How to Have a Big Wedding for a Small Price

It's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of planning a wedding. But budgeting in advance is key for truly enjoying your big day, and it helps you avoid the stress of a large bill after the festivities are over. Use these tips for the wedding of your dreams — you might even save some money along the way.

 

How Much to Budget

 

Throwing a wedding might be one of the biggest financial milestones of your life. The average wedding cost $31,213 in 2014, according to a survey of more than 16,000 brides and grooms conducted by The Knot, a wedding planning website.

 

You can have a wedding for significantly less if you're on a budget, says Nina Noelle Holmes, a Colorado-based former wedding planner and current wedding photographer. “I recommend a minimum budget of around $7,000 for a wedding with 50 or so guests and a DIY wedding reception,” says Holmes. “And $12,000 for a larger wedding with around 100 guests.”

 

Start Budgeting Early

 

Saving up thousands, or tens of thousands, of dollars takes time, so start saving early if you’re footing most of the bill yourself. “I recommend couples start saving as soon as they can, even before they get engaged,” advises Holmes. “Most engagements last around one year, so there is not much time to save after you are engaged.”

 

Keep in mind that your expenses will come in waves. Initial deposits for your wedding planner, caterer, photographer and venue need to be paid in advance; final balances aren’t due until the wedding day. You’ll need to save up enough to cover most of your wedding expenses before you start planning, but you can continue to save while you plan the wedding.

 

Use Budgeting Software to Help

 

Planning what is likely the biggest party of your life can cause some serious “wedding brain,” so use budgeting software, like Quicken Deluxe, to keep track of your money. Start using the software before you begin to build up that wedding nest egg. Quicken Deluxe helps you analyze your other expenses to let you know how much you can realistically save each month and also creates a customized savings plan you can stick to.

 

Use Quicken Deluxe to track your wedding expenses, too. It has a “snap and store” feature to save receipts, so you can easily keep track of what you’ve already purchased and how much money you’ve spent. The software updates your expenses right from your mobile device.

 

Trim Costs Where You Can

 

Budgeting and planning your wedding far in advance has cost-saving benefits, too, since you can take advantage of off-peak season savings. Plan your reception for the winter or early spring, or hold a Friday night or Sunday reception to save money, recommends Joe Rogers, a wedding planner based in Boston. “If you really want to change things up, consider a morning ceremony and a brunch reception. It's cheaper to feed a crowd brunch than dinner, and bar costs for a brunch event are almost always considerably lower.”

 

Host your ceremony and reception at the same venue to trim transportation costs, recommends Rogers. And ask lots of questions about the services included in your venue's quote to avoid any surprises on the final bill.

 

By planning well in advance and managing your money using a budget, you set yourself free to focus on what matters most — celebrating the start of your married life together — not stressing over wedding expenses.

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