7 Ways to Say “I Do” to a Smart Wedding Budget

How much does it cost to get married?


The short answer is, there really is no short answer.


A survey of 13,000 couples who got married in 2017 found that the average U.S. wedding cost over $33,000, according to The Knot 2017 Real Wedding Study.


That number varies, of course, by location: 

  • Want to get married in the Big Apple? You better start saving while you’re spreading the news -- the average New York City wedding clocks in at almost $77,000.
  • A little further west, couples getting married in Phoenix shell out a little over $25,000, on average, for their big day.

Many other factors will determine how much you spend for your wedding, from the number of guests you invite, to the kind of food you serve to the entertainment you book.


Here are 7 tips for planning the memorable, romantic occasion you’re dreaming of without spending more than you have to.


#1: Have the Wedding Budget Talk Early


According to some experts, couples with “great” marriages are more likely to talk about money regularly than those whose marriages are “in crisis.”


Making financial decisions together is one of the most important conversations you’ll have with your spouse once you tie the knot, so planning your wedding budget together is a great way to start your life together on the right foot.


Be sure to get input from everyone who’s helping to pay for the wedding -- including bride, groom and one or both sets of parents.


Determine the overall amount you have to spend, and set some priorities to help you allocate your funds wisely.

The earlier you start planning, the more time you’ll have to shop around for the best deals from the vendors of your choice -- so you can have that fairy tale wedding you’ve always wanted without the fairy tale price.


#2: Watch that Guest List


The Knot also reports that the average cost per guest reached an all-time high of $268 for 2017 weddings in the U.S.


Remember, the more people you invite, the more invitations you have to send, the larger the venue you need to reserve, the more food and drinks your caterer must prepare and so on.


A lengthier guest list also means more tables to decorate, more floral arrangements to order, more party favors to give out and in many cases an expectation of more elaborate, pricier entertainment.


#3: Determine Your Wedding Theme


A general rule of thumb is the more formal your wedding, the more expensive it will be.


Formal weddings often come with greater expectations for lavish decorations, exotic flowers, gourmet foods and elaborate entertainment such as a full orchestra. With a more casual affair, you can still delight your guests with simpler -- and usually less pricey -- options.


Here are a few other money-saving tips to guide your overall wedding style:

  • A buffet generally costs less than a sit-down dinner.
  • The fewer courses you serve, the less you spend on food.
  • A little DIY on things like floral arrangements, decorations, place cards and other items give your wedding a personal touch and save money.
  • A DJ usually charges less than live musicians.
  • Stylists typically charge less to fix your hair and makeup at the salon instead of traveling to the site of your wedding.

#4: Consider the Setting


While big cities like New York or Los Angeles are more expensive overall, small town and rural weddings have their own costs.


Some vendors may charge extra if they have to travel farther to get to your wedding. So going local usually costs less.


“Destination” weddings in popular tourist locations may also be expensive, and some venues will have guest minimums before they will book an event.


 #5: Time Is Money


If you book your wedding when most other couples are trying to book theirs, you can expect to pay a premium.


One easy way to save on venue costs is to choose off-peak times:

  • Schedule your wedding during the fall or winter rather than summer.
  • Consider a day other than Saturday. Friday and Sunday weddings usually cost less and are growing in popularity.
  • Mornings or afternoons may cost less than evening weddings.

#6: Pay Attention to Hidden Costs


The venue. The gown. The rings. The cake. The flowers. The food. The music.


We know you won’t forget about those things. But what about…

  • Your marriage license fee so everything is legal?
  • Paying a calligrapher to address your invitations?
  • Including RSVP cards so guests can respond to your invitations?
  • Service fees so your venue can cover its own costs of hosting your event?
  • A cake cutting fee -- yes, many bakeries will charge extra for a server to slice it up so everyone gets a piece.
  • Tips or gratuities for your caterer, bakery, florist, photographer, entertainers or other vendors?
  • Overtime for your venue or staff if the party goes on a little longer than expected?

Some couples put together a detailed wedding budget checklist or spreadsheet that includes all items, large and small, along with anticipated versus actual costs. It’s a great way to make sure all of your bases are covered as your special day approaches.


#7: Budget for the unexpected


Life is full of surprises. And when it comes to your wedding, some of those surprises may cost you money. Once you’ve estimated the cost of everything you expect to pay for, go ahead and budget an extra 5% on top of that.

Here are some of the unexpected costs that might show up at your wedding:

  • Extra flowers in case somebody forgets to pick up the corsage
  • A few extra umbrellas for your guests in case it starts raining.
  • Stain removal products in case a glass of wine spills.
  • Extra dishes in case one gets broken.
  • Extra food for guests with dietary restrictions.

We hope these tips help you plan a wedding day you’ll treasure that won’t break the bank.


And if you’re looking to host your wedding in a beautiful natural setting, contact us to book your wedding at the lovely San Cayetano Ranch, just 45 minutes from Tucson, Arizona.