Weddings are a celebration of love, joy and commitment, but between booking a venue, ordering the catering and sending out invitations, your expenses can pile up and put a damper on the fun. As of 2018, the average wedding costs over $44,000 — that’s more than the average student loan for a four-year degree. But who says your wedding has to be average? Save your hard-earned cash, have an unforgettable day, and get your marriage off to a great start with these five money-saving tips.
Many city, state and national parks — including beaches and botanical gardens — can serve as a beautiful backdrop for your big day. In most cases, you can secure a special wedding permit at a National Park for as little as $100, although some permits may even be free. Plus, you’ll have an unbeatable backdrop for your wedding photos — it’s hard to compete with the beauty of Yosemite’s Bridal Veil Falls or the enchanting Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park. If you’re looking to tie the knot a little closer to civilization, check out your local Airbnb offerings. From rustic vineyards to luxurious villas, you may be able to find a gorgeous venue for a great price.
To score deep discounts on indoor wedding venues, consider holding your ceremony in the off season. In most areas of the United States, this typically means the fall and winter. As an added bonus, flights and hotel rooms will be cheaper for your guests — and your honeymoon. If you still want that dreamy summer wedding, consider holding it on a weekday; many venues offer discounts for weekday reservations.
Trim your guest list
When you’re building your guest list, it’s easy to end up inviting everyone you know, even casual acquaintances. Instead of inviting your whole extended network, try sticking to immediate family members and close friends. While it may feel rude to leave off your second cousin and their family, fewer guests mean less stress. You’ll have a lower catering budget, fewer invitations to send, fewer tables to decorate, fewer thank-you notes to write and fewer awkward conversations with people you don’t really know.
Limit your menu
Instead of going for the overpriced in-house options at an event hall, think about getting your catering from your favorite local eatery or food truck. It’ll likely be cheaper than the event hall’s cost per guest. Better yet, it gives you a chance to add some signature flavor to your wedding and support one of your favorite businesses. Also, consider limiting your alcohol selection; instead of a full bar, offer a curated selection of beer and wine.
Instead of a vase of cut flowers as a centerpiece at each table, consider a fruit bowl. Fruit is visually appealing, brightly colored and it smells great, too. And unlike flowers, a fruit bowl can become a tasty treat. If you’re having a barn wedding or getting married in the fall, you can go for harvest-themed centerpieces. There are other ways to cut costs, too. If you’ve got a playlist planned out for your big day, hook up a laptop, phone, or MP3 player to a quality stereo system instead of hiring a DJ. If you’ve got a flair for the artistic, you can even design your own invitations and have them printed, or choose a pre-set design from your local print shop.
These are just a few suggestions to get the ideas flowing. Talk them over with your partner and see what else you devise. With a little creativity and planning, you can have a gorgeous wedding and save a bundle.