Most brides enter into wedding planning with the dream of a perfect, Pinterest-worthy event. But they may not realize just how quickly those costs can add up. According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the United States is now nearly $30,000, and if you’re living in a major metropolitan area, that number can be even higher. So if you want a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank, here are 17 steps to plan a wedding for less than $5,000.
- 1. Shop around for vendors
- 2. Choose an off-peak date or time slot
- 3. Have the ceremony and reception in the same location
- 4 . Don't go overboard with décor
- 5. DIY whenever possible
- 6 . Keep your guest list small
- 7. Skip the full-service catering
- 8 . Make use of (free) online resources
- 9. Make your own invitations
- 10. Skip the flowers
- 11. Ask friends and family to help out
- 12. Rent instead of buy
- 13. Consider nontraditional venues
- 14. Opt for a less formal wedding ceremony
- 15. Skip the traditional cake
- 16. Skip the rehearsal dinner and other pre-wedding events
- 17. Start planning early
- Final Thoughts
1. Shop around for vendors
The first practical step to planning a wedding for less than $5,000 is to shop around for vendors. While you may be tempted to choose the first vendor you meet, it’s always best to shop around for the best deals. Get quotes from multiple vendors for everything from your cake to your photographer.
You may be surprised at how much prices can vary from one vendor to the next—and you want to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money.
2. Choose an off-peak date or time slot
Choosing an off-peak date or time slot for your wedding can be a great way to save money on your big day. In addition, many venues and vendors offer discounts for weddings held during slower times of the year, so doing a little research can help you save a ton of money.
You can also consider getting married on another day of the week besides Saturday—Friday or Sunday weddings can often be cheaper than Saturday ones. If you’re flexible with your date and time, you may be able to snag some significant discounts.
3. Have the ceremony and reception in the same location
Have the ceremony and reception in the same place to save money on renting two separate venues. If you have your heart set on a beautiful hotel for your reception, see if you can also have your ceremony there. Hotels and restaurants often offer a package deal if you book both your ceremony and reception with them.
Having your wedding in one location will also make it easier for your guests because they won’t have to travel to another site for the reception, and it will save you money on transportation costs.
4 . Don’t go overboard with décor
It’s easy to get caught up in all the pretty details when planning your dream wedding, but remember that sometimes less is more—especially when it comes to totaling your final bill. Opt for simple centerpieces or forego them altogether; chances are your guests will hardly notice (or care!).
The same goes for other décor items like signage, photo booths, and favors. If you’re on a tight budget, focus on a few key elements that will make a statement. Your guests will be just as impressed, we promise!
5. DIY whenever possible
One way to save money on your wedding is to do some of the work yourself. This can include things like making your own invitations, centerpieces, and favors. If you’re willing to put in a little extra effort upfront, you can save a ton of money. And you may even find that DIYing some aspects of your wedding is fun!
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete everything before the big day, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
6 . Keep your guest list small
Have an intimate wedding. The number of guests you invite will directly impact your bottom line, so try to shorten your list as much as possible. This will help reduce the costs of food, drinks, invitations, and other wedding expenses.
Additionally, a smaller guest list will make planning other aspects of your wedding more manageable, like seating and transportation.
7. Skip the full-service catering
According to Wedding Wire, “the average wedding catering cost in the U.S. is about $4,000, with most couples spending between $1,800 to $7,000.” Catering is often one of the most expensive aspects of wedding planning, but it doesn’t have to be. Self-catering or potluck-style weddings can be just as elegant and significantly more affordable. If you go this route, be sure to provide your guests with plenty of options so everyone will have something they can enjoy.
Or you could also simple menu items. An elaborate menu will cost you more without providing any real benefit to your guests. Stick with simple, affordable things that everyone will enjoy.
8 . Make use of (free) online resources
There are a lot of great resources available online if you know where to look—and many of them won’t cost you a dime! Sites like Pinterest are great places to start when looking for inspiration. At the same time, Etsy is perfect for finding unique (and often more affordable) decorations and other supplies for your big day.
9. Make your own invitations
The Knot reports that the average cost for wedding invitations is $ 530. However, with a bit of time and effort, you can make your own beautiful invitations using supplies from a craft store. This can save you a lot of money compared to buying pre-made invitations.
The first step is to choose a design for your invitations. You can find inspiration online or in magazines or come up with your own idea that matches your wedding theme.
Once you have a design, gather the supplies you’ll need to make it a reality such as cardstock, envelopes, scissors, and stamps.
Finally, design and print your invitations. You can print them at home or in a local/online print shop.
10. Skip the flowers
Flowers can be one of the most expensive parts of a wedding. Indeed, Wedding Wire reports that the “average cost of wedding flowers in the U.S. is around $1,500, with most couples spending between $700 and $2,500.”
Here are a few ways you can save on your floral arrangements:
- Look for seasonal flowers that are in bloom. They’ll be more affordable than out-of-season flowers.
- Use potted plants instead of cut flowers.
- Consider using artificial flowers. Artificial flowers can be much cheaper than fresh flowers, and they can last for years if stored properly.
- Buy flowers in season. Flowers are typically cheapest when they are in season.
- Order flowers from a wholesaler. Buying flowers from a wholesaler can be cheaper than buying them from a florist.
- Choose simple flower arrangements. Simple arrangements will cost less than elaborate ones.
- Use flowers that are in bloom locally. Buying flowers that are in bloom locally can be cheaper than buying those not in bloom locally.
- Skip the bouquets and boutonnieres altogether.
11. Ask friends and family to help out
One of the easiest ways to save money on your wedding is to enlist the help of your friends and family. Ask friends to help with DIY projects, such as making your own invitations or favors. If you have a musical friend, see if they’d be willing to provide entertainment during the cocktail hour or reception. And if you have a talented photographer friend, ask if they’d be willing to take your wedding photos.
These are just a few ways your loved ones can help you save money on your big day.
12. Rent instead of buy
Most brides choose to rent table linens, chairs, glassware, and other tabletop items rather than purchasing them outright. After all, these are items that you’ll only use once, so it doesn’t make financial sense to buy them.
Instead, take advantage of the many rental companies that offer a wide range of tabletop items for weddings. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also have access to a greater variety of items than you would if you purchased them outright.
Plus, many rental companies offer delivery and setup services, so you won’t have to worry about lugging everything around on the big day.
Here are a few ideas of things you can rent:
- Tables and chairs
- Linens and drapery
- Lighting & audio/visual equipment
- Furniture and tents
- Flatware and glassware
13. Consider nontraditional venues
If you’re open to thinking outside the box, you may be able to find a more unique—and more affordable—venue than a traditional banquet hall or hotel ballroom.
Here are our top picks for nontraditional venues:
One of the most nontraditional (and cheapest) venues you could choose for your wedding is a park. While you’ll have to do a bit more work in terms of decorations and setting up, a park’s natural beauty can provide a stunning backdrop for your big day. Please check with your local parks department to see if you need a permit for your event.
Another excellent option for those on a budget is getting married in your backyard. This is a great option if you have a large enough yard to accommodate all of your guests. You’ll also have the added benefit of being able to decorate and set up exactly as you please. Just be sure to consider the cost of renting any necessary items, such as chairs, tables, and tents.
A Local Museum or Art Gallery
Consider getting married at a local museum or art gallery for something truly different. Many museums and galleries offer rental spaces that can be used for weddings and other events. This is an excellent option if you’re looking for a unique setting that won’t break the bank.
Just be sure to check with the venue in advance to see if they have any restrictions on decor or setup.
A Community Center or Recreation Center
These venues are typically very affordable (or even free) to rent and can accommodate large groups of people. Again, be sure to check with the venue in advance to see if they have any restrictions on decor or setup
14. Opt for a less formal wedding ceremony
Opting for a less formal wedding ceremony can help you keep costs down for several reasons. First, you won’t need to rent a traditional wedding venue, which can be expensive.
Second, you can forego renting or buying formal attire for the wedding party, which can also be costly.
And third, you’ll likely have a smaller guest list if you opt for a less formal affair. All of these factors can lead to significant savings when it comes to your wedding budget.
15. Skip the traditional cake
According to Wedding Wire, “the average cost of a wedding cake in the U.S. is around $500 with most couples spending between $300 to $700”.
So rather than opting for a traditional (and expensive) wedding cake, consider alternatives like cupcakes, pies, or even an ice cream sundae bar. Not only will these options be cheaper, but they’ll also be unique and sure to please your guests.
If you are set on having a traditional wedding cake, consider ordering a smaller cake for display and then serving sheet cakes from the kitchen. Or, ask a friend or family member who loves to bake if they would be willing to make your wedding cake as their gift to you.
16. Skip the rehearsal dinner and other pre-wedding events
While these events can be fun, they’re also often unnecessary and can add a lot to your wedding budget. So rather than spending money on a rehearsal dinner or other pre-wedding event such as a bridal shower, put that money towards your actual wedding day, your honeymoon, or other aspects of the wedding that are more important to you.
You can always have a low-key get-together with your closest family and friends after the wedding to celebrate. This will be much cheaper than hosting a formal event before the big day.
17. Start planning early
When it comes to weddings, early birds definitely get the worm. Planning your wedding well in advance can save you a lot of money on several fronts.
First, early planners are more likely to snag discounts from vendors. Many vendors offer early bird discounts to couples who book their services well in advance. So if you can start planning your wedding 12+ months in advance, you’ll likely be able to take advantage of some great discounts.
Second, early planners can budget better. When you have more time to plan, you’re less likely to blow your budget by going over budget on certain items. Again, this is because you’ll have time to compare and find the best deals on everything from catering to flowers.
Finally, early planners can take advantage of off-peak wedding months. Most couples choose to get married during the summer months when demand is high, and prices are typically highest. So if you are willing to get married during off-peak months like January or February, you can often save on venues, catering, and other services.
Hopefully, these 17 steps to plan a wedding for less than $5,000 have given you some ideas of how you can have a beautiful wedding on a budget.
Planning a wedding on a budget doesn’t mean sacrificing style or elegance—it just takes a little creativity and ingenuity.
With these 17 tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way toward planning the frugal wedding of your dreams!
For a simple wedding, a budget of around $5000 should be enough. This can cover most of the basics. However, it may not be enough to cover other expenses, such as a honeymoon, so you may need to supplement your budget with additional funds.
The minimum budget for a wedding depends on several factors, such as the location, guest list, and type of event. A small, intimate wedding with just a few close family and friends can be done for a minimum budget of around $3000. However, a larger wedding with more guests will require a higher budget.
A good budget for a simple wedding is around $5000. This can cover most of the basics. However, it may not be enough to cover other expenses, such as a honeymoon, so you may need to supplement your budget with additional funds.