For soon-to-be spouses on a budget, a wedding can seem like an incredibly difficult and expensive thing to pull off. The traditional church wedding can cost thousands of dollars—depending on where you live, the average wedding costs anywhere from $27,000 to $65,000! These sums are astronomical when you consider the underlying commitment more important than all the bells and whistles, but many people grow up daydreaming about their wedding day, so it's also important not to skimp on the details if a fancy ceremony will make you happy.
If you don't want a courthouse ceremony but you also don't want to be in debt for the first few years of your new relationship, you can consider a DIY (Do It Yourself) wedding. Some people incorporate a few DIY elements while others go the whole way to plan and prepare the wedding and avoid the costs of a traditional ceremony. Here are tips you can follow to save money by doing it yourself.
1) Look at Cheaper Dress Options
Rather than selecting the most expensive gowns and tuxedos, shop around and see if you can find cheaper options. Some people have their best man wear a great suit instead of renting a tuxedo, while others shop at thrift stores to turn up bridesmaid dresses. For example, you could give your bridesmaids guidelines about their dresses by telling them to look for a dress in a pastel color that is about knee-length or a jewel-tone red or purple dress that is floor-length, then let them choose the exact style and dress. This adds an element of fun and lets the bridesmaids choose dresses that will look good on them rather than opting for the same style as the others are wearing. Bride's dresses can be found very inexpensively at sample sales or off the rack, or you could try looking at local dressmakers if you have unusual proportions.
2) Choose an Unconventional Bouquet Option
Whether you're planning on one bouquet or two dozen, fresh flowers add up quickly. If you don't happen to know a florist who will give you a good deal, look at other options. Consider picking out an arrangement from your own—or a friend's—garden. Fall-themed weddings could incorporate a handmade bouquet of autumn leaves, for instance, while fairytale weddings could involve bouquets made from ornamental butterflies or fairies. You could even use dried flowers, which tend to be much more affordable.
3) Consider a Different Venue Than Your Top Choice
Sure, your dream venue might be the fanciest church in your city, but it's difficult to book these kinds of venues and they often cost much more than you're expecting. Instead, look at less conventional choices such as local botanic gardens, public parks, or campgrounds. See if anyone you know has a lakefront property you could use or ask around for unconventional wedding locations. People have gotten married underwater, in haunted castles, or in public parks—why not you? Work with the venue to choose dates and remember, if it's outdoors, you'll need to be fine with the possibility of rain or figure out ways to cope with it (such as purchasing canopies on the day before the wedding if the forecast is gloomy).
4) Look for Unusual Centerpiece Ideas
Rather than buying the same kind of centerpieces as everyone else, look for unusual ideas such as having everyone bring an object of some particular kind to be judged, making your centerpieces something that can be broken up into individual favors, or making your own by shopping at thrift stores for unusual vases and putting dried flowers or other arrangements inside. Just avoid centerpieces with live animals like fish, however—the noise will scare them, and even short-lived breeds should have a lifespan of up to five years after the ceremony!
5) Look at a Friday Or Sunday Wedding
Most people want to get married on Saturday because it seems like the easiest day to get everyone to come to the ceremony. Fridays and Sundays are less expensive, and if you can have an evening wedding in the middle of the week, it will be even cheaper. Many venues want to rent out their space on these rarely-booked days, so they're willing to give you great prices if you don't insist on a Saturday wedding.
6) Consider Halving Your Invitation List
If it sounds like a lot of people are on your invitation list, consider halving the number. You don't have to be exact, but the exercise will make you stop and think about who really needs to come along. Save the coworkers you barely know the hassle of having to come to an event where they don't know anyone and cut down on the worry about how you will find childcare by sticking to adults only and inviting only your closest friends and family. The rest of the family can always see the photos anyway! Make it clear to everyone that you're having a very limited guest list so it isn't an extravagant affair and nobody will feel left out.
7) Make Your Own Wedding Cake or Talk to Friends Who Bake
Most people know someone who bakes a lot. If that isn't you, talk to your friends and family and see who might be willing to bake a wedding cake. It doesn't have to be the most elaborate creation you've ever seen—it just has to be tasty and look pretty! Baking your own wedding cake can be an exercise in fun and creativity, but make sure you do as much preparation ahead of time as possible.
It's sensible to arrange your wedding in a way that doesn't break the bank. Wedding-related debt can add stress early in a marriage, so the best way to start your new union off right is by being smart about your spending. Incorporating DIY elements into your wedding or even arranging the whole thing yourself is a great way to save thousands of dollars, or even tens of thousands of dollars, right off the bat. All this money saved could go towards several years of vacations together or even a down payment on your first home together!