How to Save Big on Your Wedding: A Bride’s Guide

You said or screamed a big “Yes” to his marriage proposal. A date for the wedding has been set and now you’re in the middle of planning for the big day. Whether you’ve always dreamed of feeling like a princess with a big wedding or if you’d rather keep things intimate, the one thing that you should focus on is sticking to your budget.

Here, we will take a look at what the average cost of an American wedding is – and how brides can save money while planning things for their big day.

The Average Cost of an American Wedding

First, let’s take a quick look at the average cost of an American wedding:

  • Based on the annual survey released by TheKnot where 13,000 couples were asked, results show that despite the trend of having casual weddings, the average cost of one still amounts to $30,000. This does not yet include the price of the honeymoon package.
  • According to, the average cost for planning a wedding is $25,200. However, there are couples who try to keep the budget to less than $10,000.
  • In New York City, brides spend anywhere from $2,100 to $3,000 on their wedding dress alone. Those who are in less crowded states like Alaska or Oklahoma, brides spend $800 or more on their dresses.
  • Couples in Manhattan, New York spend the most on their weddings, having an average budget of $76,378. Alaska is the state where couples have the lowest wedding budget amounting to $15,500.
  • The average number of guests for weddings is 139. Utah has the biggest average number of guests at 209 while Nevada has the smallest, with an average of 64.

Whether your budget for the wedding is $10,000 or $30,000, there are ways for you to keep the costs down. Read on to find out what they are.

How Brides Can Save Big on Their Big Day

As the bride, your future husband would most likely leave to you the major decisions about the wedding. Naturally, you’ll be the one to decide which wedding gown to wear – but what about the budget for it? How about the booking of the venue and the caterer for the event? The groom might want to choose the DJ or a band but for the other smaller details, it’s entirely up to you as the bride to decide.

There’s really no right or wrong decisions when it comes to choosing between options for your wedding day – starting from the dress to the centrepiece, the theme or the color motif, as well as the number of guests and the time when the wedding will be held.

Here, we’ll focus our attention on how you can get some major savings while planning your big day as a bride. Check out the following tips:

Make a list of your top five priorities

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of planning the details of your wedding, have a sit-down session with your groom so that you can list down your top five priorities. Basically, these will be the five aspects of your wedding which you would rather not compromise on, meaning that you can splurge a bit on them.

Let’s say that you would like to book the restaurant where you went on your first date as the wedding reception venue. By booking early, you can probably get a discount but prepare to spend a significant amount off your budget if your heart is set on booking a specific restaurant.

Your husband-to-be might also want the services of a DJ or a band; or you, as a bride, might have a designer gown in mind. After listing down your top five priorities, you can find ways to save money on the rest of your wedding details.

Limit your guest list

On average, each guest for a wedding will cost the bride and groom $200 – more if you have a complex menu. By limiting your guest list, you can easily save thousands of dollars. Most caterers, banquet halls and restaurants charge on a per-person basis so cutting back your guest list from 150 to 100 will give you significant savings.

A good rule of thumb to follow is this: if you have 300 guests and you would spend one minute with each one of them,that would take more than five hours! That does not yet include the actual ceremony, the serving of the food and the dancing – so the shorter the guest list is, the better.

It’s all about location

When choosing a reception venue for your wedding, location is a big factor. As mentioned earlier, if you prioritized a certain church or restaurant for your wedding ceremony or reception venue, you might have to spend more on that. If you have no specific preference, however, you can keep the expenses down by choosing low-cost or even no-cost locations.

A local or national park, a backyard or front lawn of a relative with a huge house, a forest preserve – there are many alternative venues where you can hold the wedding reception. When you are holding the wedding is also a key consideration. Getting married during the off-season will give you lower costs for almost every aspect of your wedding.

Save money on wedding stationery

Unlike a few decades back when you need to send everything via snail mail, there’s now social media and e-mail that you can use to send out your Save the Date cards or the actual wedding invitations. You can even create your own wedding website where guests can view and download the invitations. This will save you a lot of money on wedding stationery.

If you must send out the printed form through postal service, you can easily create and print them at home without having to pay for the services of professional printing houses.

Save money on the food and drinks

Instead of serving five individual courses, you can cut back on food-related costs by reducing the courses to three. Keep your menu as simple as possible and use whatever’s in season and what is abundant in your region. Instead of having an open bar, you can do any of these two: serve kegs of beer and cases of wine; or serve a signature cocktail drink.

Liquor that’s bought in bulk will save you a lot of money as compared to having an open bar at your wedding. Guests would usually take either beer or wine, so they can have options. You can save even more money on drinks by concocting a signature cocktail to serve on the wedding reception which makes things even more personalized.

Download a DJ app instead of hiring an actual DJ

Instead of hiring an actual DJ or a band, you can simply download a handy DJ app for less than five dollars. You can program the app to play a certain selection of songs at different times during the wedding. Just make sure to have someone in charge of it because the songs will play on continuous mode until you manually change the playlist. The endless playlist option is great, though, for the end of the night when the dancing starts.

Save money on your bridal gown

Unless you have your heart set as a bride to get a designer wedding dress, there are ways for you to save money. If your mom or your groom’s mom has a vintage gown that you can have altered to suit your size and personality, consider wearing it on your big day. If not that, you can scope out affordable gowns at sample sales of fashion houses.

Sign up for the mailing lists of shops which specialize in bridal gowns so that you can get first dibs when there are on-going sales and promos. You can also consider renting your wedding dress.

Save on hotel rooms for your guests

If you have relatives and friends from out of state, save big bucks by blocking off a set of rooms at your local hotel. Ask the manager for discounted rates especially if you are booking so many rooms, and you might even qualify for wedding or honeymoon packages.

Take advantage of honeymoon deals from travel agents or hotels

Finally, if you are going on a honeymoon, book the trip in advance. Ask the local travel agents in your area or organize the honeymoon trip yourself by booking the flights and accommodations online.

You can also look for all-inclusive travel packages online. Again, it does not hurt to ask the hotel owners if they offer honeymoon packages – most hotels are willing to upgrade your rooms or give you suites with a romantic view if they know that you are travelling as a newlywed couple.

Click here to get more money saving tips for honeymoon.

With these tips, you can save big bucks as a bride while planning your big day.

Irina Vasilescu :Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.

View Comments (9)

  • Personally I'm not getting married any time too soon, but my mom recently got happily engaged this past weekend following a 17 year relationship with her boyfriend and now everyone is looking ahead to the big July month that is going to host it. She doesn't want to spend abundantly, only to fall into an ugly debt and prefers her closest family and friends there in a neat, adequate setting that thrives on an overall good vibe. I believe that is a great idea because paying for culinary preparation, beverages, the wedding attires and other wedding-related items is very pricey. It's best to minimize the cost as much as possible. These are great ways to help the goal of her savings and I'm going to pass them right on to her.

  • These are some great tips. I know my sister's wedding is being kept under $10,000. They're in saving mode right now for every aspect of their life, so they decided to have a smaller wedding that doesn't break the bank. There's no reason you need to have a lavish wedding anyways because that just sucks cash and wastes money that could be spent elsewhere.

  • My fiance and I are planning our wedding for the next year or so -- and while we haven't set an exact number on our budget -- It is not going to be extravagant - We are a one income family as I am currently staying home with our newborn. Thanks for the tips - they will definitely be helpful in making our wedding both affordable and memorable.

    • According to me if you want to cut off your wedding cost first you have to select a destination where you want to get married and then according to that location you can plan your wedding at affordable price range.

  • I have been married for 15 years; we eloped. I would love to have a wedding some day but money was always a factor. I keep hinting that I would like to have a recommitment ceremony, he's open to it, but again, money. You have some very helpful tips that I will keep in mind. I never even thought of having to pay for out of town relatives' hotel rooms! I had already knew about honeymoon deals, we kind of got one when we want on vacation for our tenth anniversary, we never had a honeymoon, either. They gave us a great deal and treated us like we just got married over in Aruba.

  • Creating a website and having downloadable invitations is such a great idea! A lot of wedding costs sometimes go into the invitations and being able to make them available digitally will help with the wedding budget. Thanks for the share!

  • I had no idea that each wedding guest costs an average of $200! I'm pretty sure that wasn't the case for my wedding, but we had gotten friends and family to help a lot with various costs. However, if you are using a banquet hall or catering service that charges per guest, then limiting the guest list would definitely help you save a good amount of money. Thanks for the info!

  • Great guide on how to save a few bucks at the wedding! A DJ app rather than a DJ or band definitely could save some cash. Thanks for sharing.

  • Track every expense to the penny – set up a budget by type of expenses that you have then compared to your plan how much you are spending – then look for ways to save money from what you are spending. it is not how much you make but how much you save! Good luck.