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So you’re newly engaged, and it’s time to start planning for your big day! A good first step is to start with a wedding budget breakdown to help you understand how much everything will cost. It’s no secret that weddings can be expensive, and you may already have a picture of your dream wedding in your mind. However, it’s important that you set a realistic wedding budget to ensure you don’t derail your long-term financial goals.
Your wedding is an important day and life event, so you may have anxiety over the cost of such a big celebration. But, there are more options than going into debt to make that happen. Though a substantial number of engaged couples take on debt to pay for their wedding, but it’s possible to avoid that and still have a wedding on a budget that’s fun and elegant.
Doing your research ahead of time on what things cost will make you feel more prepared when it’s time to hire vendors and make purchases — and ease the stress of planning a large-scale event.
Wedding Cost Breakdown
As with any important financial decision process, the first step to planning your wedding budget is to align your long-term financial goals with your significant other. This will help you determine a realistic wish list that will be within your budget.
When creating your wedding budget, it can also be helpful to visualize the different expenses as percentages. This will give you a better idea of how much to set aside for each expense. Once you have the lump sum of your budget figured out, you can divide it up based on how much specific vendors cost and how you prioritize different aspects of your wedding.
A wedding budget breakdown will also help you decide what to do with any money you might receive from a family member who is willing to put some funds toward your big day! That extra money can be used for your general wedding expenses, or allow you to splurge on something you thought you weren’t able to originally afford.
Average Wedding Cost Breakdown
An average wedding cost breakdown can ultimately help you decide what to include in your own budget, though it will look different for every couple. The wedding budget breakdown chart below is simply a starting point to help give you a general understanding of how to allocate your funds. Here are the top expenses to include in your budget breakdown.
|Expense||Budget Percentage (%)|
|Entertainment & Music||13%|
|Photography & Videography||10%|
|Invitations & Stationery||2%|
Wedding Ideas on a Budget: 7 Money-Saving Options
Even with your wedding budget set and planned out, there are some creative ways you can save more money on your special day. A lot of people are opting for less traditional wedding day aspects for a sense of individuality, to spend less money, and to have a day that they and their guests will never forget.
Here are 7 wedding ideas to consider for your own celebration that will make your event stand out while also saving some funds!
1. Choose a Nontraditional Venue
Traditional reception venues and banquet halls get the job done, but selecting a location that isn’t typically used as a wedding venue is unique and can lower the reception price tag. You can consider a restaurant, museum, park, library, or even a boat — all spots that aren’t traditionally thought of as wedding venues, but can help you save money and give your event a unique feel.
Another popular option is renting an Airbnb as a venue and holding all your wedding events at that location. You can search for listings that allow you to host events — just make sure it’s equipped to handle your number of guests, and don’t forget to factor in rental fees for things such as tents, tables, or chairs, if necessary.
2. Have a Small and Intimate Celebration
Cut the guest list down, and keep your wedding day celebration super close-knit and intimate by having a smaller gathering. A big part of your wedding budget is the food and drinks for guests, so having a huge wedding can increase that amount pretty fast.
Although it can be difficult to keep your guest list small (especially if you have lots of friends and big families), it can ultimately make the day more special by only having the people you’re closest with there for your big day, and it will help your budget.
3. Look Into Bridal Consignment
Instead of spending thousands on a dress only to wear it once, you can rent your dream wedding dress. There are some great second-hand wedding dress consignment sites, such as OnceWed.com or StillWhite.com, where you can find completely cleaned and preserved pre-owned wedding dresses.
Another alternative is renting formal wear, such as the suit for the groom. It’s a great way to cut costs on something that’s not going to be used for very long. After all, there’s really no need to splurge on attire that’s most likely going to be worn for only a day.
4. Don’t Go Wild With Vendors
A lot of wedding planners, online resources, and even friends and family members will say you need a bunch of different vendors to make your wedding day perfect. A florist, videographer, photographer, live band, DJ — the list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming and, more importantly, costly to work with so many different vendors in one day.
If you’re working with a tight budget, pick your top 2 or 3 vendors that are a must and book those for your wedding day. You can also try to negotiate with the vendors you do use to make sure you’re getting the best price possible!
5. Book a Weekday Wedding
Weekends are the most desired days of the week to get married, but lucky for you there are 5 additional days available other than Friday and Saturday! Sometimes venues offer Sunday or weeknight discounts, so it can be worth it to think outside of the weekend box. For even more savings, consider a date outside the busy wedding season such as midwinter or early spring.
Opting for a cheaper day to get married is one of the best ways to plan a wedding on a budget, without all the effort. You should also inquire about any unbooked dates your desired wedding venue may be trying to fill.
6. Skip Some of the Smaller Details
The smaller details of your wedding day are always a nice touch, but most of the time, no one remembers them except for you. If those details are super important to you, and you can’t live without the name cards, menus, or wedding favors, then, of course, include them in your budget. But, if the big-ticket items mean more, like your entertainment and photographer, use the funds there instead.
Some of the smaller items, like custom cocktail napkins and elaborate centerpieces, can get expensive and may even get thrown away at the end of the night by your guests. Save that money and focus on the non-negotiables instead. You might not need custom drink stirrers, but you probably want great food and drinks on your big day.
If all this still sounds like too much, there’s an even better budget-friendly solution: elope! Elopements have become more common, especially during the pandemic when large events weren’t an option. You and your significant other can get married at city hall, which usually only costs a couple hundred dollars, and then have a celebratory dinner with close friends and family. It skips the stress of all the wedding planning, but still lets you have a special day with your soon-to-be partner.
Is hiring a wedding planner worth it?
A wedding planner can actually reduce your stress when it comes to the planning process, and they can help you secure exclusive deals and better pricing from vendors. The largest drawback is the cost. Hiring a wedding planner can make sense for couples that can afford it, plan on having an extravagant wedding, or just don’t have the time (or interest) to plan it themselves.
However, a wedding planner might not be worth it for couples who book an all-inclusive venue, are comfortable doing DIY projects, have family and friends who are willing to help, or plan on having a smaller wedding celebration.
Can you finance the cost of a wedding?
Personal loans can be used to finance any of life’s big events, including covering the cost of a wedding. A loan could cover many event costs including everything from the venue to flowers and decorations. As personal loans can be helpful when you don’t currently have the funds, you should weigh all of your options before considering financing your wedding costs.
Using a loan or credit card can set you back financially, especially if they have high interest rates, and you are borrowing a big amount. It’s ultimately a personal decision, but be sure to consult with your significant other or a financial advisor before taking on a big debt to pay for your wedding.
How much does a small wedding usually cost?
According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in 2021 was $28,000. Let’s say a small wedding will cost a quarter of that amount. You’re still looking at around $7,000 for the event, unless, of course, you cut out a lot of the traditional expenses. There’s no set-in-stone number for how much a small wedding would cost, but a lower guest count will ultimately be more budget-friendly and save you money.
Final Thoughts: How to Save for a Wedding
Once you’ve determined your budget the only thing left to do is start putting money aside. One great tip is to add a new line to your existing budget so you can commit to saving for your wedding. Once you’re on your honeymoon, this temporary line item can be removed (or renamed to start saving for the next big purchase in your life). If you choose to put your long-term savings on hold while you put aside money for your wedding, be sure to keep your emergency fund intact in case of an unexpected expense during this time.