7 Non-Essentials to Cut from Your Wedding Budget Right Now

A minimal wedding site in a field with trees in the background and an arch with drapery.

I don’t know if you’re aware, but weddings are super expensive. In the United States, the average wedding costs just over $33,000 dollars—and let’s be honest, most couples just don’t have that kind of moolah lying around. This might be why “budget-saving” tricks are popular: DIY décor, digital invites over stationary, asking your friends to be vendors “as a gift” (which, by the way, I don’t advocate) are all ways to save a few pennies on your special day.

However, there is another way to make your wedding costs less overwhelming: simply cut some things from the budget! Here are a few unessential items you can afford to scratch off your list.

1. Welcome Bags

If guests are coming to your wedding from out of town, it’s customary to provide them with a welcome bag filled with goodies and tips for entertaining themselves in the area. While this is a lovely gesture that your family and friends will undoubtedly appreciate, it can also add up.

Cutting out the welcome bags can help you save a decent chunk of change (depending on how many out-of-towners you’ve invited). However, this doesn’t mean you should leave those guests completely out in the cold; instead of telling them about the hottest restaurants or points of interests, schedule an evening where you show them the sights! This will allow your guests to get to know your town and stay entertained in a cost-effective way.

2. Ceremony Programs

A bride and groom standing under an arch outside with their guests clapping after the ceremony.

Here’s the thing about welcome programs: if they’re there, people will read them…but if they’re not, no one misses them. Any information they could have learned in the program (how the bridal party knows the newlyweds, which songs were playing during the ceremony, the chapter and verses for each scripture reading) is—to put it bluntly—unessential.

And ceremony programs aren’t just unnecessary; they’re expensive. You can save upwards of $200 by simply leaving them off the to-do list! If your guests really want to know how you’re connected to that blonde bridesmaid on the end, they can just ask you during the reception.

3. Dinner Menus

Just like ceremony programs, dinner menus are nice to have, but they usually aren’t missed if a couple goes without. After all, your guests probably already know what they’re having for dinner—they checked the “chicken” or “veggie” box on their invitation!

Printed dinner menus can cost upwards of 150 dollars. This doesn’t make them the most expensive item on our list, so if you really, really can’t live without a menu at each place setting, go ahead and print to your heart’s desire. But if you’re looking to save some extra money (or looking to put money into other elements of the big day), eliminating menus is a great way to make it happen.

4. Wedding Favors

A selection of cacti and succulents as wedding favors with name tags.

And now we’ve reached the trifecta of things that wedding guests don’t really care about. Favors are a nice little perk of attending a wedding, but do you know which perk is bigger? ATTENDING THE WEDDING! Trust me, you’re already treating your guests to a night of dinner, dancing, and celebration. Don’t worry about wasting your money on candy coated almonds or custom-printed beer koozies. No one will be disappointed if they head home empty-handed.

5. Bridal Party Robes

We’ve all seen those wedding photos (usually posted on the bride’s Instagram page) of the bride and her bridesmaids getting ready. The girls spend the morning getting pampered and made up in the bridal suite, a mimosa in their hands and matching silk robes on their backs.

Although it can be a lot of fun to give your girls some matching robes to get ready in, it’s also an unnecessary expense that you can remove from the budget if necessary. The fact is your getting ready photos will always be special to you—because of the people in the photo, not because of what they’re wearing.

6. The Bridal Party

A bride surrounded by four bridesmaids with large bouquets.

This one can be a tough pill to swallow. After all, bridal parties are integral to the wedding experience (some of you have probably never even seen a wedding without one). But having bridesmaids and groomsmen means buying them gifts, paying for their makeup and tux rentals, and a host of other expenses you can avoid by standing at the altar without your buddies.

Of course, just because a bridal party is unessential doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. If you really want your friends to be a part of your big day (and you have room in the budget to do so), by all means, keep your bridal party! But if you and your fiancé are scratching your heads, trying to figure out how to get married without getting in debt (and please, please don’t get into debt for a wedding), you can cut massive costs by simply inviting your friends as guests.

7. Bride’s and Groom’s Gifts

On your wedding day, it’s a tradition to get your partner a gift, commemorating this special moment in your life together. Getting your sweetheart a little something for your wedding day is a lovely gesture, but if you ask me it’s also really unnecessary. You two have the rest of your lives to buy each other presents—and you just spent a ton of money on a party where you’re both the guests of honor!

Once again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this little tradition (or any of the others I’ve mentioned here). If you can afford to get your spouse a present, go for it; however, if there’s just no room in the budget, don’t sweat it. At the end of the day, your wedding is all about the love you two have for one another—and that’s the best present of all.

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