Ask a Wedding Planner // Cutting Costs for Budget-Friendly Weddings

Photo by Roost Photography

Photo by Roost Photography

Dear Ciera,

My partner and I are recently engaged and can’t wait to get started planning our big day! We are hoping to buy our first home soon, so we’d like to keep our wedding budget under $15k. Any tips on how to manage this budget?


Newly Engaged & Economical

Dear Newly Engaged & Economical,

Of course! Planning a wedding doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire life savings. Certainly I can help you do so, but that’s another topic. It’s about having fun and enjoying the beautiful union that’s about to take place. Here are a few tips on how you can keep those costs down and your budget under $15k.

Guest Count

First things first: realize that you don’t need to invite everyone. Your second cousin on your dad’s side by marriage doesn’t need to attend your wedding. You all aren’t even really relatives. For a budget conscious wedding, I suggest keeping your guest count to 100 or less, and DON’T STRESS IT. Whoever didn’t get invited will get over it eventually. Plus they probably weren’t going to bring a gift anyhow—just kidding! Think of it as, the more guests you invite, the more people you are responsible for feeding and getting liquored up at your expense.

Which brings me to the second topic…BOOZE!

Beer and wine will do just fine. You shouldn’t feel obligated to buy an enormous amount of liquor that you’ll likely not even drink much of because you’ll be too busy saying, “thank you for coming,” to everyone. You know your guests better than anyone, so if they’re going to PAAARRTTAAY, they’re going to have a few drinks before the wedding day even starts. (Let’s be real.) If you are opting to use a venue, make sure it’s one that allows you to bring in your own alcohol. That way, when your favorite wines are on sale, you can bulk up and save some serious money. Let’s not forget Trader Joe's has Two Buck Chuck and several wines under $10.

For your Ceremony & Reception...

Venues can be expensive, and when you say that magic word, “wedding,” they become even more expensive. Opt to hold your ceremony and/or reception at a family member’s home, a park with a gorgeous view, or even find a spacious Airbnb for the weekend to host your wedding. (Make sure the host is cool with that first, though.)

But what if it rains, you ask? Definitely have a rain plan. Many rental companies will allow you to tentatively reserve a tent and give you up to three days out to cancel with minimal or no penalty.

If a venue is a must for you, look for places that are new and "up and coming." They’re likely to be less costly because they’re looking to attract business.

So what are you supposed to feed everyone? is your next question, right?

Well certainly not filet mignon and crab cakes with no filler, unless of course you own and operate your own steakhouse. Some folks would say, do the catering yourself; as a planner, I would say HELL. TO. THE. NO! Do you really want to spend your wedding day preparing a prime rib for a carving station or those chicken and waffle bites that everyone loves? Leave it to a professional, but be selective in your options. Local, family-owned restaurants are always a great starting point. They’re usually less expensive because weddings aren’t common for them, and they want to make a great impression for future business, so they go above and beyond in service.

Can’t find one? No worries. Why not have a fancied up BBQ? Choose mini pulled chicken/pork sliders, a little brisket, a few sides, s’mores for dessert, and everyone is happy.  

Whatever you decide on, keep it simple, as this will likely be one of your greater expenses.

Last and certainly not least are the décor, programs, and wedding favors...

Couples always have a sense of guilt if they don’t purchase wedding favors. BUT WHY?! How many times have you used the beer koozie, personalized matchbox, drink coasters, or the adorably wrapped pickled jams from your friend’s wedding? (Exactly, I’ve made my point.)

Don’t print programs! You’re basically paying for trash liners because that’s where they’ll be by the end of the night.

Learn to love D.I.Y. projects, but don’t obsess over every Pinterest board you come across.

Most importantly, RELAX AND HAVE FUN!! You only plan to get married once, so don’t sweat the small details. Make sure that anything you’re planning to incorporate is important to you and yours.

I hope these tips help guide you along the way in planning and executing your budget friendly wedding day!

Ciera was the first person Christine trusted to join the Wood Grain & Lace family in the summer of 2014. She has since coordinated over 20 events on her own and helps train our new staff members. Ciera has a diverse background of event management experience including hosting various sales driven in-store events and promotions during her time in retail management and organizing marketing events such as FEED MORE food drive fundraisers and cook-offs for the Richmond interior design community. Ciera has planned and executed the logistics for public relations events such as press releases for up and coming designers and grand openings for local restaurants. Ciera prides herself on having strong organization skills and thinking creatively. She always pays attention to the small details that create a wow factor, and executing a theme is where she naturally excels.