Planning a Budget Wedding: Do’s and Don’ts

A wedding can cost a pretty penny to even the thriftiest couple. When planning a wedding on a tight budget, it’s hard to know exactly where to cut costs and where to spend good money. But there are rules to follow in order to ensure the wedding isn’t a total disaster!

Follow this list of Do’s and Don’ts to learn how to run an effective budget wedding without ruining the couple’s big day!

DO: Stick to a budget

The greatest mistake a couple can make going into their wedding is not budgeting properly. Figure out how much the couple can reasonably spend on the wedding, then stick to that amount no matter what. A wedding is one single day. A client shouldn’t have to pay for it for the rest of their life!

DON’T: Do everything yourself

A couple will likely be willing to do some of the work themselves in order to help keep costs down. Take advantage of this! Assign them tasks to complete within your wedding planning timeline, and help them stick to it. Just be sure to assign them tasks that they can reasonably complete, without creating more work for yourself!

Pinterest table centerpiece decor ideas

DO: Limit the guest list

I know, this can be tricky and really hard to do. But having a small, intimate wedding with a select number of guests is the easiest way to keep costs down. Don’t worry about offending anyone. It’s not about them! Simply have the couple invite immediate family members and a few of their closest friends. That’s it.

If the couple is worried about how the rest of their family/friends will react to this, you can always suggest that they have a nice garden party or something else after the wedding, where they invite people over for socializing over a few hors d’oeuvres…or even a potluck!

DON’T: Have an open bar

You want to spend a fortune? Invite a host of people and tell them the drinks are free! Bartenders are expensive, and drinks even more so. The good news is that you can still offer guests a selection of free drinks without it eating a huge chunk of the budget.

Offer a limited amount of help-yourself punch for cocktail hour. During dinner, have a few bottles of wine at each table. When the wine’s gone, guests can move onto water or buy their own drinks.

Want to save even more money? Have the couple go to a make-your-own-wine place 6-8 months before the wedding and bottle it themselves. They can then create custom labels for the “wedding wine”. They’ll look fantastic and guests will actually appreciate the personalized touch. Not to mention, you can make a dozen bottles of wine for a tenth of the cost of buying it in-store.

DO: Skimp on the venue

Budget wedding tips for planners

You don’t have to hold a wedding at a fancy hotel or art gallery for it to be a lovely event that guests will remember. Some of the most memorable weddings are in people’s back yards (free) or at local community centers (rent at a fraction of the cost of other venues).

You can save a bunch of money by opting for a less expensive venue, and then spend a little more on decorations to make sure the space is decorated to properly reflect the wedding theme.

DON’T: Skimp on the food

Guests need to eat. And they’ll want to eat well. It can be tempting to go with a cheap caterer for a budget wedding, or even to limit the amount of food provided. Guests will never forgive you if they don’t get to eat because there wasn’t enough food to go around… and they’ll NEVER forgive you if they end up with food poisoning from a questionable vendor!

Does that mean you have to hire the city’s top caterer and provide everyone with a 5-star meal? No – but you should take the time to properly vet whichever caterer you hire, and make sure every guest is guaranteed hors d’oeuvres, a proper meal, and a late night snack.

DO: Be flexible with the flowers

Flowers and floral arrangements are insanely expensive. And as soon as you mention it’s for a wedding, the costs magically increase. Isn’t that strange?

See if the bride will consider brooch bouquets instead of live flowers. If you plan ahead, you can have her purchase all the materials needed for the bouquets online for amazingly low prices, and make the bouquets herself (with her bridesmaids’ help, of course!). A bonus – the brooch bouquets make great centerpieces. Just leave vases at all the tables in your venue, and have the bridesmaids put a bouquet in each vase as they enter the venue!

Inexpensive bridal bouquet for budget wedding

DON’T: Trash the dress!

Brides are now having “trash the wedding dress” parties where they essentially get together with their bridesmaids and friends to destroy the wedding dress. You know, the dress they spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on! Want to save a bit of cash? See if the bride is open to re-selling the wedding dress after the event. After all, she won’t need it again. She’ll make decent money, and will help another bride make the most out of her wedding day without breaking the bank!

DO: Be flexible

A budget wedding will be much easier to plan if you’re able to compromise on certain details. If a square cake is half the price of a round cake, does the couple really need the round one? What if wedding cupcakes are a third of the price of a cake? Or if twinkle lights are a fifth the price of hoop lights? Or if the bride finds a beautiful $3,000 dress, but then finds a similar one without the designer label for $500, does she really need the fancier one?

Being flexible where you can will give you more room on the elements your couple can’t live without. That said…

DON’T: Compromise too much

It’s still your clients’ wedding, and you don’t want them walking away thinking “that wasn’t the wedding I wanted”.

So if there’s something they’ve always dreamed of having at their wedding, then try not to compromise on it. Granted, not every wedding goal can be realistic. But if the dress, or the entertainment, or the décor, or the venue is so important to the couple that they’re willing to sacrifice in other areas in order to make it happen within the allotted budget, then go for it.

After all, it’s their day!

Budget bridal attire for wedding planners

A budget wedding can be one of the most difficult to pull off properly for a professional wedding planner, because you’re expected to do more with less. With these tips, you can make magic happen.

Just remember the most important rule of all: don’t sell yourself short. Even though the couple’s on a budget, they’ve hired you to make their wedding work. Your time is worth money. Use it wisely.

Do you have any other tips you abide by for the budget-conscious wedding couple? Share it with us below!


3 responses to “Planning a Budget Wedding: Do’s and Don’ts”

    Roberta Ferreira says:

    In reference to “Don’t Trash The Dress”. I gave my dress to a seamstress and she created a Christening Gown with the beautiful lace fabric. My 3 daughters were Christened in the dress, and someday I hope my grandchildren may also use it. A very sentimental way of re-purposing a dress that stays in a blue box for most brides.

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