Wedding Planning on a Small Budget

Updated Mar 15, 2013
Wedding Planning on a Small Budget
Planning a wedding isn't easy- and it isn't cheap. Here are nine tips I found helpful when planning my own small budget wedding.

Wedding planning is overwhelming.

When Michael and I started planning our wedding, I thought our medium size budget would be sufficient for everything we wanted. Not the case! Instead of moping about how all my friends parents paid for their wedding, we started a list of what was most important to us about the day and spend money accordingly.

The key to saving money is to prioritize. Some of my friends decided to do a destination wedding and just invite family because it was important for them to get married in an exotic location with an intimate ceremony. Others wanted a large guest list so they decided to have an afternoon backyard wedding and packed the grounds full of people, served light snacks, and had friends volunteer to take pictures.

When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we realized it was important for us to have it feel like a big, fun party—so Michael’s parents were gracious enough to let us have the wedding right in their beautiful backyard. We spent every penny we had on our wedding, but we don’t regret throwing what we felt like was the best party of the year (not that I’m biased).

If you are in the midst of wedding planning, here are some tips to help you cut costs where needed. Just remember, at the end of the day you will be married whether or not you have tulips flown in from Holland or have your 197 best friends from high school present. The most important thing are the vows you take before the Lord and your husband- that's what the wedding is truly about.

9 Tips for Planning a Beautiful Wedding on a Small Budget:

1.)  Reduce the guest list. This is the number one way to cut costs. Weddings can run anywhere from $40-$300/person so even cutting 50 people can save quite a large chunk of change! My original guest list was 450 and we cut it down to 125. It was hard, but worth it in the end!

2.)  Choose a different day—Friday or Sunday afternoons work great.  Maybe venues and vendors will cut you a deal if you get married on an “off-day”. Friday evening dessert receptions or Sunday afternoon teas can be beautiful and cost effective.

3.)  Select a backyard venue, a park, or a church with a reception hall. Select a venue that is either free or the costs are minimal. Most wedding venues will make you use their caterers, bar tenders, etc. and the costs can be astronomical.

4.)  Choose food wisely. Food is one of those aspects of a wedding that doesn’t really play a huge role. You can cut costs by offering a buffet, having a non-traditional wedding caterer bring in food, or just serving dessert or snacks for an afternoon wedding. Breakfast food is also cheaper than dinner and morning weddings can be really beautiful!

5.)  Don’t use the “w” word when talking to vendors. You aren’t buying a wedding cake, you just need a cake. You don’t need a caterer for a wedding, just an event. Stores often will double the charge just based on the fact it’s a wedding. Don’t use the “w” word unless necessary (FYI this doesn’t work in dress shopping;)

6.)  Buy a dress off the rack. I was skeptical about buying a dress that was already worn or one that was tried on by others. But I found the most perfect, beautiful, designer dress at a fraction of the cost. No one knew the difference and I saved $2100. You can also look at bridal shows or trunk sales for savings on a dress.

7.)  Select in-season flowers. Flowers can be an astronomical cost to a wedding, even if you only do bouquets and a few centerpieces. Make sure you select in-season flowers and even ask a friend to arrange the flowers for you! Use the bridesmaids’ flowers as centerpieces for the reception, so you only need to purchase the bare minimum.

8.)  Choose a beautiful location that needs little to no decoration. Wedding decorations can add up quickly, so it’s always a good idea to choose a venue where you need little to no decoration.

9.)  Get by with a little help from your friends. Photography, DJ, music, invitations. Ask friends to help out as a gift. If you have a friend who is a graphic designer, ask for help with invitations. Photographer, musicians, and DJs can be very expensive, so ask your friend if they would consider helping out or giving you a discount on their standard price.

Happy wedding planning! Try to keep the bigger picture in mind, ok? Marriage is an incredible gift from God, and at the end of the day your marriage is the most important thing- not the wedding day.

"But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'  'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,  and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Mark 10:6-9

Ruthie HeadshotRuthie Dean is a book marketer at Harper Collins Christian by day and a writer by night. She and her husband Michael call Nashville home. Their first book, Real Men Don't Text, will be in bookstores in 2013. Ruthie writes a relationship blog for women at