How to Plan a Wedding on a Small Budget

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When facing such scenarios as an ever-growing guest list, reserving a large enough venue and the price tag of a designer gown, at times it seems virtually impossible to plan a wedding on a small budget. In fact, according to a 2012 study by the Knot website, the average wedding in the United States costs approximately $27,000. Thankfully, couples can still take cost-cutting measures to keep from putting them in the red while simultaneously planning a wedding that fits their overall style.


The venue sets the tone for your wedding and its subsequent budget. Look for venues that match your style, of course, but when counting pennies, you should also consider sites that offer a host of inclusive perks, such as linens, tables and chairs. Remember, the more items you have to rent, the more costs start to add up. Search for locations that do not require a lot of decorations as well. Although you may long for a Saturday evening wedding in mid-July, many venues offer discounted rates for weddings held during the winter, on Friday or Sunday nights or on holidays.

Wedding Dress

Setting a strict budget will not necessarily keep you from buying your dream wedding dress. Brides may find discount deals on designer gowns on websites specializing in previously-worn wedding dresses. You can also search for dresses with significantly reduced price tags on auction sites. Add a vintage and personal touch to your wedding by wearing your mom or grandmother’s bridal gown. If you are determined to buy a new dress, keep an eye out for trunk shows — events at which designers bring a host of their gowns to local boutique shops. Often times, designers sell their dress at a discounted price at trunk shows.


While sit-down five-course meals create an elegant setting, they can easily break the bank. Meet with caterers to discuss budget-friendly alternatives, such as an all-hors d'oeuvres or all-dessert buffet. Depending on the time of your ceremony, you may also consider a breakfast or lunch buffet, which usually costs less than dinner service. If you really have your heart set on dinner, talk to your friends and family about providing the food. You can buy the food in bulk at discount club stores and rent chafing and serving dishes from party rental businesses. Some couples with casual, backyard affairs will ask each guest to bring a dish.

Drinks and Cake

In regards to alcohol, a cash bar, where guests pay for their own drinks, is far less costly than a host bar, where the bride and groom cover all the drinks. If you really want a host bar, skip the top-shelf liquors and stick with basics like beer and wine. As for the cake, many grocery stores sell tiered wedding cakes at prices significantly lower than those found at independently owned bakeries.

Invitation and Favors

Do-it-yourself projects add a personal touch to any wedding and help save money in the process. Start by asking a design-gifted friend to help make your own invitations, or purchase an online template and print the invites at home. Make your way to discount or party stores in search of bulk items like candles and frames. Let the candles double as table decor and a take-home favor. Similarly, you can fill the frames with your guests’ names and use them not only as table settings but as personal wedding favors. Do not be shy in asking your friends, family or bridal party for help assembling these projects. In fact, you can turn the event into a casual craft party.


Speak candidly to your florist regarding your budget. Save on costs by requesting flowers that will be in season during your wedding. You can also meet budgetary demands by renting vases from your florist instead of purchasing them. Just make certain you return the vases to your florist in the required time frame to avoid penalty fees. Some florists allow you to use your own vases as well. Look for unique and cost-efficient items like mason jars or tin pails found at discount stores. If you have the time and skills, arrange your own centerpieces. Many bulk warehouse stores sell flowers at a discounted rate for this very purpose.