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How To Finance A Wedding Without Breaking The Bank

Your wed­ding will be a defin­ing moment in your life and, like oth­er life-chang­ing events such as grad­u­at­ing col­lege, hav­ing a baby or buy­ing a home, it won’t come cheap. The medi­an price for a wed­ding in the US is about $25,000, but with a sol­id approach and plan, you can pull off an epic wed­ding for much less.

Regard­less of the final cost, some­one has to pay the bills. If you and your betrothed are under 25 years old and, either don’t live togeth­er or haven’t lived in sin very long, you might expect finan­cial help from your fam­i­lies. How­ev­er, the old­er you are and the longer you co-habi­tate, the more of the wed­ding expens­es you should expect to shoul­der. Also, if either of you has been mar­ried before, expect to pay for most of your wed­ding, unless one of your par­ents is loaded like a freight train.Consider adopt­ing these goals for your wed­ding:

  • A month after the cer­e­mo­ny, you have no wed­ding-relat­ed debts.You are not sur­prised by any unfore­seen expens­es.

  • You two and every­one who attends your wed­ding has one of the most fun, mov­ing, mag­i­cal, spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ences that it is pos­si­ble to have as a sen­tient being.

Fol­low­ing these steps will help you achieve those goals while stay­ing with­in bud­get:

enagged couple looking at computer


The more you plan to spend, the far­ther in advance you should set the go-date. There are sev­er­al rea­sons why:

  • More time to shop – Except for per­ish­ables such as the flow­ers and food, near­ly every­thing you need for a wed­ding will be on sale some­time dur­ing the year. Dress design­ers have sam­ple sales, Bev­Mo has five-cent wine sales, and par­ty sup­ply stores unload their mer­chan­dise after hol­i­days.

  • More time to save – Make a habit of reg­u­lar­ly putting mon­ey away strict­ly for wed­ding expens­es.

  • More time for guests – Give your crit­i­cal out-of-town friends and fam­i­ly plen­ty of time to arrange their sched­ules so they can attend.


Direct­ly relat­ed to buy­ing items on sale is pay­ing for them as you go. The more you can buy before the wed­ding, the low­er the final tab will be.


To help you decide where to focus your bud­get, we have includ­ed a list of the most com­mon wed­ding expens­es at the end of this arti­cle, indi­cat­ing which mem­ber of the wed­ding par­ty tra­di­tion­al­ly pays for each. Pop this list into a spread­sheet and go through it togeth­er, pri­or­i­tiz­ing each item, delet­ing what you don’t need and adding others.If your fam­i­ly is help­ing with the expens­es, get their feed­back after you make a pass on the list.

father walking bride down the aisle


The biggest wed­ding expens­es are usu­al­ly the venue, the pho­tog­ra­ph­er and the food. So here are some areas where you may be able to save some mon­ey:

Non-Sat­ur­day wed­ding. Many wed­ding ser­vices are the most expen­sive on Sat­ur­day.

Off-sea­son loca­tion. Hav­ing your wed­ding off-sea­son reduces many expens­es. To keep the event spe­cial, is there any mean­ing­ful date in your rela­tion­ship that didn’t hap­pen in late spring or ear­ly summer—for exam­ple, the anniver­sary of your first date or first “I Love You?”

In-sea­son flow­ers and food. While many flow­ers, such as ros­es, are avail­able all year, oth­ers are sea­son­al. Choose in-sea­son flow­ers and food, as they’ll have a low­er price and high­er qual­i­ty

One Loca­tion. Hav­ing your cer­e­mo­ny, rehearsal din­ner and recep­tion in one loca­tion cuts everyone’s trav­el time, both guests and ven­dors. You can also nego­ti­ate a bet­ter price with one venue man­ag­er than with two or three. Rent­ing a huge house for the entire wed­ding can be a great option.

Use the flow­ers from the cer­e­mo­ny at the recep­tion. Anoth­er ben­e­fit of hav­ing a sin­gle loca­tion.

Use the same DJ for the cer­e­mo­ny and recep­tion. Yet anoth­er ben­e­fit to a sin­gle loca­tion. You can also make a playlist and be your own DJ. Some­one in the wed­ding par­ty can be the MC and tell peo­ple when the din­ner is ready.

Pro­vide select entrees. Offer only two entrees for the rehearsal din­ner and the recep­tion.

Pro­vide selec­tions of beer, wine and cock­tails. Offer only beer and wine at the rehearsal and add one or two sig­na­ture cock­tails rather than host­ing an open bar at the recep­tion.

Two cakes. Splurge on a small cake for the cake-cut­ting, and serve a larg­er sheet cake for dessert.

Crowd­source your pho­tos and video. While you should still have a pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er at your cer­e­mo­ny, set up a web­site where peo­ple can post pho­tos dur­ing the rehearsal and recep­tion. It’s much more fun because guests can view pho­tos dur­ing the evening, and they will tend to reveal more of their per­son­al­i­ty if a friend is tak­ing a pho­to rather than a pro­fes­sion­al. Pick up a Blue­tooth remote and a tri­pod, and set up a sim­ple pho­to booth area.

DIY the invites. Cre­ate your own invites, menu cards and escort cards rather than buy­ing them from a ven­dor. Splurge by hav­ing them pro­fes­sion­al­ly print­ed on qual­i­ty stock.

Think inside the box for the tux, wed­ding dress and acces­sories. There are many web­sites (such as this one) that offer excel­lent val­ues for rent­ing or buy­ing tux­es, wed­ding dress­es and acces­sories. You may find bet­ter prices and more selec­tion than in brick and mor­tar stores.

bride fixing groom's bowtie


Do you real­ly want blan­kets, blenders and gift cer­tifi­cates, or would you have the cash to help you emerge from this event with pleas­ant mem­o­ries rather than an annoy­ing Visa bill? I thought so. Get the word out to close fam­i­ly and friends (NOT on the invi­ta­tion) that you are cel­e­brat­ing a major life mile­stone and would rather have mon­ey to cel­e­brate with them than a set of chi­na. The more peo­ple you can get to give you cash, the larg­er the invi­tee list for the reception.Be aware, though, that some mem­bers of your clan will sin­cere­ly pre­fer to give you a gift, so reg­is­ter accord­ing­ly.


Bride: Brides­maids Gifts, Groom Wed­ding Ring, Gifts for Par­ents, Wed­ding Announce­ments

Groom: Bride’s engage­ment and wed­ding rings, Grooms­men Gifts

Bride’s Fam­i­ly: Cer­e­mo­ny Venue, Engage­ment Par­ty, Venue Flow­ers and Dec­o­ra­tions, Pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Trans­porta­tion, Wed­ding Cake, Wed­ding Con­sul­tant, Wed­ding Dress, Wed­ding Favors, Recep­tion Food

Groom’s Fam­i­ly: Bride’s bou­quet and going-away cor­sage, bou­ton­nieres for men, and cor­sages for moth­ers and grand­moth­ers, Groom Tux, Hon­ey­moon, License and Officiant’s Fee, Rehearsal Din­ner, Wed­ding Night Accom­mo­da­tions, Recep­tion Alco­hol and Music

Grooms­men: Bach­e­lor Par­ty, Groomsmen’s Tux­es

Brides­maids: Bridal Show­er, Brides­maids’ Dress­es

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