How Do You Plan a Frugal Wedding?

This is a post from Lakita Humber who is a staff writer for One Money Design.

Seems like an oxymoron, but it is possible to plan a wedding without breaking the bank.   Depending on who you ask, the average wedding costs between $20,000 – $30,000!  That’s staggering to me, but as I am in the thick of wedding planning I see how costs can run away from you.  First, you are fighting an uphill battle…everyone wants to sell you the best and will make you believe that you deserve (and you do!) the absolute best…..but at what cost?  That is the question!  Only you can answer that, so you have to determine what is important to you and go from there!  With a little PB & J you can have that frugal wedding!  No, I’m not suggesting you serve peanut butter and jelly at your reception….PB & J is  Prioritize & Plan, Budget, and Justify!  Let’s break it down:

Prioritize & Planning

Wedding BudgetThe key to a frugal wedding is to determine what are your “must haves” and your “would be nice”.  Shortly after the engagement announcement, you and your future spouse should list these together in order of importance.  When it is time to create the budget, you’ll be able to spend more on those areas that matter most.

Planning when & where your event will take place will impact your expenses.  Want to get married on Valentine’s Day?  Your cost just sky rocketed!  Unless you have a sentimental date in mind, you can research which months are less expensive in your area.  Avoid holidays if you plan on using professional services and venues as they tend to charge more around those times.  For example, in the Midwest, October and May are popular wedding months…who knew?!

The time of your wedding can inflate or deflate your bottom line.  Evening weddings are traditionally more formal and cost more.  The attire, decorations and the reception of an evening wedding grows quickly, while an early morning or afternoon ceremony can be followed by a brunch, lunch or hors d’oeuvres reception.

Finally, the day of the week can also impact your budget.  The most popular day for weddings is Saturday and the hospitality & travel industry knows this!  Venues and airfare cost more on the weekend.  Planning your wedding on an unconventional day (like a Tuesday) will slash the cost.  Also, with advance notice, the majority of the people you would invite should still be able to attend.

Budget Your Wedding

Setting up a budget is crucial!  Without one, costs will slip away from you!  To set a wedding budget, determine how much you have and are willing to spend for your special day.  Then, using your prioritized list, start to itemize how much you will allow yourself to spend in each area.  Estimate high as upgrades and little frills quickly add up.  It is better to overestimate than be left short at the end.

Here are some items to consider in your budget:

  • Reception  (Most likely your biggest expense and directly impacted by the number of guests)
  • Attire
  • Flowers and Decorations
  • Photography and Video
  • Ceremony
  • Music
  • Stationary
  • Wedding Rings
  • Favors and Gifts
  • Transportation

Justify Costs!

Confession time…I wasn’t the type of girl that grew up planning a fairytale wedding.  In fact, I didn’t think much about what my wedding would be like until the situation was a reality.  I figured I’d be grounded and have no problem remaining objective….I’m a numbers girl!  Well, all that went out the window with the excitement of planning our special day!  But don’t worry, the “justify” has kept me grounded and satisfied as we move forward with our planning.  Unlike needs vs. wants, justifications are not as simple.  You have to ask yourself….can you justify that expense?  Is it really adding value to your day?  Can you justify that reception in the downtown hotel?  Is there another venue that would be more cost friendly?  Can you justify the cost of those rose bouquets?  Would you enjoy your day any less with silk or wild flowers?  Only YOU can answer that!

Hopefully some PB&J will help you plan a frugal wedding!

What about you?  Did you have a frugal wedding or are you planning one?  Share your tips in the comments below!  Help the readers (and me) out!

About Lakita Fane

Lakita Fane (previously Humber) is an IT Systems Administrator by profession with a passion for the things of God, worship arts, and financial stewardship. She started Personal Finance Journey as a way to help and encourage those on the road to financial freedom. She has been blessed with the opportunity to minister throughout the U.S. and Internationally as a workshop speaker and presenter.  Read more articles from Lakita.

  • Jocelyn

    Congratulation my dear sister. Planning your wedding is a special time enjoy it. However I must say that the marriage is more important than the wedding. Plan that with your beloved also. Get pre- marital counsel. My pastor required it before marriage, Thank God. I believe that our 9 weeks of pre- marital counseling saved our marriage before it started.
    Well our wedding day was, perfect and the honeymoon was even better. We determined not to go into debt for the wedding and to spend most of our money on our honeymoon. We got a great deal on a romantic honeymoon in Cancun Mexico.
    My aunt made my dress for me as a gift. That saved me about $1,200.
    One of the mother’s of the Church who is a baker made the wedding cake, as a gift. All I had to pay for was the ingredients. That saved me about $300. One of my dancers parents owned a florist so they gave me a $250 bouquet for $25.
    My maids paid for their own dresses and flowers.
    I had my reception and wedding at my church, because I was a member and on staff. I did not have to pay. I really saved money on the reception.
    We had a morning wedding, so we had a Venetian table in our lovely fellowship hall after the wedding. Instead of a sit down reception. This was great to because a Venetian table cost very little we could invite everyone from Church and on our jobs and family.
    Everyone was very happy. People are still talking about how wonderful
    our wedding was 19 years later.
    The one thing that I would do over is get a better photographer and videographer.Spend your money on memories not things.
    My top priorities would be, a really nice honeymoon, an excellent photographer, and videographer a beautiful wedding dress, top notch wedding rings. After that you and your man is all you need.
    Happy wife of Warren Richard
    Married August 31st, 1991

  • Lakita | Personal Finance Journey

    Great advice Jocelyn! Hmm….thinking about a follow-up article….what do you think Jason?