10 Financial Tips For Planning The Wedding Of Your Dreams And Having Money To Show For It Afterwards

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For many of us, our wedding to our best friend is the ultimate celebration and one we will cherish for the rest of our lives.  Make sure you stay mindful of your spending, so you’ll have something more than pictures when you start to build your life together. You really can create a stylish, special, and memorable occasion without breaking the bank—read on, and we’ll show you how.

Earlier, we learned that wedding spending was at an all-time high in 2015, reaching anaverage of over $32,000 which equates to over half the annual median household income in the U.S. Costs can add up quickly, and 45% of couples end up spending more than they had initially intended. While 6% of couples were able to come in under their budget (amazing!) and 26% stayed within budget, a scary 23% admitted that they had no budget at all!


Who foots the bill for the cost of a wedding? Well, a recent survey on The Knot found that the bride and groom typically pay for 43% of the total cost of the wedding day, with the bride’s parents covering 43%, the groom’s parent’s paying 12%, and others contributing 2%. Yet, 12% of couples paid for the entire wedding themselves. Even with financial help from others, a recently-completed Bustle poll of over 2,000 adults indicated that a staggering 91% of couples regretted their wedding-day spending (even if they didn’t go over their budget) and would rather have spent what they could actually afford, entering their new lives together debt-free. 34% of respondents said they would opt to save up what they needed before splashing out on their day, and a mere 4% of those polled indicated that they would go ahead and splurge, even if they couldn’t afford it.

Fortunately, in this second part of my series, I’m here to offer my guidance so that you can make informed decisions and stay within (or even under) your budget. I’ll give you a breakdown of costs by category and then offer some general tips on trimming costs across the board.

So, just what is all that wedding day money going to? Let’s take a look.

Wedding guests applauding while looking at newlywed couple during outdoor wedding. Horizontal shot.

The biggest wedding expense couples have is the wedding venue itself, which comes in at an average of $14,006. This includes charges for use of the venue as well as venue decorations like flowers, ribbons, and candles. As discussed in the previous article, spending on receptions is also up, and the catering alone costs an average of $68 per person. Spending on wedding rings has increased from an average of $1126 in 2011 to $1417 in 2015. DJs and entertainment, photography, and dresses round out the list of the largest expenses.

As you can see from these figures, there are many categories of wedding-day spending that could benefit from cost-cutting. Now that we’ve crunched the numbers, let’s start trimming them with the following tried-and-tested tips! Use them for inspiration, and try to incorporate as many as you can. Though I don’t expect you to use them all, using a few of them may just help you be one of the lucky couples who comes in under-budget, too!

1. Stationery (Invitations, Save-the-date Cards, and “Thank You” Notes)


Often, stationery is one of the first things on a couple’s list, and all those invitations can quickly add up. To help your budget, if you opt for paper invitations and other cards, shop around for the best prices online first. Keep your design simple and minimalist for the cheapest price, and opt for plain white envelopes instead of colored ones. To save even more, you can decide to print your own stationery at home. For additional savings, consider going eco-friendly and digital with your stationery . Many companies now offer wedding e-cards and online RSVPs, and you’ll save on both time and postage!

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2. Your Wedding Transport

Wedding decoration

While most people traditionally opt for a limo at their wedding, this can get pricey. Does a friend or family member have a nice vehicle you could use instead, or do you know anybody who could lend you a classic car for the day?

3. Dresses, Decorations, and Flowers


“Attending designer trunk shows is one of the best ways today’s brides can save money and find the style they’re looking for. Retailers often offer a discount during trunk shows and showcase the featured designer’s entire collection – a win-win for the stylish, budget savvy bride. Brides who do their homework will come to find that many high-end designers also offer a more affordable collection, much like Mon Cheri’s Enchanting line. Don’t count these collections out! The designs from these collections are couture-inspired, on-trend and won’t break the bank,” shares Steve Lang, CEO of Mon Cheri Bridals.

It’s all too easy to overspend on the wedding dress, but you really don’t have to! Instead of going to a boutique for your dress shopping, try sites like Etsy first. You can get a truly original design (handmade just for you) and a perfectly tailored fit, all for a fraction of the cost at major shops. Mon Cheri, J.Crew, and Anthropologie also have dedicated online wedding boutiques which offer outfits for everyone in the wedding party in a choice of styles and extended sizes. All are color-coordinated, of course, and can cost much less than brick-and-mortar boutiques. As a bonus, select styles on these sites go on sale each month!


“We’re living in a world that’s always on-the-go. Today’s couples want convenience, luxury, and affordability . Order your tuxedo via your smartphone, have it arrive at your doorstep, and just send it back when you’re done!” Peter Abruzzo, CEO of Xedo.com.

For decorations, opting to have a wedding in December will save you lots. With most churches and other venues already decked out for the Christmas and winter holidays, you’ll basically be getting decorations for free!

To save on floral arrangements, try to use flowers that are in-season and avoid using very pricey flowers like peonies, which can be five times the price of roses! Stick to one or two types of flowers, and use lots of greenery to fill in your arrangements. You could even incorporate non-floral elements like lanterns to add interest without hiking up the price.

4. Venue Scheduling Options


You can often save money at your chosen venue by changing the time of day and duration of stay that you book. The biggest way to make a dent in costs is to simply book in the off-season. If that’s not possible, opting for a Friday afternoon or evening or a Saturday event around brunch will help you keep costs down. For timings, consider booking a 3-hour event instead of a 5-hour one to save even more.

5. Memories and Musical Moments


While most people hire a professional photographer and sometimes a videographer, too, you can keep costs down by choosing photography or videography students from your local university. Some couples even opt to give every wedding guest a disposable camera and have them all take pictures during and after the ceremony and at the reception. That way, since so many people are taking pictures, you’ll likely end up with a higher proportion of good shots and have a choice of plenty of different angles, so that you can pick out “your best side.” You can higher a local photography or video processing service to digitize your favorite snaps and create a wedding slideshow for you.

For music for your ceremony, consider hiring students or recent graduates of a local university music school. You’ll be spoiled for choice with singers, string players, and pianists all at your disposal, and you can save money while getting a high-quality service. If you ask, sometimes these students are also available to play your reception, too. If you want non-classical music for your reception, a DJ will be much cheaper than hiring a whole band.

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