• Ally Lightfoot

7 Ways To Plan A Wedding On A Budget

Let's get real here for a second.


What I'm about to say to you may seem strange because I make a living off of wedding planning BUT you do not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to have a beautiful wedding. Whether you're saving for a house, a vacation, the future, or you just don't have a spare $30,000+, it is so important to be realistic and only spend what you can actually afford.


Here are 7 easy ways that we have found to save money and have a wedding on a budget!

Hire A Wedding Planner


You're probably thinking that I'm biased because I am a wedding planner but I swear, this is actually really important.


One of the main services that I offer in my most of my packages is budget analysis and allocation. We will create a realistic budget and then we'll stick to it. Adjusting your budget and being realistic means that you may not have a wedding with ice sculptures, doves and 500 guests, but we design our weddingto reflect you and your fiancé's unique personalities. We don't need anything crazy fancy to make the day special because your personality is the most special... we can't buy that.


With the help of a professional Wedding Planner you can also avoid costly mistakes such as, ordering too many invitations, ordering too much (or too little) food, forgetting about tipping or even failing to get the correct permits, resulting in heavy fines.


Now you might be thinking, "what does a Wedding Planner cost? That's definitely not in my budget". A professional Wedding Planner will work with you to create a package that works for you and your budget and then, depending on the package you select, we will go through your budget in detail to make sure we have every cost accounted for. This will help you save money and avoid extra costs. And if you still don't think you can afford a full package, most Planners offer hourly consultation as well which can be used for budget analysis!


Consider A Non-Traditional Wedding Date


You can save a lot of money on your wedding by having an off season wedding (October - April) or even a wedding on a Friday or Sunday! Consider if a Saturday wedding in the summer really matters to you and if it doesn't, ask around for off-season pricing. Most venues and even some vendors will offer you quite a large deal if you are in the off-season and it never hurts to ask!


Bonus Tip! It never hurts to ask if there is wiggle room in pricing even if you are having a Saturday wedding during wedding season. Sometimes you can remove certain services (like delivery) and save a little bit of money. Many vendors will likely say no but there is no harm in asking.


This gorgeous couple decided to save money by only using the bride and bridesmaids bouquets as decor on the head table.

Decide What's Most Important & Cut The Fluff


If you want an affordable wedding, you have to think first of what's really important to you. Is it photography? Décor? Flowers? Dancing? Food? You should try to put your money into whatever is the most important to you. I always say don't cut costs on the things that are most important to you, you will probably regret it! Through our years of experience we have learned that you get what you pay for!


In the photo above, our gorgeous couple decided to save money by only using the bride and bridesmaids bouquets as decor on the head table.


If you want a budget friendly wedding, you have to be realistic! Ask yourself, will this matter in 10 minutes, 10 months or 10 years? If the answer to all three is yes, then do it! If you answer no, you'll have to try your best to let it go. Cutting out the cute décor items can be tough, but if you're really on a tight budget, you can really save a lot of money by cutting out the extras!


Shorten The Guest List


This one is the most important. The venue, food and alcohol are normally the three most expensive elements of a wedding. If you really want to have a wedding on a budget, this is one of the quickest ways to cut down on costs. Once you take everything into consideration you will likely be spending around (or over) $100 per guest. Imagine if you could take your list of 150 people down to even 100, you could save $5,000. Let that sink in for a minute... now imagine if you could have an even more intimate wedding with 75 people instead of 150. You could save $7,500.


It can be really hard to decide who is invited and who isn't invited. Prepare to say no and know that it will be okay. It's your day and unfortunately you can't please everyone. You have to do what's right for you. I always recommend only inviting people who have a role in your life who will contribute positively to your wedding day. Whatever you decide, just make sure that you speak to the people who you don't invite. Ignoring the situation can create long erm issues. I always recommend explaining the situation and being honest! If they truly love you, they will understand!


Get Creative With Food


There are many different food service options that can save you quite a bit of money. Plated 3 course dinners are often very expensive and they may not be the best way to go if you're on a tight budget. A good way to save on costs is to consider a buffet, family style, food stations or even a cocktail style reception with hors d'oeuvres. Keep in mind that whatever you decide, just make sure your guests know so that they can plan accordingly!


Limit the Alcohol


You probably already know that open bars are awesome (and expensive). If you want to have an open bar, it is definitely a nice gesture but by no means is it necessary! Here are some alternatives to help you party on a budget! Keep in mind that some venues will not allow you to sell alcohol so make sure you check with them before you make any final decisions!


Selling Alcohol

  • cash bar

  • toonie bar

  • provide a limited amount of drink tickets, followed by a cash or toonie bar

Having An Open Bar Without Going Over Budget

  • serve only wine and beer

  • serve only signature drinks

  • avoid serving expensive spirits and wines

  • don't allow shots (this should help slow down consumption)



Think Long and Hard About The Dress


I know, this is where I might lose you. Many of us dream of our wedding gowns for years, thanks to all of those tv shows about weddings. Despite what you see on TV gowns do not have to cost $4,000+. In our experience it is best to stay realistic, but rememeber, if the dress is important to you, keep that in mind when creating your budget.


How To Save Money On Your Wedding Dress

  • Ask to shop only sample gowns that can be bought off the rack

  • Shop online swap & sell groups

  • Check out consignment stores

  • Order online (with extreme caution)

  • Do not try on a dress that is over budget

Don't forget about alterations and accessories! We love to create a seperate category in our weddin budgets for alterations and accessories. This way, there are no surprises and you know exactly what you can spend on your dress, alterations, veil and all other accessories before you start dress shopping.


How To Lose Money Fast


Do not try to DIY if you are not an experienced DIY person. If you have to go out and buy a glue gun and scissors, you will likely not be saving any money on your DIY projects. DIY projects may sound awesome, and they will absolutely save you money if you are an experienced DIYer, but if not, skip the projects and pay a professional! It will save you money in the end. The same goes for all aspects of your wedding. If you aren't a chef, think long and hard about whether or not you should DIY your wedding food.


Having a backyard wedding is not always cheaper. Before deciding to get married in your aunt's gorgeous backyard or on your sister's farm, remember that you will have a lot of extra costs. Tents, toilets, lighting, a dance floor, speakers, equipment, tables, chairs, plates, cutlery, servers, bartenders, everything... It may sound like an awesome money saving idea, but if done incorrectly, it will cost the same if not way more than a traditional venue.


Do not rely on gifts from your guests to help pay for your wedding. You've probably heard that its "standard" for guests to gift you the cost of their wedding meal (typically $100 each) but do not count on that! Instead, think of this as a wonderful party that you're hosting! You would probably never expect guests to pay for their food if they went to your home for a dinner party so expect nothing and be grateful for whatever your guests give. If you adopt this way of thinking, any gift you recieive can go towards your future and you can avoid a mass amount of wedding debt!


Only spend what you can afford and do your best to stick to your budget! You can have a perfect day without starting your life out under a mountain of wedding debt. Just get creative! There is no right or wrong when it comes to your wedding.


Get organized. Be realistic. Remember that this day is about you and your love story! However you choose to plan your day, it will be perfect for you as long as you stand by your decisions!


And that's it! 7 simple ways to plan a wedding on a budget!



Did you learn anything for this? Do you have any other awesome money saving ideas? Comment below and let us know what you think. We want to help as many couples as we can! We would love for you to share this with your friends and family if you found it helpful!


xo, Ally


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Thank you to Holly Dalton Photography for all photos in this blog post!

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