If you’ve ever tried to plan a wedding, you already know it ain’t cheap. But you may not know that there are simple ways to cut costs that won’t compromise your dream of a beautiful day. For starters, the period between June and September is typically the most expensive time of year to get married, making spring weddings not only a romantic but potentially less-expensive time to tie the knot.
We spoke with 30-year-old Miami-area bride-to-be Erica Anderson, who shared ways she’s saving money on her spring wedding without sacrificing style.
Anderson, an infection preventionist, met her fiancé Wayne Washington Jr., director of digital analytics at a large company, on Match.com. Three days later, they talked on the phone for four hours. Two weeks after their first communication on the app, they shared their first date at Miami’s Pérez Art Museum. Two years after that meeting, 29-year-old Wayne took her back to the site of the date to surprise her with a proposal (and a photo shoot). And she’s been planning a wedding ever since.
Anderson says they wanted a beautiful, glamorous wedding that fit their style, but they knew they needed to remain realistic with their expectations. So she researched ways to cut costs on things like the food and the venue that stayed true to their vision. And she adds that the money she saved gave her more room in her budget for the dress of her dreams.
Saturday is the most popular day of the week for weddings, which is also why it’s the most expensive. Anderson, who is getting married on a Thursday, suggests moving your big day to a weekday to cut costs. “We saved $8,000 on the venue cost alone by choosing a weeknight over a weekend.” She adds that you may also save money on photographers and other vendors who charge less for work done during the week.
You may want everyone you know to be there to witness your special day. But if you’re trying to save money, it’s best to keep your guest list on the smaller side. Anderson says having her wedding on Thursday has helped weed out some of the people who may not rank as high. “That way, your mom’s cousin’s best friend’s aunt won’t come,” she laughed.
Anderson suggests looking at Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby and Michaels for elegant but inexpensive wedding decorations like goblets, plates and vases. “I saved hundreds by going to Dollar Tree and buying my charger plates in bulk.” She adds that even if your local store isn’t well-stocked, you can get the decor you want online and have them shipped to your local store for free.
Food and drinks can be a big part of the budget, which is why Anderson suggests finding out if your vendor requires you to purchase your alcohol on site – something that can increase the cost tremendously. “If you can bring your own alcohol in, you can shop around for the best prices on your drinks of choice,” she said.
And you can cut some of your food costs by opting for a buffet over plated meals. “You’re paying for less workers,” Anderson said. “You also get more food because plated meals have a set serving per guest.” She adds that some venues may have a family style option that leaves a serving dish with each meal item in the center of the table to pass among the guests. And when it comes to apps, Anderson suggests choosing free-standing stations over hiring butlers who serve.
Well-known photographers and florists can often come with a hefty price tag. So Anderson suggests considering someone on the come-up. “They’re popular, so their name gets a premium,” she says. “Our florist is a newcomer, but she’s doing phenomenal work on our bouquets and centerpieces, and we’re saving half the cost of going with a more established person,” she says. “Trying someone new can yield great results.”
This article was updated on March 19, 2023