Everyone knows that weddings can be expensive. Everything adds up — the big things, the little things, and everything in between. If you’re looking for wedding ideas on a budget, however, the options are endless!
The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $30,000, according to The Knot.
Recently, one bride and groom were able to pull off their entire event for just $500. Yep, $500. A five with just two zeros after it. Kiara and Joel Brokenbrough kept things minimal, but it was still a beautiful wedding. It all started with the perfect wedding dress, which she found on Shein’s website for just $47.
“Our goal was to just be as minimal as possible,” Kiara told Good Morning America, “and to spend the least amount of money as possible.”
If fast fashion isn’t your ideal way to save money, have no fear. We’ve done our homework and come up with several wedding ideas on a budget that you’ve probably never considered!
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Here are our top picks for the best money-saving wedding ideas. The price breakdowns are based on a 130-person wedding, which is an estimate for post-pandemic weddings based on data form The Knot from 2019 through 2021.
1. DIY Wedding Invitations: save nearly $3 per invitation.
The average cost of wedding invitations, according to The Knot’s survey of 15,000 newlyweds nationwide, sits at around $530. For a 130-person wedding, that’s about $4.08 per guest before postage. But thanks to bulk savings stores like Costco that boast affordable printing fees and creative websites like Canva, anyone can be a good enough graphic designer to create their own invitations and Save-the-Date cards. When you’re creating, printing (and even cutting!), and stuffing your invites yourself, you can save almost $3 per invitation suite.
For our cost comparison, we’re looking at printing a 5×7 invitation, 5×7 save the date, 4×6 RSVP card, 4×6 menu card, and a 4×6 thank you card for 130 guests. See our savings breakdown below if you opt to print your cards at Costco.
Total cost of a traditional invitation suite: $530
Price per guest: $4.08
Total cost of DIY invitations: $0
Total cost to print invitation suite for 130 guests: $196.30
Price per guest: $1.51
Savings: $333, or $2.57 per guest
2. Save over $275 by getting your wedding cake at the grocery store.
Wedding cakes can be pretty costly, but if you want a beautiful cake everyone will be raving over, you aren’t obligated to spend hundreds of dollars. In fact, you can get a cheap wedding cake from your local grocery store, Costco, or Sam’s Club — and many of the stores will offer a free wedding tasting. You can save tens to hundreds of dollars by veering away from the traditional bakery. We spoke with a cake decorator at Sam’s Club, and they said the average cost of a wedding cake for 100 guests would run around $72.
Average cost of a 3-tier wedding cake from a bakery: $350
Average cost of a Sam’s Club 3-tier wedding cake: $72
Total savings: $278
You can have them decorate it for you, of course, or you can take matters into your own hands and do a little DIY wedding cake hack yourself, like this one:
Related: Check out these genius baking hacks that’ll make your life easier.
3. Save up to 50% by using fake flowers in bouquets and centerpieces.
The best part about creating silk flower bouquets and centerpieces is that they last forever. Literally. Wedding bouquets alone can cost hundreds of dollars and on average run about $1,500. Costs have risen due to floral shortages caused by the pandemic, so handpicking your favorite florals from a craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels can save you big bucks. The average cost of faux floral arrangements will run you around $750. The key here is to choose the best materials for the price. Silk flowers can end up costing more than fresh, in-season flowers in some cases. So do your research and choose materials that look nice but are still affordable.
Average cost of real wedding flowers: $1,500
Average cost of faux wedding flowers: $750
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4. Head to the thrift store for wedding decoration ideas.
If you’re relying on a catering service to provide the glassware for your big event, then you know things can get costly. Fast. These days, thrifting for things like glassware and silverware for wedding guests is becoming a trendy thing to do. You can mix and match or keep things in a theme — it’s up to you what it all looks like, and the best part is that there is never, ever a shortage of glassware at your local thrift or Target salvage store.
5. Save over $600 by having a wine-and-beer-only bar.
Unless you’re having a completely dry wedding, you have another big reception component to think about: the bar. If you’re having your reception at a venue that allows you to make your own alcohol decisions, consider a wine-and-beer-only bar. You’ll have free reign to choose the type of beer and wine you want, how much, and you can even make things more intimate by placing house wines on each table (and DIY your own wedding labels for each bottle as a treat).
With the average wedding bar packages costing $2,000 – $3,000 for 100 guests, you can easily save hundreds by going this route. On average wine-and-beer-only wedding packages run closer to $15 – $20 per person, rather than $20 – $35 per person. For a 130 person wedding, this saves you upwards of $650.
Average cost of a full bar: $2,600
Average cost of a wine-and-beer-only bar: $1,950
Total savings: $650
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6. Consider nontraditional wedding venues.
There’s nothing wrong with skipping the hotel banquet hall reception, especially if you’re trying to keep things low cost. Have you ever thought about an Airbnb wedding? It’s a cost-effective solution if you’ve always dreamed of a destination wedding but can’t afford the destination wedding price, you can make your wedding more intimate and personal this way, and your options are pretty limitless. Compared to a more lavish, traditional venue, a nontraditional venue like an Airbnb is one of the far more affordable wedding ideas on a budget.
7. Don’t be afraid to cut your photographer’s hours.
If there’s one thing veteran brides can probably all agree on, it’s that no one needs dozens of photos of the end of the night. Which is why it’s not a bad idea to limit your wedding photographer’s hours to the most necessary moments — the ceremony, the first half of the reception, etc. Photography is one of the most expensive parts of a wedding (with good reason, of course), but being smart about what they’re capturing can save you money (and less-than-perfect photos) in the long run.