How to Plan a Wedding on a Small Budget

Photo Credit: Flicker
Photo Credit: Flicker

It’s not uncommon for couples to drop $10,000 or more on a wedding these days.  For some couples, hosting their own wedding is their first major investment – surpassing even joint car ownership.  But what if you don’t want the cost of your wedding to rival the starting salary for some entry level positions?  Or what if your budget simply won’t stretch to cover everything you want.  Many couples find saving on the details of their wedding day allows them to make a better investment in their honeymoon or an LGBT wedding ring set.   If you want to throw a big wedding with a smaller price tag, there are plenty of ways to throw the party of your life without breaking the bank.  Check out these ten tips for a wedding budget that won’t skimp on the celebrations.

Photo Credit: Flicker

1.  Make Your First Vow to Each Other … About Your Wedding Budget

Long before you stand in front of your friends and family and vow to love each other forever, you and your partner will need to make another vow – to stick to your wedding budget.  Determine how much you’re willing to spend on the entire affair, from the invitations you’ll send out to how much you’ll give guests to drink at the reception.  Set an amount you’re comfortable spending and then the absolute maximum you’re willing to spend.   Do this for every section of your wedding.  That means separate budgets for the venue, the party, the stationery, the clothing ad, of course, your gay wedding rings.  The first number will be your proposed budget and the second figure will be your absolute ceiling.  Promise each other that there’s no way you’ll go above that number – even if that means not booking the band you want, changing the venue or any other compromise.

2.  Let the List Making Begin!

Now that you know what you have to work with, it’s time to start planning in earnest.  Start by making a few lists – Must Haves, Nice to Haves and Couldn’t Hurts.  The Must Haves are things like outfits for you and your partner, the rings you plan to exchange, a venue for your ceremony and reception and other things you need to have for your wedding.  Nice to Haves would essentially be your Wish List for things you want for the Big Day.  Couldn’t Hurts are, just like they sound, little add-ons that would be nice to have, but you wouldn’t be upset if they couldn’t fit into the budget.

You and your partner should make these lists together.  That way you can determine as a couple which items can go from Nice to Haves to Must Haves, Couldn’t Hurts or even dropped altogether.  Going through items can be difficult which brings up to our next point …

3.  Don’t Let Disagreements Become Fights

Maybe your partner has always wanted a champagne fountain while you’ve always planned on tabletop fondue.  Or maybe it’s not until you plan your wedding that you realize the man you love can’t match colors to save his life.  Whatever the cause, you will – you absolutely WILL – have a fight that explodes over something that on any other day wouldn’t cause a problem.

Look, planning a wedding is stressful.  There are roughly 46,985 details you need to be aware of at any given moment.  So it’s no wonder that couples often crack under the pressure.  When you feel your tempers – and voices – beginning to rise, take a step back and remind yourself WHY you’re going through all of this.

4.  Set Up Shared Documents

Make your vendor lists, contact details and Things to Do spreadsheets easy to share by loading them onto a cloud platform.  Share the documents with your partner and the rest of your wedding party.  You can also use websites and platforms that allow for chats, shared lists and other forms of communication.  You can also use these documents or boards to share gay friendly wedding sites with great ideas for LGBT couples.

5.  Scour Local Deal Sites

Groupon, Living Social and Amazon Local all offer discounted packages for local stores and service providers.  This can be a great way to find local photographers, caterers, bakers and even venues.  Even if the deal being offered isn’t a fit for what you need, reach out to the business directly and mention the deal you saw.  They will usually be happy to offer you discounted pricing on the services you need as well.

6.  Check Three, Hire One

Get a minimum of three quotes on anything that comes with a significant cost.  This includes professional photographers, venue options, catering and clothing.  Being able to compare costs and styles will give you a better idea of which quote is a good deal.  Don’t hire or buy anything on the spot – always go home and talk it over first.  You can’t always get your money back if you cancel a contract once you pay that deposit.

7.  Reach Out for Help

Have friends who have been offering to help?  Take them up on the offer.  Quite often, couples leave reserves of help untapped by not reaching out to their family and friends.  You may know someone who can officiate your service, snag you wholesale pricing on your catering or even get you better rates on your wine order.

8.  Keep it Simple

Cutting traditional extras from your wedding routine can easily cut your costs in half.  Skip the traditional groomsmen or bridesmaid gifts, keep flowers to a minimum and host a homemade rehearsal dinner and you’ll save thousands right off the bat.  There’s plenty of fat you can cut from the traditional wedding budget so talk together to determine what you REALLY need for your special day and then cut the rest.

9.  Craft a Careful Guest List

Who do you want at your wedding?  Seems like a simple question – until you actually try to answer it.  Then you remember all the people who you feel like you “really need to invite”.  You haven’t seen your cousin Cheryl in years but she invited you to her wedding last year in Vegas.  Or maybe it’s your best friend from grade school even though you haven’t seen her in person for the past 10 years.  For many LGBT couples there are plenty of concerns on who to invite to an LGBT wedding.   It’s natural to want to include everyone you know in your special day but wedding costs – and wedding related stress – skyrocket as the guest list expands.  Keep the list to a minimum and include the people who mean the most to you.

10.  Keep Each Other in Check

Keeping each other in check applies not only to watching your tempers, but also to sticking with that original budget ceiling.  Being the Voice of Sanity for each other through this process isn’t always easy – but it can do more than just keep your wedding budget intact.  At the end of the day, planning a wedding requires all of the skills you need to have a happy marriage – communication, compromise and kindness.  So don’t be afraid to speak up or hug it out as you need while planning your wedding – it will be the start of something beautiful.

Photo Credit: WikiCommons