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Planning Your Dream Wedding for Less

Your dream wedding doesn't have to break the bank. We'll show you how.

Written by Linda Childers / August 10, 2022

Quick Bites

  • The cost of a wedding has increased to $27,063 in 2021, up 25% from 2020, according to The Wedding Report, a company that collects and forecasts statistics for the wedding industry.
  • Since many couples had to cancel or postpone their weddings due to the pandemic, 2022 is set to be a record year for couples exchanging vows. The Wedding Report says nearly 2.5 million couples are expected to tie the knot in 2022, compared to 1.9 million in 2021.
  • Wedding experts say it’s possible for couples to save money on their big day by limiting the number of guests, comparing vendors, cutting printing and invitation costs and more.

If you’ve started to plan your wedding day but are surprised to see everything costs more than you anticipated, you’re not alone. Wedding website Zola.com found that 70% of couples are spending more on their 2022 weddings than originally planned, in part due to inflation and supply chain issues.

“Setting your budget early will bring you joy, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first,” says Kirsten Palladino, author of Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding. “Organization is key, and knowing how much you can spend will keep you reined in. In my book, I outline how to create a budget, including talking with your partner long before deposits are made to decide on your wedding’s nice-to-haves and need-to-haves.”

When it comes to saving money on your big day, Jessica Bishop, founder of The Budget Savvy Bride, an online resource, says it pays to think outside the box.

“There are so many unique alternative service providers that couples can take advantage of that will help them save significantly on their wedding day,” says Bishop, author of the book, The Budget Savvy Wedding Planner and Organizer.

If you’re looking for ways to make your dream wedding a reality, without breaking the bank, read on.

Inside this article

  1. Floral arrangements
  2. Save on photography
  3. Shop secondhand
  4. Host a micro wedding
  5. Consider customizing invitations
  6. Reap savings on your venue
  7. Slash catering costs

Get creative with floral arrangements

Supply chain issues, labor shortages and poor growing conditions have wreaked havoc on the floral industry. Not only are fresh flowers hard to find; they’ve also increased in price.

Rather than hiring a florist to arrange fresh flowers for your big day, Bishop says couples can save money by renting silk floral arrangements.

“Companies like Something Borrowed Blooms offer bouquets and centerpieces that are pre-arranged and gorgeous. Couples can save 70% when compared with the cost of fresh blooms arranged by a pro florist,” Bishop says.

Save on photography

While hiring a wedding photographer can be a big expense, Bishop says they’re also one of the biggest priorities for most couples.

“The photos of your wedding day are one of the few tangible takeaways from the celebration. They are what you'll look back on for years to come, so for many couples, they’re absolutely worth the investment,” she says. “To save money, couples can seek out an up-and-coming photographer who doesn't have as much experience and therefore doesn't charge as much, but make sure to review their portfolio and ask to see full galleries from any weddings they've previously shot to get a feel for the quality of their work.”

Alternatively, Bishop says you can ask your wedding photographer to work a half day instead of a full day to reduce the cost.

For those who prefer a video of their big day, Bishop recommends the wedding videography site, Wedit.

“They rent cameras so couples can capture the footage of the big day themselves, and then Wedit editors turn the footage into a highlight reel that can be enjoyed for years to come.”

Shop secondhand for dresses and decor

“Shopping secondhand is one of the biggest secrets to avoiding inflation and supply chain shortages,” Bishop says. “It might take a bit more effort and legwork to find what you're looking for, but the savings and sustainability are totally worth it.”

Bishop says buying a secondhand wedding dress can save a bride 50% or even more.

“Purchasing previously used wedding decor from another bride via a Facebook group or a platform like Wedzee that sells new and used wedding dresses and decorations is another great option to save your money and the planet,” she says.

Other retailers, including David’s Bridal, sell sample sizes of their popular wedding dresses for a fraction of the original price and resale boutiques such as Recycle Bridal Boutique sell gently-worn bridal gowns for a deep discount.

Host a micro wedding

While the pandemic forced many couples to scale back their weddings, Bishop says micro wedding trends, scaled-down versions of traditional wedding/receptions, have become extremely popular. Micro weddings feature between 5-50 guests and typically cost between $1000 to $5000. Some hotels and other venues offer “micro wedding packages” to couples that include venue rental, flowers, officiant, photography, and more.

“It's a great way to cut costs across the board, but also allows couples to treat fewer guests to a more elevated experience,” Bishop says.

Consider customizing invitations

“One of the biggest cost-savings methods is designing your wedding invitations yourself. With websites like Canva, anyone with basic computer skills and an eye for detail can navigate the platform to design a wedding invitation,” Palladino says. “If you’d rather have someone else do the design, try a site such as WithJoy where you can plug in your information but don’t have to worry about editing the layout. You can also save additional money by skipping printing costs and having WithJoy send out digital invitations.”

Reap savings on your reception venue

The wedding reception venue is one of the biggest costs for couples with The Knot’s 2021 Weddings Study finding that couples spend about 30% of their budget on a venue.

Leah Weinberg, a New York City-based wedding planner and author of The Wedding Roller Coaster: Keeping Your Relationships Intact Through the Ups and Downs, says being flexible with your wedding date is a good way to save on the cost of a venue.

“Wedding venues offer different rates based on seasons and days of the week,” Weinberg says. “Saturdays are the busiest day for weddings, and in New York, May-October is peak wedding season, so a wedding in February would cost less. In Florida, the off-peak season is July and August, so that’s when you’d get the best deals.”

Slash catering costs

Having a buffet at your wedding reception rather than a sit-down dinner is a good way to save money on catering, says Palladino.

“Food stations at a buffet require less staff and staffing shortages are currently affecting the wedding industry,” she says. “Couples can also save money by choosing food that uses in-season ingredients or items that aren't currently priced higher because of inflation, such as certain meats.”

In addition, some venues and caterers allow couples to bring in their own alcohol, which can be a big money saver since liquor and wine shops often offer discounts on bottles purchased in bulk.

“Instead of having a full bar, offer one or two signature drinks plus wine and beer" that you purchased on your own from Costco, Total Wine, Sam's Club, or a liquor store with bulk discounts, she says. “Make it special by giving those signature drinks personalized names that tie in with your wedding or honeymoon, like ‘Sally's Salty Dog'.”

Weinberg says that trimming the guest list will also reduce costs.

“Having fewer guests means less food and beverages needed, less tables and chairs at the reception, and less servers at the reception to accommodate your guest list,” she says.

About the Author

Photo of Linda Childers

Linda Childers

Linda’s articles on healthcare costs and Medicare have appeared in Forbes and MedicareGuide. She has also written on healthcare topics for Arthritis Today, California Health Report, Allure, Health Monitor, US News and World Report, O, The Washington Post and many corporate blogs.

Full bio

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