Wedding Planning Ideas on a Budget

Are you planning a wedding and looking to cut costs? You’ve come to the right place! One of the biggest factors of planning a wedding is figuring out what you can afford, and how you can stay within your budget. In 2019, the average wedding cost was reported at $38,700, with expenses primarily associated with the ceremony and reception. However, wedding costs greatly vary based on location and size.

Don’t let this take away from your excitement – planning an affordable wedding is very much within reach if you play your cards right. Here are our helpful tips for planning a wedding on a budget.

Save for Your Wedding

When it comes to making any big purchases, it’s best to start the process by building your savings first. The longer you save for your wedding, the better. Ideally, couples should start saving before they even get engaged. While that may sound odd, it’s important to start to save for bigger purchases down the line, even if you’re not yet ready to get married or buy a home at the moment.

Based on your income and budget, you can determine how much to put into your savings account per paycheck. Even starting small will make a big difference once it’s time to begin wedding planning!

Create a Wedding Budget and Stick to it

More than a quarter of couples in the U.S. report going into debt to pay off their weddings. However, building a realistic budget and sticking to it can significantly lessen the chances of that happening.

Start by determining the type of wedding you want and how many guests you would like to have. Then write out a list of essentials for your wedding like the venue, attire, photographer, music, food, rings, gifts, and more. Research how much these expenses could potentially cost, and prioritize what you need versus what you want. This breakdown will help you understand the total investment and identify where to cut costs.

Choose a Venue You Can Afford

The wedding venue may end up being the most expensive part of your special day, but luckily there are plenty of options for every couple. If the standard large wedding hall exceeds your budget limitations, here are some additional venue options to consider:

  • A spacious backyard
  • A rustic barn
  • A music or art gallery
  • A small destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort
  • A public park or outdoor gazebo
  • A restaurant

Make sure to compare the prices of each option before making a final decision on the venue. Some may have limits on the number of guests who can attend, or the type of caterers you can work with. These factors should be considered as well.

Time Your Wedding Wisely

Wedding costs will vary depending on the time of year. January through March is considered off-season in the wedding industry, so you’ll likely find the lowest costs around that time. Some venues also offer discounts for events booked on Fridays, Sundays, or mid-week. Though keep in mind, weekday weddings may be difficult for your guests to attend.

Tap into Your Network

Do you have a photographer, DJ, or hairstylist in your friend group or network? Consider utilizing their services. Going with a vendor you know, may also help you secure a bit of a discount! If you need help with cooking food or setting up decorations, relatives or friends could also help in exchange for a wedding gift.

Try DIY Wedding Decor and Favors

Head over to Pinterest for inspiration on trendy DIY wedding decor ideas. Then visit your local dollar store to see what affordable items you can use for your reception like vases, jars, candle holders, table cloths, ribbons, and more. Since flowers can get pricey, try substituting for greenery instead.

Wedding favors for your guests can easily get overlooked. Rather than overspending on customized wedding swag, try handmaking gifts your guests will appreciate like candles, chocolates, jams, and more. Plus, it will be fun to make the favors together with your soon-to-be spouse!

Want to open a new savings account or apply for a personal loan to cover wedding expenses?* Visit a First Financial branch or contact us to speak with a representative today.

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. Some restrictions apply, contact the Credit Union for more information.

 APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to change. Maximum loan is $25K and maximum term is 60 months. Not all applicants qualify, subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a Personal Loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. See credit union for details.

How to Plan the Wedding of Your Dreams on a Budget

You’re engaged, congratulations! We’re sure you’re over the moon with stars in your eyes and visions of wedded bliss. You’ve probably been thinking about this day for as long as you can remember. You’ve got your Pinterest boards, a planning notebook, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But, have you actually put a price tag on any of those ideas and visions?


That’s the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. And that doesn’t even include the honeymoon! After hearing this sky-high number, you’re probably ready to simplify the process, save money, and elope. However, it’s absolutely possible to have the wedding of your dreams without spending well over what you can afford and without going into debt for years to come after the honeymoon. Prioritizing your must-haves, creating a strict budget, and allocating your money accordingly will go a long way in planning for your big day. So, let’s get started!

What’s important to you?

Before you can create a wedding budget, there are a few things you need to decide. First, determine what kind of wedding you want. What do you see when you think of your big day? A country club reception? An elegant downtown loft? A backyard barbecue?

Once you answer this question, have the budget talk with everyone contributing to the wedding. When you start talking money, make sure you talk about more than the total amount you’ll spend. For instance, break down the wedding budget into categories – ceremony, reception, decorations, etc., and decide what you’ll spend in each category.

Now that you’ve taken this step, you’ll need to determine the most and least important items on your checklist. Is there anything you can cut out altogether? Sit down with your fiancé and determine what you both REALLY want and let that vision guide your budget.

Track your spending.

Leave some room in your budget. No matter how down-to-the-penny it may be, unexpected expenses are going to pop up. Your budget will evolve over the planning process, so be prepared by giving yourself a little bit of a cushion.

If you hop on the web and search “wedding budget worksheet,” you’ll find a ton of different options. Find what works best for you. This could look like an Excel spreadsheet, a Google Doc, or one of the hundreds of templates available on wedding planning websites. Regardless of your template, tracking your spending throughout the entire process will be imperative. You’ll be able to ensure you’re staying well within the lines of your budget. Plus, it serves as a great guide or list to see what you’ve paid for, how much you’ve spent, and how much you have left to cover.

There are apps. Use them!

There are a few fantastic wedding-related apps that are either free or inexpensive. Use them! Most apps have the option to create free wedding websites, invitations, and save-the-dates. Get started with these suggestions:

  • ZolaZola has everything you need in one place. They even have a great selection of templates for you to design your wedding website for free! Your website is crucial for keeping your loved ones informed by sharing information about travel arrangements and relaying the important details of your big day. You can also build and manage your registry, design and order invitations or save-the-dates, and review your guest list.
  • ThumbtackPhotographers, DJs, bands, or florists – no matter what service you’re looking for, Thumbtack will have it. This app allows you to browse services in your geographic region to compare prices, check out reviews, and even talk directly to the vendor.
  • WeddingHappyAre you a list maker? If so, WeddingHappy is the app for you! It is the ultimate to-do list. It’s a great app that will help you manage your wedding-related tasks, payments coming up, and vendors you’re working with.

Your wedding day will be one of the most amazing days of your life! Don’t let money and budget-related stress take that away from you and your significant other. There are many options out there to make this day incredible – no matter what your budget is.

Once you have a set budget, financing your big day might be an option that comes up for you. Stop in and talk to us! At First Financial, we have a variety of financing options such as personal loans, lines of credit, and low-rate credit cards – that could help you with the cost of your wedding. Let us help you make your big day one you’ll never forget!