Common Things People Overspend on When Planning Their Wedding

A table setting at a wedding reception with vintage glassware and peonies.

You’ve heard cautionary tales from family and friends. You’ve seen hundreds of budget planning resources on Pinterest. If you haven’t realized it already, you do now: people often spend too much money on their weddings.

For the spendthrifts and money-conscious alike, falling into the trap of overspending on their special day is all too easy. According to a study by Statista, the overall cost of a wedding in the United States in 2019 (aka, before the COVID-19 pandemic) was $33,900.

Did that number just make you gulp nervously? If so, not to worry. There is some overlap between the things couples tend to go overboard on for their special days, and the things you can be financially smart about. In this article, we’ll break down a few of the areas where couples tend to overspend—and how you can save money.

Packaged Venue Deals

Most of the time, a venue is the big-ticket line item on a couple’s budget. And certainly, this is a very important part of the wedding! Many wedding venues offer packaged deals, where you can get vendors such as florists and caterers lumped into the total price. These deals can sound appealing because they’ll save you the hassle of tracking down various vendors, but beware. Paying for a packaged deal will often cost you much more than curating different vendors yourself. Weigh time versus money and decide which is more important to you right now.

Invitations and Programs

A flat lay of elegant orange and red wedding invitations.

Those elegant wedding invitations printed on heavy embossed paper and stuffed in creamy envelopes don’t come cheap. Yet most guests will chuck the envelope in the trash as soon as they receive it, with the invitation to follow after a few months of being on the refrigerator door. As for programs, they’re more of a nice-to-have at the wedding anyway, considering you could just put the details of the ceremony on a sign at the entrance of the venue.

There are two main costs associated with invitations and programs: the design and the printing. If you’ve got an artistic streak, you can save some cash on the former by designing the wedding stationery yourself. Alternatively, perhaps a friend or family member with a talent in graphic design would be willing to help out.

Maybe paper invitations and programs aren’t very important to you, anyway. If they aren’t, you might consider using email invitations, allowing your guests to RSVP through your wedding website, and forgoing programs altogether. This will completely eliminate the cost of wedding stationery (and you’ll save a few trees in the process).

A Huge Guest List

White chairs at a wedding ceremony.

The more guests you have the more expensive your venue, food, and alcohol costs will be. Culling down your guest list can be tricky, but examine it with a critical eye and ask yourself if there are people you can delete without causing hurt feelings or without leaving an emotional hole in your day. That friend from high school you haven’t spoken to in years? That distant cousin you’ve only met once? These are the types of people you can likely remove to make room for the people who are actually close to you.

The Fun Extras

A photo booth. Favors. Confetti. An ice cream sundae bar. Here’s the truth: there are lots of cute ideas that add a fun twist to your wedding, but they don’t really matter. Avoid the temptation to leap on every trend and spend your budget on superfluous decor, stations, and “moments.” For one thing, an overload of these extra touches can be tacky and overwhelming to your guests. Additionally, most of these things don’t add any real sentimental value to your special day, and can quickly add up in cost.

At the end of the day, sticking to a wedding budget is all about deciding what really matters to you and what are the truly valuable components of the day. As you and your partner determine what those things are, keep in mind that the most important part of the wedding isn’t something that requires money. It’s the love you share!

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