Wedding Bells—And Budgets

Congratulations! You’re engaged. Life is beautiful, life is fun, life is—suddenly full of financial worries, organization catastrophes, and endless planning. Don’t worry; you don’t have to spend 2016’s national average of $35, 329 for your day to be perfect. Below, you’ll find financial tips to help you save money and plan ahead, from that princess dress all the way to the guests’ plates.

Value in the Venue

Chances are, someone you know owns property. Why not have your marriage and reception at a relative’s? If this idea doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry: there are other options.

  • Parks, beaches, museums, and aquariums permit quite a bit of wiggle room for choosier couples. Prices fluctuate, but you can get married at Luthy Botanical Gardens in Illinois for $500.
  • Consider renting a cabin or boat, but be sure to anticipate a night’s stay.
  • Universities, theaters, and local eateries are all fantastic locations for a wedding. For an outdoor event at Ohio State, fees can start as low as $100.

The Dress

Let’s face it, ladies. You’re probably only going to wear it once. Is it really worth thousands of dollars?

  • Search young designer labels and mainstream retailers, such as Dreamers & Lovers or Lace & Liberty.
  • Talk to local seamstresses. Having a wedding dress made by professional design houses can be ruthless on the wallet.
  • Consider a white bridesmaid’s dress, cocktail gown, or secondhand dress.

Photographers, Catering, and Music

Photography and music typically comprise about 20 percent of a wedding’s budget. However, you don’t have to hire a weathered professional to get amazing wedding pictures, groovy music, or splendid service.

  • Students are fantastic choices, as they will work for less and be just as professional.
  • Hire a DJ. DJs can be hired for about $500, but bands typically cost $1000 or more.
  • Create your own music mix and transfer it to a CD. You can always ask someone to start and stop it throughout the festivities.
  • If you choose to have liquor, select a soft bar with limited alcohol or, if the caterer allows, bring your own liquor.
  • Keep the dining experience simple. Three courses are plenty, and savory entrees do not have to be expensive.

Legal Costs Many Do Not Anticipate

The Marriage License: You’re not married without this! Marriage licenses are typically between $20 and $100, but be sure to plan accordingly.

Attorneys: Yes, you read that correctly: attorneys. Prenuptial agreements have seen a fivefold increase in the last two decades. “Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are becoming very common,” says Simmrin Law Group Attorney Sherry Cross. “If you or your partner are considering a contract, it’s best to have it looked over by a professional.”


Don’t let the financial stress hold you back. This article is only the tip of the iceberg; there are many more ways to save money on your wedding. Take it one step at a time, consider cheaper alternatives, and get to your big day with a smile on your face.

David Jackson

David is a personal finance expert, a professional male model, and an entertainment writer.