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Getting married on a budget

May 03, 2024 | 2 min read

In this article

  • The first step: Figure out your budget
  • Do your research to find savings: Explore your options for venue, decor and catering.
  • Don’t forget to read the fine print: Wedding vendor contracts can include overtime costs.

Discover clever tips for planning a gorgeous wedding on a budget, from getting married in the off-season to catering costs, creating a memorable celebration without overspending is in reach.

With swoon-worthy wedding photos gracing the pages of magazines and seemingly everywhere on Instagram, it can feel like it’s impossible to escape hearing and thinking about weddings. It can also leave some people with unrealistic expectations of what their wedding day should be like, and what it truly means to have an inexpensive wedding. One of the first steps couples should take in planning their big day is to create a budget for the event.

According to The Wedding Report, the average cost of getting married in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metro area comes in at over $36,000.1 For some couples, this may seem reasonable, but for others, that is not what they would consider a budget-friendly wedding price tag. If you are looking to spend less when tying the knot, then check out the four tips below to help you plan for your dream wedding without creating a budget nightmare.

Find the right time

Financially savvy brides and grooms should learn what the off-season means in their location and how to leverage it. For ring shopping, avoid October, November and December, when the demand soars and so do the prices. Warm weather climate spots like Arizona experience their wedding off-peak season in the summer – a better time to bargain-hunt because demand for venues is falling. If you plan to bring wedding guests to a hotel or resort during a slow time, point this out and negotiate for a reduction in the total cost.

Tip:  Consider moving your event from a weekend to a less expensive weekday to save on wedding costs.

Shop for the deals

When it comes to buying a wedding gown, sipping champagne in a swanky boutique is fun, but it also might cause you to spend too much dough on a dress. Some bridal consultants suggest checking out mass retailers, such as BCBG and Anthropologie, for gowns ranging from $500-$2,000. Sample sales on designer gowns can be researched at Saving thousands by buying a gently used Vera Wang or Monique Lhuillier bridal gown has become much more accessible and acceptable, thanks to sites such as and If the guests haven’t seen the dress before, then it’s new to them, right?

Plan for the feast

When it comes to feeding your guests on a budget, there are lots of options available. Here are our top 5:

  • Limit the number of choices on the dinner menu. Each additional choice can escalate costs. Be sure to include vegetarian and gluten-free options.
  • Let the chef choose the fish and vegetables. Trust him or her to select the best, and least expensive, options for the location and season.
  • Offer beer, wine and a signature cocktail, instead of a full bar. There is also the option to do a cash bar to help lower your costs.
  • Skip the champagne toast. You can also cut out cocktail hour by getting most of your pictures completed before the ceremony.
  • Order a small one- or two-tiered wedding cake and supplement it with a larger sheet cake.

Read the fine print

Look over the contracts your vendors provide slowly and carefully before you sign them. Sure, this takes time, but knowing the details about things such as overtime cost for the photographer and wedding band will be beneficial when the wedding is over.

In this age of online reviews, couples may be subject to fines for negative online write-ups, a feature that may be prohibited in the contract for some wedding venues. There have been wedding guests who posted a less-than-favorable review of a venue or its accommodations, and the wedding couple found themselves fined hundreds of dollars after the fact which means you should read all the paperwork and negotiate accordingly before signing.

It’s not as difficult as you think to hold your dream wedding on a realistic budget. Many websites document the success of couples who were married on a tight budget. You can also purchase a wedding budget planner online or at your local bookstore to help keep your nuptial expenses in check. With tools like these — and a little creativity! — you can look forward to hosting a wedding that won’t break the bank.

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