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6 Tips for Planning a Wedding on a Budget

Married couple holding hands

It’s no secret that a wedding is one of the most expensive moments in our lives. According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the United States last year was over $33,000. While it may seem impossible to stay on budget as you plan for your special day, trust us when we say you can still have an amazing event on a smaller budget! Here’s some down-to-earth tips to help you stick to your wedding budget.

1. Start with a realistic wedding budget

Get organized. Before booking anything, have a conversation with your future spouse and create three lists: must-have, nice-to-have and no-way. Must-haves are things you both agree will be worth spending money on, nice-to-haves are those you can pick from with whatever money is left over, and no-ways are elements that neither of you think are important enough to prioritize. With this in mind, you can begin calling vendors from your must-have and nice-to-have lists and gather quotes on pricing. Remember that shopping around is a good thing, as you will be more likely to find the best deals if you look at several different places. From these quotes, you can form a budget based on the average costs. 

2. Figure out how long you will need to save

You can use a really simple equation to figure out how much time you’ll need to save money for your big day: Take your total budget for the event and divide it by how many months you have to save. If the amount seems too much to save in any given month, add more time to your calendar or try cutting back on regular monthly expenses that aren’t essential. Summit’s Climbr® online budgeting tool or our budget tracking spreadsheet can help with that!

3. Cut unnecessary spending

As you begin saving for your wedding, take a look at any unnecessary expenses in your current spending habits. You could save a lot more money each month if you eliminate cable services, magazine subscriptions, Netflix and other services you can live without as you focus on the important day ahead.

You can also cut spending by taking a bit off the top of your must-have wedding expenses.

  • Reduce the size of your guest list, wedding party, bridal bouquets, etc.
  • Try to pick wedding flowers that are in season and avoid pricey ones like peonies.
  • Choose a venue that doesn’t require you to use any particular vendors for food, music, etc. You can save a lot of money by choosing your own vendors and making little cuts wherever you can.

Deciding what to cut is never easy, whether it’s for your wedding or your everyday life. Schedule an appointment with one of our personal finance experts, and we can help you come up with a plan.

4. Get all the fees in writing

Keeping track of all those long contracts will come in handy in the long run. If you notice discrepancies in payments, for example, you can look back at the contract and ask the vendor to clarify. Forgotten fees can accumulate fast, so it’s best to stay organized right off the bat.

5. Don’t invite everyone you know

Keep the guest list to a minimum, only including people you genuinely want to share this moment with. Avoid throwing an invite to everyone you met in college or the great aunt you’ve only met once. This is also the time to decide what your rule will be for plus ones – consider only extending a plus one to married spouses or couples who have been together for more than one year, for example.

6. Ask for wedding help instead of wedding gifts

Ask friends and family to contribute their assistance to the wedding instead of buying an expensive wedding gift. If you know a friend with amazing photography skills, for example, you can save a ton by having them capture your wedding moments for little or no cost rather than spending thousands to hire a professional photographer.

And starting out your life together on strong financial footing because you stuck to your budget? That’s our number one bit of advice to all you wedding-planning couples out there.