Wedding on a Budget

Plan the Wedding of Your Dreams on a Budget

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Many of us grow up envisioning a lavish and dreamy wedding. But our budgets don’t always align to our childhood visions. According to a survey by The Knot, the average wedding costs over $35,000! If your personal finances don't align with that data point, you're not alone. You can still plan your dream wedding on a budget. I’ve taken lots of mental notes on the tips I learned to fit my wedding to my wallet, and I'm so excited to share them here.

Get married in off-peak season.

Spring and early fall are generally popular times to get married, though peak wedding season varies by region. In the Mountain West, a summer wedding al fresco is in high demand. In Central Texas, an outdoor reception in July sounds like torture. Choosing an off-peak date can save you thousands in site fees, food and beverage minimums, and even vendor costs.

If you are enamored with that perfectly crisp and colorful autumn wedding, here’s another idea. Get married on a Friday or a Sunday. Saturdays are the easiest for venues to book, so most will offer a pretty steep discount any other day.

Choose a venue that speaks for itself.

I never appreciated the price of flowers until I started planning a wedding. Because seasonal blooms are such a big-ticket item, consider a venue that is naturally beautiful and doesn’t need a whole lot of embellishment. Chris and I decided to get married in Sedona, Arizona where majestic red rocks serve as a backdrop no matter where you turn. It would be a shame to detract from the natural beauty, so we didn’t need to spend a fortune on a rose-covered arch or other extravagant florals.

Wedding on a Budget | ModMoney

BYOB, if the venue allows.

A wedding is a celebration of love and commitment with your favorite people. So naturally, you want everyone to have a good time and offer a solid bar package. The problem is that no matter what venue you choose, the alcohol is inherently marked up. If you can negotiate with the venue to BYOB, your wallet will love you. In Texas, if you use Spec’s to liquor up your wedding, you can return any unopened bottles. This is a game-changer because you won’t have to estimate how much your friends will drink down to the last bottle. Keep in mind that every state has their own alcohol laws and local vendors, so do some research on the best option for you.

Prioritize the meaningful details.

Most of us are guilty of letting perfect Pinterest photos dictate our lifestyle aspirations. As I delved deeper into the planning process, I stressed over dozens of small details and the amount I’d have to spend to accommodate them. Something had to give. If you’re in the same boat, here’s my advice: take a step back. Think about the details that matter most. Will your guests (or will you?) really remember that your napkin rings were monogrammed? Will they notice that you upgraded to pearlescent place cards? Or that your linens were a polyester blend instead of the finest organza? Managing these minor details not only adds stress to the equation, but it also adds dollars.

Wedding on a Budget | ModMoney

Negotiate with your vendors.

I’ll admit, reaching out to caterers, rental companies, bands, florists, and photographers is one of the more menial tasks of wedding planning. But when it saves you money down the line, it will all be worth it. Your venue will often provide you with a list of recommended and reputable vendors. Get quotes from all of them. If there’s one you like best, see if they can price match. Most often, vendors are willing to offer a price concession to win your business. Especially if you’re operating in off-peak wedding season and they don’t have another event that day.

Choose a nontraditional wedding cake.

In my family, we are major dessert people. We just can’t help it. But I can’t remember ever eating a wedding cake that really satisfied my sweet tooth. Sure, cakes are beautiful and traditional. But who says you can’t get creative with it? Instead of an expensive, fondant-coated cake, consider a tiered tray of other sweets. Macarons, tarts, cupcakes, or donuts offer a modern twist on a wedding classic. Or forego the whole tiered aesthetic and go with a straight up cookies-and-milk bar. All of these options will be cheaper than a wedding cake, and trust me, your guests will love it.

Wedding on a Budget | ModMoney

Get creative with your registry.

The thought of putting together a registry didn’t excite me. I mean, a Dutch oven is cool, I guess. And maybe I could use a cohesive set of drinking glasses. But really, it’s just not my thing. Thankfully, we’re starting to see some twists on traditional registries, and Zola is at the forefront of it. When you register with Zola, you can combine products from different brands into one account (and get $50 to spend with this link). Plus, if you decide you don’t want that toaster oven after all, you can convert it to Zola credit and buy something else before it even ships to you. But here’s my favorite part. Zola lets you create customized cash funds as part of your registry. Whether it’s honeymoon airfare, a home down payment, or your favorite charity, your guests can contribute to a fund that is meaningful to you.

Sell your wedding accoutrements.

Think about all the stuff you accumulate in advance of your wedding. Unity candlesticks, linens, votives, jewelry, stilettos, and yes, even your gown. Now, some of you might be cringing at the thought of selling something with such sentimental value. This idea isn’t for everyone. But the reality is, you can recoup a good chunk of change if you sell some of your wedding accessories after the fact. The Internet has created an online marketplace for pretty much anything. For clothes and jewelry, I opt for Tradesy or Poshmark. If you do want to take the leap and sell your gown, Nearly Newlywed is who I would check out first. For other décor and accessories, eBay and Craigslist are solid options.

Plan Your Dream Wedding on a Budget | ModMoney
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