How To Cut Wedding Costs If You're On A Budget

Getting married could be one of the most expensive experiences of your life, and unless you’re a millionaire, you’re probably going to want to know how to cut costs on your wedding. When it comes to weddings there are so many aspects to think about: The cake, the flowers, the dress, the venue, the food, the entertainment, the photographer... The list seems never ending.

In 2014, the average cost of a wedding in the US was $31,213. I don’t know about you, but to me this is an insane amount of money to spend on one day of your entire life. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, the average millennial is burdened with $29,400 in student loans, so if you and your partner both went to college, it's totally possible that you could be starting your lives together with almost $60,000 in student loan debt. That’s before you even contemplate borrowing money for your wedding. Whether you went to college or not, or you even want a big wedding... getting married is never, ever an easy thing for a bank account to deal with.

It'll soon be the first day of the rest of your lives together as a married couple and you don’t want to be spend it drowning in debt. Here’s how to cut back on costs and still have the wedding of your dreams.

1. Get Crafty

There are so many ways you can incorporate crafts into your wedding. You could craft your own place names, elegant centerpieces, table runners, cake toppers, or even customize your wedding shoes — the possibilities are as endless as your imagination. As well as hopefully saving you some serious money, you'll know that your wedding will be absolutely one of a kind and true to you and your partner.

2. DIY

Instead of hiring a wedding planner or a wedding coordinator to do the legwork for you, do it yourself. By this I mean discuss your dream wedding day with your partner and then see if there are ways you can do things more cheaply. For instance, you might be contemplating a full package at a hotel which includes your ceremony, drinks at the reception, etc. — but don't be fooled by the term "package." Yes, it is probably cheaper to buy a hotel package rather than pay for all of the hotel's different services individually, but how about doing it yourself?

Venues make a ton of money from brides and grooms who want everything taken care of without having to lift a finger, which is totally understandable if that's what you want, but these services come at a price. A beautiful venue nearby where I live is set in exquisite grounds and offers a wonderful wedding meal among other extras. But with the extra cost of almost approximately $82 per person for the meal, your big day could come with an even bigger price tag. It may be kinder on your bank balance if you source your venue and/or cater your food separately. Renting a beautiful barn, decorating it exactly to your tastes, and hiring a caterer for the day could end up being way cheaper than hosting your celebration at a decadent venue. It could mean more organizing but if it gives you more room to play with your budget it'll be totally worth it.

3. Pull In Favors

Now is the time to pull anyone up on any favors they owe you or promise talented friends that you'll owe them one in the future. You may have a friend who is a graphic designer (hello, awesome wedding stationery,) an uncle who owns a truly epic car, or a cousin who just happens to be a makeup artist. They may swap their talent for yours or you might be able to get a hefty friends and family discount.

4. Request Donations Instead Of Gifts

Many millennials live together before they get married and therefore they already have all of the household appliances they need. To combat this, some people decide to give money as a wedding gift. Even if you and your partner don't own every fancy appliance you could wish for, money may make more sense for your new life together. Make it easy for yourselves and your guests by taking out the gift guesswork and politely request money towards your honeymoon or a deposit for a house. People will probably be more than happy to contribute towards your dream honeymoon or home rather than getting you another blender which you'll just end up returning.

5. Take Advantage Of Your Squad

Use your bridesmaids to their full advantage. They're here to help you, after all. Instead of buying ready made wedding favors, have a fun night in making your own with all of your bridesmaids. Provide some wine and put the Bridesmaids movie on and it won't even feel like work. Plus, they may have a hidden talent; your Maid of Honor may have an amazing voice, so ask her if she would sing your favorite song as you walk down the aisle, rather than hire a professional. Keep in mind that they are not your minions to do with as you please, and they do have their own lives. Treat them as you would wish to be treated as they may repay the favor (or backbreaking workload) when it's their turn to get hitched.

6. Ditch The Designer Dress

You may have been planning on purchasing a decadent, designer dress, but these lavish gowns often come with a hefty price tag. It might be a good idea to search for a reasonably priced vintage gem. Authentic vintage wedding dresses are incredible as they tell a story of a different era, they become the focal point for a vintage themed wedding, and they can be your "something old." Your vintage dress could even be a handed down heirloom so that your wedding dress would also be your "something borrowed."

If vintage isn't your style, there are a range of stunning high street wedding gowns out there such as Anthropologie's BHLDN wedding dress collection. Modern brides have also been seen wearing ASOS wedding dresses, and really thrifty brides can purchase their wedding dresses from Target. Let's be honest, you're going to wear your wedding dress for one day, do you really need to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on it if you don't want to?

7. Use Upcycled Objects For Decorations

There are plenty of everyday household items that can be upcycled and given a new lease of life for your wedding. Jam jars can be used as vases for wild flower centerpieces, extra fabric can be made into bunting, and pin boards can be transformed into seating plans. I especially love this idea for a vintage bathtub bar.

8. Use A Wedding Photography App

Wedding photography apps are a wonderful way to add a personal touch to your celebrations while saving you money on a photographer. Apps like WedPics turn your guests into photographers and enable them to share their photos of your big day with you. Guests download the free WedPics app, sign in with your unique Wedding I.D., and begin snapping! After your wedding day you can download all of your guests' photos onto your computer and even order Premium WedPics Prints to decorate your home.

9. Be Your Own DJ

Instead of paying someone to play chart hits and cheesy music, you and your partner can create your own wedding playlist full of all of your favorite songs that carry meaning about your relationship. Some venues have all the equipment you'll need to be able to plug a laptop or iPad into the sound system. Your friends could also take it in turns to pick songs from your playlist or from their own devices, which remind them of you both or which they think are great party tunes.

10. Ask Bridesmaids To Wear Their Favorite Dress

Everyone has different tastes and we all feel attractive wearing different things. To save money on bridesmaids dresses, ask your friends to wear their favorite dresses (or suits, or skirts, or whatever) in your color scheme. Even if they have to buy a new dress, you've given them full reign on what they can wear so they may not mind forking out for a new frock. They'll probably pick something which they can wear again rather than a super expensive, extremely formal bridesmaid gown which was picked for them. This also eliminates any arguments between your bridesmaids and it's one less thing for you to worry about, which consequently equals less stress for you.

11. Have A Midweek Wedding

This is a super smart way to save money on your wedding. Weddings usually take place on a weekend; however, savvy brides are having their weddings on weekdays to dramatically reduce costs. A friend of mine got married this summer on a Thursday and she saved approximately $4,600 by not getting married on a weekend. An awesome bonus as a guest was that it meant I had a four-day weekend, which is always fun. Guests travelling from afar won't have to pay higher weekend rates for hotel rooms either.

Being a budget-minded bride doesn't mean you have to scrimp on style. Use these tips and tricks to create a wonderful wedding day unique to you and your partner, without feeling the pinch post wedding!

Images: NathanWalker; JoannaKosinska ; BenRosett; JoshFelise; BrandonMorgan; AutumnMott; GabrielSantiago; Thom; GianniScognamiglio /Unsplash; Giphy (3)