wedding on a budget: Groom holding the wedding cake and bride holding her bouquet

When planning a wedding on a budget, it can be tough to know what’s worth spending on and which areas are good for saving money. Perhaps you’re working with a tight budget or want to save on your big day so you can indulge in a luxurious honeymoon as newlyweds instead. To help you navigate it all, this guide offers practical and creative ways to plan your dream wedding on a budget. You’ll find ideas on venues, decor, catering, and more.

1. Set a Realistic Wedding Budget

One of the best ways to host a wedding on a budget is to create one in the first place. When looking for an affordable ceremony and reception, you’ll want to set a maximum spending limit. Creating a wedding budget helps you figure out the true cost of your wedding, and gives you a guideline when making future purchasing decisions.

2. Track Your Wedding Expenses

Give yourself the best chance of budgeting success by tracking your spending. Set up a simple spreadsheet or start a dedicated wedding spending diary, so you can see how much you’ve spent or allocated so far. This is a great way to manage your spending and identify potential problems before you go over budget.

3. Decide What’s Non-Negotiable

We all have our non-negotiables when it comes to wedding planning, and it’s important to understand what those are for you and your partner. Get together to think about the most valuable elements of your wedding day, and which you’re willing to compromise on. For example, if you want a specific venue or a grand dancefloor with a live band, you may need to consider DIY catering or have a more affordable wedding cake to make it happen.

4. Find Budget Wedding Ideas Online

You’re not the only couple planning a wedding on a budget. Take a look through Greenvelope’s wedding blog for inspiration on creating your own affordable wedding day. You’ll find lots of great ideas, tips, and inspiration for every kind of wedding. You might even find a theme or consider a venue that you hadn’t considered before.

5. Host a Small Wedding

Having a large guest list means a bigger venue and higher costs when it comes to stationery, catering, and more. Cut down your guest list and host a smaller, more intimate wedding if you want to do things on a budget. Invite only your closest friends and family members and host a micro wedding, then throw a casual BBQ another time for anyone who wants to join you.

6. Opt for a More Affordable Date or Time

Saturdays are the most popular days for weddings, so consider whether you can opt for an alternative. Fridays and Sundays are both great options, and shouldn’t present too many problems for most of your guests. Midweek weddings are also a good alternative — especially if you opt for a shorter, non-traditional wedding so people can be back home by a reasonable time.

7. Consider a Backyard Wedding or Reception

Wedding venues can make up a considerable cost when it comes to your wedding budget. To save some cash, think about throwing a backyard wedding at your home or the home of a loved one. You get to marry your soulmate surrounded by the comforts of home — what’s more to love? Plus, you get total freedom over catering and can serve up what you like at an open bar.

8. Choose Affordable Wedding Transportation

When you imagine wedding day transportation, you might think of stretch limos and vintage cars. This doesn’t have to be the case though — opt for a more affordable car or cab service to help you reach your dream destination. If the wedding vehicle is important to you, keep that for yourself and arrange for your wedding party to follow in more affordable transportation.

9. Use Digital Wedding Stationery

Vintage Rose Bouquet Invitation by Greenvelope

Design: Claudia Owen

Buying, personalizing, and sending your save the dates and wedding invitations can get quite expensive. Instead of going down this traditional route, try personalizing your own online invitations instead. You’ll save time and money, plus you can easily manage RSVPs and send extra details — like transportation, hotels, and your own wedding registry — all from the convenience of your device.

10. Choose a More Affordable Catering Option

Your wedding day doesn’t need to feature a multi-course, sit-down meal. Say goodbye to the formal dinner and embrace something different (and perhaps more creative). Offer a buffet-style dinner, brunch, or hors d’oeuvres where guests can fill a plate themselves. You could also look at food trucks and outdoor dining options — or arrange for a friend to fire up the grill and host a cookout. And when it comes to your wedding cake, think small: cupcakes are a fun, frugal, and festive alternative.

11. Source Your Own Vendors

If you’re not tied into using your venue’s vendors, search for your own. Doing so will give you more control over what you’re spending on catering, decor, staffing, and more. Look for vendors recommended by people you trust, and compare pricing, options, and ideas before you settle on your favorites.

12. Host Your Ceremony and Reception in the Same Venue

Save on transport costs and the need to hire multiple venues by hosting your ceremony and reception at the same place if possible. This is a great way to save on costs, and it’s also convenient for guests. There’s no need to worry about driving to another location as they can simply stay put or walk a few paces to the reception area.

13. Be Smart with Your Flowers

Flowers and floral arrangements can make wedding photos that much more beautiful, so it’s no surprise you’d want to invest in them. To keep to your wedding budget intact, look for flowers that are in season and work with your florist on a more minimal approach to your arrangements, bouquets, and boutonnieres. If you want to go big with flowers, look for faux versions you can reuse at home afterwards.

14. Ask Friends to Contribute Their Skills

Most family members, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and friends are more than happy to help out where they can. If someone has an in-demand skill, ask if they’ll consider donating their support instead of sending a wedding gift. This is a great option if you know an amazing photographer, videographer, florist, caterer, DJ, or event planner.

15. Cut an Advertising Deal

Referrals are a big deal to wedding vendors, so ask if there’s a way you can promote their services at your reception in exchange for a discount. They might agree to have you display a card or board somewhere at your celebration, or talk about how great they were on your social media feed.

16. Shop Secondhand or Sale Racks

Shopping for your wedding is a lovely moment, but you don’t always have to buy something new to make it special. Buying secondhand or from the sale rack is a great way to save on costs while still having the dress or other ensemble of your dreams. (Plus, secondhand is eco-friendly.) Look for bargains in all areas of your special day — from your wedding dress or tuxedo to your centerpieces and wedding party gifts.

17. DIY Your Own Decor

Wedding venues often offer upgrade packages where you can customize the decor of the space. If you’re hosting a wedding on a budget, opt for the simple option and DIY your own decor. Compare prices as you shop, borrow from friends, and look for online DIY tutorials to help you create gorgeous wedding decor on a budget.

18. Plan Further In Advance

Another great way to throw a wedding on a budget is to plan and book in advance. You might be able to score a great deal on your venue by booking in advance, or your caterer might give you a discount if they can fit you into an otherwise quiet month. Not only can you save money here, but you’ll have more time to make sure your decisions are ones you’ll love.

Plan Your Dream Wedding On a Budget

Throwing a wedding on a budget is all about looking for smart ways to save. Give some extra consideration to your venue, decor, vendors, and reception ideas. Look for opportunities to negotiate deals and discounts. And lastly, have fun while doing it — planning a wedding on a budget is the perfect opportunity to get creative and see what you can do.