Some of us have been planning our wedding since we were 6 years old. Dreaming of what it would look like and creating our lists of wants and desires. Over the years those lists can get long and more expensive. Sometimes out of our price range. Thankfully, having limited finances doesn’t mean you have to compromise on a dream wedding, as long as, you budget and plan ahead.

Start Your Wedding Planning ASAP

A lot of wedding venues, caterers, and photographers may be booked nearly 2 years out. This prevents limited choices and having to settle. Planning ahead of time, not only helps you determine what you can afford, but it can also be fun by allowing you to explore locations, themes, decor, and wedding attire that won’t break the bank.

Tip #1 – Start with the Guest List

Do not treat your wedding as a family reunion. Family reunions have their own title for a reason. If you haven’t seen or been in contact with a person within the last 3 – 5 years, whether family or friends, do not include them on the guest list. This includes the random social media friend that rarely interacts with you until you start posting about your wedding, aka a “free good time”. Weddings should be an intimate gathering that you truly know will support you in your marriage and have your best intentions at heart.

Prevent any unexpected guests by setting clear expectations on your invitations For example add wording such as, “The Bride and Groom have respectfully requested this be a kid-free event.” or “The Bride and Groom have reserved (x amount of seats) in your honor.”

The Guest List Helps With The Next 2 Tips – The Location & The Menu

Once you have a guest list you should now be able to have a general idea when it comes to the size of your wedding venue or location, as well as, how much food you will need. Most venues and caterers, if you go that route, will charge you per person. So knowing how many people you plan to attend will save you in the long run.

Tip #2 – Location

Choose an affordable location that can support the size of your guest list. You can get your dream wedding by dressing up and decorating a much less expensive location. Some ideas could be your own backyard or the backyard of a family member or friend who wouldn’t mind hosting the event.

Some parks have gazebos, picnic tables, or even community center buildings that you may be able to rent for a small fee. Most outdoor venues can cost you thousands of dollars less than renting an indoor wedding venue.

Tip #3 – The Menu

Again, knowing how many people you intend to invite helps you get an idea of how much food you will need to provide. Once you get your final RSVPs you can then narrow down your food budget even smaller. Setting a respond-by date will help with this as well.

Having breakfast, brunch or even lunch instead of dinner at your wedding can cut your food budget by 30%. Breakfast bars and mimosas have been making surprising, successful debuts at weddings.

If you’re having a later-in-the-day wedding and breakfast or lunch is not an option having a buffet is a cost-friendly way to feed your guests than paying per plate. Some ideas include having a pasta or chili bar. With a pasta bar, you can serve multiple types of pasta and sauces are a simple dinner option, just don’t forget about your keto or carb-free friends by looking into pasta alternatives.

Having a chili bar for your fall or winter wedding with multiple types of chili and toppings can cut down on expensive dinner entrees. Add a hot chocolate bar, bonus points if it’s a boozy hot chocolate bar, to further that warm, feel-good feeling!

Tip #4 – Say “Maybe” to the Dress?

Wedding dresses can be one of your largest expenses and are usually worn once and stored away. Sure sometimes it will be pulled out every few years to see if you can still fit it or to celebrate an anniversary or vow renewal, however, most of the time it sits in the back of the closet to never be worn again.

Skip the expense by renting your dress, purchasing your dress from a thrift store, or even better, repurposing a willing family member or friend’s wedding dress. Alternations such as adding or removing layers or selves, changing the length, or adding 3D details like jewels, flowers, bows, or embroidery make the dress look red carpet ready!

Just make sure you can sit in the dress before your rent or purchase it and before you make any alterations that make the dress smaller or shorter.

Tip #5 – Keep The Planning Professional!

Ask Questions! If you’re renting a venue or hiring catering ensure that you ask about any hidden costs, such as extra tax or charges for going over the expected guest limit. Do not be afraid to negotiate. Negotiating is the best way to save money and you never know if you don’t ask!

Get your contracts in writing. Anyone you are hiring for services should be comfortable with putting your expectations, expected expenses, and if any deposits are refundable in writing. This goes for venues, DJs, catering, photographers, etc. If they do not agree to a written contract find another provider.

Keep track of payments made by saving receipts and writing payments down in a spreadsheet or ledger. Write down your due dates to prevent penalties, or even losing your deposit, for missing a payment.

Lastly, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!

You’re the only one that will know if something is wrong because you’re setting your own expectations. Everyone else will be too busy celebrating your next milestone and will never guess if your hair, dress, or something else was not the way it was planned or rehearsed. Once the wedding reception is over it’s on to the honeymoon and the rest of your life! Best wishes and happy planning!

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