Deal Finder: How to plan a Wedding on a Budget

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By LATINA EMERSON, The Weekly Deal Finder

Weddings are back in full swing. Couples are ready to tie the knot after having their wedding plans postponed during the pandemic.

Nearly 2.5 million weddings are expected to take place in the United States this year, and couples will spend an average of $24,300, according to The Wedding Report, a research company that collects and forecasts statistics for the wedding industry.

As they plan their special day, brides and grooms need to find ways to keep wedding costs affordable so they can start married life in good financial shape. Here are some tips for planning a wedding on a budget:

Good Morning America recently shared these wedding money-saving tips from Good Housekeeping style director Lori Bergamotto and others:

• Have a smaller, more intimate wedding.

• Embrace an edgy, casual wedding suit.

• Select a shorter dress style to save money and reuse in the future.

• Choose seasonal flowers to reduce costs. For early summer, buy mini calla lilies, white lisianthus and foliage. For late summer, use hydrangeas, roses, anemones, dusty miller and nirene. For fall, select roses, mums, mini gerberas, coxcomb, hypericum, strawflower and foliage.

• Saturday weddings can be expensive. Thursdays are emerging as the most popular wedding day, and many couples are kicking off a wedding weekend. Getting married earlier in the day, particularly in the morning, will save money.

• In 2022, wedding industry experts expect that October will be the most popular wedding month. They predict that Oct. 22 will be the most popular day to get married this year.

• Choose an alternate color for wedding dresses, such as black and other colors, rather than the traditional white dress.

Here are some additional tips for planning a cost-effective wedding:

Budget

Before you start making plans, determine your budget, how you’ll pay for the wedding and if you can rely on financial assistance from family members. Establish your priorities and what you want to spend the most on. Some experts recommend dedicating 15 percent of your budget to flowers, lighting and decorations. Reduce the guest list to save on overall wedding costs. When selecting a wedding date, winter months (January through March) are usually considered off-season and any day other than Saturday (either Friday or Sunday or even mid-week) is more affordable.

Check List

Make a wedding check list that includes essential items: venue, wedding dress, groom’s attire, flowers, decorations, makeup, music, photography, wedding party gifts, invitations and transportation. Start planning early to avoid stress and paying higher fees for last-minute purchases.

Venue

Look for an affordable venue that offers ample space and facilities that meet your needs, such as a church, outdoor park, City Hall (usually the cheapest way to get married), a friend or family member’s backyard or a nearby vacation rental or Airbnb venue with a spacious backyard or indoor space. Choosing a venue that is close to home reduces travel and accommodation costs for both you and guests. Having the wedding and reception in one place also helps to reduce expenses.

Invitations

Design and print your own wedding invitations or compare websites to find inexpensive, but attractive invitations.

Decorations

Most guests don’t pay close attention to decorations, so keep them minimal. Put decorations in noticeable areas. White string lights can create a beautiful, elegant ambiance in indoor and outdoor spaces. Lights can be hung from the ceiling and placed around tables, the cake and potted plants. Instead of using seat covers, tie ribbons on the backs of chairs. Add candles around the venue, cover tables with fabric, drape sheer fabric from the ceilings, decorate with feathers or place a water fountain at the wedding reception entrance. Display engagement photos around the venue. Consider having a wedding reception theme, such as a black and white, seasonal or holiday theme, if your wedding falls near a holiday.

Flowers

Look for flowers that are in season. Some year-round flowers include roses, garden roses, carnations, hydrangeas and orchids. Buy flowers in bulk from a wholesale flower company and only purchase up to three different types of flowers to cut costs. Use greenery to fill out arrangements. To save money, either arrange your own flowers or get help from friends, family and bridesmaids. Or, hire a professional florist or floral designer, if needed. If you plan to use expensive flowers for the bouquet, consider less expensive flowers for the centerpieces. Since flowers are more expensive around holidays such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, perhaps avoid planning your wedding near these holidays.

Food and Desserts

If you have friends and family members with culinary talents, ask them to prepare food and desserts for the wedding. Prepare a menu and assign food items to your loved ones. Consider making cupcakes instead of an expensive wedding cake. Take a cooking class so you can learn how to prepare some items for yourself. Or, rather than hiring a wedding industry caterer, ask a local restaurant if they offer catering services or could provide large portions of particular dishes. Have a buffet-style meal instead of sit-down service. Serve more vegetable items because veggies are cheaper and some guests might be vegetarians. Or serve lower cost meat options, such as chicken, instead of salmon and steak.

Wedding Dresses, Suits and Tuxedos

Find an inexpensive wedding dress by looking for sales, shopping at online stores, wearing a borrowed dress or renting a dress. Consider looking for wedding dresses, suits and tuxedos in thrift stores.

Get Help

Ask for help from family and friends. A family member could serve as DJ if you provide the music system. Loved ones can also assist with decorating, making wedding arrangements, arranging flowers at the wedding and reception venues and providing transportation.

Sources: Event Supply Shop, Wedding Spot and FiftyFlowers

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