7 Budget Wedding Hacks That Won’t Stress You Out, According To Experts

Finding the person you want to marry is a dream, but budgeting for a wedding can feel like a bit of a nightmare. The average wedding — once you include the cost of rings and the honeymoon — is roughly $36,000, according to WeddingWire. If you don’t want to spend the equivalent of a home down-payment on your wedding day, that’s completely understandable, and it is possible to do it for much less than the average cost. But how do you have a budget celebration without stressing out about everything? I had trouble sleeping and eating in the weeks leading up to my wedding, and I wasn’t even sticking to a super-tight budget or trying to DIY.

I have a ton of admiration for couples who manage to stay cool during the wedding planning process, especially if they’re strategizing about how to cut costs. It's important to research how much weddings actually cost, because couples usually underestimate how much they'll spend by 40 percent. WeddingWire’s Wedding Cost Guide shows how much people in different parts of the U.S. spend on their wedding, which can help you pick a number for your budget. Bustle spoke with WeddingWire Trend Expert Anne Chertoff about how to have a budget wedding without unnecessary stress.

1Set A Budget After You Get Engaged

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First things first: decide how much money you're willing to spend, and if your family is pitching in, it's also worth asking them how much they're able to spend. "It’s important for a couple to decide early on in their planning what details are the most important to them and what their overall wedding budget is. Once they have a list of what they want to spend their money on, they can allocate the necessary funds to those areas," Chertoff tells Bustle. "Without an overall vision, a couple may spend money on elements that in the end they don’t need, want, or can use, so making decisions and setting a budget early will help keep a couple from going over budget or spending money unnecessarily."

2Go For Digital Invitations

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If you haven't researched the cost of invitations, you may be hit with sticker shock. I spent nearly $200 on stamps alone, which is why Chertoff recommends looking at digital invites. "When shopping for wedding invitations and stationery a couple can order items to be digitally printed instead of engraving or using a letterpress," she says. "Digital printing is less expensive than the other printing methods and looks just as lovely."

3Hire Fewer Musicians

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You want to throw an amazing party, but live music can get expensive. "Couples can ask the band they are hiring if the reception musicians can also play the music at their wedding ceremony and cocktail hour to save the cost of hiring additional bands," she says.

4Set Aside Money For Unexpected Costs

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Even if you plan out every expense, you could still be hit with surprises. That's why Chertoff recommends setting aside money in savings just in case something unexpected happens. "This money can be spent when unexpected expenses arise — such as umbrellas because the forecast calls for rain," she tells Bustle. She also recommends implementing last-minute tricks to cut costs, like cutting back on the number of pages in a program and getting rid of place cards.

5Stay Realistic

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If you've been dreaming about your wedding, it's hard to bring things back to reality, but you don't want to go into debt unnecessarily. Cherotff says not to book a venue or any vendors until you've made a budget — otherwise, you may be left without enough money. "If a wedding is filled with personalized details, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on it. A wedding is about love, two people and families coming together, and whether it’s at City Hall or a banquet hall it will be special."

6Save Money On Florals

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Flowers are also surprisingly pricey — according to WeddingWire, they cost about $1,700 on average. If you want to cut back on what you spend, you should ask a florist about which flowers are in-season, Chertoff says. "A florist can also advise couples on look-for-less flowers, blooms that are similar in style but cost less than what the couple is requesting," she tells Bustle.

7Don't Play The Comparison Game

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It can be hard not to compare your wedding to what you see on Pinterest, but it's going to be special regardless of what you spend. "Everyone’s budget is different, and everyone’s wants and needs are different," Chertoff says. Planning a wedding is not about keeping up with the Joneses." Don't let other people's ceremonies tempt you into spending more money — it's an easy trap to fall in, but it's not worth it.