5 Popular Wedding Budget Tips That Don't Always Work

There's no shortage of wedding budget tips—but which ones really make a difference? Find out which wedding budget hacks work and how to get the best deals for your wedding.

By McCall Minnor

couple gets married outside
Photo by Zola

Why lie? We love a good wedding budget tip. In our vast learnings and comparison of some of the best and most interesting tips out there, though, we’ve come to find that not all money hacks are one-size-fits-all. In fact, many of these suggestions are actually generic and require a bit more research than meets the eye.

That’s not to say they won’t work for you. It’s just important to apply each to your specific situation. Here are some popular wedding budget tips that don’t always work (and how to find the best deals for you).

The Tip: Book a full-service venue.

In short, a full-service venue provides most, if not all, of what’s needed for a wedding. Often times this includes a ceremony and reception site, tables and chairs, catering, entertainment, and even decor. In some cases, yes, full-service venues are definitely money-saving options. It really depends on where you’re getting married, how popular your wedding date is, and even the day of the week among other things.

The Reality:

Again, in some cases, full-service venues aren’t guaranteed to save you money. Package pricing may be simpler to understand—we love an all-in-one-place option—but it also may stop you from seeking out deals from other vendors. Those all-inclusive tables and chairs may end up costing far more than the ones you’d otherwise rent out. Again, it all depends.

If you’re presented with or are considering this type of package, it’s important that you take the time to look at all the numbers. Do certain full-service add-ons cost more or less than other suppliers? Does the total cost surpass the total cost of individual vendors?

We know, full-service venues can save you a lot of stress. If you’re looking to save money or stick to a budget, though, it’s worth weighing your options.

INLINE LoveDaysPhotography 1080x720 Tessa&Lauren Photo Credit // Love Days Photography

The Tip: Use flowers that are in season.

One of the main wedding budget tips we hear is that you can save money on flowers by using in-season florals. The idea is that it costs more money to import out-of-season flowers from elsewhere. This can totally be true, depending on a number of factors. But, again, it’s not always guaranteed.

The Reality

According to E. Bingo Wyre, Owner of Cote Fleurie Studio in New York City, buying local, in-season flowers—especially from wholesalers—can run your bill up just as much, if not more than out-of-season flowers.

That’s because labor actually makes up a lot of a wedding floral cost. You’re paying for all of the transportation of the flowers to the florist, the transportation and set-up of the arrangements for the wedding, and then, potentially breakdown/pick-up at the venue, if necessary.

The good news: If you have your heart set on a flower that isn’t in season, you can still get it. Rather than settling for something else for potentially marginal savings, reduce labor to drop the cost more significantly. For example, repurpose your centerpieces and decor as wedding favors to avoid a strike fee (a fee to remove everything).

The Tip: Have a buffet-style dinner.

Like florals, labor plays a big role in wedding catering costs. So, naturally, a buffet-style meal, which typically requires less staff (guests serve themselves), is sometimes a less expensive catering option for weddings. While this is often the case, it’s not always that simple.

The Reality

Yes, providing a buffet means you aren’t paying as much towards rentals and staff. However, in many cases, you need to purchase more food as guests will be serving themselves and not receiving a portion-controlled plated meal. To make a buffet more cost-effective, opt for dishes that aren’t too costly (read: shrimp and lobster). You can also have a staffer serving the food behind the table to manage food distribution.

The Tip: Stock the bar yourself.

Without a doubt, providing alcohol at your wedding will get pricey. Buying and serving alcohol yourself is one common way couples try to lower the cost of alcohol. This cuts labor costs and usually eliminates any premiums that alcohol or catering vendors may include in their prices. Like a buffet, this can save you money if you’re meticulous about it, but the tip isn’t foolproof.

The Reality

It really depends on the size and style of your wedding. If you’re having a large wedding and are hoping to offer an open bar, you need to take into account all of the different types of alcohol and mixers everyone will want. Like food, you want to overestimate just in case, so this method can add up quickly. Depending on how many people are attending and how many types of alcohol you want to serve, it’s possible that self-stocking will cost you more in the end.

Alternatively, you could cut costs by purchasing enough alcohol to make batch signature cocktails or buying alcohol and employing a few bartenders for the event.

INLINE Regeti'sPhotography 1080x720 Archana&Gopal Photo Credit // Regeti's Photography

The Tip: Hire a wedding planner.

Wedding planners are wonderful resources for newly-engaged couples. They can coordinate on your behalf and, in many cases, secure certain rates or deals because of their industry connections. So, it’s totally possible that hiring a wedding planner can save you money in some areas of your wedding budget.

The Reality

An experienced professional can charge anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. If you’re trying to stick to a certain budget or save as much as possible, the extra help may not be worth it. Before committing, if possible, compare the savings you could be making by using a wedding planner to what they’re charging. Will it even out or end up charging more?

Also, check to see if your venue (if you’ve booked one) has event planning services. Or opt for a day-of coordinator instead of a wedding planner. Lastly, ask yourself if you’re up to the task of planning your wedding yourself (with the help of your partner, of course). Slightly more stress for significant savings could be the way to go.

How To Get The Best Deals For You

Everyone’s wedding and budget are completely unique so not every money-saving tip will work for you. Luckily, there are a few easy, extra steps you can make to ensure you’re getting the best deals for your wedding.

  • Do independent research. Thoroughly researching different vendors and packages can make a world of difference for your bottom line. Start simple and take some time to search the internet. Then take it a step further by gathering your top three choices per vendor (venue, catering, etc.) and requesting quotes. Compare what you’d be getting from each to what they charge to decide what deal is best.
  • Don’t always take the internet at its word. We know, ironic, but it’s true. Not every tip is tailor-made for everyone. In fact, they’re quite generic. Money-saving hacks might come off helpful, but always check to see if they’re applicable to your specific situation.
  • Consider your logistics. Your wedding season, location, number of attendees, and more can drastically change things when it comes to budget. Keep them in mind when doing your research and cost comparisons.
  • Always be crunching numbers. Needless to say, at every stage of planning, always keep your budget in mind. We suggest creating a document or file where you can compare quotes, subtract costs, and record other financial information.

Saving money on your wedding day is a prioritiy for most couples. Be sure to due your research and make sure you're getting the best tips and tricks for your day.

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