Planning a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget

By Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®

Getting married can cost a small fortune these days, especially for couples walking down the aisle in the Golden State.

According to the latest Real Weddings Study from The Knot, the average price tag of a wedding in America, excluding a honeymoon, is now $33,391. Those saying “I do” in most areas of Southern California can typically expect to pay a lot more. For instance, wedding prices throughout Orange County and the Inland Empire total $37,050. Meanwhile, the average cost of a wedding in Los Angeles is a whopping $44,142, The Knot reported.

With such sky-high prices you may feel pressured to spend a lot of money in order to have a wedding of your dreams.But rest assured, there’s no need to overspend or go deep in debt just to create a beautiful, memorable wedding day.

Here are three ways to plan a beautiful wedding on a modest budget.

Get married in the “off” season

Summer and fall remain the most popular seasons to get married, according to data from The Knot show. Consequently, most wedding-related expenses also tend to peak during those months. So one way to still have a beautiful wedding, but at a much lower cost, is to pick a date for your nuptials that occurs in the Spring or Winter. These two seasons offer the benefit of assorted colorful flowers in bloom or the potential for an elegant “white winter wedding” theme, among other creative possibilities.Best of all, the price you shell out for virtually everything in the spring and winter – especially big-ticket costs, like renting a wedding venue – will be less.

Just be sure to consult the calendar before settling on a specific date. Stay away from weekends when major special events are taking place in the region you want to get hitched; such activities can impact hotel pricing, and even flights into town for guests who’ll need to travel.

Budget conscious brides and grooms will also probably want to avoid mid-to-late December marriage celebrations, since holiday parties and year-end festivities can drive up costs too.

But a late February or May wedding date, for example, could be quite lovely. Tying the knot during those months means demand will likely be lower for various wedding vendors and suppliers, causing them to drop their prices during those “off” wedding seasons to drum up business.

Contain your guest list

A tried and true method of controlling wedding costs, without impacting the beauty or elegance of your wedding at all, is to limit your guest list.

Don’t feel compelled to invite distant relatives and friends with whom you are not particularly close. Instead, restrict your guest list to those family members, friends, colleagues and others with whom you have substantive, meaningful relationships.

Limiting the guest list cuts your costs for another major wedding item – the food and drink bill you’ll pay for attendees. So assume you initially had a guest list of 100 persons. Reducing your list to 75 people will instantly slash by 25% your cost for food, beverages, wedding party favors and so on

Restricting the guest list has other benefits too. It can reduce the stress of the “Big Day” and it frees you up to spend more quality time with each attendee.

Beware of  “wedding” and “bridal” premiums and upsells

A not-so-funny thing happens when a bride or groom is tying the knot. They shop for products and services, and anything marked “wedding” or “bridal” somehow costs a lot more.

Take a pair of white pumps for ladies, for example. If you walk into a boutique, outlet or retail department store, the shoe section of the establishment will likely have several very pretty pairs of white heels.

But step into that same store’s “bridal” section and suddenly the white heels are far more expensive. Ditto for flowers. If you tell a florist you need corsages made, and simply specify the type of flora and fauna you’d like, you’ll often get one price. Mention that the corsages are for a wedding or a bridal party, though, and you’ll probably get a different, higher quote.

Similarly, brides and grooms are often presented with a long list of “premium” items and upsells – anything from “specialty” veils to adorn the bride to fine linens and chocolate fountains for the wedding reception.

Needless to say, each of these “premium” or “specialty” items costs significantly more than the “standard” option. In reality, the standard or “regular” goods are frequently quite attractive in their own right, but may only seem “plain” or “standard” when juxtaposed against the “premium” product.

On your wedding day, no one will see or know the difference. So do yourself, and your wallet, a favor: don’t fall into the trap over going overboard with bridal upsells.

It may take some effort to resist all the bridal trappings and wedding extras presented to you. But ultimately, you can plan a beautiful wedding on a budget, and keep your celebration classy and memorable, without breaking the bank.


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