9 Tips for Sticking to Your Wedding Budget

As a Financial Peace University Graduate & Professor I am passionate about helping my couples start their life together in financial harmony. Planning and funding a wedding can be stressful, but there are ways to make and stick to a budget so that you can keep your relationship and future financial security first!

  1. PRIORITIZE – my #1 tip for sticking to your wedding budget is to prioritize all of your line items. Spend your money on what is most important to you and find ways to save on the things that are not. I may be biased, but I strongly believe that Photography should be one of your top budget items. When it’s all said and done, the photos on the walls of your home and in your album are what you will have to preserve your wedding day memories and share them with family and friends. I would also personally put Music toward the top – a good DJ can really make the magic happen at your reception, and a not so good one can leave you with an empty dance floor.
  2. Choose an “off” date – You can have your wedding at the venue of your dreams for a better value if you choose to have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday, or you can look into the off-season by choosing a date in November-May.
  3. Invite only who you want to spend the day with – Another “easy” way to keep your total wedding cost down is to keep your guest list small. Your number of guests directly correlates to your biggest budget items (venue, food & drink). It’s easy for the guest list to get out of control, especially when parents want to invite all of their friends and your third cousins; but it’s worth the uncomfortable conversations to keep your budget happy and to know that you’re sharing one of the most important days of your life with the people who truly matter.
  4. Remember the 10% Rule – catering companies don’t like to run out of food…they typically plan for 10% more food than what you ask for. If you are providing a buffet meal, you can underestimate your head count by a smidge to save on food costs. Even if everyone does show up, you’re likely to have a handful of dieters and picky eaters.
  5. Skip Dinner – another way to save on food is to have a brunch or lunch reception instead of a dinner. If you’d rather stick with the evening, you can save by skipping a traditional meal and providing your guests with a variety of small plates. Did someone say food trucks?!
  6. Let them eat…not cake – alternative dessert options like cupcakes, pies, variety dessert bar, or gourmet ice cream truck can be more affordable than a traditional wedding cake. A dessert bar can definitely be an opportunity for DIY/crowd-sourcing…tap into all of the people in your family who love to bake (I’m looking at you Aunt Betty) and have a table full of your families’ favorite dessert recipes. If you have your heart set on cake, you can have a beautiful smaller cake for cutting and sheet cake hidden in the kitchen for serving (I highly recommend Costco cake – yum!).
  7. DIY & Second Hand – you can definitely find ways to keep your budget happy by making decor yourself and/or purchasing items second hand (thank you to Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Ebay, and these wedding marketplace websites!) Linens and place settings are another great item to get secondhand! You can often purchase items for the same cost, or sometimes less, than renting them – and you can recoup the cost by selling them after the wedding!
  8. Fake It – floral decor makes a huge impact on making your wedding feel luxurious – but your flowers don’t have to be fresh to be beautiful! Kelle from FlowerSmith Studio is an absolute artist at mixing fresh and faux flowers to create breathtaking designs without breaking the bank. (Can you tell which flowers are real in the image above?!)
  9. Keep Track! – I can’t stress this one enough – one of the biggest reasons people go over budget is because they’re not actually keeping track of what they’re spending! There are many websites like TheKnot that will specifically help you track your wedding budget and apps like Mint (which is what my husband and I use) that can help you stay on track for the rest of your life. Find what works for you and stick with it – have regular budget meetings to review what has been spent and to plan what’s coming up. Information and communication is key!

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