Everyone knows that weddings are expensive—with the average wedding in the U.S. coming in at around $30,000 and climbing. Although you can’t do a whole lot about the price of your venue or how much money a DJ for the reception is going to cost, there are a lot of small things you may be unknowingly doing that can stretch your wedding budget pretty thin (or bust it completely).
Let’s go over what some of these small wedding planning discretions are and how you can avoid them to come in under budget.
You’re Serving Top-Shelf Liquor at the Bar
A wedding is celebratory, and many (many) libations are typically expected at the reception, but there’s no reason to give your guests access to the expensive top-shelf liquor at the bar. Save yourself some serious cash by just serving wine, beer, and maybe one or two signature cocktails or liquors that your guests can enjoy.
You’re Trying to Invite Too Many People
Your wedding day will be one of the happiest days of your life, and it’s reasonable that you want to share it with every single person you know and love, but here’s the hard truth: you’re trying to invite too many damn people. Cutting your guest list might seem like an impossible task, but so does paying for 200 dinners and multiple trips to the bar for each guest. (It can add up quickly!)
Cutting your guest list is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you’ll come in under budget—so maybe it’s best that you don’t invite your co-workers from a job you had three years ago or your third cousins that you haven’t seen since the 2003 family reunion.
You’re Hosting a Formal Engagement Party
Getting engaged is a very exciting time in your life, and it’s understandable that you would want to celebrate the occasion with family and friends. However, hosting a formal engagement party can get pretty pricey when you consider the costs of food, drinks, a venue, decorations, and invitations. Instead of hosting a formal engagement party, announce an impromptu meet-up with your friends and family at your favorite hometown bar or restaurant. This way, you get all the fun of the engagement party without much of the cost—and all of those savings can go straight into your wedding budget.
You’re Buying an Expensive Gown/Renting an Expensive Tux
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look gorg on your wedding day, but let’s just be real when we say that wedding gowns and wedding tuxes are absurdly expensive. Although you may already know this, it’s easy to get swept up in the heat of the moment and overspend on your wedding gown/wedding tux just because it has a bit more sparkle or pizazz (or a certain name attached to the label).
You should love your wedding gown/wedding tux and feel confident on your wedding day when you’re wearing it, but there are plenty of beautiful off-the-rack—or even used—options that will be easier on your budget than something custom made or that has a designer label. Trust us: the only thing people are going to care about is how great you look in your wedding wear—not who made it or what material it’s made out of.
You’re Having a Champagne Toast
Toasting at a wedding is a great tradition—but there’s no need to have every single guest’s glass filled with champagne. Although it might seem like a nice touch at the reception, the truth is that not every guest loves champagne and you’ll be left with a lot of half-empty glasses (that cost you a lot per pour).
To save a little bit of money, buy champagne for just the two of you (and maybe the wedding party) and just have your other guests toast with what they’ve already got going on in their cup.
No one will think twice about not being topped off with champagne, but if you’re really concerned about it, ask your bartender if they would keep a couple of reserved bottles for guests who ask for it. Otherwise, keep the bubbly as a treat for the wedding VIPs during the toasts.
You’re Having Too Many Menu Items at the Buffet
Having good food is a must at any wedding, but there’s no need to have five-star menu items at your reception. When you’re picking out the food for your buffet, resist the pressure to provide tons of menu options or have multiple “stations” for your guests to choose from. Although it’s certainly fun to be able to provide a memorable meal for your guests, there’s nothing wrong with having just a couple of really great entree items and a few sides or a fresh salad to go along with it. When it comes to the catering, simple is best for your budget.