Wedding Budget Guide: Where to Cut and Where to Splurge!

For many of us, planning a wedding is likely the most expensive party you’ll throw in your life. And we all have different ways we plan on covering the cost. Some of us pay for the wedding on our own. Some have parents and family chip in on the cost. Some even choose to elope to avoid wedding costs altogether! No matter what your situation (or who is footing the bill) there is probably SOME sort of budget to abide by. And with good reason. You don’t want to start the rest of your life with your new partner only to have more debt looming over your heads or a squabble with your new in-laws over outrageous wedding costs...

So, to keep the peace - and keep some change in your pocket - I’ve come up with a quick list of where to make cuts and where to splurge on your wedding costs. Here we go!

Wedding planning? Check out my guide on What To Look For In An Outdoor Wedding Venue!

Photo: Amy Galon Photography

Photo: Amy Galon Photography

CUT: Large Wedding Parties

You want to include all of your siblings and besties in your big day. And you have adorable nieces and nephews who you’d like to see all dressed up. You also have that co-worker who keeps hinting that she wants to be in the bridal party. And that friend who had you in HER bridal party, even though you might not have considered her…Also, your cousin who you promised would be a bridesmaid when you were, like, five years old. Plus the officiant, the readers, the ushers, and a partridge in a pear tree. I get it! Talk about dollar signs…

The truth is, if the bridal party starts getting too large, you instantly lose the intimacy of the day. And your costs start to skyrocket. Bridesmaid bouquets, boutonnieres, pillows for the ring bearers, corsages for the junior bridesmaids, headpieces for the flower girls, you get the picture.

Being surrounded by those you love is an amazing feeling, but you can accomplish that by not only who is IN your bridal party, but who is ON your guest list. Your childhood best friend that you haven’t spoken to in ten years will be just as happy to attend as a guest. Trust me. Maybe she even gets a special front-row seat at the reception. There are many ways to make the guests feel special. And there is plenty of love to go around at a wedding. But it doesn’t have to cost you. Stick to a small bridal party and you will save money and enjoy a more intimate wedding day.

SPLURGE: The Dress

Yes, you only wear it once. Yes, it’s annoying to store it for decades after. Yes, wedding dresses can cost an absurd amount. But - it’s your wedding dress! And it’s your wedding day! And even though you only wear it once, you’ll have a gazillion photos of you in THAT dress. And you’ll have everyone’s eyes on you in THAT dress. And your partner will always remember you in THAT dress. It’s worth it. Trust me. Find ways to save on a seamstress or skip storing the dress altogether if you want to save costs. But go with your gut on the dress and never look back!

CUT: Wedding Party Gifts & Accessories

The bridesmaid tank tops, matching jewelry, “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” ask gift, coordinating flip flops, nail polish, and  tote bags can all be a bit... much. Don’t you think? Do yourself a favor and skip all of this entirely. It’s a lot to coordinate and it really adds up. Frankly, most of your girls will end up throwing everything out a year after your wedding anyway (sorry, I said it). If you’re cutting costs, this should be the FIRST to go. A heartfelt thank you note and spending time with the ladies before the wedding will go a lot further than a tote bag ever could.

SPLURGE: *Your* Thing (Whatever That Is)

Are you a foodie? Splurge on a really good caterer. Do you absolutely love dancing the night away to a live band? Splurge away! Do you plan to share wedding pictures on Instagram for years to come? You need a great photographer, so splurge. Whatever will make your day a reflection of you is a perfectly acceptable way to spend your money. Allocate a bigger chunk of your budget to *your* thing, and then cut costs elsewhere. Beware: you can’t splurge on everything so choose wisely and stick to it.

CUT: Traditional Elements That Aren’t You

Tradition has it’s place. If you’re having a wedding at all, you probably want some traditional elements - hello, elegant first dance with your new spouse. However, there are some pieces of a wedding that just aren’t necessary. Here are some traditional wedding elements that you can choose to cut in order to save some cash for the bar!

Garter Toss - Isn’t this a bit 80’s at this point anyway?

Bouquet Toss - Because the florist charges extra for a second “toss” bouquet.

Cocktail Hour - Why not go straight from the ceremony into the reception? Your bar tab will be much smaller and the guests will be less starved!

Guest Favors - Nice, but not necessary nowadays.

Fancy Veil or Headpiece - Ladies, I promise you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. Or skip it altogether and be sure you look like YOU when you’re walking down the aisle.

Ceremony Decor - Aisle runners, chair swags, bubbles, programs, all of it can go if your budget doesn’t allow. In my opinion, the ceremony is either so short that people don’t even notice the decor OR it’s held in a beautiful church that really doesn’t need any more decoration.

So there you have it, some cuts and some splurges. Of course, every bride and groom is different, every wedding is different, and every budget is different, so pick and choose what makes you happy and what fits the bill. Realize that it is OK to not have everything on your wedding Pinterest board. Your guests won’t notice and you’ll start off newlywed life with a balanced budget and a bit more cash.

Happy planning!