Love may not cost a thing, but weddings do: 7 tips to help you save

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  • Seven tips to help save money before you say, “I Do.”
  • You can have a beautiful wedding that won’t bust your budget.
  • Newly married and soon-to-be-married Credit Sesame employees weigh in on how to save money on your special day.
  • Put your wallet and time toward what matters the most.

Wedding bells are being put through the ringer thanks to the pandemic. If you’re one of the brides or grooms who opted to postpone your wedding to a later date and are in the midst of re-planning, chances are you’re being very mindful of your budget. 

Our Credit Sesame family has several newly married and soon-to-be brides and grooms, so we asked them to share some of their money-saving hacks, tips, and general words of wisdom for keeping a budget-friendly wedding.

Make a list and prioritize

If you are just starting to plan your wedding, make a list of everything you want and need for your special day. Then determine which are most important and which you could either put a smaller budget towards or eliminate altogether.

  • Early on in the planning process we put a list together of things we cared about and things we didn’t care about. For things we did care about, we were willing to splurge a bit more for, and the others, we did the bare minimum. What we cared about was venue, food, and alcohol.  -Vinh Nguyen

Consider non-traditional venues and dates

The word “wedding” can sometimes add a premium to your costs. Holding your special day at a non-traditional site, such as a library or restaurant, can be just as memorable and easier on your wallet, especially if the guest list is under 100. Some typical wedding halls will make you pay for a minimum number of guests while other venues may be able to re-classify your wedding as a “private event” for significant savings. 

  • Evaluate the cost of having your ceremony and reception at different venues vs. booking a venue where you can do both. And a destination wedding can actually be cheaper than having the wedding locally. We had our wedding in Hawaii, and the  cost per person was less there than the Bay Area where we live.  -Vinh Nguyen
  • When I told the venue about our budget and that we wanted approximately 60 people, they classified it as a “private event” which cut down the budget by half.  -Nicole Newby 

Instead of a Saturday in June, choose a month and day that are less popular and, therefore, usually less expensive. 

  • If you’re flexible with your date and timing and are willing to book less than a year out, venues are more open to price negotiations.   –Nicole Newby
  • Read your postponement clause. You never know when something out of your control is going to happen.  –Ashlynn Avendano

All-inclusive doesn’t always mean less expensive

Additional research may take a little extra time, but it can pay off—literally. Many venues offer all-inclusive packages for convenience, but you’ll sometimes find hidden or inflated costs that you wouldn’t pay if you worked with a variety of different vendors.

Ask the venue representative if they can recommend a caterer, bartender, florist, band or DJ, photographer or any other vendor you may need. Depending on the venue, such as a restaurant, food and alcohol may be less expensive since it’s all on-site.

Venues usually have a preferred vendor list that could potentially save you money and lots of time doing research. Plus, when you hire from the preferred vendor list, you know the venue has worked with them in the past, which can give you a level of comfort.  However, if you have the time, you may want to look at competitive vendors to determine if you are getting the best price.  

  • One thing to keep in mind when visiting a wedding venue is package deals are not always the best deal.  –Monique Young
  • The venue wanted to charge $500 extra to have gold spoons. FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!  –Vinh Nguyen  

Don’t be afraid to negotiate

If you do get a list of vendors from your venue or find some promising ones through your research, it’s a good idea to get different quotes. If there’s one vendor you particularly like but that is charging a bit more, you can use a less-expensive quote as a bargaining chip to see if they’ll match the cost. Many DJs, photographers, and caterers compete within their industries for wedding gigs, so use that to your advantage! 

  • Be open and honest with your vendors. Tell them your budget and work something out; the cost for items can always be negotiated.  –Monique Young
  • Don’t be afraid to let any vendors know that another vendor is giving you this deal, because they may match that if they want you to book them. The worst they can say is no, and if you still want that vendor, see if they can make a deal for you in another way. Even ask for payment plans if you book your vendors far in advance.  –Ashlynn Avendano

Say YES to this dress!

According to theKnot.com, the average price for a wedding dress is $1,600. You can save money on a bridal gown by going to a sample sale or trunk  show, or even renting a dress from Rent the Runway.            

  • Follow bridal salons on instagram, they will share sample sales, or trunk shows which will give some discounts if you have a favorite designer.  –Ashlynn Avendano
  • If you purchase your wedding dress from a bridal shop, the store may give a discount on your bridesmaids’ dresses, as well as a discount for the mother of the bride and mother of the groom.  –Monique Young

Bridal party gifts: it’s the thought that counts

Bridesmaids appreciate a gift for being part of the wedding party. Whatever gift you choose, you can make it more thoughtful and personal rather than spending a lot of money. One idea is to monogram an item or find something sentimental to your relationship. 

  • Bridal parties can rack up the price if you want to get them gifts! If you can, keep it small.  –Ashlynn Avendano 

Use your credit card to earn rewards

If you have a credit card with a rewards program, it may benefit you to use it to pay for some of your wedding expenses. You’ll want to be careful to make sure you don’t accrue more debt than you can pay off, so be sure to balance your expenses and pay off the debt accordingly. 

  • We’re still in the early stages of planning, but we’ve been using our credit card to cover some of the deposits and expenses. We have already accumulated several points that we’ll plan to use to cover plane tickets for our honeymoon.  –Nicole Newby 

Bottom line: You don’t have to go into debt to have a beautiful, special and memorable wedding.




This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as financial advice.

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