How to Plan a Budget Wedding Without Going Broke

Personal Finance

Congratulations on your decision to tie the knot! Planning a wedding can be an exciting and joyful experience, but it can also be financially overwhelming. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and overspend, but with a little creativity and careful planning, it's possible to have a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank.

As a financial advisor, I've seen many couples struggle with the financial stress of planning a wedding. However, with the right approach, it's possible to have a memorable celebration without going into debt. In this guide, I'll share practical tips and strategies to help you plan a budget-friendly wedding that reflects your style and personality.

A successful wedding is not about how much you spend, but about the love and commitment you are celebrating. By focusing on what's truly important to you and your partner, you can create a wedding that is meaningful and memorable, without a hefty price tag.

So, let's dive in and explore how you can plan a beautiful wedding without going broke.

Understanding Your Wedding Budget

Planning a budget wedding requires a clear understanding of your financial resources and priorities. Before you dive into the details, it's crucial to sit down and figure out exactly how much you can comfortably spend on your big day.

Start by making a list of all the potential sources of funding for your wedding. This might include personal savings, contributions from family members, or a wedding loan. Knowing exactly how much money you have to work with will help you make realistic decisions about your wedding expenses.

According to financial expert Suze Orman, "It's important to establish your budget early on and stick to it. This will help you avoid unnecessary debt and stress as you plan your special day."

Be honest with yourself about what you can afford. While it's natural to want the fairy-tale wedding, it's important to consider the long-term financial implications. Keep in mind that the average cost of a wedding in the United States is over $30,000, but that doesn't mean you have to spend that much to have a beautiful and meaningful celebration.

Once you have a clear understanding of your budget, you can start prioritizing your spending. Decide what aspects of your wedding are most important to you and allocate a larger portion of your budget to those areas. Maybe having a top-notch photographer is crucial for you, or perhaps you'd rather splurge on a dream venue.

Remember, your wedding is all about celebrating your love and commitment, and with thoughtful planning, you can create a day that reflects your values and style without breaking the bank.

Creative Venue Choices

When it comes to choosing a venue for your budget wedding, thinking outside the box can save you a significant amount of money. One great option is to consider non-traditional venues such as parks, beaches, or even a friend or family member's backyard. These alternatives can be just as beautiful as a traditional wedding venue, but at a fraction of the cost.

Another creative idea is to look into local community centers, which often offer their facilities at a much lower cost than traditional event spaces. You may also want to consider unconventional options such as art galleries, museums, or even public libraries, which can provide a unique and memorable setting for your special day.

In addition, choosing a venue that offers both the ceremony and reception spaces can also save you money on transportation and decorations. Haley Ritter, a recent budget bride, found a unique venue that doubled as both the ceremony and reception space, and she shares, "It was perfect because we didn't have to spend extra money on decorating two different spaces."

When considering creative venue choices, keep in mind that flexibility is key. By being open to non-traditional options, you can find a beautiful, unique venue that fits your budget.

white poles
Photo by Keenan Barber on Unsplash

Affordable Wedding Attire

When it comes to wedding attire, you don't have to break the bank to look stunning on your big day. Here are some tips to help you find affordable wedding attire without sacrificing style.

Consider Buying Pre-Owned

One way to save on your wedding dress is to consider buying a pre-owned gown. There are many online platforms where you can find gently used wedding dresses at a fraction of the cost of a new one. You might even luck out and find a designer gown for a steal.

Rent Your Dress

"Renting a wedding dress is a great way to save money, especially if you're not sentimental about keeping the dress after the wedding," says Jenna, a budget-conscious bride. "There are so many beautiful rental options available, and it's a practical way to get the dress of your dreams without the hefty price tag."

Explore Off-the-Rack Options

Rather than going to a traditional bridal boutique, consider looking for your dress at a department store or off-the-rack bridal shop. You can often find stylish and elegant dresses at a fraction of the cost of a custom-made gown.

Keep an Eye Out for Sales and Sample Sales

Many bridal shops, especially towards the end of the season, have sales where you can find deeply discounted wedding dresses. Additionally, attending a sample sale can also be a great way to snag a designer dress at a fraction of the retail price.

By being open-minded and thinking outside the box, you can find beautiful and affordable wedding attire that will make you feel like a million bucks without spending a fortune.

Cost-Effective Catering Options

When it comes to planning a budget wedding, the cost of catering can quickly eat into your budget. However, there are several cost-effective catering options that can help you save money without sacrificing the quality of the food.

One option is to consider having a buffet-style dinner instead of a sit-down meal. With a buffet, you can offer a variety of dishes without the need for additional servers, which can significantly reduce your catering costs.

Another cost-effective catering option is to explore local food trucks or family-owned restaurants that may offer catering services. Not only can you potentially save money by opting for a non-traditional approach to catering, but you can also support local businesses in the process.

You could also consider serving hors d'oeuvres and small bites instead of a full meal. This can be a fun and budget-friendly way to keep your guests satisfied without spending a fortune.

In the end, the key is to be creative and open-minded when it comes to catering for your wedding. By thinking outside the box, you can find cost-effective catering options that align with your budget while still providing delicious food for your guests.

"Finding the right catering option was a challenge, but by thinking outside the box, we were able to have a delicious meal without breaking the bank," says Sarah, a budget-savvy bride.

person writing on a book
Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

Decorating on a Dime

When it comes to decorating for your budget wedding, creativity and resourcefulness are your best friends. You don't have to break the bank to have a beautifully decorated venue. Here are some tips to help you decorate on a dime:

  1. DIY Decor: Get crafty and make your own decorations. "Making your own centerpieces and other decor items can save you a lot of money," says wedding planner, Sarah Miller. "You can find tutorials online and get inspiration from Pinterest."

  2. Go Green: Incorporating greenery into your decorations can be both beautiful and budget-friendly. "Using greenery and foliage as decor is not only elegant but also cost-effective," suggests floral designer, Emma Garcia. "You can create stunning centerpieces and bouquet alternatives using simple greenery and save a lot on flower costs."

  3. Thrift Store Finds: You'd be amazed at the treasures you can find at thrift stores. "I found gorgeous vintage frames and vases for my wedding decor at thrift stores," says bride-to-be, Lisa Johnson. "You can really find some unique pieces that will add a special touch to your wedding decor without spending a fortune."

  4. Repurpose Items: Look around your own home, or ask friends and family if they have any items you can repurpose for your wedding decor. "I borrowed lanterns and candle holders from friends, and used them as part of my wedding decorations," shares bride, Rachel Evans. "It's a great way to save money and add sentimental value to your decor."

By being creative, resourceful, and open-minded, you can create stunning wedding decorations without spending a fortune.

Capturing Memories Without the High Cost

Your wedding day will be a special moment in your life, and it's important to capture as many memories as possible. However, professional photography can be expensive. But don't worry, there are ways to save money and still have beautiful photos to look back on.

One option is to ask a talented friend or family member to take the photos. Not only can this save you money, but it can also add a personal touch to your wedding album. As one bride, Sarah, shared, "My cousin is a hobby photographer, and I asked her to be our wedding photographer. It was a great way to save money, and she captured some amazing shots that we will cherish forever."

Another cost-effective option is to hire a photography student. They are often eager to build their portfolio and may offer their services at a much lower cost than a professional photographer. You can often find student photographers through local art schools or photography programs. Just make sure to view their previous work to ensure they have the skills you're looking for.

If you're open to non-traditional options, you could consider using a photo booth for your wedding. This can provide a fun and interactive way for guests to capture memories, and the photos can serve as unique keepsakes for both you and your guests.

By thinking outside the box and exploring alternative options, you can capture beautiful memories of your special day without breaking the bank.

Smart Money Moves After the Wedding

Congratulations on your recent nuptials! While the wedding day may be over, there are still some important financial tasks to tackle as you transition into married life. Here are some smart money moves to consider:

  1. Combine Finances: Now that you're married, it's time to have a conversation about how you'll manage your finances together. This may include combining bank accounts, establishing joint financial goals, and determining how you'll handle expenses.

  2. Review and Update Your Budget: Take some time to sit down and review your wedding budget. Be honest with yourselves about what you spent and determine how it aligns with your overall financial goals. Make any necessary adjustments to your budget now that the wedding is behind you.

  3. Start an Emergency Fund: "Now that you're married, it's even more important to build up that emergency fund," says financial expert Suze Orman. "You never know what the future holds, and having a financial cushion can provide peace of mind."

  4. Update Your Insurance Policies: Whether it's health, auto, or life insurance, now is a good time to review and update your policies. Getting married may lead to changes in coverage or potential discounts, so be sure to explore your options.

  5. Set Financial Goals: As a newly married couple, it's important to establish short-term and long-term financial goals. Whether it's saving for a down payment on a house or planning for retirement, having clear financial objectives can help guide your money decisions.

  6. Consider Retirement Savings: "Marriage often prompts people to take a closer look at their retirement savings," says financial planner Jane Bryant Quinn. "Make sure you're both contributing to retirement accounts and taking advantage of any employer match."

Remember, the key to a successful financial future as a couple is open communication and working together to achieve your financial goals.


Congratulations on taking the first step towards planning a budget-friendly wedding! Remember, your wedding day is about celebrating your love with your partner, and it doesn't have to break the bank to be memorable and beautiful. By being strategic with your budget and making savvy choices, you can have the wedding of your dreams without sacrificing your financial stability.

As you embark on this exciting journey, keep in mind that staying within your budget is essential for starting your new life together on solid financial ground. Remember the wisdom of Suze Orman, who said, "A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life." By planning wisely and sticking to your budget, you can ensure that your wedding is a joyful and stress-free occasion for you and your loved ones.

We hope that the tips and ideas in this guide have inspired you to think creatively about your wedding plans and to approach the planning process with confidence. Best of luck as you plan your special day, and may your wedding be a beautiful reflection of your love and commitment to each other.

Remember, the most important thing is the love you share and the memories you create, not how much you spend. Happy wedding planning!

1Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace (1992)
2Sharon Naylor, The Complete Outdoor Wedding Planner (2004)
3Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace (1992)
4"12 Tips for Finding an Affordable Wedding Dress," The Knot, 2020
5Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, 6th Edition by Anna Post.
6Sarah Miller, "The Ultimate Guide to Budget Wedding Planning" (2019)
7Emma Garcia, "DIY Wedding Floral Arrangements" (2018)
8The Knot, The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer (2013)
9Suze Orman, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke (2005)
10Jane Bryant Quinn, Making the Most of Your Money Now (2016)
11Suze Orman, The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom (1997)