Budget Weddings For Dummies book cover

Budget Weddings For Dummies

By: Meg Schneider Published: 10-12-2009

Don’t let ‘white blindness’ drive you into debt! Make your wedding everything you want it to be on the budget you determine.

Are you planning a wedding, but worried about how much money you'll have to spend? In today's tough economic times, planning a budget wedding is more important than ever. This fun, money-saving guide is packed with tips for planning the wedding of your dreams without breaking your bank account!

Inside you'll find tons of tips and advice for planning a budget-friendly celebration while still remaining true to your personality, values, and tastes. You'll see how to make and keep your wedding budget; select the most economical time to get married; scope out wedding locations that fit the bill; and incorporate everything from economical to green ideas that emphasize style and elegance. Plus, you get tips and pointers for negotiating with vendors and avoiding hidden expenses and add-ons.

  • Hands-on information for planning a stylish wedding while sticking to your budget
  • How to get deals on gowns, tuxes, cakes, invitations, photography, food, and more
  • Use your creativity (and friends and family) to save money on decorations, food, favors, and wedding attire
  • Cut corners where no one will notice
  • Set your own priorities for your big day

  • Make your celebration unique

You don't have to settle for less on your wedding day. Author, Meg Schneider is an award-winning journalist who planned her own wedding for less than $5,000  Budget Weddings For Dummies is the only guide you need to save yourself money, time, and stress while you plan a beautiful, memorable ceremony!

Articles From Budget Weddings For Dummies

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15 results
15 results
Budget Weddings For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-09-2022

Planning a wedding shouldn’t break the bank — it should be fun, exciting, and worry-free. To plan a budget wedding that looks anything but cheap, make a priority list, cut back on food (the biggest wedding expense), and consider adding some wallet-friendly touches that are also good for the environment.

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Budget Wedding Tips: How to Spend Less on Food

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Food and alcohol represent the biggest expense for most weddings. So it makes sense to cut back on that expense if you’re planning a budget wedding. Broaden your idea of what a stylish and elegant wedding reception looks like and prepare to save. Your guests will eat to their heart’s content, but you won’t break the bank when you host one of these receptions: Brunch: Brunch fare can cost less than half — even as little as a third — of a full dinner menu. Consider providing a variety of specialty buffets, such as a fruit bar or an omelet station. Garden parties: No one expects you to provide a full meal, so go all out on fancy appetizers. Serve a signature cocktail in lieu of a full bar. Afternoon tea: Pull out all the stops for a traditional British affair and limit alcohol to Champagne for toasts. Dessert reception: If you have a sweet tooth, this is the best way to indulge it! Serve nothing but sweets — wedding cake, petit fours, cheesecake, sundaes, and a chocolate fountain. Cocktail reception: Alcohol will consume the biggest part of your budget with this type of reception, but you save by serving appetizers and dessert instead of a full meal.

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Plan an Eco-Friendly Budget Wedding

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Green is the new white — at least when it comes to eco-friendly weddings. Even better, going green can save you money. That’s always a plus if you’re planning a budget wedding. Even though some green wedding products and services are pricier than the traditional ones, others cost far less than you’d expect. The following list tells you how to save some green on your green wedding: Eliminate paper. Bypass printed invitations, response cards, and maps in favor of Web-based versions. Provide maps and driving directions on your wedding Web site, issue save-the-date info and invitations via e-mail, and keep track of your guest count and meal requests with Web-based forms. Choose a green dress. To find an inexpensive dress that’s environmentally friendly, shop vintage stores, peruse eBay, or consider renting your gown. Think locally. Using caterers and florists who work with local producers can save you money, and it reduces the environmental impact of your wedding by cutting down on transportation emissions. Go for green gold. For more eco-friendly (and potentially more budget-friendly) wedding rings, look in pawn shops and at estate auctions for vintage rings that can be updated. Or collect your unused gold jewelry and hire a jeweler to melt it down and make your wedding bands out of it. Opt for reusable decorations. Rent potted plants or silk flower arrangements that can be used again. Or pot your own plants or flowers and incorporate them into your new home after the honeymoon — you’ve just cut down on your interior decorating budget!

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Make a Priority List for Your Budget Wedding

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you’re planning your wedding on a budget, prioritizing is a must. Without a priority list, you’re likely to overspend — often before you even realize you’re going over your budget. To keep your wedding finances on track, sit down with your fiancé(e) and compare your lists of priorities for the big day. If you aren’t sure how to come up with a priority list, start by jotting down what you liked and disliked about other weddings you’ve attended. Then think about the wedding traditions you’re familiar with and decide whether you want to follow them. Don’t worry about the associated costs just yet. When you compare your list with your fiancé(e)’s priorities, talk about how each item fits into your overall budget. Then you can decide together whether the expense of getting married in a dream location is worth giving up the acres of orchids you always imagined seeing at your ceremony. After you and your intended identify what you really want for your wedding, write your priorities on a sheet of paper so you can refer to them when you’re making wedding decisions. You may even want to carry the list in your wallet as a reminder when you’re interviewing vendors.

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Save Money on the Wedding of Your Dreams

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When you’re planning a wedding on a budget, you want to get the best value for your dollar. You aren’t interested in anything that looks cheap; you want your fairytale wedding for less. If you follow these tips, your guests will never imagine that they’ve been invited to a budget wedding: Choose a budget-friendly wedding date and time: Getting married on a weekday, on a Sunday, in the morning, or on a Saturday in November or January will save money on everything from the ceremony and reception venues to the band or DJ you hire. Don’t go overboard on invitations: Buy for the number of households, not the total number of guests. Otherwise, you end up wasting money on unused invitations. Find a less-expensive wedding dress: Search online retailers, borrow a dress, rent a gown, or buy a bridesmaid’s dress in white, cream, or ivory. Create your own wedding playlist: Recorded music is the least expensive way to have the melodies you want for your ceremony. It’s also the easiest way to mix and match the styles and songs that best suit you as a couple. Put the playlist on your MP3 player and check whether you have access to the sound system at your ceremony site. Skip pew or chair decorations: Guests won’t miss them, and you’ll save money. Pick something other than flowers: Ditch the bouquet idea altogether and carry a fan, a small parasol, a loved one’s Bible, a rosary, or even a fancy clutch or evening bag. Or opt for a bouquet made of feathers, crystals, candy, antique buttons, or origami. Serve only beer and wine. This common compromise doesn’t violate any etiquette rules. As a variation, you can serve beer, wine, and a signature drink. This variation gives your guests more drink choices but still keeps expenses down. Do without the wedding cake: You can serve alternative desserts — like cookies, bars, brownies, cheesecake, pies, or tarts — in any number of ways: as a dessert buffet, as centerpieces on your tables, or as butler-passed treats. Forgo favors: You can make a donation to a charity in your guests’ names for less than you’d pay for some favors.

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Matching Your Wedding Guest List to Your Budget

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Preparing a wedding guest list that matches your wedding budget can be a challenge. Choosing whether to set your guest list or your wedding budget first is sort of like deciding whether the chicken or the egg came first. Neither method is better than the other; it depends on your circumstances and priorities. If you set your budget first, you can figure out the per-guest cost, which gives you your guest list limit. Say, for example, your reception budget is $2,500, and the cost per person at the site you want is $25 for food and $15 for the bar (wine, beer, and soda). That limits your guest list to about 60 people (60 x $40 = $2,400). On the other hand, you can figure that you’ll have 100 guests, which means you need to keep reception costs at $25 or less per person. That per-guest cost likely rules out most traditional reception halls, so you may have to start brainstorming nontraditional ideas for your reception. Keep the following tips and suggestions in mind when matching your guest list to your budget: If you and your betrothed have large families, maybe you’d rather have a cookout reception so you can invite all your relatives. If you expect your guest list to be smaller, though, you can let your budget dictate the number of people you invite. General budget or guest list estimates help you eliminate venues that are out of your price range or are too small or too big for the number of guests you expect. Whether you start with your budget or your expected guest list, you should come up with at least a ballpark figure for your guest list before you start visiting possible ceremony and reception sites. A vast church sanctuary is the wrong place for an intimate ceremony, for example, and even a mid-sized ceremony may feel small in a church that can seat several hundred people. On the other hand, stuffing 100 people into a space intended for 50 makes everyone uncomfortable. With most ceremony and reception sites, you can get by with a handful more guests than you originally expected. But if that handful grows too much, it may push you out of those affordable sites and force you to come up with a new plan for your celebration. And reworking your plan definitely creates a lot more work and may cause stress overload. Before you get too far into your planning, share your budget and guest list with your parents and your future in-laws; they’re the people who are most likely to insist on additional guests. If they know upfront what you can afford and what you have in mind, they’re more likely to curb their own requests. If either set of parents still insists, tactfully remind them of your limits and suggest that you’d be happy to invite their extra guests if they’re willing to cover the additional expenses.

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How to Save Money with a Destination Wedding

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

To most people, having a destination wedding means going to Mexico or the Caribbean. These are certainly popular wedding destinations, and they can be cost-effective. But you can have a destination wedding virtually anywhere. Consider a Great Camp in the Adirondacks, a ski lodge in Aspen, a golf resort in Arizona, or even a glitzy Vegas wedding. What’s the appeal of traveling long distances to a site you’ll likely book without ever visiting in person and trusting the arrangements to a coordinator you’ve never met? Two words: romance and value. What better way to celebrate your own personal fairy tale than against the exotic backdrop of majestic mountains or azure seas? And if you can get both your wedding and your honeymoon for the price of one, what’s not to like? Destination weddings sound great, but you have to remember that there are trade-offs to a romantic and cost-effective destination wedding. Consider the following: Financial and time constraints likely will severely curtail your guest list; many of your friends and relatives simply won’t have the money or time to attend your wedding. If you like to be in charge of arrangements, trying to pull all the details together from hundreds or thousands of miles away can be frustrating and time-consuming. If you imagine hosting an American-style wedding and reception in a foreign country, you’ll probably be disappointed in the results (or appalled at the extra expense). Destination Weddings For Dummies by Susan Breslow Sardone takes you step by step through planning a destination wedding virtually anywhere in the world on nearly any budget. Like any wedding, a destination event can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. But you can save a ton of money by shopping around and being flexible with your time frame. As destination weddings become more popular, venues fill up faster and faster; many are booked more than a year in advance. To get the venue you want for the dates you want, start your search early — ideally 12 to 18 months before your wedding. If you have your heart set on a destination that fills up quickly and is more expensive than you’d like, schedule your wedding for the off-season to save money. For example, airfares and hotel rates are at their highest in the Caribbean from November to April, but both often are steeply discounted after April 15. In Las Vegas, March and October are the months when conventions descend on Sin City, jacking up airfares and hotel rates. Resorts and cruises that specialize in destination weddings often give decent discounts when you reserve a minimum number of rooms for your guests. Add those discounts to the destination’s slow period, and you can reap significant savings over high-season prices.

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Finding a Wedding Dress on a Budget

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you're a bride-to-be searching for a wedding dress on a budget, you don’t have to deal with traditional bridal shops. You can purchase a formal gown or dress from a department store or clothing chain and still look great. Even if you want a traditional wedding gown, you have lots of options for saving money. You can make your own headpiece and veil for a fraction of what they cost in bridal shops, and you can avoid the “wedding” markup on shoes by looking for the perfect pair at discount retailers. Saving money on a wedding dress Frugal brides have lots of resources for finding the wedding dress of their dreams at down-to-earth prices. Aside from seeking out discount bridal shops, you can put the Internet, your family and friends, and your creativity to work. Here are some money-saving avenues to explore: Buy a gown online. The Internet has made finding a deal on a quality wedding gown or formal dress easier than ever. For instance, the Web is home to any number of discount bridal retailers. Check out Bridal Online Store and Lily Wedding. Similarly, you can find reasonably priced formal gowns and dresses through department store Web sites. And there’s always eBay, where you can either bid on dresses or use the “Buy It Now” feature for a set price. Many independent and discount bridal shops have stores on eBay, so you aren’t limited to secondhand gowns. Use caution when buying on eBay. Look at pictures carefully, and ask the seller for additional photos if you can’t make out details. Always remember to check the seller’s ratings and return policies before you place a bid or order. Borrow a gown. Wearing a relative’s or friend’s gown adds a personal touch to your wedding ensemble. Plus, chances are that your mother, aunt, or best friend will be charmed and honored to loan it to you. Rent a gown. Renting may be a good option if you have your heart set on a designer dress but your budget says “no way.” Check in your local phone book for shops that rent wedding gowns or formal dresses. The rental price should include the headpiece and veil, train, crinoline, and other accessories (except shoes and jewelry). Make your own gown, or have one made. Making your own dress may be an affordable option. Most fabric shops have wedding dress patterns. You also may be able to hire a professional seamstress to make your dress; many talented seamstresses can make designer-looking dresses for far less than you’d pay at a bridal shop. Opting for a nontraditional wedding dress Okay, your family members may raise their eyebrows, or even a ruckus, if you inform them that you intend to wear a nontraditional dress, but it could be fun, right? You can save a lot of money by ignoring tradition. Here are some ideas for an elegant, one-of-a-kind bridal outfit: Go for color. Choose a cocktail dress, bridesmaid dress, or evening gown in a color that matches your wedding décor. Ruby red, royal purple, and sapphire blue are popular alternatives to white. Opening yourself to a range of colors makes it easier to find a dress that fits your budget and complements your skin tone and body shape. Shop vintage clothing stores. Retro is chic, and you can find dresses that impart a unique flair to your wedding. Modify an heirloom dress. Maybe you have no interest in wearing your mother’s wedding gown as is, but what if you added a new skirt to the bodice or a new bodice to the skirt? By doing this, you end up with a unique dress that combines sentimentality with your own taste and style — all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding dress. You can do this with vintage clothing from a secondhand shop, too.

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Tips for Sticking to a Wedding Budget

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Actual wedding costs depend mainly on size, scale, and location. Keeping this in mind while planning for a budget wedding is critical to keeping costs down. A formal wedding with 250 guests obviously costs more than a backyard fete with 60 guests. And a wedding in New York City costs more than the same function in Iowa City. Before you get too discouraged, do some research to find out average wedding-related costs in your area. Doing some legwork early in the wedding planning process can save you money later. Attend a bridal show or two and make a note of the prices vendors advertise. Or call around to several wedding vendors in your area and ask what different packages cost and what they include. In many cases, extra expenses arise because couples give in to impulses or requests from family members and close friends. Or they simply don’t keep a close eye on what they’re spending. Here are some tricks to help you stick to your budget: Make sure you both understand and agree to the budget you’ve worked out. Think of it as good practice for merging your finances after the wedding. Post your budget in a place where you’ll see it often, such as on the refrigerator. If you and your fiancé(e) don’t live together, make sure each of you has a copy of the budget you’ve agreed on. Discuss any adjustments before you include them in your budget. For example, if you find a cake topper you love, but it costs $50 more than you budgeted for, talk to your intended before you commit to spending the extra money. Look for other areas you could trim to compensate for an additional expense. Say you forgot to include your great-aunt and her husband in your guest list, and your mother insists that you invite them. If your reception cost is $40 per guest, you’ll need to shave $80 from somewhere else in the budget — perhaps by deciding on a less expensive bouquet or choosing less expensive centerpieces. Write down any changes or adjustments you’ve agreed to. That way, you won’t experience misunderstandings later. The tighter your budget, the more important it is to build in a cushion for unanticipated expenses. A slush fund of between 10% and 15% of your total budget gives you breathing room when one of your line items costs a bit more than you expect. Plus, by setting this money aside upfront, you don’t have to frantically redo your budget to find the extra funds.

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Understanding How Dates and Times Affect Wedding Costs

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Your wedding date and the time of your reception can affect wedding costs for everything from the catering to the photography bill by 30% or more. Vendors charge their highest prices when their services are most in demand, such as for a June wedding on a Saturday. Evening weddings are the most popular and usually the most expensive. An evening wedding typically is more formal, which means more expensive attire, accessories, flowers, decorations, and food. And, of course, Saturdays are the most popular days for weddings. So a Saturday evening in June or September is likely to be the most expensive option for your wedding. The cheaper months for weddings June and September are the most popular wedding months in large part because, in most areas of the country, the weather is neither too cold nor too hot. January, March, April, and November can be far less expensive months for marrying. Venue prices may be lower, and vendor prices are likely to be significantly lower simply because the demand isn’t as great. February and December aren’t value priced because of St. Valentine’s Day and Christmas. In December (and on New Year’s Eve), your competition may not be other marrying couples but holiday parties that use many of the same venues and vendors that weddings do. July and August dates tend to fill up fast with couples who didn’t book their June or September dates early enough. And May and October are popular wedding months in the Midwest. Meetings and conventions can ruin your plans, too. Call your local chamber of commerce or convention bureau to find out when these kinds of gatherings are scheduled so you can plan around them. Also check dates for local college or high school reunions, spring or fall breaks, and homecoming weekends. The cheaper days of the week for weddings Ceremony and reception site rental rates are typically least expensive on weekdays and Sundays. Hotel rates usually are lower Sunday through Thursday, too — something to consider if you’ll be paying for your own wedding suite or for a room for a VIP guest from out of town (such as a relative or friend who’s serving as officiant). Airfares are typically cheaper on weekdays, too, so you could save money on your honeymoon travel costs if you get married on, say, a Tuesday and leave for your honeymoon on Wednesday. The main reason most couples get married on a Saturday is because they figure it’s easier for guests to attend. But if you get married on a Thursday, your out-of-town guests can get cheaper airfares, and your local guests should be able to arrange to take the day off from work if you give them the usual six to eight weeks’ notice. The cheaper times of the day for weddings Food and drink gobble up the lion’s share of most wedding budgets. However, you can cut these costs dramatically simply by changing the time of your wedding. For example, you can explore the following options: A 9 a.m. ceremony followed by an elegant brunch: Breakfast food is much cheaper than lunch or dinner fare, and you can fill out the menu with fresh fruit, made-to-order omelet stations, and delicious breads and pastries. A 2 p.m. wedding with a cake reception: Serve cake and a variety of beverages (punch, coffee, tea, and soda). You also can include a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit, graham crackers, and pretzels for dipping. A 4 p.m. wedding followed by a cocktail party: Arrange for butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and stations with cheese, crackers, fruit, and veggies. If you get the timing right, you can give your guests a wonderful experience at a fraction of the price you’d pay for a traditional sit-down meal — or even a buffet dinner. Of course, timing is key: You don’t want to serve only hors d’oeuvres when your guests expect a full meal. If you’ve set your heart on a 6 p.m. ceremony, you have to give your guests dinner afterward.

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