How to Save Money on 3 Top Wedding Costs

A young bride and groom leaving their wedding ceremony as the bride lifts up her veil.

Weddings are expensive—this we already know. With the average American wedding cost now at a staggering $25,000 price tag (and rising), couples who are planning their wedding are looking at every little piece of the ceremony and reception to see where they can cut costs, but it can be difficult to know where to begin.

If you’re looking to save money on your wedding, the best way to go about it is by aiming for discounts on the more costly wedding expenses, which are typically the venue, the food, and the drinks. We’ve pulled together our best money-saving tips for these areas of your budget so that you can plan the wedding of your dreams—without having to sacrifice all of your savings and max out your credit cards.

Venue

An open and well-lit space set up for a wedding ceremony.

The venue is usually without a doubt the most expensive ticket item on your wedding budget, making up about 50 percent of the overall cost of the wedding. Though the venue will always be one of the most expensive costs of your wedding—even with a discount—there are still some clever ways to save a few bucks on this portion of your special day—and here’s how!

Book an Off-Day for Your Wedding

One of the easiest ways to save money on a wedding venue is to book it on another night besides Friday or Saturday. This could be a good option for those couples who don’t have much family coming in from out of town, which would make it easier for folks to come to a wedding on a Thursday evening or a Sunday afternoon.

Choose a Nontraditional Wedding Venue

Whenever you add the word “wedding” in front of something, you can pretty much count on the cost to double. So, choosing that wedding venue that every other bride in town is using is going to add a lot of dollars to the bottom line. However, if you choose a nontraditional wedding venue such as an industrial loft, a restaurant, or even a city park, your costs to book will likely go down. Don’t be afraid to get creative and call around town to see what they would charge to host an event. Of course, the smaller the guest list size, the more likely it is that you’ll score a deal as well.

Have the Ceremony and Reception in the Same Building

Traditionally, couples have gone from one location to another after the ceremony has ended, but this can add unnecessary costs to your budget. A great way to save money on the venue is to host the ceremony and reception in the same space. All it takes is a few small arrangements to go from ceremony space to dinner space—and you can work these out with a wedding planner, the event staff, or your dedicated friends and family who can make it happen.

Borrow a Friend’s House or Property

Have a friend or family member who has the space to host 100 people? Ask them if they would be willing to graciously host your wedding and reception. Be sure to have all of the details ironed out before you talk to them, such as the guest count, where people will go to the bathroom, and how you’ll secure noise/alcohol permits.

Food

A charcuterie board at a wedding with cheese, fruit, and bread sticks.

Next to the venue, food is usually the most expensive item on a wedding budget. Feeding a lot of hungry guests is pricey, but there are plenty of creative ways to cut costs and still get your guests full.

Serve Heavy Appetizers

Don’t have the money for a full plated dinner? No problem. You can still get your guests plenty full by serving heavy appetizers like mini tacos, shrimp cocktail, a charcuterie tray, or even slices of pizza. It may not be the fancy four-course meal you’ve always dreamed of, but the idea of the evening is to have enough to eat so that your guests are fully and happy (not to mention something to soak up all that champagne).

Skip Dinner and Serve Breakfast Instead

If having an evening reception isn’t all that important to you, you can save a lot of money by serving your guests breakfast foods. Typically, breakfasts are cheaper to cater than dinners. Whether you go with a waffle bar, breakfast burritos, or biscuits and gravy, your guests will get plenty to eat and there might even be enough for seconds.

Think About Foods that Are Easily Served in Bulk

The classic “chicken or fish” individually plated dinners are going to be more expensive because the chef will have to have enough meat to serve each person a plate. However, if you go for foods that serve better in bulk such as barbecue or Mexican food, these dinners will help your money go further.

Alcohol

Two women holding red cocktails at a wedding reception.

Everyone wants to have a good time at their wedding, and one of the best ways to loosen people up is by offering them a beverage or two at the reception. The only problem? Alcohol can eat up a lot of your budget if you’re not careful. Here’s how to save on the libations for your evening.

Skip the Champagne Toast

If you’re not a big fan of the bubbly stuff and you know not a lot of your guests aren’t either, an easy way to save some money is by skipping this tradition. Just have everyone raise a glass of what they’ve got in their hand instead.

Serve Wine and Beer Only

There’s nothing like a great cocktail—but once you add in all of the spirits to make them necessary, it can seriously add up. Serve wine and beer only at your reception instead.

Serve Only Your Favorite Spirits or a Signature Cocktail

If the idea of not having your favorite bourbon on hand is too much to bear, then stock up your bar with only a few favorites. You could also have a signature cocktail that the bartenders mix up, which will be cheaper if it’s served in bulk.

Find Amazing Vendors