How To Plan And Organize The Perfect Wedding On A Budget

Jennifer Skulski

Published: Oct 21, 2021

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Weddings typically cost tens of thousands of dollars, yet that doesn’t mean you can’t plan an incredible wedding on a budget. According to The Knot’s Real Weddings Study, the average U.S. wedding in 2020 cost $19,000. In 2021, it’s projected that the average wedding will cost $22,500.

While weddings are beautiful ceremonies to celebrate your lifelong commitment to your better half, they also are incredibly expensive. If you and your partner are looking to cut down on your wedding costs, it’s time to start planning your wedding on a budget. 

By getting creative with your budget, embracing a DIY spirit, and cutting unnecessary costs, you and your partner can create a wedding budget that’s within your reach. Let’s get started by analyzing the costs of a wedding and sharing some of the best cheap wedding ideas.

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Wedding On A Budget: The Break Down

Wedding Hashers wedding on a budget chart

Venue And Catering (50%)

Venue and catering costs are a pivotal piece in every wedding budget and thus will consume half of your entire budget. This aspect includes renting out your venue, paying for catering, alcohol costs, and any venue-based rentals such as renting out chairs and tables for your guests.

Photography & Videography (12%)

This portion of your budget is dedicated to hiring your wedding photographer and videographer services. A small portion of this part of your budget should go towards ordering your personalized wedding hashtags, so you can share them with your guests and get everyone to post their photos online using your unique hashtag.

Wedding Attire, Hair, & Makeup (8%)

Eight percent of your wedding on a budget should go towards the bride’s wedding dress, the groom’s tuxedo, additional accessories such as ties, bowties, a watch, or jewelry, as well as the costs for any hair and makeup products or services.

Flowers & Decor (8%)

The cost of wedding flowers and your wedding decor will take up around another 8% of your total wedding budget. This includes bouquets, boutonnieres, wedding table centerpieces, place cards, and other decor.

Music & Entertainment (8%)

If you and your partner are planning on having any entertainment in the form of a wedding DJ or a live wedding band, this is where all those costs should be accounted for.

Wedding Planner And Officiant (3%)

Hiring a wedding planner can be a great way to stay organized and alleviate some of the stress from planning an entire wedding by yourself. An officiant is also an integral part of your wedding ceremony as they’ll perform the wedding to make your union legally binding. These two services will typically take up 3% of your total wedding budget.

Wedding Bands (3%)

For your wedding on a budget, let wedding bands, both you and your partner’s, take up 3% of your overall budget. 

Stationary (2%)

Stationary costs include the costs for save-the-date cards, wedding invitations, and thank you notes. Here you’ll need to consider not only the cost of printing your various wedding stationery, but also the costs of mailing them all out.

Transportation (2%)

When it comes to wedding day transportation, you may want to consider transport buses to shuttle your guests between the ceremony, venue, and any hotels they’re staying at. You may also want to consider renting a wedding car for you and your spouse. All these costs should fit within 2% of your budget. 

Wedding Guest Favors (2%)

As an excellent way to thank your guests for their support throughout your wedding day, having wedding guest favors is a thoughtful gesture. Be sure to consider the costs of ordering, customizing, and shipping each favor you purchase.

Wedding Cake (2%)

The last 2% for your wedding on a budget should go towards your wedding cake or other celebratory dessert options.

Planning A Wedding On A Budget: 9 Top Tips

1. Organize Who Is Paying For What

As you begin to plan out your wedding on a budget, stay as organized as possible by keeping track of who’s paying for what. How much are you and your partner using from your savings accounts? What can you use from your income? Are any family members or friends pitching in with certain contributions?

wedding planning within your budget photo

2. Use A Wedding Budget Spreadsheet 

Organization is pivotal when it comes to ensuring you stay on budget. To help you keep track of your budget and wedding expenses, it’s best to use a wedding budget spreadsheet. Here you can keep track of the breakdown of your budget, what you expect to pay, as well as the actual costs of items and services once you pay for them.

wedding budget spreadsheet photo

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3. Cut Down On Your Guest List

The overall cost of your wedding day will be proportional to the number of guests you decide to invite. With any wedding, guests are associated with a given price tag in terms of how much it costs for catering and feeding your guest list. According to Value Penguin, the average cost per guest in the U.S. is $307.

A simple and easy way to cut down on your wedding costs would be to cut down on your guest list. Having a smaller wedding, or a micro-wedding, is practical, trendy, and can make for a beautifully intimate celebration.

wedding guest list planner

4. Choose A Date In The Off-Season

Wedding Season is a real thing as many couples wish to tie the knot in the summer months due to nicer weather. With higher demand for weddings in June through October, it’s not surprising that these months are also more expensive.

If you’re looking to plan a wedding on a budget, consider choosing a wedding date in the off-season for a cheaper expense.

off-season wedding

5. Go Digital

Opting for digital wedding solutions can be an effective way to save on some more traditional costs. Instead of paying to print and ship wedding save the date cards and invitations, try using digital wedding invites instead.

Pro Tip: Digital wedding invitations are simple to design and cheap to send out. Using services like Greenvelope can help you design, send out, and track your invitation RSVPs. Minted is another great service for digital invites and online guest management, and their services are free through the end of 2021.

Another excellent digital tool to help cut down on your wedding costs would be to organize your planning process with Wedsites. Wedsites organizes your entire wedding planning into one convenient location. You can track your wedding budget, create a personalized wedding checklist, manage your guest list, and design your very own wedding website all in one place.

6. Expect Hidden Costs

Hidden costs are called hidden costs because they’re unexpected expenses you didn’t plan for in your designated budget. Instead of falling victim to hidden costs, try to plan ahead for them by allocating a portion of your budget to take care of these expenses.

Typical hidden wedding costs often include extra decor items, hidden fees within the various wedding services you hired, as well as gratuity fees for caterers and other services.

budgeting for wedding

7. DIY Where You Can

For one of the most effective cheap wedding ideas, unleash your creativity with DIY wedding decorations. You can save a lot of money by being smart and resourceful about your decorations, place settings, and centerpieces. Consider using natural materials such as flowers and wood to create beautifully rustic decor. 

You can easily enhance cheaper decorations with paint, candles, flowers, seashells, ribbons, and other inexpensive materials to create equally magnificent decorations. Embracing a DIY spirit is a great idea for your wedding on a budget.

DIY wedding decor
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8. Have A Non-Traditional Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes can be a costly wedding day treat. Instead, consider cheap wedding ideas like opting for DIY wedding cakes. A homemade cake is bound to save you some extra dough.

If you’re interested in other non-traditional wedding dessert options to further save money, you may want to consider cheaper alternatives such as wedding-themed cookies, a make-your-own s’mores bar, or even a wall of donuts.

non-traditional wedding cake to save costs

9. Cut Down On Wedding Attire Costs

Wedding dresses are gorgeous, elegant, and traditional gowns, yet with their beauty comes a great price. This dress is one you’ll only wear once. While many brides become attached to the sentimental nature of the elegant wedding gown, if you feel differently about your dress and want to make up for its expensive cost, you can consider reselling your wedding dress. Reselling your dress will help you make back some of your wedding dress budget, thus saving you money after your celebration is complete.

For more cheap wedding ideas related to the cost of your wedding attire, look into cheaper wedding dresses like those found on Coco Melody. Their site has an entire section on dresses under $299.

Strategically searching for cheaper dress options can be perfect for planning your wedding on a budget. 

wedding attire on a budget

Wedding On A Budget: Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a reasonable budget for a wedding?

The average wedding in 2020 cost $19,000. As you plan out your realistic wedding budget, you’ll want to keep this figure in mind and adjust accordingly to your financial situation. By cutting unnecessary costs or having a smaller wedding, it can definitely be reasonable to have a wedding budget of $10,000 or less.

How much does a wedding with 50 guests cost?

A micro-wedding with 50 guests or less will typically cost around $10,000. On average, the cost per person for a wedding is $307, meaning narrowing down your guest list is bound to help if you’re looking to plan a wedding on a budget.

Do parents have to pay for the wedding?

Traditionally, the bride’s family was expected to pay for the majority of wedding costs. However, for many modern weddings, families of both sides typically help pitch in for various wedding costs as necessary. On average, parents contribute between 33 to 42 percent of the total wedding costs for their children.

Are destination weddings cheaper?

On average destination weddings cost around $35,000 while the average cost of a domestic wedding before the Covid-19 pandemic was around $33,000. Destination weddings will greatly vary in cost depending upon the location, travel expenses, guest list size, time of year, and other factors. However, it’s definitely possible to plan a destination wedding that would be cheaper than if you planned one locally.

Start Planning Your Wedding

Weddings are an expensive celebration, but planning a wedding on a budget is completely plausible to achieve. We hope that our cheap wedding ideas will prove helpful to all couples out there looking to cut down on some wedding costs.

Remember, by staying organized with your budget, expecting hidden costs, cutting down on your guest list, and embracing the idea of DIY decor, you and your fiancé can easily save a few thousand bucks for your wedding on a budget. Get creative with your budgeting and let the savings begin!

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