Travel and Venues

Your wedding travels, and venues will likely be one of the most significant expenses on your wedding to-do list. It can get up to about 30% of standard wedding costs. While that may sound discouraging, I hope it does quite the opposite. There is a lot of room for creativity when it comes to saving on venues. But before you jump into venue shopping or travel decisions with your partner, sit down and write out the things most important to you on your wedding day. Is it being surrounded by a large group of family and friends? Or is it being surrounded by a small group of people who have significantly impacted your life? Is it remembering the most intimate moments with your partner? Or is it about the experience and having the most fun possible? Then, Create your wedding budget off on what you are financially capable of, and keep the answers to these questions in mind. 

Some ways to save: You may have a more editorial design style but don’t necessarily have the budget for a fancy wedding venue. Consider a backyard wedding (that could be free of charge), and then you suddenly have tripled your floral, decor, or dress budget. You can completely transform and elevate a space to the point where it’s unrecognizable. Having four walls does not define the level of elegance you can achieve. Having your touch or personality is what will make your wedding memorable.

Another scenario to consider is to have nature as your decor. For example, rather than paying the average $8,000 for a wedding venue, you can spend $300 (or less) for a permit to a State Park. From there, you’ll likely spend $1,000-$2,000 on travel and lodging. Other wedding details can have more attention because you budgeted for them or continue the path of budget-friendly decisions and save money long term. 

One last creative option for wedding venues would be to consider shared spaces like photography studios or rentals like VRBO. Please note: Airbnb no longer allows events or more than 16 guests. If you find an Airbnb you like, contact the owner directly to see what is possible. Below I’ll include some fun examples that might get your creative juices flowing. 

Studio One Eleven East

Rustic Rook Resort (Camping grounds)

New York Hudson Valley Gilded Age VRBO home

Glacier National Park

Number of Guests or Participants

The guest count is typically where the stressors come in for my wedding clients. Guest count of weddings can feel like things are snowballing a bit. It is the driving force behind many wedding budgets. It can directly impact how much food you’ll need to cater, the number of required florals, linens, wedding favors, wedding entertainment, liquor, bridal party attire, and wherever your creativity can take you. This wedding planning stage is where the questions I listed earlier for you and your partner come into play.

This part of wedding planning tends to be more emotional. It’s hard not to invite everyone you know and equally as hard to invite as many people as possible and feel you need more money to compensate for it. The biggest advice I can provide is to treat your wedding for what it is: YOUR wedding. Your wedding is very different from a family reunion or party. While you want to make your guests comfortable and that they have a good time, there are small lines in wedding planning that can easily get overstepped. Identify your pain points and social battery to keep your boundaries and budget in a happy zone.

Custom Based Services

Most, if not all, of the wedding planning, is hiring vendors to do custom work. You pick your style and colors, and then a florist will custom-make bouquets, centerpieces, and decor. You find a baker, and they create a wedding cake or dessert that specifically represents you. The custom item list can go on.
Find the value where these custom services can represent you and your partner in the best way possible.

For my husband and I, having a custom cake was not something we would enjoy. We didn’t think it made sense to purchase a custom cake, to have some of the tiers be fake and covered in icing. If we’re being honest, we aren’t fans of cake anyways. So we ditched that idea entirely. Instead, we ordered 25 or so available pies from the bakery and had a full pie bar. By doing this, we immediately saved a couple of hundred bucks and enjoyed the desert we chose over the standard wedding cake. 

Remember, you’re paying most of your vendors for individual, unique, custom services, and with that comes a heftier price tag. To save on these larger price tags, explore your skills or the skills of those around you. Be honest with yourself if this skill can come into play for your wedding. If you or someone you know has a background in florals, by all means, save the money and utilize that skill. If you don’t know how to sew, then, by all means, spend the money to have someone help you order the perfect dress. Use your skills to your advantage; not everything has to have a giant price tag. Be self-aware of your capabilities and where you genuinely need help.

Here are some ideas on how to be creative without breaking the bank:

Paper Wedding Decorations

Artist Creates Her Wedding Decor

Fabric Backdrop DIY

Bride Crochet’s Wedding Dress

Wedding Expectations and Wedding Pressure

Wedding pressure is the hardest to navigate and the biggest reason we tend to overspend. We get opinions from family members, friends, and the internet about what to expect when it comes to weddings. In response, we feel like we have to meet those expectations. Unfortunately, many engaged couples have never planned weddings before, so they have nothing to compare this advice with. But I am here to tell you…

throw all of that out of the window.

Once you start wedding planning publicly, you will start noticing all the wedding ads and Pinterest pins of ideas. If you’re anything like me, you can easily get distracted by all the beautiful florals, gowns, and colors, invite inspiration, and all the other pretty things. Possibly, even to the point where you’ve lost the clear idea of what represents YOU and your PARTNER. Keep in mind the internet is intentionally showing you high-budget items. It’s easy to look at all of this and assume that’s just what you have to spend to get your dream wedding. The idea that you must go into debt for a wedding could not be more false. Instead, invest in the aspects of your wedding that will last the longest and significantly impact you and your partner. Your guests will be reflecting on your big day differently than you will. So make sure to allow your investment to serve you for decades to follow.

Alongside the targeted ads and unlimited ideas of the internet comes the opinion of traditions being kept. While there can be an appreciation and place for traditions, it isn’t a rule book you must follow. For example, if you and your partner aren’t dancers, save money on a DJ with a dance floor and expensive lights. Instead, host a party at an arcade or a reception in a backyard with other forms of entertainment. There are so many ways you can honor your relationship and your guests simultaneously without hurting your bank account. Make sure to make affordable choices for your wedding without basing them on the opinions of others. You and your partner know your needs the best, make sure to honor them! This is about creating memories, not about making the best Instagram-worthy, family-stamp-of-approval party.