5 Ways to Save $500 on Your Wedding

A small wedding cake decorated with minimal frosting with a few flowers.

Sometimes, planning a wedding “on a budget” can feel like an exercise in futility. Everything is just so expensive! The invitations, the clothing, the tables and chairs — to say nothing of the gorgeous venue and the meal for 100 of your closest friends — eventually it all adds up to one MASSIVE bill. In a world where the average wedding costs $38,700 (!!!) is saving any money even an option? Good news, 2020 couples: I’m here to help! Believe it or not, it IS possible to have the wedding of your dreams without going into debt. All it takes is a few little changes throughout the planning process. Don’t believe me? Here are a few ideas that can help you cut about $500 from the final total.

Go Digital with Invitations

The average couple will spend $400-650 on their wedding invitations. Once you factor in other paper products (save the dates, ceremony programs, thank you cards, etc.), you could end up spending thousands—just for a few sheets of (very pretty) paper. The cost can vary based on the designer, the kind of paper you use, and how customized you want your invites to be…but it can also be practically free!

Using e-invitations is a great way to save money on your wedding. There are many companies out there that will produce digital wedding invitations for you to email to your guests, featuring pre-made templates or blank cards on which you can upload your own designs. These invites achieve the same purpose as your traditional paper invitation all at a fraction of the cost (even the most premium options cost at most $100). Best of all, these paperless invites are completely eco-friendly!

Ask a Friend to Officiate the Ceremony

A female officiant at a wedding with the bride and groom standing in front of her.

The officiant is a very important part of your big day—after all, without them, there is no wedding! Officiant costs vary from one city to the next, but the average tends to be between $200-450 (though a report from WeddingWire does show costs reaching as high as $650). While it may seem like this is an unavoidable expense (no officiant, no wedding, remember?), there is one option that can save you a little extra cash.

Instead of hiring a professional officiant to wed you and your sweetheart, why not ask a friend to take on officiant duties? Organizations like the Universal Life Church will ordain anyone for around $20, and your friends are likely to put together a much more meaningful and memorable ceremony than someone you don’t know. This will help you save a little money AND have a truly personalized wedding.

Say “No” to Dinner Rolls

How many times have you been to a wedding, sat down at your table for the reception, and snacked on so much bread that you were full before the champagne toasts? Don’t worry—you’re not alone. Having fresh rolls waiting for your guests may seem like a hospitable gesture, but it often leads to unfinished meals and a LOT of food waste at the end of the night.

Nixing the breadbasket can prevent your guests from feeling too full AND trim hundreds of dollars off your catering bill. Your guests won’t miss the rolls (especially if you serve any small bites during cocktails), and they’ll be more likely to enjoy their meals during dinner. Just make sure to serve dinner in a timely manner—some guests may need a meal to soak up their drinks from the cocktail hour!

Streamline the Day-of Timeline

A photographer taking a photo of a bride and groom in a field.

Speaking of “a timely manner,” your wedding day timeline can make a big difference in the final amount you end up paying. See, vendors like photographers and musicians charge for their time. If your wedding day is full of long waits between events, you’re paying these vendors to sit around and wait!

Try your best to streamline your wedding schedule so there isn’t a long wait between the wedding and reception. Sure, a cocktail hour is no biggie, but consider having events with indefinite timelines (your wedding photos, for example) earlier in the day. This will prevent long waiting periods, which is a benefit for your wallet, your guests, and your vendors. Everyone wins!

Share a Vendor Review

This one is a bit of a wild card, but it’s always worth a shot. Some vendors are willing to offer discounted services in exchange for an honest review. Wedding vendors often live and die on word-of-mouth marketing, so a positive review can make a big difference for their business. Ask your vendors (before you sign any contracts) if they’re willing to offer any discounts for your feedback (and if they agree, get it in writing!).

As wedding costs continue to climb, more and more couples are falling into debt for their weddings—around 28% of couples, according to WeddingWire. While every couple is entitled to the wedding of their dreams, it is important to remember that you CAN have a beautiful ceremony without overspending. With just a few little adjustments, you can stick within your budget for your big day.

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