Planning a wedding is not easy. It takes time, research, a couple gray hairs, and a dropping bank account...and that was during normal non-covid days.
These days, there are more things you have to consider while planning your perfect fairytale wedding, such as gathering limitations, social distancing, masks, and the ever-looming possibility of more shutdowns and stay-at-home orders. That doesn't sound very magical, but I am a firm believer that a wedding is successful if you and your beloved end the day married and that, my friends, is truly magical.
However, after the tumultuous year that was 2020, you know how important it is to be wise with your money. Weddings are a huge expense. According to The Knot, the national average for weddings was $33,900 in 2020. That number might give you sticker shock, but don’t throw in the towel just yet. I have 21 ways to help you save on your wedding in 2021, so keep reading.
1. Look for venues that offer bundles or all-inclusive deals.
There are many venues that offer packages that include catering, cakes, decoration, day of coordinators, photographers and DJs, you just have to know where to look. One of the venues my sister looked at was Oglebay Resort, it wasn’t all-inclusive, but they did offer bundle options.
With pandemic health restrictions, micro weddings have grown in popularity. In answer to that increase, many smaller venues are offering all-inclusive packages for micro weddings.
2. Get married on a weekday.
Perhaps you have your heart set on a specific venue, but the price is a bit more than you want to pay. Ask about weekday or even off-season discounts. Not every venue does this, but it never hurts to ask, especially if you’re flexible with your wedding date.
3. Skip the big ballroom venues.
Maybe the cost of a ballroom or conference venue is more than you want to bite off. Consider a smaller venue, a community center, local church, a park shelter, or even your own backyard. As long as the space can accommodate your guest list, this is a great way to cut costs.
4. Pick 3 must haves things and 3 things you can do without.
When setting your budget, it’s a great idea to determine what your top priorities are. What are the things/vendors that will help bring your dream wedding to life? What are the things that aren’t important? If flowers, DJ, and your wedding outfits are your top priorities, put more of your budget towards these things and then divide the rest of the budget between your other necessities. Then if favors, transportation services, and a photo booth aren’t as important, you can scratch them off your list and not worry about paying for those.
5. Book reputable vendors.
While experienced qualified vendors are likely going to have higher price points, the peace of mind they offer is well worth the cost. Qualified and skilled vendors will save you stress and possibly even money. There are countless stories of couples being swindled by what they thought were “reasonably priced” vendors. It results in lost payments, having to find and pay new vendors, and—as is usually the case—having an even tighter budget. It’s better to not risk it.
6. Book your favorite vendors 12-18 months in advance.
If you’re planning a long engagement and your wedding is more than a year out, it’s always best to book your vendors as early as possible. Not just because you’re more likely to get your pick, but also because many wedding professionals tend to raise their rates each year. Booking early will give you the best rates.
7. Watch for vendor sales.
Just like any other business, it is very common for vendors to put a sale on their services. Sales most commonly happen during engagement season, which is November to February. If you’re planning a 2021 wedding, watch for sales around Valentines Day. If you’re planning a 2022 wedding, be on the lookout for sales around Black Friday.
Shameless self promotion: we’ll be offering 21% off select wedding collections for 21 days starting on (you guessed it) January 21st. Check out our collections!
8. Book a wedding planner.
It might seem unnecessary or even counterproductive when trying to cut costs, but a skilled planner can actually help keep you in your budget while also saving you precious time. Planners who are well ingrained in their local wedding industry will know all of the best vendors in your desired price range, and handle the correspondence.
9. Book a videographer.
While this doesn’t necessarily save you money, it goes on the list because it saves memories and that’s priceless. One of the most common wedding day regrets of married couples is that they didn’t hire a videographer.
10. Have fewer or no people in your wedding party.
While it’s ideal to have the members of your wedding party pay for their own outfits and day of grooming, there are some party related expenses that the newlyweds have to budget for, like transportation, florals, and gifts. With fewer people your costs in this area can go down.
11. Curate your guest list.
It is a common problem for wedding guest lists to grow out of control. The bigger the guest list, the more space you need in your venue, and the more you’ll spend on catering. A smaller, more intimate guest list will allow you much more freedom in your ceremony and dinner locations.
As it stands Pennsylvania and many other states still have gathering limitations in place, so planning for a smaller guest list is probably safest right now anyway.
12. Instead of a big reception opt for a restaurant reception.
If your guest list is small enough, consider having a restaurant reception instead of a catered reception at a venue. Just make sure you get reservations so you don't have to wait. We've typically found that reservations are easier to get at higher end restaurants as compared to midrange restaurants. You'll have to weigh the costs on this one. Likely you'll only pay for the meals as opposed to catering and a venue, so it may be more cost efficient if you're having a small guest list of 5-15 people.
13. Buy suits from big clothing retailers instead of renting.
Macy's, JC Penny's, Khol's, and others offer a wide variety of options for mens suits. If you're not a stickler for a specific tuxedo look, this might be a viable and cost effective option for you. And you'll likely get a suit that fits better. It's embarrassing to admit just how many times we've run into fitting problems and missing pieces when clients have rented suits and tuxes.
If you want something more custom fit, look into a local tailor and see what options are available to you. You'll get a great service and a quality suit.
14. Use an independent seamstress or tailor for alterations.
You might think it's more convenient to use the boutique's seamstress for your alterations, but you might end up shocked by the price tag. If possible, opt to take your alterations to an independent seamstress or tailor, their service will be top notch and the prices easier to digest. As always, this is something where you'll want to compare prices to see what works better for your budget.
15. Choose flowers that are in-season for your florals.
If you're in love with the idea of fresh florals for your decorations, bouquets, or boutonnieres, there are a few things to keep in mind. Fresh florals can be expensive, especially if you want flowers that are out of season or exotic. Ask your florist about using in season flowers and make sure you know what their true colors are. A lot of the flowers you see on instagram have either been dyed or have photo filters over them. To keep costs low, use in season locally grown florals in their natural hues. If you want to cut this cost even lower, gather your own fresh flowers and make the arrangements yourself.
16. Use wood or silk florals instead of fresh.
Maybe you don't care whether you have real or fake flowers at all. If that's you, wood or silk might be a very cost effective option for you. Silk flowers look beautiful, but be mindful that they do look fake the closer you get to them. You can purchase silk florals from Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Joann Fabris or even Etsy.
Wood florals may sound very strange, but they are absolutely beautiful. The first time I saw them, my eyes were fooled by how realistic they looked. Check out affordable bridal bouquet options at Southern Blooms Co.
17. Buy reused from Facebook wedding resell groups.
Check out your local wedding resell groups, there is a treasure trove of lightly used decorations, linens, dinnerware, and even dresses. If you're open to the sifting through the eclectic collection in these groups, this might be the way to go, but buyer beware. Always do your research and shop smart.
18. DIY the decorations.
Doing your own decorations is a great way to cut costs. Make sure you have a team of family and friends who are willing to help put everything together and do the clean-up after the celebration is over. I've seen many weddings that have looked absolutely gorgeous that were done by the couple and their family, in fact, my family went this route for my sister's recent wedding. It's definitely a doable option.
19. Use Etsy for save-the-dates and invitations.
Save-the-dates and invitations are a guest's first impression that sets an expectation to what kind of wedding you'll have. Fortunately, there are so many gorgeous options available that you don't have to give up style for cost. Etsy designers offer pre-made invitation templates that are easy to plug in your info and download. If you want something more customized, most designers are happy to work with you.
20. Bake your own cookies.
In this area, cookie tables are another expense that you can easily cut costs on by baking your own cookies. Enlist the help of friends and family, if you have 5 people each make 3 dozen cookies, that's 180 cookies! Just make sure you plan ahead and freeze your cookies so you're not trying to bake 3 to 5 dozen cookies the week of your wedding.
Yup, I said it. The truth is, weddings are expensive and maybe not for everyone. If you could do without all the decorations and guests and expectations and cost, maybe eloping is the perfect option for you. You don't even need to buy the expensive dress or suit. You can be you and get married however and wherever you want. This is the ultimate way to cut costs, and like I said at the beginning, as long as you and your beloved end the day married, it will be magical.
So there you have it, 21 ways to save on your wedding in 2021. I hope you're able to gain some inspiration and find ways to think outside the box to achieve your fairytale wedding while keeping your budget in check.
I'm Cynthia, one half of the photography duo behind the lens of Cyn Davis Photography of Steubenville, OH. My husband and I photograph weddings throughout Pittsburgh's surrounding areas and the Upper Ohio Valley. Get to know us better, check out our About page or contact us to set up a meeting. We'd love to hear all about your fairytale!