According to a recent study conducted by Wedding Wire, a typical modern wedding costs approximately $36,000. On average, couples spend $5,000 on engagement rings, $27,000 on the reception and ceremony, and $4,000 on the honeymoon. Intimidating? We know. But here’s the good news. You can save thousands of dollars on your big day with a little bit of research and a whole lot of ingenuity. Luckily, we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. Here are 19 clever ways to plan the luxury wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank.
TAKE YOUR TIME
A long engagement gives couples ample time to research, seek out deals, and book early. Be strategic! You may be able to pick up discounted silver or gold decorations after the Christmas holiday, or purchase lower-priced ring bearer and flower girl outfits right after Easter.
BE FLEXIBLE ON DATES
Choose your date wisely. A Saturday in June is going to cost you! Consider alternative days, like Thursday, Friday, or Sunday. This can save you 20-30%, especially if you plan on a wedding in November or between January and March. And, don’t forget, off-peak pricing extends to florists, photographers, and catering services.
CHOOSE A UNIQUE VENUE
It all starts with the venue. Choose a venue with character so you spend less on decorations. Think art museums, botanical gardens, and heritage homes.
Consider a destination wedding. This will trim your guest list, so you can allocate more money to activities, meals, and your venue.
SKIP THE SIT-DOWN DINNER
Sit-down dinners can add up quickly. Instead, consider an upscale cocktail reception with a small team of butlers offering hors d’oeuvres on serving trays. You’ll save on a full catering staff and total cost per person.
OPT FOR A BRUNCH MENU
If you know you want a sit-down meal, try a brunch menu. It can run hundreds of dollars cheaper than dinner fare! And sometimes you can negotiate the venue price in the early hours since the space would have been empty otherwise.
One of the easiest ways to trim your floral budget is by adding more greenery. In lieu of large scale floral arrangements, think about sophisticated garlands and table runners. Silver dollar eucalyptus, myrtle, leatherleaf fern, and grevillea are just a few popular options.
KNOW YOUR FLOWERS
Almost every flower you’re eyeing for your nuptials has a doppelganger. For instance, if you love peonies, look into “vintage roses” or “cabbage roses.” They look similar, but they’re less expensive.
FOLLOW A COLOR SCHEME
Just about every beautiful luxury wedding has one common theme – a color palette. Select two or three shades, like white, champagne, and blush, and stick with them. It’s one of the simplest ways to bring a lot of moving parts together. Plus, it photographs well!
DIY, DIY, DIY
There are endless tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube for how to DIY just about everything on your big day, from wedding invitations to formal centerpieces. Hold little gatherings in your home and enlist your craftiest friends and family to help. After all, planning a wedding is supposed to be fun, right?
BOOK A MUSICIAN
Instead of hiring a band or a DJ for the full night, book a musician for the early hours of the reception and the first dance. Then, switch to a curated playlist that a trusted friend or family member can manage. This little trick can cut your entertainment budget in half!
KNOW THE DRESS MARKET
If you want to buy your wedding dress, bridal expos and sample sales can offer exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else. Sign up early for newsletters to receive updates on events and special deals. On the other hand, if you want to rent your dress, look into money-saving sites, like OneNightAffair.com for gowns or Adorn.com for jewelry.
NIX THE FULL BAR
A fully-stocked open bar comes with a hefty price tag. Skip the full bar and serve beer and wine instead. Or offer a signature drink that’s in line with the theme and color palette of the wedding.
USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
If you want to be eco-friendly and budget-conscious, email your Save The Dates. At the end of the day, it’s easier for you and your guests.
When you want a fairytale wedding cake, but you just don’t have the funds, fake it. Ask your baker to create one real lower tier for you and your fiancé. The rest of the tiers can be made from Styrofoam and covered in fondant. After the cake cutting ceremony, have your catering team serve up sheet cake from the kitchen with similar colors and flavors. Your guests won’t notice a thing!
This is where thinking outside the box really pays off. Lanterns, candles, or floral arrangements that decorate your ceremony aisle can be used as centerpieces at the reception, while ceremony arches can be repurposed for the sweetheart table. And bridesmaid bouquets can easily become tabletop flowers. The possibilities are endless.
USE CREDIT CARDS WISELY
If you’re sure you can charge a few things on your list and pay them off quickly, sign up for a credit card with cash back and 0% APR for one year.
NEGOTIATE WITH YOUR BAKER
Intricately designed fondant details on your wedding cake can be expensive and labor intensive. Ask your baker for more affordable options, like satin ribbon trims or real flowers.
BUY, SELL, TRADE
After your wedding, take stock of your inventory and see what you can sell on sites, like Tradesy or eBay, to make some of your money back. This goes for wedding dresses, table linens, reception décor, you name it. A little bit of work before and after your wedding goes a long way!