Weddings may be overrated and overpriced, but happy couples line up to spend the big bucks anyway. Need proof? The most recent Real Weddings survey from the experts at The Knot pegged the average cost of a wedding at $33,391 in 2017.
This amount includes everything you could want in your dream wedding, from the meal to the venue, the photographer, and the rings. One thing it doesn’t include though is the price of a honeymoon, which can easily run thousands of dollars more.
9 Ways to Save On Your Big Day
If you’re someone who isn’t too keen on spending money you don’t have (or borrowing money) for your wedding day, it’s smart to look for ways to whittle down costs. Here are nine ways to get married for less:
First things first. Don’t forget that you don’t have to have a big wedding with a ton of guests. You can elope close to home for hardly anything or plan a destination wedding for the two of you for a few thousand dollars including airfare.
You’re “just as married” in the eyes of the law, so don’t feel obligated to go all out if you would really prefer a small affair.
#2: Don’t hire a wedding planner.
The Knot’s figures note that the average cost of hiring a wedding planner was $1,988 nationwide in 2017. If you can plan out the details yourself instead of hiring out help, you can save this amount right off the top.
Also, remember that you can ask family and friends for planning help. Consider asking one side of the family for help with décor and another with help planning little details like invitations and music.
#3: Plan a small guest list.
If you do decide to have a traditional wedding, don’t feel obligated to invite everyone you’ve ever known. Since each added guest means more flowers, a bigger venue, more food, more favors, and more booze, keeping your guest list small can help you save big.
Consider limiting your guest list to close family and close friends only, excluding work friends and distant relatives. Your aunt Debbie from a few states over may be perturbed she wasn’t invited, but she’ll get over it.
#4: Have a pitch-in.
Food is one of the biggest costs of any wedding. The Knot revealed that the average cost of catering the big day worked out to $70 per person!
If you have crafty family members or friends who have experience cooking for groups, you could easily save half of that or more by having them cook instead. Or, you can organize a pitch-in where you provide the basics and guests bring a side dish.
If you can have someone make the cake, you can also save an average of $540 according to The Knot.
#5: DIY everything.
There are tons of ways you can plan a do-it-yourself wedding. You can make your own wedding centerpieces, handle the food, take care of the décor, and play your own music instead of hiring a DJ or a live band, for example. You don’t have to DIY everything, but any chore you can handle yourself or outsource to a trusted friend will absolutely save you money.
#6: Buy used.
You can save money if you buy all kinds of wedding gear used, from the wedding dress to a groom’s suit, table centerpieces and more. You can frequently find wedding décor for sale on community Facebook pages and craigslist.org. Wedding dresses are easily found online through the same resale pages, but you can shop for more options online at websites like PreownedWeddingDresses.com and Tradesy.com. You can even use these websites to shop for used wedding shoes, hair accessories, and veils.
#7: Have an afternoon wedding.
Like it or not, when you have the wedding can play a huge role in your costs. A morning or early afternoon wedding can cost a lot less in terms of the venue you rent and the food you serve. Plus, daytime weddings typically require a lot less alcohol, or potentially none at all.
#8: Skip the huge ring.
The Knot reports that the average engagement ring was $5,764 in 2017. That’s a huge chunk of money for something that has little resale value and doesn’t mean a lot in the end.
If you want to save big on your nuptials, consider settling for something much smaller and a lot less fancy. Instead of a diamond, you could purchase a ring with another type of stone like a Sapphire or Emerald.
Your wedding ring may be a symbol of your commitment and love but spending more doesn’t make your ring more meaningful.
#9: Pay for your wedding and/or honeymoon with credit card rewards.
Last but not least, you can save a bundle of cash by using rewards cards to cover at least some of the expenses in your wedding. To make this strategy work, however, you have to have the cash on hand to pay your credit card balances in full. This is important since the average rewards card charges an APR of over 16 percent!
To make the most of rewards, sign up for several rewards cards with huge signup bonuses then use them to cover your wedding expenses such as the caterer, the venue, and your dress. Many cards offer bonuses of $500 or more if you meet their minimum spending requirement, which is cash you can use to offset your costs.
You could also stick to travel rewards and use your points to plan a wedding for free. Airline credit cards offer bonuses that can be worth up to two round-trip flights, and many hotel credit cards dole out rewards right away that are worth at least a few nights in a hotel.
With the right combination of travel rewards, you could stretch your honeymoon budget to the max and score a luxury trip in the process.
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