While it’s always nice to have an unlimited budget, no matter what you do in life, chances are that you don’t. For most of us, there are bills that need paying and other things we want to do in life other than get married—like buy a house, rent a bigger apartment or go on a long vacation. If we put all our money into our wedding, we rob ourselves of the ability to do other things.
So, even if you have a good budget, think about what you want most—a big wedding or a big life in general. It all comes down to balance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a STUNNING wedding on a slightly smaller budget. After all, some of the best parties are free…
Get Clear on What Matters
Write a list together with your husband to-be about what matters the most to you. Is it having great wedding photos, or having a live band? Is it the dress, or is it the food? Maybe it’s simply the overall atmosphere?
Knowing what matters the most gives you clues as to where to spend the most money. However, always be creative—just because you can spend more money doesn’t mean you should.
Find Your Theme
To plan a good wedding, any wedding, find your theme. You will want an overall theme and a color theme. Is it a rustic wedding you want? A modern minimalist one? What’s the color theme for your theme?
Normally, the colors tie into the theme. For example, you might want a rustic wedding with sunflower inspiration, meaning yellows and greens are part of the color theme.
It’s important that all the elements stick together, that’s why you want the theme first. Otherwise, you might end up with a modern minimalist style location, a modern dress, cowboy boots and line dancing all in one go. (Admittedly that’s an extreme combo, but you get my drift.)
To find your perfect wedding theme, have a look on Pinterest. You can check out this board I made, which has a lot of different ideas for weddings. The great thing about Pinterest? Underneath each picture you click on, you will find similar pictures. So if you choose a woodland wedding themed image, there will be a ton of others to gather inspiration from underneath it (when the algorithm works, that is).
Now that you know what you want, how can you get that for as low a price as possible?
Friends and family are a great asset. They can help you brainstorm creative ways of saving money. You might have a friend who’s a photographer, another who is a chef, a third who bakes amazing cakes and so on.
Someone else might be really artsy and would love the opportunity to help you decorate for your wedding. Maybe a friend is a designer and could help you with the invites. Do you have a friend who’d love to DJ or be an MC if you put together a list of music on the iPad yourselves?
Other creative ways to save money include:
- make your own invites
- if you belong to a local church, ask the women’s organization there to help with the planning in return for a small donation
- buy secondhand items for creative table decor
- use single flowers, or two flowers together, in small glasses or similar as floral arrangement for the table. Alternatively, use potted plants or fruits.
- instead of a huge wedding cake, do something original like serving different ice creams, cheesecakes, a cheese wedding cake (cheeses put on top of each other to look like a cake), etc.
- buy a secondhand dress or regular dress that you turn into a wedding dress with a few alterations
- look through Pinterest for DIY wedding hacks
- find personal gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen as opposed to lavish ones
- keep favors simple, such as a single chocolate truffle or a bag of seeds to “grow love”
- have a buffet instead of a three-course meal and avoid expensive meats and seafood
- have a picnic instead of a meal
- have a tea party instead of a meal (if you like the idea of filling your house with new china, potentially old mismatched tea cups, this could be the perfect opportunity for that)
- have breakfast or brunch instead of dinner
- arrange the ceremony or party at home instead of hiring a venue
- if you prefer a live band to your iPod, ask at a local school if any students have a band and would be suitable to play the kind of music you want
- have a theme like a 60s swing dancing party where you can easily buy clothes and other knick-knacks secondhand
- hire clothes en masse—get people together to rent clothes as opposed to going one-by-one
- let a family restaurant do the catering, unless you can get friends and family to help with it
- have people give towards the wedding as opposed to giving gifts. You can do this as a monetary thing, or simply have them bring their own bottles of wine.
- keep drinks to a welcome drink and wine/beer for dinner, or do a teetotaler wedding
- planning to move soon? Host the party in the still empty house you intend to move to
- find the cheapest options for things like tables and chairs. Maybe you can rent them from the local school, church, organization or college as opposed to renting them from a company that does rentals specifically for parties and weddings.
- instead of having waiters, hire your friends to do some sort of quirky waiting staff performance throughout the night (given you do something simple like a buffet and they get to sit down and enjoy themselves too!)
Other Creative Ways of Minimizing the Budget
Have you thought of eloping? This means the money for the wedding can go to a nice trip somewhere where you can get married instead. It also means that you can have a regular party when you come back instead of a lavish ceremony followed by a big affair with food, or simply tell people that you will have a traditional wedding reception in a year’s time (when you’ve saved up the money).
You can also do a small reception followed by a simple breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Once you get back from your honeymoon, you can host a bigger, less traditional wedding party for more friends and family—a party that does not require food, etc.
When it comes to the honeymoon, going on a road trip is a budget friendly alternative. If you want to have nice accommodation for less, use AirBnB instead of hotels. If you want free accommodation, use couchsurfing.
You can, of course, mix and match—spend the wedding night in a hotel, a couple of nights doing AirBnB and a couple of nights roughing it as a couch-surfer. That being said, some people in the couch-surfing community will offer you a room to yourself in a luxurious house. If you plan ahead, you can schedule a great trip this way.
So, as you can see, weddings don’t have cost a fortune to be beautiful. What other tips do you have for beautiful but cost-effective wedding planning?