smart spending

Wedding ideas on a budget

If nothing else will do for your big day but a summer ceremony, a Vera Wang gown and a reception in a five-star hotel, then a wedding budget is probably not your biggest priority. But if you're in the market for some wedding ideas on a budget, you can save big bucks by breaking with a few traditions.

Say 'I do' out of season

June and October are the most popular months for weddings, and the high demand raises vendor prices. A winter wedding, on the other hand, offers a chance to score some great deals.

"Typically, the months of December through March tend to be less busy for wedding venues, so you can usually negotiate a better cost for the space," says Lisa Kucik, owner of the RSVP Events in Plainfield, Illinois.

You can also find discounts by choosing a Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday for the date, says Megan Estrada, owner of North Shore Weddings & Events in Winnetka, Illinois.

Pass up the couture

Estrada suggests trying on a few bridal shop dresses to get an idea of what you like, then searching for that same look in a less expensive, off-the-rack gown. As Kucik notes, you might even consider buying a dress that's not a bridal gown at all. Wherever you shop, tell the sales representatives your budget and don't let them show you dresses outside that limit.

Forgo the formal reception

Sit-down dinners are expensive, especially when you factor in the cost of extra waiters to serve each guest at table. Instead, consider a buffet reception with several action stations that let your guests walk around and watch the food preparation, Kucik suggests.


You can save a significant amount by choosing a venue that allows you to bring your own liquor. Estrada says there are liquor stores that cater to the wedding market and will deliver the beverages to the reception site and take back any unopened bottles after the event. She estimates that the cost to serve 120 people this way would run about $2,000, compared with $6,000 if you paid for the catering company to supply the booze.

Share the decor

Sure, if money were no object, your wedding would have a customized, signature look on everything from the backdrop to the bridal bouquet. But if you're willing to trade some of that customization for cost savings, Kucik has an idea.

"Ask if there is another event booked before or after your wedding, because sometimes you can share the equipment, lighting, staging or draping, so they don't have to tear down and put back up," she says. "You won't get it for nothing, but you can reduce the cost."

Coming up with wedding ideas on a budget gives you a great opportunity to save loads of cash for other important things in life -- like a down payment on a house.

As a wedding planner, Estrada says she can attest to that: "The majority of people who overspend on their weddings are ones that don't create a budget and stick with it."

Nuptials by the numbers

  • Average wedding cost: $31,213 (excludes honeymoon).
  • Average cost of reception hall venue: $14,006.
  • Average cost of florist and decor: $2,141.
  • Average cost of a wedding dress: $1,357.
  • Most expensive place to get married: Manhattan, average cost $76,328.
  • Least expensive place to get married: Utah, average cost $15,257.
  • Average number of guests: 136.
  • Most popular month to get married: June (15%), followed by October (14%).

Source: The Knot 2014 Real Wedding Study


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