It’s no secret that wedding costs can escalate quickly. In 2014, couples in the U.S. spent an average of over $31,000 on their nuptials. If you’re planning your wedding and wondering how to cut costs without cutting your expectations, then rest assured that there is a way to avoid going into debt just to get married. Here are six excellent ways to save money and still have the wedding of your dreams, by our friend Maricel Tabalba.
#1 – Mark Your Calendar
Before you set the date to a Saturday in June, consider your options for when to get married. Wedding venues charge a premium for popular dates, which includes much of the summer and most holidays. Instead, choose a date and location that might seem unconventional. If you give your guests plenty of notice, then they can accommodate a Friday, Sunday or even midweek wedding. If you’re set on getting married during popular seasons, consider hosting your big day at a less popular time, such as mid-morning or early afternoon.
#2 – Tap into Your Creative Side
Take a DIY approach to smaller elements of your wedding decor. You don’t have to duplicate everything that you save on Pinterest, but you can channel your creativity into a few areas. If crafting isn’t your forte, then shop around at local thrift stores and secondhand boutiques to save money on centerpieces, serving dishes, décor and even wedding invitations. Enlist the help of crafty friends as well. Not only will taking the DIY approach save you money, but you’ll also benefit from the personalization that comes with it.
#3 – Choose “Something New” for Entertainment
If you want live music but can’t afford the price tag of a recognized artist, hire a budding musician or a friend-of-a-friend to play at your wedding. Local college music students may be just as talented as their better-known peers, and they’ll appreciate the chance to gain exposure. It’s a win-win scenario. If you go this route, make sure to host an audition for the bands that respond to your ad to get a feel for their style.
Another popular and affordable alternative is to hire a DJ. Some even offer deals on their set up, such as lighting and video screens. If you want to go that extra mile for a great reception party, make sure you inquire about this. Don’t forget to ask about setlist customizations, song requests and choosing a specific DJ if you are booking one through a big company.
#4 – Eat Well for Less
No matter when you host your wedding, guests will expect to eat. Fortunately, you can strike a balance between satisfying and budget-friendly. Think outside the box. Hire a few food trucks for the evening, order customized pizzas from a celebrated local pizza place or enlist the help of culinary students in your city.
For the cake, consider having several smaller cakes of varying flavor combinations serve in place of one expensive wedding cake. You can use these as centerpieces for your guest tables, too, which forces people to mingle and cuts down on your décor costs.
#5 – Keep It Close
Unless you have an exceptionally large and close-knit family, pare down your guest list to the people who truly matter in your life. Don’t feel the need to invite everyone you know. Instead, sit down with your partner and have an honest conversation about who you want to see on one of the most important days of your life. Cutting the guest list will save you hundreds of dollars in food, seating arrangements, favors and more.
#6 – Itemize Your Costs
Before you sign any paperwork for your vendors, ask for an itemized list of the costs involved. Setup fees, meals and other small charges can add up. Use a good cashback credit card when making deposits or paying your vendors. Using a good rewards card can help you earn money while you’re spending it. Plus, it’s a safer way to pay since most major issuers offer protection if you need to cancel the charge and the vendor isn’t cooperating.
Having your dream wedding on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice your needs and wants. Compromising and getting a little creative can go a long way in making your day just a bit more special. Take these strategies into consideration and keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a wonderful wedding day.
Maricel Tabalba is a freelance contributor for Credit.com who is interested in writing about personal finance advice for Millennials and college students. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago.