people dancing

Wedding Planning on a Budget

ballin’ on a budget

As I was working on my Everything You Need to Know About Getting Married Young post, I thought it would be fun to provide some helpful tips on how to save money while planning a wedding.  Nick and I did not have a lot of money to spend on our wedding, and we didn’t want to spend all the money we did have, so we had to work with what we had.  Luckily, our families helped out a lot (in many ways, including financially), so that was a huge weight off our shoulders, but we still found ways to cut corners.  If you want to get married but aren’t ready – or just don’t want – to drop thousands upon thousands of dollars on one day, that’s totally okay!!  You do not have to wait until you have more money to get married, unless that’s something really important to you.  If you’re happy having a smaller, less extravagant celebration, then this post is for you… here’s our best tips and tricks for wedding planning on a budget! (:

wedding planning on a budget

be realistic about your budget

Before you even start wedding planning, try to have a loose idea of how much you can afford to spend; this comes into play a lot when picking out rings, especially.  Your engagement ring is most likely the first wedding-related item you’re buying, and of course you both want a ring that you’ll love, but you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on something that’s easily replaceable unless you can afford that.  If you’re on a tighter budget, maybe look at cheaper options (we found ours on Etsy), and always remember that you can buy new rings later on!

take your own engagement photos

If you don’t have a friend or family member who can take engagement photos for you and don’t want to pay a professional, no worries!  We bought a $15 tripod from Amazon, set my phone up on it, and took a video while we tried out different poses.  Then, I went back through the video and took pictures from the footage.  We also took a few Portrait mode photos, which we loved and ended up using as our invites.  If you don’t have a professional photographer or a fancy camera, it’s true that your pictures will probably not turn out quite as dreamy or “perfect” as you might have imagined, but they will mean just as much to you – if not more.  Plus, you can always edit them however you want! 

man and woman posing for an engagement picture in front of field

consider a backyard wedding

I know, this suggestion might not be for everyone.  Maybe you don’t have a perfectly gorgeous yard or enough room to accompany the number of guests you want – and that’s okay.  Not everyone has the access to the space that is needed to have a backyard wedding, but if you think you could make it work, it’s a great way to save a HUGE amount of money.  Many wedding venues are EXPENSIVE.  There are, of course, wonderful deals that you can find anywhere, but it’s hard to find those – especially if you’re 110% set on the date already.  But, just for some perspective, the cheapest venues we found would have cost us $2,000 (which is actually a really good deal in terms of a wedding venue), but that’s a whole two grand that could be spent on something else.  

Also keep in mind that going this route is probably going to take extra time and effort due to you being in charge of the set-up, decorations, etc.  Having friends and family who are willing to help out will make a HUGE difference! (:

think hard about your vendors

Vendors are what people usually spend the most money on, so think long and hard about what you really want and need.  Food, drinks, photographers, beauty services, rentals, florists, the works… think about what’s a necessity and what you could live without.  Also consider non-traditional options…  do you know someone who could make the floral arrangements or take photos?  For our wedding, we decided the only things we really needed to shop for were food, flowers, and table/chair rentals, and we (we as in my mom) found great deals on all of these!  We were also lucky enough to have family and friends who could help out with some of the other things that we would have otherwise had to pay for.  A family-friend took all our pictures, my aunt made our cake, my brother played music over our family’s speaker, our mutual best friend was our officiant, my dad made our wedding arch, we had a TON of help setting up and getting the property ready, and my best friend did the girls’ hair and makeup (shout out to all of you!). (:

wedding day hair

flower bouquet in mason jar


carefully curate the guest list

The more people you have at your wedding, the more expensive it will be!!  I think it’s important to keep this in mind when wedding planning (especially on a budget), but it’s also obviously important to have all your loved ones there for this special day.  Just make sure that the people you’re inviting are the ones who you truly want to be there, and whether that’s 10 people or 100, your day will be special if you’re surrounded by those you love. 

shop for your dress online

Bridal shops prices are often outrageous (in my opinion), so I definitely encourage you to shop online!  I found my dress on Lulu’s for $90, and it was high-quality, gorgeous, fit me perfectly, and was one of the best $90 I’ve ever spent.  You could also look for shops that rent out dresses because that can save a TON of money as well. (:

woman in wedding dress

shop around for decorations

All of our decorations were things that our families already had from previous events or items we had bought for pretty low prices.  We ordered tons of stuff from Amazon and Etsy, took trips to Target and Hobby Lobby, and it was all pretty affordable.  We also kept it simple with our decorations – lots of lights, pictures, cute signs, and balloons.  I’m sure checking out thrift stores and re-sale sites online would be a great option, too! 

don’t overdo it

Bottom line: Don’t overdo everything just because it’s your wedding.  Of course, it’s such a special day and it should be just the way you want it, but don’t stress yourself out by trying to make this day a dream that you can’t quite afford.  Plus, don’t forget that you can always celebrate later, when you’re able to afford a larger party.  You can also always renew your vows and make a whole celebration out of that! (:

first dance at wedding

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