9 tips to plan your dream wedding for cheap

Dream wedding bride laughing
9 tips to plan your dream wedding without breaking the bank | Honeycomb Moms | I can’t remember what on earth was so funny, but I was dying laughing on the steps outside my wedding venue in Atlanta. | Credit: Corey Reese

You don’t have to tap into your house fund to have a beautiful and memorable wedding.

You can have breathtaking centerpieces, an open-bar reception and an unforgettable honeymoon all for less than $15,000.

To show you how, the seven writers of Honeycomb Moms shared our best tips in a four-part series. 

Here are our first tips to help you get that dream wedding for cheap:


Choose your date carefully.

I wish I had booked my wedding for an autumn Friday instead of the summer Saturday I prioritized. We are talking hundreds of dollars in missed savings. The people who really want to come to your wedding will find a way. An unusual date is a great way of cutting out the people who just want to conveniently party on your dime.

Get a day-of wedding planner.

Day-of does not mean you get only one day of planning like the name suggests. Your planner will run your wedding rehearsal, make sure your bridesmaids know how to hold their bouquets and handle all those day-of wedding operations you won’t want to oversee. Choose a family friend at your own risk. I like to pay people when I want to ensure a certain quality. Expect to pay about $500. Just be sure to have the planner spell out exactly what she’s covering before you book her. Remember things like transporting all the wedding junk to and from the venue and staying until all cleaning has been completed.  A dream wedding can not happen without attention to details.

Let a family friend officiate.

The officiate is probably the one everyone pays the least for, and for good reason. A lot of times, the free family friend turns out to be the best officiate because he knows you and can personalize his message.

Splurge on photography.

Your photos pretty much translate to how your family will remember your wedding for years to come. If there is any place to splurge, it’s here. Plan to spend about $1,000. And if you can afford it, double that to get video too. The good news is Shutterfly’s amazing discounts let you do a wedding book for practically nothing, OK well about $150.

Low-end budget: $1,150

High-end budget: $2,150

Choose a BYOB venue for your dream wedding.

The venue can really determine how you remember your special day. Try to find one that allows you to bring your own beer/alcohol, has great lighting and positive reviews online. I fell in love with the Trolley Barn in Atlanta and ignored some of the negative reviews online about it. I thought — the good reviews significantly outnumber the negative ones, so I should be good. Wrong. When you’re reading through reviews, look for common responses. If there were only three bad reviews, but they all mention the same things, expect those things to happen on your wedding day. Then, decide if your dream wedding would be ruined because of them.

Low-end budget: $3,000

High-end budget: $4,000

Go electronic for invites and save-the-dates.

There are two types of people in this world, those who save wedding invites and those who throw them away. It’s my belief that most people and every millennial is the latter. Still, accommodate both types of people by doing electronic save-the-dates and wedding invites for the masses and making a few printed versions for older relatives and your wedding album.

I converted what was listed online as a save-the-date option into my actual invitations using premium, double thick paper from Wedding Paper Divas, twine from Michaels and paper doilies from Party City. I had menus printed at about $40 from Vista Print and also used them to explain my wedding favors, and I stocked up on discount thank you cards.

Low-end budget: $100

High-end budget: $300

Keep your guest list down.

Now parents will be parents and try to push that guest count up at every turn, but be firm. Also, be realistic. If you know you have a ridiculous number of relatives and you want them at your wedding, it just doesn’t make sense to cap your list at 50 people. I think 175 is a nice number, so let’s make that the goal for the guest list for this dream wedding.

Do not book the wedding hotel online.

You’ll rarely hear me say the words don’t go online. But when it comes to reserving blocks of room for out-of-town guests, you want to talk to that specific hotel’s specialist for the best deal. You’ll get all kinds of freebies thrown in like one night’s stay in a suite and free delivery of your gifts for out-of-town guests.

Thank your guests from your heart not your wallet.

Treat the select few who go above and beyond to make your special day memorable to brunch the day after your wedding. Throw in bottled water for all out-of-town guests staying in your wedding hotel, and you’re good to go. Expect to spend about $300.

If you’ve been keeping track, you know the totals so far are $5,050 on the low end and $7,250 on the high end.

Keep reading to add more priority items and still stick to your wedding budget.

Plan an eclectic wedding reception and save big

4 ways to save money on your wedding dress and beauty finds

How to honeymoon for cheap using wedding savings
bride laughs with flowers

16 thoughts on “9 tips to plan your dream wedding for cheap”

  1. Agreed Agreed Agreed! Especially on the part of planning everything and just have a day of coordinator. We also only had 150 people even though they were really mad. It just made a difference not going into marriage in debt.

  2. I am still flabbergasted by the amount of money people spend on weddings these days. There are so many affordable AND high-end looking options today, there’s just no need for it.

  3. The two most things that I always say is choose your day wisely and keep the guest count down. That guest count can make or break a budget for sure. It is amazing how much money people spend on a few hours.

  4. My parents got married in autumn and I used to think that was so strange, but now that I’m older I see why! A “strange” wedding date may be better, especially in comparison to summer dates as you stated: People are going to events, on vacation, etc. A lowkey autumn wedding would be the bomb!

  5. First i want to say, congrats on your wedding and i wish you all the happiness and smiles your heart desires. You were a beautiful bride and I’m glad you’re sharing these tips. There are many who may find it impossible to spend less than $20,000 on a wedding so this just reinforces the brides to be to take control of their spending limits and not break the bank for their shining moment.

  6. These are great tips! Congratulations! There are so many great tips for saving money, you really have to prioritize what’s important! And this helps you figure out what you really want from what you just want!

  7. Amazing tips for brides to be. But far too many women end up having the wedding their FAMILIES want NOT THEM. Always have YOUR dream wedding whether it is eloping..court clerk or a small destination ceremony !

  8. Planned my wedding last year and I agree that splurging to get great photos help. I love my photos and I’m happy I got someone great to capture the memories.

  9. I am excited about the day I can plan a wedding of my own. These are great tips and i am keeping many of these in mind for my future.

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