Smart Wedding Budgeting Tips: How to Cut Costs Without Sacrificing Your Vision | Wedding Planning Insights

Published by Christopher on

Your engagement is unforgettable. The memories from your wedding day will live on forever but you don’t want your wedding bills to last longer than your guest’s hangovers or your sore feet.  

I’ve been to at least 300 weddings and while I can’t give advice on how to find the best price on the best dress or what to spend for photography there are ways to cut costs while keeping your vision intact.

When it comes to pricing, ‘wedding’ is a four-letter word. Avoid the wedding tax. Your photographer needs to know they’re working a wedding, the same goes for a venue but when it comes to rentals such as lodging and chairs to pastries and photo booths, see what you can’t get away with. 

Don’t serve hard alcohol. The day starts with top-shelf liquor and slides into shots, shots shots shots, shots….and it will do to your budget what it does to a liver. And those ‘signature’ drinks venues sometimes offer are typically just a way to upsell your guests. 

BYOB(W)  if you’re lucky enough to bring your own alcohol this may be your biggest savings. Just putting this out there, Costco sells wine by the case. I had 75 people attend our wedding and had 70 bottles of wine plus beer. Speaking of beer you’ll want variety in but avoid expensive craft brews.  

Any day but Saturday.  We were married on a Friday and avoided a two or three thousand dollar event fee. Friday had the perfect weather and the next day it rained. I’ve done dozens of Friday and Sundays and even a few Thursdays and the likely reason, I was even there was because the couple chose an off day. 

Buffets offer flexibility.  If you need to find a caterer check out non-traditional options. Think BBQ. My top meals at weddings were provided by non-traditional wedding caterers, like restaurants and dudes with a giant smoker hooked on to the back of a pick-up. 

In lieu of gifts have a registry for assistance. I’m not sure if this is a thing but it should be. For my wedding, we were lucky to have a few very talented friends and family members help in lieu of gifts. Do you know someone who can bake a cake, brew a beer, or plan a day? I’ve been passed over plenty of times for a friend or a family member with good equipment. Conversely,  I’ve helped out friends and family as well. Just recognize the costs and offer to pay what you can if someone is kind enough to volunteer.

Hire a non-traditional wedding band – I’ve shot many weddings with rock bands or small wedding bands (4-5 members) that kept the dance floor filled.  Just be sure they can play the hits and watch them in person to be sure they have the right energy.

Or skip the band and spend on the DJ. Don’t get the cheapest DJ. Make sure they’re good because there’s nothing worse than an inexperienced or low-energy DJ. You don’t need to pay for uplighting packages or one of the many add-ons many of these companies offer. 

Keep your bridal party small. Big bridal parties are fun, but saving your friends’ money will save you money too. If you only opt for a Maid-of-Honor and Best Man, you can still have a bachelorette/bachelor party. 

Don’t have a destination bachelorette/bachelor party. These really only benefit credit card companies. 

Use a canceled wedding broker.  A friend just told me about this. It’s a crapshoot, but apparently you can get a “pre-packaged” wedding at a discount because someone else canceled.  You’ll need the most flexible schedules.

As this list is nowhere near comprehensive I’ll be sure to post more as they occur to me. Just remember you’ll have a hundred expenses and with thoughtful consideration and a bit of financial creativity, you start your marriage wedding debt-free.



Christopher lives in Vermont with his wife, twin boys, corgi. He has owned a film production company, sold slot machines, and worked for Tony Robbins. He writes in his magical tiny house and sometimes writes in his blog at