4 Strategies You Can Use to Save Money on Your Wedding
Wedding costs can quickly go out of hand. When you find a venue or vendor you love, it’s easy to say what’s a couple hundred/thousand more?
But family can humble you real quick. When I toe the line of spending more, I think back to my mother’s frugal advice, “Don’t go too crazy. You’re not a celebrity.”
And she’s right. Too many people focus on a wedding rather than their marriage. I’ve seen couples fight over their wedding budget and struggle to make it down the aisle.
Navigating wedding planning post-pandemic is another challenge on its own. The wedding sticker shock still surprised me. The pandemic issued a catastrophic blow to vendors who didn’t get paid for a year. And unlike restaurants that can do takeout, their business went to almost zero. As a result, I’ve seen wedding vendors increase their prices by 50% to stay afloat.
Let’s start with the obvious. The best way to save money for a wedding is to elope.
Trust me. I’ve thought about this multiple times. When you’re entrapped in the wedding planning chaos, throwing it in the towel and going to Vegas seems like hitting the lottery.
But that mischevious plan would cause endless drama. I know my parents and future in-laws would kill us. I also recognize that a wedding is one out of two occasions everyone must attend. And it’s the happy one of the two.
The second obvious way to save money is to not invite every Facebook friend you know and keep the guest list small. A small guest list always tops the number one rule to save money on a wedding. I’ve already got this tip under control, so I needed to get more creative with my cost-cutting strategies.
In this article, I’ll discuss the strategies I’ve utilized to save money on my wedding besides skipping the wedding altogether or cutting a guest list in half.
1. Leverage your relationships
Using your friends and leveraging your relationships may sound selfish — especially on a day all about you.
But weddings are expensive for everyone. Between the bride and groom, parents, and guests, everyone is fitting the bill with cash or gifts.
As a result, people around you are bound to provide their services to cut down your costs.
Here are a few ways I’m saving money with the people I know:
- Videography. My best friend edits videos as a freelancer. She offered to edit my wedding videos for free as our wedding gift. So all I need to pay for is someone to shoot the raw and drone footage.
- Makeup. Another family friend does wedding makeup as a side hustle. Even though I’m not close with her, she graciously offered to do a trial. If I like it, great! If I don’t, no hard feelings. She’ll do it for my mom and other family members who aren’t picky.
- Wedding dress. My friend got caught up in the Say Yes to the Dress moment and paid $200 for a veil. We will pass around this veil to obtain some cost per use!
Proceed with caution. Many vendors view their editing process as an art. They'll be offended if you ask them only to shoot and give the raw photos or footage. I learned this the hard way.
I clarified with vendors that it was an unusual situation. However, I understand that vendors need a minimum to reserve my wedding date and turn other clients away. The videographer I chose completely understood and charged me the same price as his lowest-priced wedding package.
When I asked one vendor if they would provide me raw footage and my best friend would edit it as my wedding gift, they outright refused. Instead, they wrote a nasty email about how they would never entrust my friend with their brand reputation. That is understandable, but these kinds of rejections aren’t for the faint of heart.
There's a natural risk involved when entering into something as a favor instead of a contract. For instance, I know that my friend editing my wedding video will need to prioritize her paying clients before me. So we discussed a 6-week timeline, which matched other videographers anyways.
Overall, I understand those risks and am willing to take them.
- $1000+ on videography
- $1000+ on makeup trial and wedding day for myself and family
- $200 on the veil (would be much less if I ordered one off Amazon)
2. Negotiate within reason
The most infuriating thing about shopping around for vendors is that most don’t list their prices online. Instead, you have to inquire about pricing through a contact form or email. You repeat these steps with each vendor before receiving information on three different packages at different price points.
This repetitive process gets annoyingly frustrating. I spent hours looking for vendors only to find out they were well out of my price range, despite being branded as “inexpensive” or “affordable” on The Knot.
My process for negotiating includes:
- Research. It took me about five photographers to understand their pricing. Ask your friends for referrals, too — they have more insight than just what you see online but know about someone’s personality, communication, and final delivery.
- Explain what you value. I preferred a natural-light style instead of a light and airy style. I found the perfect photographer that fit the mold. I didn’t need everything in her package and explained I valued the wedding day photos more than the engagement session.
- Don’t demand discounts. Doing this can rub people the wrong way. Instead, say that you are on a strict budget and offer to take things out of the vendor’s package. Most vendors will voluntarily throw in small discounts if they know you’re only a few hundred away from saying yes.
Most vendors understand when you mention what your budget is. While my photographer highlighted the importance of an engagement session, I explained that I valued her expertise. However, I’d rather have a photographer of her caliber for my special day with my limited budget than go with someone else entirely. She created a custom package with a slight discount that would make both of us happy.
Another area I have every intention of negotiating on is my wedding dress. The cost per wear will be the highest piece in my entire wardrobe. I’d rent one if I could find one I loved. I also have no problem asking for a wedding dress off the rack or shopping sample sales. It’s important to stay open-minded on something that everyone else says it’s worth spending a lot of money on.
But reaching a middle ground is doable. So don’t just come to the table demanding a discount.
- $500 for photography
- $500+ for a wedding dress if I go that route
3. Utilize credit card rewards
The main two reasons I’m increasing my savings with credit cards include:
- Receiving sign-on bonuses
- Getting more cashback
Credit cards are my best friend. Unfortunately, despite all the enthusiasm for getting cashback, they still can carry an irresponsible reputation.
For example, my coworkers and I breached the topic of credit cards at lunch. Some of us didn’t even have a credit score. Others used only their debit card. They didn’t want to entertain the idea of debt for everyday expenses.
I casually mentioned I held about ten credit cards. Judging by their response, you’d think I’d told them I’m 50k in consumer debt. My coworkers jumped out of their seats. Ten? Even my fellow credit card enthusiast colleague shouted out in shock.
I explained, “If I’m going to spend all this money, you best believe I am getting good cash back out of it!”
So far, all my vendors accept credit cards. I can quickly get each $200+ sign-up bonus by paying for vendor deposits alone. I can receive 5% cashback on my top category up to $500 or 3% back on any online purchases. Additionally, I can use my cashback and transfer those points to my Chase Sapphire card, getting an additional 25% in travel rewards.
I’m planning on getting three more credit cards over the following years. That will include three sign-up bonuses and cashback that I can use towards our honeymoon or future purchases.
When you’re not a victim of the interest and can pay in full, utilizing credit cards is a no-brainer.
- $600+ in sign up bonuses
- 2–5% cashback on all my credit card purchases
4. Give up your ideal Pinterest board
According to “The Knot’s” internal study that surveyed over 15,000 couples married in 2021, the average wedding flower cost is $2,300. A wedding planner told me a regular floral budget is 10% of a couple’s overall wedding cost. Of course, this can increase to 25% if you want one of those Pinterest dream floral designs.
Enter in 2022 a floral shortage. Floral costs will increase more than we think. In addition, supply chain issues are starting to affect prices. Unfortunately, experts predict we’re a year out from seeing any stabilization.
Not falling into the Pinterest trap helps me adjust my expectations. I don’t need elaborate aisle decor, centerpieces, or over-the-top bouquets. Instead, I’m relying on my favorite store — Costco. We will get a bunch of flowers from Costco as the centerpieces and call it a day. So many people I know have mentioned that the end of a wedding is such a waste of flowers.
I want videos of our wedding for ourselves. Posting a one-minute highlight reel doesn’t do much. However, making many of these decisions to drop the social media activity can help you save and focus on your marriage rather than simply one day.
Don’t make decisions purely to brag on social media. I know some people that did that and now regret it. A lot of people get caught up in having a dream wedding. But unfortunately, the truth is that many of these costs are outrageous.
- $2,300 on flowers. A Costco package for the win!
- $200 on skipping social media edits
A quick recap on how to save costs on your wedding:
1. Leverage your relationships. Someone can exchange their services as your wedding gift. Many of my friends are receiving the family and friends discount and will return the favor.
2. Negotiate within reason. Negotiating doesn’t mean getting everything you want without giving up anything. It’s a compromise not to waste anyone’s time.
3. Utilize credit card rewards. Get what you can out of the money you will 100% spend.
4. Give up your ideal Pinterest board. It’s nice to have wedding inspiration. However, it’s another thing to get caught up in a decision headache and a dream wedding.
In the end, I’m keeping our wedding as simple as can be. My fiance and I don’t need to impress anyone. We’re simply celebrating our union with our loved ones. The guest list will be mostly family members and the bridal party. You're not invited to the wedding if I don’t have your phone number.
I’m skipping out on a lot of celebrations. I refuse to do a bridal shower. It’s just another excuse to shower people with gifts. It is costly for everyone planning on your behalf if you’re not local, but travel expenses also add up. I’m not doing wedding favors. Half of these are left forgotten anyways.
Getting creative and adjusting your expectations will help you achieve the ultimate dream wedding. And the plus is that you’ll go under budget for an already expensive event.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.