Wedding Cost Breakdown: Say "I Don't" to Wedding Debt

Learn how to get your bang for your buck when planning your wedding.

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Weddings may be a once in a lifetime event, but they can also be a once in a lifetime expense. With wedding costs skyrocketing, many couples have turned to credit cards and personal loans to finance their special day. These financing options incur debt, and lead to financial and marital woes later on. The average wedding costs over $33,000. Cut costs, and save money on your wedding by checking out the ten most expensive wedding categories below.


The old, outdated rule is that you should spend two months salary on an engagement ring.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.

Do your research, and shop around. Rather than buying the biggest diamond you can, look for something your partner will genuinely like. Search for a vintage ring, or even go for a nontraditional stone that your partner might prefer over a traditional diamond. Maybe even consider an engagement ring passed down from family.

2. DRESS - $1,357

For a piece of clothing that is worn only once, wedding dresses sure are costly. Save money by shopping for sample wedding dresses, or visiting a bridal consignment store or department store. With these options, you can have access to a wider range of beautiful and less costly dresses.

Or better yet, you can remake a wedding dress 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.


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.

You can also save on venue by getting married at a nontraditional venue. 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 for a backyard wedding. If you or someone you know has a beautiful home and a big backyard - 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, choose in season flowers, and fill in with greenery. Choose larger flowers, which will take up more room and require fewer stems. You can also repurpose flowers from your ceremony for your reception.

For non-floral decor, borrow from family and friends who have recently gotten married. Or make your own centerpieces.

6. PHOTOGRAPHER - $2,440

It’s your wedding, and of course you want to keep the memories. However, photographers are costly. 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 their overflowing 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.  


Having seated dinners can be costly. Save money by pricing out and limiting the meal options. Choose chicken over steak and fish over lobster. 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 can 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 cake alternative such as donuts or cookies from your favorite bakery. You’ll be happier seeing fewer plates of wasted, uneaten cake. And your guests will be happier that they have alternatives.

10. ENTERTAINMENT - $4,500

Music and entertainment is important at a wedding. However, live bands and DJs can be expensive. Save money by choosing a local band or asking musically-talented family and friends to help out.


Planning a wedding is costly and time-consuming. In fact, the average wedding costs more than $33,000. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to cut costs and save on your wedding. However, sometimes emergencies come up, which may cause you to either cancel or reschedule your wedding. In case of venue flooding, vendor bankruptcy, or other circumstances - be sure to look into wedding insurance to help you recover costs. In the meantime, continue follow our wedding budgeting tips. This way, you can have a memorable wedding without going into debt. So you can have your cake and eat it too!

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