Tips For Doing a Wedding On a Small Budget


For many of us, our wedding day will be one of the most important days of our lives. It is a time-honored tradition of two people announcing their love to their friends and family. This ritual symbolizes the beginning of a new family unit and is celebrated across cultures. 

Though there are some similarities across the board different cultures celebrate weddings in different ways. One unifying factor is that they’re usually pretty expensive.

When one is fantasizing about their dream wedding day, they are usually not including an itemized bill in their daydream. But it is inevitable that a planned wedding event will cost some amount of money. Between the venue, food, dress, flowers, and rings it can add up pretty quickly.

The American ideal is pretty well known. That image is famous; bridge and groom leaving the church, raining down ticker tape, bells ringing, friends and family smiling as a limousine pulls up to take them far off. The bride’s gown is singular; Princess Diana, poofy white marshmallow. As well as the groom’s dashing tuxedo. Some people cannot imagine their wedding day any other way.  

While others imagine their wedding day to be a little different. In fact, some don’t imagine their wedding day at all.  It is easy to argue that the modern-day image of a wedding is more often a backyard ceremony, decorated with strung lights and hand-picked flowers, with your closest family and friends all partying together and having fun. Many brides and grooms are more focused on doing a wedding on a small budget. There are a lot of reasons the wedding aesthetic has changed but one is definitely the price.

Not only have the social mores changed from the ’80s, so has the economy. Things are a lot more expensive these days while median household incomes haven’t actually increased that much along with it. So, unfortunately, a grand ceremony, with a horse-drawn carriage and a 9-course meal all in your custom Vera Wang isn’t in most people’s budgets these days.

The divorce rate is at a solid 50% of couples, not working out in the long run. For those hoping to not have to contact a divorce attorney someday are being cautious about rushing into a commitment too quickly. 

On top of that, the role and place in the society of marriage are diminishing. It used to be considered improper to have children without being married. This was the result of small-mindedness and people these days are more understanding of parents who aren’t together. 

There was also a stigma attached, particularly for women, for not getting married. This societal pressure made it so marriage was the only way a woman had any economic gain in society. In fact, for a lot of history, getting married was rarely a choice strongly governed by the heart. Women had little opportunity to get anywhere in life or society without their husbands. 

Thankfully things are less like this in today’s society. Marriage is now much more of a social ritual than it is a societal necessity as we used to view things. As humans evolve we become more intelligent and less like neanderthals. Marriage has become, overall, less important to the human ethos and experience as history progresses.  

With this in mind, many couples are picking and choosing which parts of their wedding to focus their budget on. This is making many modern weddings a lot more DIY and a better fit for casual wedding plans. Couples decide on what is most important for them on their big day and downgrade the cost of other parts. The cool thing about weddings is that there is no right or wrong way to do it and there are a lot of ways to put your personal spin on age-old traditions. 

The Flowers

Flowers have been a symbol of love, fertility, and ephemeral beauty for most of human history. Each different kind of flower with its own unique symbology attached. Having a bouquet to walk down the aisle has been a tradition during wedding ceremonies since Pagan times. They have become a key component to the visual aesthetic of a wedding ceremony. While some who are doing a wedding on a small budget might consider skipping on flower arrangements as decorations, getting the perfect bouquet is not usually set aside.

This is, probably, because of the ubiquitous wedding image with a white gown and a bouquet. On top of this, flowers are pretty and nice and are the sort of thing one might normally not budget for. Wedding flowers bouquets are beautifully gathered and decorated arrangements that can be easily held and tossed. This is because they are not only used to be taken down the aisle but are also used in a famous tradition of “tossing the bouquet”.

When tossing the bouquet, the bride stands with her back towards a group of all the unmarried wedding guests. She will then throw her bouquet backwards and whoever catches the bouquet is said to be the next in the group to get married. It’s one of the funniest silliest parts of the wedding so making sure to budget a little for a soli bouquet will help in adding to the fun. 

If you were considering a backyard wedding, when doing a wedding on a small budget, perhaps installing some flower boxes into the landscaping of your yard would make all the difference. It can liven up your garden, or any walkways your backyard may have. 

The Food

As a guest of the wedding, one of the parts most looked forward to is the food. It is customary at weddings to provide a meal at the reception after the ceremony. There are different approaches to this, some chose to reserve a portion of a restaurant for their guests. Often with a specialty menu set by the restaurant for such occasions. Most restaurants that do this are pretty pricey though, and not ideal for someone doing a wedding on a small budget. 

Less costly options can include catering, which usually has a bulk cost option that can help you save. Often combining the wedding and banquet facility can save by making venue and food all one item on the budget. If you’re doing a wedding on a small budget, consider seeking a venue that also has a catering option. 

There are some other important things to consider when planning the food for your wedding. One is health and safety- do any of your guests have a food allergy? Be sure to know before settling on the food you want for the reception. Including a section on your invitation to make note of any food allergies is a smart way to get this information before you’ve already ordered peanut chicken for your cousin allergic to chicken! I know you thought I was going to say peanuts- I’m just being funny.

From there the choice is mostly about the cuisine you want for your food. Perhaps you and your sweetheart had your first date at a sushi bar and your love of the cuisine started your relationship off. Getting sushi catered for a whole wedding would be pretty expensive, but perhaps some kind of Asian cuisine catered would be a nice way to get the food you want while doing a wedding on a small budget. 

There are any number of cuisines or restaurants you could consider for your big day. Italian food is very popular, and can easily translate for vegetarian guests. A buffet of a few different kinds of pastas one with a meat option one with cheese and perhaps one that’s gluten free. This would be delicious and cost effective and will be a big hit at anyone’s wedding. 

Doing a Wedding On a Small Budget

There are a lot of things you can do to save on the budget for a wedding. Having the wedding in your backyard will save on a menu, and could free up a bigger budget for the catering. While some people are very excited to get to wear a gorgeous designer white gown, not everyone feels too attached to the aesthetic. Sometimes cutting one of the big things is the best way to keep yourself on budget.

While there are a lot of talented artists and designers making beautiful wedding gowns not everyone cares so much about that. For some it really just isn’t their style. Someone like this may be interested in thrifting for a wedding dress, or wear something non-traditional. Getting married in a suite, or just in a dress from your closet in whatever color and style is becoming more and more popular.  

Those who are determined to have that quintessential wedding dress but simply do not have the money could perhaps use a hand-me down gown from a family member. Slight alterations will cost a lot less than a whole gown, and can help with painting a tradition between generations. Little changes can modernize a dress even from decades ago. 

Gorgeous wedding venues are also a big cost to the ceremony. Estates, villas and private gardens all sound romantic and lovely, but the bill attached will make that fantasy a lot less exciting. Having such a specific venue can lead to extra unforeseen costs surrounding family accommodations, and transportation. One could get a van rental to transfer family and friends to the ceremony site, but its not particularly prudent for doing a wedding on a small budget.

Its also important to look for large order deals. Plenty of companies even have specialty discounts for wedding occasions. If you decide to opt out of a church ceremony, or having a specific venue, you will still need to set up your backyard for said wedding. You will need seating, decorations, potentially a long table and some kind of truss to get married under. Look for local wedding rental suppliers that can save you cost on a bulk order. They will be able to provide everything you’d need for the perfect backyard wedding and help a lot with doing a wedding on a small budget. 

In Conclusion

When you’re doing a wedding on a small budget the most important thing to remember is the love and the heart. The wedding ritual can be performed at a city hall, the gardens of Versaille or in your own backyard, but what matters most is the saying I do part. Wanting to have a wedding with some celebration makes a lot of sense, but certain costly traditions can always be cut to fit your budget and your personality. 

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