Wedding Service

The 9 ways to blow your wedding budget (and how to avoid it)

“I’m going to stick to my wedding budget.” Easier said than done, but it is possible. Here’s how to avoid spending more than you planned.

You’re on an extravagant dress shopping trip with your mom and girlfriends, champagne flutes all around. The thing is, you’re a laid back, laid back girl, and this isn’t your scene. The traditional dress is your mother’s thing. But you were swept away by the message that’s very special today, and who cares about the budget if it’s that’s why I wrote to you?

The cost of a wedding can skyrocket if you’re not careful. But, as counterintuitive as it may seem, think carefully about the type of wedding you want before considering your budget, says Karen Cleveland, author of The New Marriage Book, A Guide to Ditching All the Rules (2021).

“Start by prioritizing the three things that are most important to you, then use them as your North Star,” she says. As you plan the other items, refer to your priority list to guide you.

Most people’s wedding budgets require that they prioritize what’s most important to them, says Rena Sweeney, owner of Alchemy Events in New Orleans. What’s important to one couple may not resonate at all for another, whether it’s unique floral arrangements, an upscale hotel reception, live music, or an intimate gathering.

Budget issues arise when people think they should have a lavish wedding just because they see these kinds of weddings on Instagram. “Couples should start with their values ​​and be very clear about the type of marriage they want,” Cleveland says.

While they are thinking, couples should ask themselves what really interests them. Is it food? A great group? Stunning photography? A charming place? “Or do you just want to get married?” said Cleveland. “This can indicate whether you have 30 people for brunch after a morning service or a large 200-person party in the ballroom.”

Here are nine ways to blow your wedding budget and how to make sure you keep your spending plans under lock and key.

be adamant

Sweeney says inflexibility is the biggest budget-cutting factor. Once you’ve prioritized what’s most important to you, you need to be flexible about the other details. “If you absolutely love a specific flower but it’s expensive and out of season unless airmailed from overseas, consider an alternative that looks similar but costs less or maybe just put it in the couple’s personal flowers,” she said.

A guest list you can’t afford

“It’s easy to feel like you have to invite people over,” Sweeney says. But adding people not only increases the food and drink, but also the number of tables, centerpieces, and other elements of the venue. Stick to your original guest count.

Start your planning by deciding on the size of your wedding, as your food, bar and venue will likely be your biggest expenses, Cleveland says. If you want to have a large group and a sit-down meal and bar is beyond your budget, get creative with different ways to accommodate, for example, an afternoon with canapes.

Don’t think outside the box

You don’t need to Google “wedding photographer” or “wedding location” to find a good photographer or a great place to get married, says Cleveland. Ditto for the wedding outfits. “There’s this big machine that powers couples in general, but women in particular, this myth that the dress has to be this transformative magical experience. It’s not a very sexy thing to talk about,” she said. If that’s your thing, then great, budget for it. But there’s a middle ground where you can get creative for less money, including consignment stores, a ready-made dress, or even a local designer that might cost what you’d spend on a boutique. marriage.

skip details

Little things add up if you don’t plan for them, whether it’s postage, rain tents at an outdoor wedding, or alterations. Try to think through the details and plan to inflate your budget a bit for unexpected expenses, says Sweeney.

Don’t negotiate

People don’t talk about it as much, but it’s worth negotiating with your suppliers. “Just because a supplier estimates what it’s going to bring in doesn’t mean it’s not a negotiation. Ask him what he can do for your budget,” she says.

Tax and tip

It’s easy to focus on price per person when exploring catering companies and locations, but don’t forget to factor in taxes and tipping, Sweeney says. This can add up to 30% to that bill and may mean you’ll have to cut elsewhere if you hadn’t anticipated.


Video and photography can quickly become expensive and blow a budget. Do you need someone to capture the whole day on film, or do you just want quality group shots and candids? Think about what matters most to you. If you want pre-ceremony photos, budget for them. “Otherwise, don’t sell yourself,” Cleveland says.

Stationery store

It seems like everyone is sending cards with a reserve date these days, but that adds a drudgery and extra cost. And these elegant, oversized invitations can triple your shipping costs. Stationery probably won’t tip you over, but it’s one area you can save on to prioritize other things you want more. Cleveland encourages thinking about sending an invitation with today’s free wedding websites like The Knot. “If it’s important to you, that’s great, but I don’t think you need it,” she says. This is yet another area where the wedding industry sells better, she says.

Rental fees for a home wedding

People often think they can save money by hosting a party at their home or at a friend’s house, Sweeney says. But the cost of renting individual components — tents, staff, plates and cutlery, a dance floor, or toilet trailers — can cost more than paying for an all-inclusive venue. Be sure to compare.

These days, most couples are footing the bill for their wedding, Cleveland says. Whether you opt for an all-inclusive extravaganza or a less traditional affair, remember that your guests just want to see you happy. Stick to what’s important to you, and the rest will fall into place.


Get more money savings + money-making tips straight to your inbox: Subscribe to HerMoney today!