How to plan a wedding on a budget

Posted By on Mar 4, 2011 | 4 comments

I am getting married in May this year. And my fiancé and I are paying for it ourselves (with some helpful contributions from our parents). It seems to be the norm these days for couples to pay for the wedding themselves. As it can be a costly event, I thought I’d share some hints I’ve learnt in the wedding planning industry that can help you lower costs.

The day & time to wed
– Costs can be saved if you decide on a breakfast or lunch wedding. A wedding reception during the day means there isn’t a need to get a DJ as you can easily put together a playlist of background tunes that you can ask the venue to play for you. A day reception also means no expensive bar tabs.
– If you aren’t concerned about the day of your wedding, book on a weekday or Sunday as the rates are usually cheaper. However keep in mind that if you book on a weekday, guests will invariably have to take a day’s leave to attend. And if you book on a Sunday, and you’re having an evening wedding, expect to have an early-ish night as many of your guests will need to leave as they’ll have work in the morning. Take note that if your wedding is booked on a Sunday and the Monday following it is a public holiday, a discount will more than likely not be applicable.

The venue
– If you’re not set on a summer or spring wedding, try and book during the winter months. Most venues have discounts available on venue hire during the months of May to August as this is their “slow” season. Take advantage of the discounts as a little saving goes a long way.
– When enquiring with a venue that you’re interested in, find out exactly what is included. Don’t be afraid to ask if the chairs, tables, table linen and gratuities are incorporated in the price. Some places charge you to utilise their chairs. Some don’t. By investigating wisely you may find yourself with a complimentary honeymoon suite! Or better yet, you may be able to utilise the suite to get ready for your big day.
– Once you know when you’ll be getting married (time of year and time of day), take a critical look at the venue you’re interested in. Will the flowers or greenery look good? If not, is there interesting architecture that can be used for photographs?

The catering & bar
– I strongly urge you to make use of your wedding cake as dessert. Instead of having a three course meal followed by wedding cake, make the most of the money you have spent on your cake and have it as the only dessert. There won’t be any desserts that go to waste. And your perfect wedding cake will be money well spent. Just make sure it’s a flavour you like and that most guests would eat.
– If you’re thinking of having a bar tab, think again. Guests are known to drink more alcohol (and the expensive stuff at that) when the drinks aren’t bought by themselves. Rather have the bar available on a cash basis where guests can drink until their wallets are empty. This being said, if you do want to supply the wine or champagne, have it served by the waitering staff as this will decrease the amount of bottles opened but unfinished.
– If you are thinking of giving guests thank you gifts, think again. Instead of giving the tired pink and white almonds in a bag, or chocolate or nougat, rather indulge your guests with a hearty meal and a night they’ll remember.

The guest list & invitations
– Discuss the amount of guests you can afford and put together your guest list. Once it’s finalised, leave it for a day or two. Relook at it then and see if you’ve left anyone off. Also look with a critical eye to see if you can take remove anyone. The rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be inviting someone that you haven’t seen in the last 6 months. If it helps, perhaps make two lists, an A and a B list. People on list A are the have to haves. The ones that would make your wedding memorable. People on list B are people you’d like to have but will only invite if someone on list A can’t make it. Harsh but very effective.
– When it comes to single friends, advise that you’ve counted them as bringing a date, but suggest that they rather don’t bring someone as there’ll be other single people at the wedding. Firstly, your guest won’t panic because they now need a date. (I’ve been there, done that.) Secondly, you won’t need to pay the catering costs for someone you’ve never met before. And lastly, weddings are normally where people meet and hook-up. And don’t we all secretly want to be Cupid. If you still feel bad that you’re telling them what to do, suggest that if they are in a meaningful relationship by the time they need to RSVP, then they should bring him/her along.
– Think about going electronic with regards to your “save the dates” and/or your invitations. Save a tree and use an inexpensive option to notify/invite your guests. Nowadays there are even options to have a “wedding website” where you can include the story of how you met, the invitation details, an online RSVP form, as well as your gift registry.

The decor
– Weddings don’t necessarily equate to flowers. Research online and page through magazines to see how you can save on your wedding decor. You don’t need to use flowers to make an impact. You can use feathers or twigs or inexpensive ribbon or candles. The list is endless, just use some imagination.

The dress
– A lot of money can be saved on your bridal dress (or bridesmaid dresses) if you take advantage of sales. Bride & Co (and other bridal dress shops) often have sales where you can find the perfect dress at a fraction of the price (sometimes even at half the price). Just remember to get to the store early as any sale will see the store bursting at the seams with brides and bridesmaids in search of the perfect dress.
– Another option when it comes to your bridal gown, is to consider hiring it instead of purchasing.

Hope this has been helpful! If you’ve got any great tips, please let me know!

Hugs & Kisses
Jessica Giggles

*Picture credit


  1. this is a great post! my sister is planning a wedding and this will be so helpful to her so have forwarded this link 🙂

    All the best for the planning of your wedding


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  2. Hubby and I also paid for our own wedding. We got married in Winter and on a Friday – huge saving for us. Good luck with the rest of your planning.

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