Money, Money, Money: How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget

Jan 31, 2020 | Finances, Prenuptial Agreements

It’s no secret that weddings are an expensive endeavor. A 2017 study from The Knot found that the average couple in the United States spends $33,391 on their wedding, and that doesn’t even include engagement or wedding ring costs. Considering the median household income in the United States was found to be $56,516 based on 2015 data from the U.S. Census, it comes as no surprise that planning a wedding induces financial anxiety in many people. However, if you’re ballin’ on a tight wedding budget, we’re here to assure you that there are plenty of ways you can make your budget stretch, and still have a wedding that you and your guests will adore. From the invitations to the attire to the photography, there are loads of places to cut spending corners. Let’s dig into them.

Guest List

This is a bit of a no-brainer, the less people to serve and accommodate, the cheaper your wedding is bound to be! There’s nothing wrong with having a more intimate wedding with those especially close to you and your partner. Once it’s understood by your outer circle of friends and extended family that your wedding is set to be quite small, people are less likely to be offended by not being invited.


If you can schedule a doctor’s appointment online, you can send your save the dates and wedding invitations online. Digital is the way of the future, and most couples are using it for aspects of their wedding like gift registries, anyways. Sending digital wedding-related mail rather than having these things printed can save you a significant chunk of change. Plus, digital software makes it easier on everyone – doing the RSVP work for you, and even adding the event directly to guests’ calendars. If you’re concerned about any of your elderly guests not being comfortable with digital wedding invitations, you can even send hard copies just to them. This strategy will still save you significant amounts on printing costs.

The Dress & The Tux

Whether its mermaid or ball gown style, a wedding dress is something that every little girl dreams of years before her actual wedding. We get it. This may be an aspect where the thought of cutting corners saddens you a bit. However, you can still get the glamorous designer gown of your dreams at a price that doesn’t totally blow your wedding budget. For fancy gowns at affordable prices, try a wedding gown rental service like RentTheRunway. The site offers various packages catered to you or your wedding party, as well as personal styling consultations and a dedicated concierge to coordinate all orders. The site doesn’t only offer the services for your actual wedding dress, either. Rather than dropping money on dresses for engagement shoots, bachelorette parties, and rehearsal dinners, consider renting the dresses instead.

Alternatively, if your heart is set on purchasing your wedding dress to hold onto, a pre-owned gown might be a better option for you. Sites like Borrowing Magnolia and Pre Owned Wedding Dresses connect you with a variety of used wedding dresses for significantly less than retail value. If you’re comfortable with a less extravagant but still beautiful dress, sites like Lulu’s and Etsy have a myriad of beautiful but more simplistic white dresses in the $50 – $300 range. Whatever wedding dress you go with, make sure you’re going to feel your absolute best in it as you walk down the aisle on your big day.

Additionally, today there seems to be a trend of grooms getting more and more creative with their wedding day tuxedos/suits. Instead of the traditional black tuxedo or suit, many people are opting for more non-traditional colors like navy, grey or tan. If you want to get really color-coordinated, you may consider matching the suit coat to the bridesmaids’ dresses. This can show up especially nicely in photographs. Additionally, many people are opting for suits instead of the traditional James Bond tuxedo look, or simply dressing their tuxedos down more. We’ll delve into that more in the upcoming accessories section


Unfortunately, it’s often the little details that add up, and the same goes for accessories. $50 here and there for things like shoes, hair pieces,  jewelry and a veil can add up fast. This is where we encourage you to heavily embrace the “something borrowed” aspect of that age old wedding day rhyme. Whether it’s your grandmother’s veil or that pair of your best friend’s heels that you love, borrowing your wedding day accessories can help you save.

While tuxedos and suits may seem a bit limiting as far as personalization goes compared to wedding dresses, the good news is that there are loads of ways to dress formal menswear up (or down) with accessories.  While at one point it was standard to sport a satin bow tie, cummerbund, waistcoat and suspenders with a tuxedo, a popular, slightly more casual alternative instead is a long tie or high-stance vest. However, suits are still a bit more versatile than tuxedos, and look great worn with your choice of tie or bow tie, or patterned undershirt.


Sure, favors are lovely, but it’s pretty safe to say that nobody’s favors have either made or broken guests’ opinion of a wedding. At the end of the day, nobody is going to suffer if they don’t have a little trinket with your name and wedding date on it. In fact, favors as a theory have the potential to be quite wasteful. While cutting out wedding favors completely may reduce waste and save you the most amount of money possible, there are ways of doing them on the cheap, if you’d still like to have them present. Hand baked goods wrapped in a pretty plastic wrap or fabric with a sticker denoting your wedding date are both tasty and inexpensive. Additionally, buying candies like gummy bears in bulk and placing them in tiny containers or baggies can also make for a nice favor. A little DIY can go a long way in terms of saving on favor expenses.


To lighten up the costs of wedding decor – upcycling and DIY-ing are two terms that we cannot stress enough. Skip the expensive floral arrangements and browse around your local thrift store or garage sale circuit for centerpiece items like candles or vases – you never know what sort of things you can find to glam up your wedding. Anything that you can manage to upcycle and DIY instead of purchase at a retail price is going to help you save. We also recommend bringing in crafty friends and relatives who are willing to help – you can even turn it into a fun social event with a little bit of wine. If you’re dead set on incorporating flowers into the centerpieces, consider going with fake flowers to help cut down the bill. General decor like photos that might go up on a table near the cake, etc. can also be DIY-ed, and luckily there are loads of internet how-tos and resources available online. Hello, Pinterest!


Not many people want to spend hundreds, or even thousands, on a cake that is just going to be consumed within minutes. Only paying for the top layers of the cake for the purposes of the cutting ceremony is becoming more and more popular. The following cake layers will just be fake placeholder layers, and budget cake from your local grocery store’s bakery can be served to your guests instead. Trust us, it’s almost a guarantee that your guests will not notice the difference. Actually, skimping on cake costs is something that is becoming far less taboo these days.

Another option is of course to just skip the cake altogether and go for a different sort of dessert instead! More interactive alternatives like candy or cupcake bars are especially popular among guests. Plus, the upside to options like this is that guests can choose their preferred flavors, rather than only being offered the single flavor of the wedding cake. Candy and cupcake bars allow you the additional opportunity to dress up the decor on the dessert table to the theme of your wedding. Additionally, you may also want to consider something especially unique like a chocolate fondue fountain. IF you do spring for that though, be sure there are plenty of napkins around!


With the rise of smartphone technology, just about everyone has a high quality camera on their person at all times. Okay, of course you don’t want to remember your wedding solely with iPhone photos, but there is a point to be made regarding a peaked interest in photography, thanks also to photo sharing apps like Instagram.  Photographs are going to be the part of your wedding that lasts the longest, and that you can look at for years to come. So, while a good photographer is not something to skimp on, there are still plenty of ways that you can bring your photography bill down. A newer photographer who is working to build out their portfolio will likely have lower rates than someone who has been in the business for decades. Of course, still take the time to check their work, as well as their references, to ensure their quality is what you’re expecting. Additionally, rather than opting for a hefty, fancy package with printed photos and albums, we instead suggest simply opting for the digital images only, and printing them later at a photo service center like Walgreen’s.


While it may seem like going heavy on the hors d’oeuvres and skipping dinner is a more budget-friendly option, you will actually end up spending more due to the need for more wait staff. Instead, your best bet is to go buffet style, which requires the least amount of catering staff, and gives your guests more freedom to choose the portions and food items that they desire.


Let’s face it – live performances with wedding singers/bands may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Additionally, a DJ may not pick the right kind of songs for the crowd, and may have the music blasting way too loudly, or alternatively, have it playing too quietly. If you’re comfortable without having a “hype man” at your reception like a DJ or live band, a solid playlist, and a friend to man it, can end up saving you hundreds, or even thousands. A fun idea is to include an ask for a  song on each person’s wedding invitation. You can then build the playlist up from your guests’ requests.

Of course, as you enter a marriage, it’s important to think about long-term financial planning. The ultimate provision that could save you massive amounts of money over the course of time is a prenuptial agreement, or prenup. Rather than a doomed fate for a marriage, a prenup is simply a smart step to take to protect your financial security.

Another false rumor about prenups is that they’re always expensive. To clarify, traditional prenups indeed might be. According to Business Insider, the cost of a traditional prenup ranges from $2,500 to $10,000+ per partner. Plus, if you’re going through an attorney, remember that just about every minute spent with them is on the clock. The good news? Instead of wasting your precious time and money with attorneys, HelloPrenup offers hassle-free custom prenup drafting, with the option to have an attorney review said draft. Hello Prenup charges a base price of just $799per couple, with payment required upfront, from just one party. At Hello Prenup, legal consultation only rises our base package price of $799 by a maximum of around $1,000.

Between student loans, mortgages, and just the overall increase in cost of living, we, and assuredly most of your guests, understand that dropping tens of thousands on a wedding is probably not your top priority. There is no shame in having a budget wedding, and with the hacks like those we’ve mentioned in this article, there are plenty of ways to make your budget stretch, and still have the glamorous wedding of your dreams.

Interested in learning more about a prenuptial agreement? Read our FAQ section here, and watch our informational videos here.

You are writing your life story. Get on the same page with a prenup. For love that lasts a lifetime, preparation is key. Safeguard your shared tomorrows, starting today.
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