11 Clever Ways to Plan a Wedding On a Budget

So, you’re ready to marry the love of your life – but you don’t necessarily want to break the bank in order to do so? 

Budget brides, we’ve got you covered. From being strategic with your wedding date to hitting the sales and supplying your own drinks, keep reading for 11 clever ways to plan a wedding on a budget below.

Photo via Hannah Haston

1. Choose Your Wedding Date Wisely

If you’re not fussy about your wedding date, you can find some serious savings by planning a weekday or low-season wedding. While demand (and prices) are highest for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday weddings, many venues will offer discounts for weddings hosted during the week and throughout the less-popular winter months.

As you begin researching wedding venues and sourcing quotes, make sure you ask about any special offers to be aware of before locking in a date. Check out our free printable list of questions to ask a potential wedding venue here! 

2. Trim Your Guest List

One of the most effective ways to save money on your wedding? Trim that guest list! Remember, each guest means an additional cost for food, drink, place settings, furniture, and stationery. If you really want to cut down on expenses, consider planning a more intimate affair with just your closest loved ones, rather than a big event. 

Struggling to get your numbers down? You may need to implement some “cutting rules” to help you trim your list. For example, no plus ones for single guests, no work colleagues, or no kids. Read our guide on who actually needs a plus one for your wedding here!

Photo via Shannon Morse

3. Scrap The Big Bridal Party

Bridal party expenses can quickly add up, especially if you’re planning on covering the costs involved for dresses, suits, hair, makeup, and accessories. Instead, consider having just one or two bridal party members on either side to keep things more affordable. 

Alternatively, why not buck tradition and scrap the idea of a bridal party altogether if that better suits your style? These days, more and more couples are steering away from a traditional wedding party – whether it’s to save money, avoid conflict, or simply to create a more informal vibe. 

4. DIY (But Be Smart About It!)

DIY is probably one of the first things that comes to mind for couples planning a budget wedding. Our tip? We think DIY can definitely be a great way to save some extra dollars, but only if you’re smart about it!

At the end of the day, some things (such as photography, videography, and wedding day coordination) are really better left to the professionals. Instead, focus on your own specific skills and strengths. Are you a keen baker? Create take-home cookie packs for your guest bonbonnieres, or set-up a dessert table with your favourite goodies. Have an artistic eye? Get crafty and make your own table numbers, place tags, or signage. 

If you have any close friends or family members with their own skills to offer, don’t be afraid to accept their help, too. For example: if your dad is a handyman, why not ask him to build a photo booth backdrop in lieu of a wedding gift? Or, if your best friend is a whiz with numbers, ask for their help creating a budget spreadsheet in return for dinner and drinks. 

Photo via Valorie Darling Photography

5. Go Digital With Your Wedding Invitations

Wedding invitations can be surprisingly expensive, especially when you add up the costs involved for materials, printing, and postage. Instead of going down the traditional paper route, opt for digital invitations to cut costs on your wedding stationery.

Simply choose a beautiful template that matches your vision, personalise it with your wedding details, and encourage your guests to RSVP in the click of a button. Bonus: you’ll probably find this method much easier when it comes to managing your guest list, too!

Read our top 6 ways to save money on your wedding stationery here.

6. Choose Your Venue Carefully

Your wedding venue will probably take the biggest chunk out of your budget, so think wisely about how much money you’ll need to spend on decorating the space. Opting for a cheap and cheerful venue might seem like a good way to save on costs – but you may end up spending more money trying to transform the space! 

Instead, consider investing slightly more for a beautiful venue that doesn’t need much additional styling. A naturally stunning backdrop means you’ll be able to save on elements such as flowers, lighting, furniture, and decor.

Photo via Julie Wilhite

7. Keep It Local

When it comes to choosing your wedding vendors, try to keep it local where possible. Choosing local vendors will help you avoid paying additional costs for travel and site-visits – and with multiple vendors on board, these costs can quickly add up.

You can also think locally when it comes to your food and flowers, too. Work with your caterer to create a seasonal menu that highlights local produce and choose seasonal flowers that are easily accessible (and therefore, more affordable).

8. BYO Alcohol

Alcohol is another big expense involved in any wedding – so, if your venue allows BYO alcohol, take advantage of it! Keep an eye out for specials at your local liquor store and stock up on beer, wine, and spirits when the prices drop. Just make sure you double-check the corkage fee with your venue, so you can weigh up whether the savings are worth it.

If you’re purchasing your own alcohol, don’t forget to keep your receipts, too. Many popular liquor chains have a great returns policy, so you can take back any alcohol that may be leftover from the day. 

9. Consider Pre-Loved Items

Purchasing pre-loved items for your wedding isn’t just friendlier on your wallet, but also the environment. Make a list of things that you’d be happy to purchase second-hand, and then get bargain hunting! Decor items like vases, centrepieces, and table numbers can often be found on Facebook Marketplace and local op shops, while pre-loved gowns can be purchased (in pristine condition!) on websites like Once Wed.

Similarly, second-hand bridesmaid dresses are often sold on eBay, while groomsmen suits can be hired rather than purchased outright. Read our guide on helping your bridesmaids save money on your wedding here.

Photo via Asia Pimentel

10. Be Upfront About Your Budget

When you’re planning a budget wedding, your first instinct might be to try and negotiate prices with your wedding vendors. 

Our tip? Don’t try to haggle with your wedding vendors – it rarely works. Remember, wedding vendors are small business owners with overheads and expenses to cover, so it’s unlikely they’ll be able to offer a discount. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t help you maximise your budget!

During the enquiry process, be upfront about your budget from the very beginning, and ask your vendors to make suggestions on how you can get the best value for your money. For example, your wedding photographer may be able to create a custom package with fewer hours, while your caterer might suggest opting for shared platters over plated meals. 

11. Hit The Sales

Popular online shopping dates such as Black Friday, EOFY, and Boxing Day are the perfect opportunity to grab wedding items like shoes, gifts, and accessories. Along with marking these key dates in your calendar, be sure to sign up for any relevant mailing lists and check for discount codes before making any online purchases. 

Looking for the best way to stay organised with your wedding planning? Read our guide on how to project manage the sh*t out of your wedding right here!