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Planning a wedding on a budget

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Fall is in the air, which means it’s becoming engagement season! Lots of couples are working on that “ring by spring” and wedding planning is beginning!

I’ve been married for 14 months now, and I know from experience how chaotic and stressful it can be to plan a wedding. Especially when you’re trying to stay on budget and stretch your dollar further. With that, I have some tips on how to budget for the biggest day of your life, and ways you can save some money on an expensive day!

You’re engaged!

When you are beginning to plan a wedding, the first thing you should do is set a budget. If you have family who is helping you out with the cost of the wedding, make sure that is communicated so that you know exactly how much you have to spend.

When we were planning our wedding, my parents told me how much they were contributing and then said we could keep what we don’t spend! That was an awesome incentive to try and keep things less expensive as it was more important for us to pay off our loans than have a grand wedding.

Now the most important thing to remember when planning a wedding is the fact that you’re getting married! That’s the point of a wedding, right? Our society tries to make us think that we need to spend $80,000 to have a wedding, but the truth is that you can have a beautiful dream wedding for less than $10,000 if you utilize your resources and follow a budget! There were many times in our wedding planning that I had to remind myself that the most important thing was that I am marrying Jacob. Everything doesn’t have to be “perfect” or over the top for me to marry my best friend. Please let that be a reminder as you are in this season of life!

Setting a budget

Once you have an amount figured out that you will spend, it’s time to tell that money where it’s going!

What I suggest is to talk to your fiancé about what is most important to you for your big day and allow yourselves to spend more in that area. For Jacob and I, that was photography and videography. From what I heard from other brides, your wedding day is crazy and goes by so fast. I wanted to be sure that I had good pictures and a nice video so that we could always remember our day. That was the part that we would show our future children and something we could always look back on. So what’s important for you? Venue? Food? Dress? Once you two decide what’s most important, give that more money in the budget. But that also means that other things may have to be cut.


Also decide on what’s least important to you. For me, I thought back to weddings I’ve been to in the past. What did I remember? Maybe the food, the venue, dancing… but the biggest thing I remembered was the fact that a couple got married that day! Things I didn’t remember were the centerpieces and a lot of all the small decor. For those of you who love these small touches, this may break your heart, but this is sadly not something that most guests will remember. With that, don’t stress out on trying to make every little detail perfect, and don’t go over budget on these things. I decided that centerpieces weren’t that important to me for our wedding, so this is something we didn’t spend much on. In fact, I bought 20 $1 buckets from ikea and we put hydrangeas from grandma’s garden in them and onto the tables. Super cheap (a bit of work to cut flowers and prep) but they looked great! Also, I didn’t see much value in wedding favors, so decided not to even do that at our wedding, and I don’t think they were missed. So what is not important to you? Maybe day of the week isn’t important to you. Maybe is decorations, DJ? Whatever it may be, allocate a small portion of your budget to these things. This is where you will save money.


Once you have things figured out of where you will spend more and where you will spend less, write out a tentative budget where the expenses equals the amount you were given to spend (if you’re like me and wanted to save more at the end, include that in your budget with a savings line item). I would suggest including the following categories: venue, food, wedding attire (including veil, slip, shoes, etc), photography, videography, music, stationary (save the dates, invites, programs and stamps), flowers, decorations. Give an amount to each and you’ll be ready to start looking at vendors!

Keeping track of the budget

Once you have that budget in place, it’s time to start spending! At this point in wedding planning, my mom and I made a shared google doc spreadsheet so that we could take care of and track all expenses. We would enter the date, vendor, amount, and item purchased along with a check number (if applicable) so that all items can be tracked. We crated a formula to total everything we spent, and then still what we knew we had to spend.

When you’re planning a wedding, you might find that you went over budget in one category. If you go over in one category, that means you get to spend less in another. Remember that you only get to spend how much you have. Do not go in debt to have a wedding!

The biggest things I reminded myself over the course of wedding planning was this:

1. A wedding is only one day

2. The most important thing is that you’re marrying your best friend

4. Sadly, guests don’t remember every little detail

I hope that this helps put things on perspective as you’re planning your own wedding on a budget!


What’s to come…

I’m excited for this series to share tips on how to plan an affordable wedding! It can be done, friends! So subscribe and stay updated on future wedding posts. 🙂


Photography by Donny Zavala Photography

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