5 Tips to Save Money When Someone Else is Paying for Your Wedding

By Rachel Slifka
June 9, 2018

So, your parents or future in-laws offered to pay for your wedding. Consider yourself lucky!

With the average wedding costing over $33,000, according to Business Insider, weddings can certainly put a dent in your wallet. If you don’t have to foot the bill, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Yet, even though someone else is paying for your special day, you should still be mindful of the costs involved and offer to chip in and help your parents save money. Here are 5 ways to save money on your wedding when someone else is paying the tab.

1. Create a Plan

Let’s face it – everyone has different priorities. When your family is paying for part or most of your wedding, you do need to take their opinions into account. After you share your priorities, you can ask your parents to do the same and create a plan from there.

By being honest and open, everyone will be more apt to take each other’s desires into consideration. Plus, once you have laid out your priorities, you can better set a budget that works for both you and your parents.

2. Provide a proposed budget

It’s hard to know what a realistic wedding budget is unless you’re the one planning it. Before you dive head first into planning a wedding with your parents, do some research. Come up with a realistic budget that can work for the both of you.

From the start, a proposed budget can help show your parents the true cost of a wedding. As you walk through the necessary line items, you can then let them know what’s most important to you for your big day. At the same time, you can discuss spending areas where you can cut back if needed.

3. Location

Once you’ve agreed on a budget, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty: where will you hold your wedding?

Not only is the wedding venue likely to be one of your biggest expenses, but it is a point of disagreement for many families. Your parents may have a certain venue price-point in mind, but that may not match the vision you have for your big day.

Don’t fret! With a little creativity and compromise, you can score your dream venue at an affordable price. For example, you can look at some less costly venues that don’t come with as many bells and whistles as an expensive hotel. Yet, you may be able to save money and bring in your own special touches, like table linens and centerpieces. You can also look at some out-of-the-box venues on sites like Venues & Vows and Mayflower Venues.

By doing research and asking questions, you can find a venue that fits your budget without sacrificing what you want. Better yet, you’ll find something both you and your parents can agree on.

4. Food

Next to the venue, food is one of the most expensive wedding costs. Depending on your location, a full-service dinner costs an average of $71 per person, according to The Knot’s 2016 Real Wedding Study. If you have 150 guests, that amounts to well over $10,000 just for dinner.

If you are looking to spend less on food, you have a few options. You can consider doing an hors d’oeuvres-only reception, which can save you the cost of a full meal. Or, you can get creative and hire food trucks instead of traditional caterers. Food Truck Invasion states the average cost of food trucks is $10 to $20 per person, which is a far cry from the cost to hire a caterer.

Food isn’t the only hefty cost. Beverages and alcohol will quickly run up your wedding tab. According to The Bridal Association of America, the average open bar package costs $16.50 per guest. If you have 150 guests, that adds up to $2,475. Ouch.

If providing alcohol is important to you, you may want to switch to lower-shelf liquor or provide beer and wine only. You can even try creating a signature cocktail and serve this to all – instead of paying for an open bar.

5. Limit the guest list

The easiest way to save money on your wedding is to have a smaller, more intimate celebration. Having a small wedding, however, can be challenging when your parents are paying. Typically, parents have friends and acquaintances of their own that they would like to invite to your wedding. Adding a few guests here and there can indeed add up quickly.

Your best bet here is to be honest about how many people you would like to invite to your wedding. For budgeting purposes, you need to have a solid idea of the guest count. Once you have your ideal count in mind, talk openly with your parents and ask them if you need to invite anyone not already on your list. If so, add them on as soon as possible. This way, you’ll feel more prepared right from the get-go.

Remember: Squeezing in additional people closer to your wedding date is stressful on everyone, plus it can ruin your budget.

Show gratitude

It’s important to remember that your parents are helping you have the wedding of your dreams. It should be a joyous day.

So, when all is said and done, let your parents know how thankful you are for their emotional and financial assistance. There are endless ways to show gratitude. Perhaps you can make a special toast to them during the reception or give them a thoughtful gift. Whatever you choose to do, be grateful and celebrate.

Rachel Slifka, MBA, is a millennial personal finance expert and HR pro. She started a freelance writing side hustle in college to pay off $90k of student loans. Her work has been featured in TaxAct, Wise Bread, Chime, LendingTree, Young Adult Money, and more. She now lives (student loan debt free) in Seattle with her husband and a house full of pets.

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