Making cuts to keep your wedding on budget can be difficult, but not impossible.

When my husband and I got married, it was very important to us that we stay within our budget. We did not want to finance our big day in any way, shape or form. As we looked for ways to cut our expenses, we happened upon an extremely inconvenient truth: the best and biggest ways to cut your wedding budget are also the most painful.

Big Cuts Hurt Up Front But Save Big Bucks

Want to save money on food, seating, flowers, drinks, favors, the cake and virtually every other wedding expense under the sun? Cut your guest list.

Yes, it’s heart-wrenching. But the length of your guest list is the single largest factor in determining your wedding budget. Your venue won’t have to be as large, you will be able to buy expensive plates for the people who do come to celebrate your big day and you won’t have to decorate nearly as many tables.

After we decided that we simply couldn’t afford to invite everyone under the sun, we actually grew to love the idea of a smaller wedding. It was much more intimate, allowed us to spend time with every single one of our guests and removed a lot of stress not just on our budget, but on the time we spent planning things like seating charts and wedding favors since a smaller wedding allows for so much meaningful creativity.

After we decided that we simply couldn’t afford to invite everyone under the sun, we actually grew to love the idea of a smaller wedding.

The second biggest way to cut your wedding budget is to not have an open bar. It’s not a popular decision. People spend a lot of money traveling to weddings, not to mention buying an appropriate outfit and gift. They expect to drink to their heart’s content once they’re at the party.

But alcohol adds up quickly, and your guests should be coming to celebrate your love — not their love of liquor. If you don’t want to do a completely cash bar, there are a couple of options. We bought everyone a couple of rounds of champagne, and had everything else cash. Another strategy is to have an open bar for the first hour or two, then move to cash. If you’re still trying to decide how much alcohol you’ll need to purchase, here are resources that can help.

Moderate Cuts Free Up Less Cash But Also Hurt Less

Still want to spend a lot on alcohol for your 200 closest friends? Totally understandable. Here are some other ways to cut expenses so that you may be able to make those goals fit into your budget.

Get married in the off-season. January through March are typically the cheapest months to get hitched. Everyone from vendors to venues will charge less when their services and spaces are not in as high demand. Interesting factoid: Summer isn’t the most expensive season to get married.

Get married on a Friday. Saturday weddings are more convenient, but again, Fridays command less of a demand and are therefore cheaper.

Get married at your reception site. Whether you’re having your reception in your church’s basement or exchanging vows with a fancy restaurant’s epic views as your backdrop, booking both events at the same venue can save you money. Ask about package deals for hosting both parts of your big day at their site, or ask if they have differently hourly rates for each part of your wedding.

We did all of these things, from the painful to the pain-free. While I’m sure our guests would have loved to have free alcohol flowing all night, I’m also pretty sure they wouldn’t have wanted it as much if they knew it would have put us into debt. We had a beautiful time with our closest family and friends with zero complaints. Plus, nobody minded calling in a half-day to come to a Friday wedding.

While it hurt to make these cuts initially, looking back, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Written by Brynne Conroy, who blogs at Femme Frugality

Participation Pays Off: How did you save money on your own wedding and reception?

One Response to How We Kept Our Wedding on Budget

  1. Bride says:

    Lots of money can be saved by having a wedding at a public park or a home with a large yard, where the wedding and reception can be at the same location. Rent some BBQ pits, have some friends cook during the reception (some food can be made the day before) and serve the food in a buffet line. Tables and chairs might need to be rented but that doesn’t cost a lot. Many guests (family and friends) would be delighted to help out with setting up and such—they feel more involved that way. You don’t need a professional band or DJ, just a halfway decent sound system, a good selection of digital music and someone to volunteer to oversee that. I know that some women have been “dreaming of a big wedding since they were a little girl”, but that sounds like they have more interest in the wedding than in the marriage.

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