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How to Keep From Spending Too Much Money While Planning Your Wedding

Updated on July 8, 2015
How to Keep From Spending Too Much Money While Planning Your Wedding
How to Keep From Spending Too Much Money While Planning Your Wedding

With the dress, the venue, the flowers, the cake, the photographers, etc. etc. it’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the wedding day. Every day bride’s planning their own weddings buy wedding magazines, get wedding catalogs, watch all of the wedding shows on TV, and get hypnotized into believing that in order to have the perfect day, they have to have all of the little details that sparkle and shine.

One small piece, by one small item, they end up buying everything that would look absolutely beautiful at their weddings and go way over their initial budget without realizing it. And it’s much easier to do than you think. The napkins are only $20, and then the favors are only $1.50 each, but then the caterer has to tack on an extra $100 for something you don’t even understand, and your mom has decided that she has to invite the extra 30 members of her Bingo club.

It’s harder to go and spend less than $100 at the grocery store on groceries for the week than it is to stay on budget when you are planning a wedding. The problem is that the bride is always so emotionally involved, and who wouldn’t be. Your wedding day is extremely important. However, every expenditure, and every decision, you make will be emotionally tied to your one perfect day, which makes it difficult to think clearly about money.

The secret to making sure you keep your spending down and stay out of debt is not only creating a solid budget for your wedding, but making a list of what you would absolutely need for your event. What are your non-negotiables? In this article, I want to offer you some wonderful tips for having the beautiful wedding you desire without breaking the bank.

Keep an Idea Book

I always suggest to all of my brides to buy a small photo book that you can pick up for cheap from just about any store from Wal-Mart to Walgreens. It doesn’t have to be beautiful. That’s what’s great about markers, sequins, ribbon, etc. You can make it your own personal wedding idea collection in your wedding colors with all of the ideas you love.

Immediately start diving into all of those great wedding websites, magazines and anything you can get your hands on about your wedding. This little book will be where you keep pictures of bouquets you love, gorgeous invitations, wedding dress pictures, and even pictures and ideas for the big things from your wedding bands to all of the small things like the guest book and pen.

Keep in mind that all of the pictures don’t have to match, don’t have to be the same color, and don’t even have to be for a great price. The point is to find the pictures and ideas that stand out to you. You can make them your own later. You’ll really be surprised over time, when your book starts to fill up that your ideal wedding will quickly come to the surface in all of the things that you love.

Quick Poll

What is your wedding budget?

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Create a Budget

At this point, it’s a good time to sit down with your significant other and make a budget. I promise it won’t be too painful. Start with the total you would like to spend on your wedding as a whole.

This number should include what the two of you are able to spend, without credit cards, and any money that either of you might be getting from your parents for the wedding. Underneath this number, write all of the areas where you will be spending money, like the cake, the dress, the flowers, the venue, photography, etc.

Put a huge star next to the area(s) that’s the most important to you. This is where the majority of your money will go. Do you really want great food? Maybe you and your fiancé go out to eat all of the time or love cooking great food at home, and this area means a great deal to the two of you. It may be another area.

This is the area where extra money will likely go as well. It’s good to know this ahead of time as you set specific amounts of money aside ahead of time. You may also want to mark the area(s) that you don’t care much about. Maybe the flowers aren’t that big of a deal to you. You want so many other things for your wedding that you don’t want to waste any extra money on the flowers. Obvious, which area(s) you choose for each category is for you to decide.

Lay out percentages of your wedding budget over all of the categories in a way that seems right to you. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s a good way to begin. Make sure all percentages end up equaling 100% at the end. Multiply out each percentage to find out how much money each one equals out of your budget. Now you are ready to really get going.

You might want to use a program like Microsoft Excel for something like this as it will do the math for you. Check out my articles on The Average Wedding Budget and Creating Your Ideal Wedding Budget for a handy guide for doing this easily.

How to Keep From Spending Too Much Money While Planning Your Wedding
How to Keep From Spending Too Much Money While Planning Your Wedding | Source

Make a List

As you glance through your photo book of ideas, decide what you really want in each category for your wedding. What is really important?

Do you want a professional photo album for your wedding or can that wait until you have more money?

Do you have to have passed hors d’oeuvres or can you have a sit-down dinner instead?

What about flowers?

Do you need to have fancy centerpieces on each table or can half of them be smaller arrangements?

(Keep in mind as you talk to your vendors, some of your ideas and percentages may change. You may end up spending less than you originally thought in one area and can move that money to another. You could end up saving money on one vendor, and be able to spend it on another. Vendors are great for asking how to cut costs in each area if you have the right ones.)

As your list starts rounding out, you will likely know about how much money you can spend in each area for all of the items you want in that area. Now all you need to do is hunt for bargains. Along the way, you may also decide to start cutting some items off of your lists in favor of being able to get another.

(Please remember that the cheapest vendor is not always the best option. I would suggest going with the one that feels right to you and may be just slightly above the cheapest.)

Consider items that you can make yourself. However, always be careful to compare what it would cost you to make it to the price you could purchase it for. Making your own favors, invitations, bouquets, etc. may not always a better deal.

You should also consider your time and what it’s worth. As you make purchases towards your wedding, make sure to record them on your budget so you know how much you’ve spent so far under each area. Don’t be afraid to return any items that you change your mind about. (Just make sure to keep your receipts so you can.) You might realize how important, or not important, certain things really are to your perfect day.

Create Your Guest List

This is one of the more well-known ways of saving money on your wedding, but also one of the hardest. When deciding how many people to have on your list, you should keep in the back of your mind that each guest on your list adds an extra meal, an extra place setting, an extra chair and an extra place at a table, among other things.

This is YOUR day. Consider those people that mean the most to you, those people you really want to share your special day with and those that you would sincerely miss if they were not at your wedding. A guest list of 75-80 is typical for most weddings, and 250 is a huge wedding. You will find your right number. Don’t fall for friends and family members pressuring you to invite certain people.

One great way to give everyone in your family a fair chance at inviting people is to divide the number of guests you are looking at into 3. You and your fiancé get one-third, the bride’s family gets one-third (even if the bride has stepparents, this just means that the bride’s dad gets half of that third and the bride’s mom gets the other half of that third), and the groom’s family gets one-third.

Have each side list the people they want to come labeling them with MC (must come) and WDC (would like to come). This way when it’s time to start cutting people, you know who on each list you can begin to cut. Check out my articles on Creating Your Guest List Easily and Cutting Your Guest List Down to Size for some handy tips in this area.

How to Keep From Spending Too Much Money While Planning Your Wedding
How to Keep From Spending Too Much Money While Planning Your Wedding | Source

Be Careful Hiring Friends and Family Members

This one gets its own category because it’s such a big deal. I know it seems like a great idea to rely on friends and family members to handle different areas of your wedding for you. Not only will they make your cake, do your wedding flowers, or any number of things, but it will be cheap, if not free. Great deal right?! Most of the time, it’s not. Keep in mind I said most of the time.

It’s a wonderful gesture for them to offer, but they really do need to be treated like any other vendor you interview. If they don’t bake cakes professionally, don’t count on them to be professional on the day of the wedding. I’ve seen way too many family members not show up on time, change their minds at the last minute about helping, and even do a REALLY poor job and mess up the couple’s perfect day. Remember these words “Thank you but we would prefer to hire a professional for this one.”

It sounds like I’m being flippant and don’t truly understand your situation and/or your family. Your mother would never do anything like that right? I’ve planned too many weddings where couples insisted that their family or friends were reliable.

I’ve seen more than one mother not show up to her daughter’s wedding because the cake didn’t turn out, or the flowers weren’t done, etc. I’ve seen siblings get drunk while they were supposed to be taking wedding pictures. And I’ve seen one great friend use the free video program for a couple’s wedding slideshow, after showing up four hours late, and the trail ran out in the middle of the video for all guests to see.

Check Out Your Local Thrift Stores and Garage Sales

You’d be really surprised at some of the great pieces you’ll find when perusing through garage sales on the weekends through thrift stores at your convenience. You can find all sorts of great vases and frames for your wedding decorations, themed objects to decorate tables, and even some great books on wedding planning.

In order to save money on our wedding, my husband and I purchased all of our dishes (dinner, salad and dessert), silverware, and glasses (water and wine) for the entire wedding at thrift stores, all for $60. We also found many of our serving platters, serving utensils, and pitchers there.

I know it might sound strange, but you might just find all of your table linens and napkins, extra tables for your event, a great old chandelier or some hurricane lamps for your ceremony aisle, or even better, an amazing door for your grand entrance into the ceremony (for those having an outdoor event.

My husband and I even found all of the mattresses, sheets, and pillows for our family for the house we rented for them to stay in for our wedding.

How to Keep From Spending Too Much Money While Planning Your Wedding
How to Keep From Spending Too Much Money While Planning Your Wedding | Source

Consider a Unique Wedding Venue

On the topic of renting a home for our wedding guests, this is also the perfect way to save some money on your wedding! Traditional wedding venues, as they are listed on the internet, will charge you an arm and a leg to host your wedding there.

Typically they will promise you the world for the exorbitant price they are charging, but really aren’t providing much more than the location itself. Because this is their business, they usually know that brides and grooms will pay more believing that they have no other choice.

Choosing a location like an aquarium, an airport, the beach, a National park, a lake, a rental or vacation home, a school or university location, etc., you can save a great deal of money because they will simply charge you what is reasonable for the location. Sometime you can get your venue for as low as $200-$300, or even free, like we did.

We had two separate wedding venues, one for the ceremony and one for the reception. However, because we chose to use the university chapel (with one wall of sheer glass looking out over the lake where my husband proposed), and the National park (a cliffside overlooking the water), we paid absolutely nothing!

See my articles on Unique Wedding Venues and Saving Money on Your Wedding Location to see how you can do the same and save yourself thousands of dollars.

There are so many amazing ways to truly have the wedding you and your hubbie desire without having to scrimp and save, have hamburgers and hot dogs on paper plates, and even without having to give up some of the wedding ideas you want the most.

Check out all of my articles at vvanness.hubpages.com to get all of my ideas for yourself! You can also get my new book 300 plus Ways to Make Your Wedding Your Own, which is chock full of more than 300 great ideas for making your wedding unique on a budget. On to my next article!

Quick Poll

If you had a chance to, would you take the extra steps to save money on your wedding?

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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness

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    • Sunny River DIY profile image

      Sunny River DIY 3 years ago from A Place Without A Name which resides somewhere between Fantasy and Belief, just north of Reality.

      Good hub and very well written. Enjoyed reading it. :)

    • VVanNess profile image
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      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 22 months ago from Orange County, CA

      Great hub!, I think it's important to plan for spending a little over so that you aren't blindsided when it happens. For my wedding our biggest money saver were the flowers. Flowers are beautiful sure, but they also die after 3 or so days--easier to com up with a different centerpiece for each table.

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