The average wedding in 2020 cost about $19,000. While that’s about $10,000 less than the average couple spent in 2019, it’s still a hefty chunk of change. If you’re looking for ways to save on your big day in 2022, check out these ideas that could protect your bottom line without sacrificing the vision you have for the day you finally get to say, “I do.”
1. Pick a “less desirable” date
Choosing your wedding date can be one of the most difficult parts of wedding planning. One thing to understand is that there are certain times of year and even specific dates that are in high demand and will therefore cost more money. The unpredictability of spring weather means venues tend to have more availability in March, April, and May. Late summer and early fall, on the other hand, book up months or even years in advance in many locations. That’s because 40% of all weddings take place in September, October, and November.
For 2022, expect fun dates like 2/20/2022 to get snatched up first. Weekends are also busy, and bookings come at a premium. If you absolutely need a weekend, ask for a morning spot and have breakfast or brunch with your guests. Otherwise, see if you can make a midweek ceremony and reception work — you’ll love how such a simple shift benefits your budget.
2. Cut the guest list
One of the easiest ways you can save money on your wedding is to simply invite less people. Wedding math is based on a per-person formula. Caterers charge per plate, the more people you invite the more furniture you have to rent, and bigger venues come with a matching price tag. That doesn’t mean you have to go bare bones or elope, although both those options are perfectly fine if you prefer a very intimate ceremony.
Instead of a huge blow-out affair, you can:
Limit your guest list to a certain number, say 25 or 50 people, and explain to those who don’t “make the cut” that you’re on a budget but appreciate their well wishes as you start your new life together
Invite only close friends and immediate family and then livestream the ceremony for others to watch online
Invite a larger crowd to the ceremony and have a much smaller reception
Elope, just the two of you, and then hold a casual party like a backyard BBQ at a later date
3. Switch up your menu
The average wedding budget includes about $9,170 just for catering — that’s about $70 per person. But you can whittle down that number significantly by inviting fewer people (see above) or by changing what your guests will eat.
Sit-down dinners have been the convention choice for wedding fare for ages, with buffet-style service increasing in popularity over the last couple decades. The problem with sit-down dinners is that they can be overly formal or even stuffy. If you’re going for a black-tie vibe, maybe formal is fine, but for a more relaxed wedding, the confines of a three-course meal might not work. And that’s not even mentioning the added expense.
To save money on catering:
Schedule a breakfast or brunch reception instead of dinner
Offer passed apps and cocktails instead of a full meal
Work with your caterer to include locally sourced, in-season foods to save money on transportation fees and out-of-season markups
Opt for less-expensive cuts of meat that can still taste delicious in the right hands (think carne asada instead of filet mignon and slow-roasted salmon instead of butter-poached lobster)
Bring in the food trucks and give guests tickets to use at each vendor
Instead of an open bar, limit alcohol to a few types of liquor, wine, and beer or stick with one or two signature cocktails, sparkling water, and soda
Have a theme that embraces more affordable food options, such as a picnic-style reception, BBQ, Taco Tuesday, summer fun (bring on the pasta salads, brats, and burgers!), or comfort food (mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken — oh my!)
4. Play around with thrift store and DIY décor
Head to YouTube and you’ll find literally hundreds of videos detailing how to make your own wedding décor. Some even use materials from the dollar store while others show you how to turn thrift store finds into high-end tablescapes. From gathering driftwood on the beach to using leaves from your own backyard to create breathtaking centerpieces, Mother Nature has your back, too.
Most of your décor can be sold to the next happily engaged couple for even more savings. You’ll likely find that buying burlap in bulk to use as chair wraps and table runners then selling it online after your honeymoon is far more affordable than renting linens from your caterer.
One tip for DIY crafting and thrift/dollar-store shopping: Go with a list and try to stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away imagining what you can turn 100 little jars into or promising yourself you’ll have time to spray paint and hand wrap a few dozen candleholders. But if those ideas don’t pan out, you’ve actually wasted money and then your trip wasn’t such a win after all.
5. Look for an all-in-one venue
It sounds like a lot of fun to have your ceremony in one place and then travel to a secondary location for your reception. Sometimes that’s even a necessity if you choose to get married in a religious venue and then have your after-party elsewhere. But location-hopping gets expensive for everyone.
A high-end car service like a town car or limo runs about $50-$150/hour. If you provide a party bus or shuttle for your guests, you can expect to pay upwards of $300 per hour, and you may need multiple shuttles or cars.
Sticking to one venue eliminates or at least reduces transportation costs, plus you may save on other things like rental furniture and décor because you only need to decorate and provide seating for a single location. An all-in-one location that has its own vendors adds even more savings (they may have their own furniture and linens as well as an in-house caterer and preferred florists and entertainers with discounted rates), and if you book into a hotel, you could save on block rates for your hotel rooms, too.
6. Beg, barter, and borrow
Your wedding is the perfect time to call in every favor you have, including asking your cousin who used all your flower arranging skills for her own nuptials to create your wedding cake or let her beautiful tiara be your something borrowed. You can rent your wedding dress and suit or tuxedo, and some retailers are even lending jewelry, shoes, handbags, and other accessories for deeply discounted prices.
If you’re not into renting or can’t find what you love from those sources, consider buying second hand from apps like Poshmark or Mercari. You’ll still save money versus the going retail price for those items and you can relist them after your big day.
If you have your own business or a pro-level skill that could appeal to vendors, see if there’s an opportunity to barter or trade. If you’re a website designer, offer to spruce up your florist’s e-comm site if they give you a discount on your bouquets and boutonnieres, or better yet, do them for free. Just keep in mind that all services are not necessarily equitable. Don’t propose an hour of babysitting in return for a fully catered reception and expect a positive reply, and don’t undervalue your own worth either.
7. Buy your wedding stationary from an online store
Online stores often offer better rates because they don’t have to carry the huge overhead and labor costs that drag down their brick-and-mortar competitors. MagnetStreet specializes in high-quality save the dates, wedding invitations, wedding programs, reception products, thank you cards, and so much more, all created by talented designers without requiring you to leave your comfy couch or set foot inside an actual store. That saves you time and money.
Here’s one last money-saving tip: Get free samples! Make sure you love your invitations and other wedding essentials before you order in bulk. To request a sample kit or personalize a custom sample, check out our free sample page.