Be A Budget Conscious Bride With These Money-Saving Wedding Tips

When it comes to parties, the first descriptors that pop up in many people's minds are probably "extravagant" and "expensive." That's true – - for most parties. From flowers to photo backdrops to catering, party planning entails time, effort, and money. But a wedding is more than a party; it can be more expensive, more complicated, and more nerve-racking. According to a 2021 study by The Knot, the average expense of a wedding in the same year ranged from $15,000 to $38,000. "Couples want to spend the money on making it a wonderful experience for everyone," WeddingWire expert Anne Chertoff tells Refinery29. Who doesn't want a glamorous wedding? But everything glitzy comes at a cost. You don't want your guests to leave your wedding feeling entertained and you with a pile of bills. Because, aside from celebrating your love with a fairytale reception to impress the guests, you'll also have to factor in the costs of a honeymoon and more.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how far you're willing to go to make your matrimony special. Some couples don't mind emptying their savings for the wedding, while the more cost-conscious ones don't see why they have to splurge on what they can't afford for something that lasts only one day. If you belong to the latter group of people who'd like a memorable wedding without breaking the bank, here are some thrifty hacks you can try.

1. Know your wedding budget and guest count

The key to not throwing your caution to the wind is knowing your budget and guest count, advises wedding planner Jove Meyer (via POPSUGAR). No matter what your dream wedding reception looks like, a cozy party around a beach bonfire, or in a glamorous venue that looks straight out of a Disney movie, you must have a ballpark figure. And to make sure that you don't overspend, you should first lay out an overall budget. After that, discuss openly with your partner and your family members to see who can pitch in and how much they can contribute to the wedding fund. 

After you get a rough idea of how much you can spend, compile a list of the people you would like to invite, using your budget as the reference. Throughout the process, you might want to trim the list to ensure you can afford the wedding. The easy way to do this is to classify your guests into three groups; the must-haves (your immediate family and best friends), the priority group (your co-workers and relatives), and the negotiables (referring to those whose absence won't break the party vibe). The science behind a rational guest list is that food and beverage expenses play a big part in the overall wedding costs. The fewer people you invite, the less money you have to spend on catering and on other important things, Hitched suggests. Besides, more people means you need a bigger venue to accommodate everyone. Venue rental can also be very expensive.

2. Marry out of season and on weekdays

Once you have an idea of how many guests will attend your wedding, it's time to choose a location. Brace yourself because wedding venue rental is one of the biggest expenditures incurred in the total wedding cost. To save thousands of dollars, pick a weekday to tie the knot. Monday through Thursday are considered the non-peak days, per Wedding Spot Blog, and there's a high chance you'll get discounts for the venue on one of these days. 

If you want to double down on saving costs, marry out of season. In the U.S, the wedding season begins in late spring and continues through early fall, peaking in June and September, according to Brides. In the U.K, the season where the most weddings take place falls between May and September. If you book a wedding venue off-season, you'll be in a better position to get a bonus or negotiate discounts. In case you plan to have a small, cozy reception with only intimate family members and friends, don't hesitate to use your backyard, a local park, or a beach to hold your reception. Not only do these venues charge only a minimal fee (or none), you can put your creativity to good use by DIY-ing all the decorations. Giving a personal touch to your wedding makes it more meaningful.

3. Get the most bang for your buck when dress shopping

Since a wedding dress is an attire you tend to wear only once in your life, it doesn't have to cost a fortune. That couldn't be any truer for the case of vlogger Kiara Brokenbrough, who paid $47 for her wedding gown ordered from online retailer SHEIN, which went viral on TikTok and YouTube. Featuring a mermaid silhouette with a super-plunging neckline and a deep back, this minimalistic white gown gives Kiara some unforgettable high-fashion moments. This story goes to show that an online retailer can be a treasure trove of desirable wedding gowns. 

And you'll find many online retailers offering discounts and incentives by season when you make a purchase using a certain method or during a special season. So even when the ordered dress fails to fit you, you can make some alterations and save big bucks. "I'm a big fan of choosing a dress from a high street brand and saving money for shoes you can wear again," shares digital creator Alex Stedman to Prima. Even though high-street items are mass-produced, many of them make fashionable wedding dresses for a fraction of the price and can be reused or upcycled down the road.

4. Skip full-service dinner

If you're a good cook, or someone in your closest circle can fix scrumptious dishes for a group of 10 to 50 people, you should cater your own wedding. Create your own menu sourcing tasty ingredients at the most reasonable prices and get all the cooking help you need from your family and friends. According to Budget Savvy Bride, ground meat, potatoes, pasta, and fruits are some tasty and affordable ingredients to add to your wedding menu. Meat can be expensive, so limit the amount of meat and help everyone get full faster with lots of potatoes and bananas. 

If you don't want your guests to think you're cheap skate, make the catering experience more one-of-a-kind and Insta-worthy by serving food in a truck. A food truck is where guests can order snacks, ice cream, and soda — the possibilities are boundless. A buffet is another way to save money on wedding catering, says event director Emily Stellick (via WeddingWire). Compared to a seated dinner, a buffet requires fewer staff members and lower labor costs. To make sure the buffet is a less expensive catering option, check with the venue management on the options of affordable dishes as well as how many times your buffet stations might need restocking.

5. Get a tax break for several wedding expenses

Your wedding isn't tax-deductible, but you can get a wedding-associated tax break and save some extra cash by combining expenses and charitable donations the right way. The way to do this is to know which part of your wedding can make some sort of "paying it forward" impact, Bridal Musings notes. For example, if you hold a ceremony at a local church, you might be asked to pay a small fee. This amount might be written off as a donation if it's considered a charitable donation and the religious institution meets the IRS tax-exempt criteria. You might also do the same when you tie the knot at a non-profit site such as a museum or a national park. 

Regarding the multitude of flowers and candles, as well as the wedding dress and bridesmaids' dresses that you purchased, you can include these on your tax write-offs by donating them to a local philanthropy or a non-profit organization such as Goodwill or Salvation Army, SmartAsset points out. This way, you can spread joy while saving more. And do remember to get a receipt before you start filing your tax so you can claim deductions up to the fair market value of the donated items. At the end of the day, how much you'd like to splash out on your wedding is a matter of personal choice. If your wedding ends in debts and stress, your marriage life may get off to a rocky start.