Weddings may be a once in a lifetime event, but they can also be a once in a lifetime expense. With skyrocketing costs, many couples have turned to a mix of credit cards and personal loans to finance their wedding. These financing options translate to the incurring debt, causing marriages to start on a bad note, and leading to both financial and marital woes later on.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to cut costs and save on your wedding. This way, you can get married without going into debt. To find out the average cost of weddings and find out how to save, check out the ten wedding categories below.
1. Engagement Ring - $6,351
The old, outdated rule is that you should spend two months salary on an engagement ring. Ignore this, and put the money towards a better use such as a first home or car instead.
Rather than buying the biggest diamond you can, look for something your partner will genuinely like. Remake a family heirloom into a special, one of a kind engagement ring. Search for a vintage ring, or even go for a nontraditional stone that your partner might prefer to the traditional diamond.
2. Dress - $1,357
For a piece of clothing that is worn only once, wedding dresses sure are costly. Save on your wedding dress by remaking an old one from a family member. Your special day will be made even more so when you’re wearing something sentimental - perhaps the same dress that your mom or grandma got married in, and that you yourself can pass down one day.
You can also save money by shopping for sample dresses or visiting a bridal consignment store or department store. With these options, you can have access to a wider range of beautiful dresses that may only have minor, barely noticeable defects or may have been worn only once.
3. Invitations - $408
From customized invites to postage, the costs for invitations add up. In order to save money, go paperless, which is better for the environment and better for your wallet. If you’re a fan of traditional snail mail, purchase a template online, and print the invitations yourself.
4. Venue - $15,163
Many couples choose to get married in the summer or early fall. High demand causes an uptick in price. By avoiding popular dates and getting married during off-peak seasons, you’ll save thousands of dollars. You will also pay less if you get married on a Sunday or on a weekday, rather than on a Saturday.
Another way to save on venue is to choose a nontraditional place to get married. Where did you and your partner meet? Where was your first date? Is there a place that you both love or that is close to your heart? From breweries to restaurants, these places generally don’t cater to weddings and don’t charge a venue fee. If you speak with an owner or manager, with some preparation, you can have a memorable wedding at less than half the cost of a traditional venue.
Another alternative is to consider your own home, or ask a family member or friend if they would be willing to lend their home. If you or someone you know has a big backyard or a beautiful home, that might be just the place for an intimate, cozy wedding.
5. Decor - $2,379
Most decor costs come from ordering out of season flowers. To save money, choose in season flowers instead. Choose larger flowers, which will take up more room and require fewer stems. You can also repurpose flowers from your reception for your ceremony.
For non-floral decor, you can borrow from family and friends who have recently gotten married. Or, you can even make your own centerpieces.
6. Photographer - $2,440
It’s your wedding, and of course you want to keep the memories. However, hiring a photographer for a full day event can get expensive. To save money, look for discounts on photo packages. Or, see if you have a friend who is a skilled photographer, and have them take the pictures on your special day.
7. Drinks - $2,800
Weddings are known for an abundance of alcohol, which can add up in costs. Rather than having an open bar, you can choose to have guests pay for their own drinks. If this is not an option, limit the drink choices, and offer a signature cocktail.
8. Dinner - $70 / guest
Having seated dinners can be costly. Save money by pricing out and limiting the meal options. Choose chicken over steak and fish over lobster. Also, don’t forget about offering vegetarian or vegan options, which are more cost-effective. You can also consider alternatives to a sit-down dinner, such as a buffet or family-style dinner.
9. Cake - $540
The larger the cake, the more tiers, the higher the cost. Yet, the unfortunate reality is that many couples spend hundreds of dollars on a huge cake that they or their guests might be indifferent to.
With that in mind, know that your wedding cake doesn’t have to feed everyone. You should go with a smaller cake with fewer tiers, or, even buy a grocery store cake and decorate it with flowers. Your guests won’t notice the difference, and your wedding photos will still be beautiful.
You can also serve your guests sheet cakes or a nontraditional dessert such as donuts or cookies from your favorite bakery. You’ll be happier seeing fewer plates of wasted, uneaten cake. In addition, your guests will be happier that they have alternatives.
10. Entertainment - $4,500
Music and entertainment is important at a wedding. However, live bands can be expensive. Save money by choosing a local band or asking musically-talented family and friends to help out. You can also save thousands by choosing a DJ over a band.
Sources: ValuePenguin. (2019). Average cost of a wedding.