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How to plan a wedding on a budget

How to build your wedding budget

When planning your wedding on a budget, it is important to arrange how you'll spend your money. Creating a spending plan that aligns with your budget and preferences will keep you organized and make it easier to prepare for the big day.

How to budget for a wedding

Discuss your budget with everyone involved in paying

Before you get into the details and expenses of your wedding, have a discussion with everyone who is ready and willing to contribute financially. If your parents or relatives can help financially, try to understand exactly how much they can contribute. Once you settle on how much everyone will pay, you can plan out your wedding budget.

Decide on the size

Do you and your fiancé want a big wedding with hundreds of friends and family members, a small wedding with just a few close friends and family, or something in between? Deciding on the size of your party will let you look for venues that fit your need.

Decide on your wedding venue

Once you have a sense of the amount of your budget and size of your party, you can begin to think about your venue. Researching possible locations will help you get a better sense of your budget limits: large wedding venues will often require you to pay for every plate you sit, while backyard weddings mean renting tents and seating.

Pick your must-haves

Make a list of you and your fiancé’s top 3 essentials for the wedding. Your must-haves could be anything from flower decorations to an outdoor reception or a live band. By figuring out your biggest non-negotiables, you can make them a priority and plan your budget around them.

Settle on the budget

Once you have gone over the biggest factors of your wedding (the size, the venue, and must-haves), you can begin building your wedding budget breakdown. After you account for feeding your guests in a venue that can fit them all, you can start looking into vendors for floral arrangements, entertainment, and the sundae bar you’ve been dreaming of.

Tips for saving for a wedding

Create savings goals

Once you get engaged, start saving money as early as possible so that you'll be prepared for your wedding expenses. Make goals to save a certain amount of money per week or month in the time leading up to your wedding day. Even if you haven’t finalized your official budget yet, setting aside some money early will be to your benefit once you decide on expenses. If you spend less than anticipated on your wedding, you can put your extra savings toward enjoying your honeymoon.

Use your home or outdoors for the venue

If your budget might not cover the venue you want, consider having your wedding ceremony or reception at your home, your family’s home, or outdoors. As venues can typically take up a large portion of your wedding budget, eliminating this expense could save you thousands of dollars. You can then designate a bigger portion of your budget towards food, decorations, or live music, depending on what you love most.

Trim the guest list

If you're willing to have a smaller wedding, try limiting the guest size so that you can stay within your budget. Having an intimate wedding with close friends and family can be just as fun, and will save you a significant amount of money.

DIY your wedding

Elaborate and expensive decorations and invitations may exceed your budget. Instead of spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars, you could get creative with some DIY touches like making your own wedding invitations, table centerpieces, or floral decorations, or even having you and your friends build a playlist instead of hiring a band. If you want to save money on food for the reception, you can prepare big batches of family favorites yourself, and recruit your relatives and friends to help out with each course.

Time it right

Consider timing your wedding based on the off-season to help lower venue costs. Venues tend to be much more expensive and harder to book during these times because they are so high in demand. If you have flexibility, try planning your wedding during a different season or day of the week. If you plan to have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday, you may be able to pay a fraction of the price for a Saturday night venue.

Compare vendors

If you're going to have vendors for your wedding, compare prices and check out different options online. Negotiate as you can to get the best vendors at the right price.

Avoid going into debt

Your wedding expenses shouldn’t put you in debt. Instead of getting loans that could take months or even years to pay back, limit your budget to the money you have saved up. If your wedding dreams can’t match your financial reality, consider what you want the most for your wedding event and scale down.

The bottom line: Your wedding doesn’t have to be expensive

You can have a beautiful and memorable wedding on a small budget. By spending your money wisely and taking the time to map out the costs, you can plan the perfect celebration and won’t have to break the bank.

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