Aug 282012

by Cara Davis

At last count, the average couple spends $26,989 on their wedding, according to Brides magazine. And it’s not just the well-to-do running up the tabs: Nearly one-third of all brides exceed their budgets, Brides says. To help couples create a day they’ll always remember — without developing a debt they’d prefer to forget — here are several tricks I picked up from my own frugal wedding.

1. Set a budget.
It’s easy to dive into wedding planning (and spending) without first sitting down to talk about how much you can spend. If your parents or other members of your family intend to contribute, talk to them about their expectations and who’s paying for what. And trust me, you can have an amazing wedding on a small budget — just look at my free wedding planning budget based on a $5,000 wedding.

2. Download the EEBA app.
The free envelope budget software allows you to specify how much money you want to spend in each category. Simply name your envelopes and assign dollar amounts to them. If you want to spend $400 on decor, you can use this app on-the-go to keep a running tally of how much you’ve spent as you pick up items at flea markets, thrift stores and online.

3. Register for your photography.
Photography is so important to today’s couples, and the price tag often reflects that. Many photographers now offer photography and video registry to help offset those costs. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure you’re prepared to meet the terms of service. Other unique registry options include, where you can register for gift cards to national retailers to shop for things you’ll need for your wedding or your first home.

4. Adjust your expectations.
Wedding inspiration is everywhere. Sites like Pinterest are fantastic for honing in on the style you want. But be careful — if you fall in love with a $30,000 wedding and you’ve only got $3,000, you’re bound to be disappointed. Pick one or two ideas and go all the way with them. Cut back in other areas that aren’t as important to you.

5. Cut out the extras.
Save-the-dates, wedding programs, favors, cocktail hour…these do not make a wedding. They’re extras, and if they aren’t important to you, no one will miss them if you choose not to include them in your wedding. This is your big day – make it as fabulously “you” as you can and ditch the unnecessary expenses. For specific recommendations on what your wedding can do without, check out this article from SavvyShopperToday.

6. Marry in the morning.
A friend attended a morning wedding followed by brunch last weekend — and absolutely loved it. “A Saturday-morning wedding followed by a pancake brunch reception was such a refreshing, fun change from the traditional evening wedding,” says Jason Boyett. “It was a cheery and hopeful way to start the weekend.”

Not only does the morning light lend itself to beautiful photography, brunch is easy on the wallet as it is on the stomach. Many venues will offer discounts for renting the facility at a nontraditional time. Can you think of a better way to start your wedding day than by getting married?


Weddings expert Cara Davis is the author of Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot and blogs from her home in Orlando, FL, about cheap ways to spend and save at