So we all know not everyone has the money, or wants to spend a ton of money on their wedding day. This doesn’t mean one cannot have a nice wedding on a budget.

The first thing to figure out is “whose paying”? Traditionally the bride’s parents pay for the wedding. A more contemporary approach is both families split the cost. And lastly, the bride and groom may pay for their own wedding. No matter who is paying, there is going to be some form of budget, high or low.

Here are a few tips to stick to a lower budget for your wedding:

1. Venue. Are you a member of a church? Many church’s do not charge members to use the grounds for a wedding or event. Do you have, or do you know someone with a nice big backyard? Have a backyard bash! Hold the reception at the same location – does your church have a reception hall or cafeteria? Get creative on a nice, but free or low cost location for your big day! I personally saved spending ANY money on my venue by using our church sanctuary and cafeteria. A wedding venue doesn’t have to cost big bucks. Think out side the bun.

2. Music. Do you know any musician friends/family? Would they like to play/sing on your big day? If not, there’s always the good ole CD player. Download some of your favorite love and wedding MP3’s (even legally they are 99 cents each) and ask a distant relative to hit play and stop – just make sure you get a CD player with speakers that are loud enough.

3. Food. You don’t have to pay for a big, elaborate meal for your guests. Plan your wedding mid day, between meals. Have a cocktail party with finger foods. Or if you do want an affordable meal, consider a buffet and purchase party platters. Utilize tables and chairs at your reception location if possible. Get “fancy plastic ware” as far as plates, cups, eating utensils… get nice paper napkins. Plastic tablecloths. CAKE –ย get your cake from Sam’s or Publix. Someplace you know makes DELICIOUS cakes. They charge much less than other bakeries who specialize in wedding cakes. Consider doing a cupcake tree. If you want a fancy cake, do a small one and a sheet cake. The following cake is a fountain wedding cake that came from Publix – they even delivered and set it up. I honestly don’t remember how much we paid, but I do remember it was significantly less than the Tiffani’s bakery in the Mall. And it taste better.

(Photo by JB Photography)

4. Drinks. If your family is not big on alcohol, this is a big money saver. Create a “champagne” punch with 7up and Ginger ale. Maybe you do want a nice glass of wine or champagne for your bride & groom toast – visit a local restaurant that sells it by the bottle, like Olive Garden. I suggest this because I love their wine – and I’d rather purchase a bottle from a place I know has good wine then from a place I don’t know – and we can’t all afford a luxurious trip to a winery. Lastly, if everyone likes cheap beer… then get cheap beer. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Make it a BYOB! The moral of this story is, your guests don’t have to get drunk at your wedding, at least not on your dime.

5. Dress & Accessories. DO NOT buy your accessories from the bridal store. If the dress you must have comes from a bridal shop and you cannot find it anywhere else, then get it there. If you aren’t set on a specific dress, shop clearance, ebay, 2nd hand stores… But your tiara, veil, bra/garter, shoes, and jewelry – do not pay their ridiculous mark up. I cannot stress this enough on everything: If you are planning a wedding on a budget, SHOP AROUND. Walmart has bridal accessories, so does Michaels. My veil came from Michaels and my artistic mother in law glued on the rhinestones. Instead of $200 it cost me $20. I found my tiara at a smaller, more local dress shop – for $30 instead of $150. My shoes came from PayLess. My unity candle, ring bearer pillow, guestbook… all from Michaels for much less. Shop around for bridesmaid dresses – another thing that doesn’t have to come from the same bridal shop as your dress.

(Photo by JB Photography)

6. Flowers & Decor. Flowers – go silk. Again, stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby can be your best friend. They sell arch ways, silk flowers, columns, aisle runners… anything to make your ceremony venue gorgeous and save money while doing it. GET CREATIVE – I photographed a wedding where the bride made a GORGEOUS bouquet out of bridal magazines and buttons.

7. Photos. Ok. One thing I cannot stress enough – this should be one of your best investments for your wedding. Do not skimp here.ย There are plenty of other things you can skimp on and no one will know the difference. But extremely cheap photography usually doesn’t equal good photography. This is the ONE part of the entire day that will provide lasting memories for years to come. Shop around – google wedding photographers. Compare prices. If you have to go cheap make sure you see an adequate portfolio and make sure they know what they are doing as far as proper exposure, in focus faces, etc. Photographing a wedding is not a task to be taken lightly – no it is not as easy as it looks. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If your wedding photos get screwed up, there is no redo. I’m not saying spend 1000s on a wedding photo package. There are some of us photographers out there who charge less than $1000 for their smaller packages.

8. Rings. The one thing you will carry away from your wedding day and keep with you forever. Make sure they are quality. NOW, if you must go cheap on rings for the big day, at least plan to replace them further down the road. Many couples have gotten $20 rings for show on the big day, then waited until they were more capable of spending a couple $100 on quality rings.

Lastly, the most important thing is to “do the math”… set a budget and stick to it. Get all the “must haves” done first, so if you have to cut the less important things, it won’t matter as much.