at the wedding than having lots of fresh flowers,” says Schneider. “Make a list of what you must have on your big day—a great band, a designer dress, etc.—and write it on an index card that you’ll carry with you. This way, when you have the impulse to splurge in another area, you can just look at the card before making a decision.”
Download the EEBA app. This free envelope budget software allows you to specify how much money you want to spend in each category. “Simply name your envelopes and assign dollar amounts to them,” explains says Cara Davis, author of Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot. “If you want to spend $400 on décor, you can use this app on-the-go to keep a running tally of how much you’ve spent as you pick up items at flea markets, thrift stores and online.”
Register for your photography. These are photos you will be showing your grandchildren one day, so it’s not an area to skimp. “Photography is so important to today’s couples, and the price tag often reflects that,” says Davis. “Many photographers now offer photography and video registry to help offset those costs. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure you’re prepared to meet the terms of service.”
Don’t mention the word “wedding.” The moment a vendor knows you’re getting hitched, they can jack up the price anywhere from 20 to 70 percent, says Schneider. When calling DJs, florists, photographers, etc., ask for a price simply for a party. Once they give you their quote, you can then tell them it’s a wedding.
Send save the dates via email. Don’t waste money on fancy save the dates and the postage mailing them out—most people simply toss them after marking the date on their calendars, says Schneider. Instead, send out an email or an online save the date via Evite.com.
Choose in season. From the food to the flowers, stick with what’s in season and easy to get for the time of year you’re getting hitched. So even though you might love tulips, if you’re getting married in the fall or winter months, opt for a bloom that is easy to get in your area. Once vendors start flying items in, your budget starts to skyrocket.
Marry in the morning. Not only does the morning light lend itself to beautiful photography, brunch is easy on the wallet as it is on the stomach, says Davis. “Many venues will offer discounts for renting the facility at a nontraditional time.”
Cut out the extras. Menu cards, wedding programs, engraved napkins—these do not make a wedding, says Davis. “They’re extras, and if they aren’t important to you, no one will miss them if you choose not to include them.” Another pricey item that guests won’t notice is missing? Chair covers! “They cost $2-$5 just to rent—more if you want them pressed,” says Schneider. “If you have 100 guests, you’re spending $500 just on chair covers that no one cares about!”