Even the most thoughtful budgets can go awry.

And that’s especially true when it comes to weddings: while the average couple plans on spending a whopping $20,000 they end up spending nearly $10,000 more.

What that amounts to, for many couples, is taking out loans, adding to any other debt the couple might already be paying off.  The worst part: it’s easy to overspend even if you’re trying to be cautious. Luckily, there’s ways to combat swelling prices. And your guests won’t even notice you cut back.

  1. Attire: For men, you don’t have to wear a tux; suits tend to be more affordable, and are great for a variety of venues. If you do go with a tux, experts suggest comparison shopping, asking for more affordable fabric selections, and not being brand loyal. For women, bridal gowns should be something you’ll love, but that doesn’t mean breaking the bank. Instead of having your heart set on high end designers, check out a bridal boutiques’ own line, like ours, where you can find gowns for under $1,000. Also be sure to ask your consultant about the cost of alterations. Look for sales and trunk shows to save even more.
  2. The menu: While not always true, buffets tend to be more affordable than sit-down dinners, especially ones with multiple courses, because you’re also paying per plate, and for waitstaff. Even more affordable: consider having an afternoon wedding or even brunch, where you can serve lighter selections. A late wedding, as long as it’s indicated on the invite, could also be a dessert reception as opposed to a full dinner.
  3. Drinks: If you’re getting married, and having your reception at a church, you may not even be permitted to have alcohol. If you do plan on including alcohol, having your reception earlier in the day will reduce the amount your guests drink. For later weddings, instead of a full service or cash bar (which guests tend to find tacky), opt for signature cocktails and drinks served during the main meal. Even with a full bar service, you can reduce costs by closing the car early, supplying your own, limiting the selections, and seeing if there are any discounts available.
  4. Transportation: As glamorous as a limousine is, saving here is pretty simple: use your own car. Something people don’t think about: having the reception and venue in the same place will cut down on travel costs, and may even be cheaper overall.
  5. Speaking of the venue: You may think all inclusive places are a good deal, but they’re often marked up. Plus, you might spend more simply because the venue and subsequent services offer or tempt you things you wouldn’t have needed. For a really tight budget, think outside of the box: local and national parks, churches, and even Airbnb’s are often very low cost. A little more expensive but likely more affordable–museums, theaters, and even zoos.
  6. Go off season: June, August, May, and then September, in that order, are the most popular months to get married. They also tend to be the most expensive, with markups on everything from venues to caterers to decor. Go off season and it’ll be cheaper. The one exception: the days near Valentine’s Day, or any holiday, where the price of flowers will likely be high.


A final note: cut where you can. Ask friends for help; take on DIY projects; and focus on affordable centerpieces, or already decorated venues to cut down on the amount of fresh flowers.

Photo Credit: Jason Thomas Crocker Photography