We’re halfway through our journey to make the perfect budget wedding. If you’ve made it this far without arguing about the DJ, congratulations!
In part two of our 2021 wedding budget we look at the smaller details that go into planning a wedding. We will look at gifts for your bridal party and groomsmen, legal fees, honeymoons, overnight stays, and other smaller expenses.
We will also look at a relevant, but still taboo factor, the receipt of money from your loved ones on your wedding day.
In the lead up to your wedding try refraining from terms like “low budget”, or “cheap” when discussing your wedding during the planning phase. Phrases like these can sometimes have a negative impact on our subconscious, which could cause you to lose value in yourself.
Always remember, you are merely cutting costs, you are not sacrificing results or outcome. Instead try using words and phrases like “financially sound”, “sensible”, “cost effective”, or even “responsible” when discussing your wedding with others.
Budget Flowers and Décor
There is a lot of care, patience and skill that goes into flower arrangements. Wedding flowers can cost you up to $2500 in the US because of this attention to detail and craftsmanship. When you add other small decorative bits this can multiply several times. It might not be the most expensive purchase but it is up there.
In fact, total flower costs are likely comparable to the total cost of your rings (and lack the permanence).
There are also new ways in which flowers/plants are used in weddings. Environmentally conscious couples can sometimes plants small gardens, or receive practical, live plants from their guests. The idea behind this is having something more permanent a symbol of your new journey. This can be an extra, or a replacement to traditional flowers but overall it’s not going to completely cut your spending.
So how do we solve the problem of something being expensive but generally a necessity? We leverage the internet of course. For every $80 bucket of lilies or $100 lamp, some crafty genius online has made something prettier, cheaper.
Pinterest is one of the best for all things weddings, and flowers are no exception to this rule. It is packed full of recognized professionals as well as many home crafters who have shared their wedding hacks with the public.
Most of these people have supplied simple-to-follow step by step instructions that can be done by you and your partner, or even a group of friends. Both you and your spouse-to-be can pin things you both like to your own private idea board and slowly begin getting a virtual representation of your perfect wedding (even outside of flowers/decorations).
It is fine to outsource your flowers/décor to a professional, for sure. But the labor involved in doing it yourself for a budget wedding is going to be a lot less that you think. Plus, having the same floral arrangements and bouquet as everybody else is boring and lame.
Note – Venues can often charge a fee to hang decorations etc.
Budget Photos & Videos
The rise of Instagram has completely changed to process of photography. Although none of us have been made professionals by posting pictures of our coffee, most of us have become ‘decent amateurs’.
Now, nobody wants to trust an amateur on their big day, naturally. The point is that most of us know just enough to engage with our wedding photography without being totally blind. This means that you and your guests are perfectly able to document all but the key wedding shots.
For both photo and picture, you’re looking at approximately $3,500. Again, we’re in territory where we need to spend some money on this but definitely not three grand.
Some couples pay upwards of $10,000 to have a movie maker make a memory of their big day!
The key thing to remember here is the long term value. Let’s be honest with ourselves here, your wedding album is going to be used a couple of dozen times in your life. Most of these times will be later on for memory sake and formal pictures aren’t great for that.
When you’re 70 and looking at your wedding photos do you want to see 25 perfect photos or 250 photos of your family and friends being goofy?
The key for a budget wedding is trim down the level and number of photos that you want. Talk to a wedding photographer (or general photographer) and see what the cost for what you want will be. You don’t want him/her doing most of your candid shots. You just want the before, during, after, and family pics. The rest is up to your guests.
Download a wedding photo app like wedpics and set your family and friends loose. You will crowdsource hundreds of photos and build a customized album with very little effort or cost. You will effectively end up with two wedding albums, the formal traditional one, and the authentic one. You can’t buy that, not even for $10,000.
Budget Gifts For Your Wedding Party
Budget Gifts for The Guests
Some people like to give out little gift bags as a thank you to the guests at their wedding. That’s fine, but unless they’re really valuable, practical, or heartfelt, they’re a complete waste of money.
Chocolate bars with custom wrappers marking your wedding? That’s either a delicious snack and gone, or forgotten then put in the trash. Nobody wants a slightly upgrade kids party bag…
One group that will definitely deserve your appreciation and a gift, is your wedding party.
Bridal Party on a Budget
Bridal party gifts can be tricky. This person or persons has been specifically selected to share your special day at the highest level. In fact bridesmaids were originally used as doppelgangers in case the bride was abducted. Now that would be an unforgettable wedding.
Today we still look to this group of people to protect us. This can make choosing a gift for these people very difficult. Especially because bridal parties and ‘groomsmen’ are no longer confined to single genders. What do you get for those who you appreciate the most? Keep it simple and to the point. You are all friends for a reason, perhaps you are that reason. But whatever it is, use it to your advantage.
Whether it is a personal letter written to each of them, or a photograph of all of you together before the wedding, you do not have to break the bank to tell them how much they mean to you. Sometimes a meaningful gesture goes further than anything of material value.
I still keep my silly peaked cap that I got with a bottle of whiskey at one such wedding. It’s worth like $5, but to me it is priceless.
Try to stay away from gifts like hip flasks or anything cliché that your friends wouldn’t also like as a birthday present. It has to mean something. If that means getting all your bros Detroit Lions jerseys because of a stupid adventure you had while younger, do it. If it means getting your bridesmaids a Thai cookbook because it’s all you ate while roommates, great!
Do not outsource this, and do not break the bank on it. Share the love on your special day.
Depending on where you get married, an overnight stay could be non-negotiable. But try to remember, all you need is the bear essentials (this pun is never going away).
A fancy hotel with room service, a pool, and a minibar would be lovely, but would an Airbnb not do just as well? Also it is important to acknowledge how much time you will actually be using a hotel room.
Another important thing to consider is when choosing where to have your wedding is where your guests are going to stay?
If you’re doing it right though, you’re likely going to need only a couple of days for the married couple and your guests will have plenty of options on where to stay. Ideally you should be getting married within driving distance of your guests.
This is simple logistics, there are no cost saving measures here that you don’t already know. You need a comfortable bed and a bathtub. That’s the only value for a wedding stay, just ask your feet.
Yes, having a Rolls Royce whisk you from the wedding to the reception and then to the airport would be awesome. But is a $400 to $1500 spectacle (practically a down payment on such a car) really worth it? Even if you google “the tradition of wedding cars” you don’t get an answer. Seriously, it’s even less of a real thing than engagement rings.
You’re going to be doing so much running around you might as well just rent a luxury sedan for a few days because you’re going to need transport. You’re not going to need a horse and carriage or a tractor or a wedding boat, unless that’s really you.
If horses are such a big part of your life that you need one at your wedding, you likely own a horse. In fact, if you and your beloved are big time farmers, a tractor can be a great way to travel.
Just don’t break the bank for something pointless that doesn’t hold any value or use for you.
The destination of the honeymoon can be a tricky one. More often than not you both have very different ideas and hopes about where you want to go. This will always end with an expensive compromise.
Compromise is and will always be the key to a good marriage. But expensive compromises are a highway to trouble. Instead, first decide what you both want from your honeymoon. Do you want to go somewhere new? Do you want to revisit somewhere you have already been? Is it a #wanderlust or #sunlust vacation?
Even if your idea of a honeymoon is a trip to a lake, you can still make it happen on a budget. The costs only really start racking up when you feel pressured to do dozens of unique and expensive activities just because ‘it’s our honeymoon’. There are other, free, activities that deserve your attention…
However you relax though, it is a great idea to make sure your honeymoon give you that. Beach bums should not go hiking for a honeymoon, trust me.
Over course there is the nuclear option. Just elope. You can forget 90% of the advice in this article. You hop on a plane to Hawaii or Venice and you just get married and dump all your money on the honeymoon. People may be mad but hey, you got married on a Hawaiian beach wearing a grass skirt, so nuts to them.
The legal fees for a wedding are set by the government and there are no two ways to skirt about them. Where you decide to get married will be the determining factor for the costs.
This isn’t a major issue though, the price is likely to be under $100.However, it is very important that you make sure you have all the required documentation before you go to the marriage office. The key tip on this section is about saving you time rather than money.
Getting married is romantic yes, it is also a bureaucratic government nightmare if you don’t bring the right documentation! Plan this step out and be good to go. The last thing you need is to be technically single after you’ve already thrown the bouquet.
The ‘possibility of return’
This is no quite the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but it is something worth mentioning. In many cultures it is expected that wedding guests give the happy couple a small envelope containing money or a gift off of their wedding registry.
Sometimes, in theory, you can make a profit on a wedding. That’s a pretty crappy mindset to have going in, but it can be a pleasant unintended consequence. What is important to note is that when you are planning a budget wedding, your guests are a relevant consideration. At least, financially.
If you are doing a gift registry there is a big difference between a guest having to buy a fancy dress, a hotel room, flight, gift, and them just having to buy a gift. It is ok to think in terms like this, in the same way it’s ok to try to mimize everybody’s financial burden.
You can also ask your guests to donate to charity as gifts or something similar.
When you are doing a budget wedding it is all about the experience. Don’t plan to net $x on your wedding but do be mindful that the lower the burden and higher the fun, the more generous your guests are likely to be.
Of course you should also be mindful that a lot of boomers expect formal weddings and might not be as happy as most to share in your authentic budget day. No great loss at all though, you do you!