These small wedding ideas and creative ways to pay for your special day will guarantee the memories last longer than the bills
Spending big even small weddings has always been something that confused me.
My cousin saved for years, telling everyone that would listen about the dream home he would buy someday. In Southern California, that meant big savings, but he was almost there after ten years of skimping.
…then he fell in love.
The $35,000 wedding meant his dream for a home would stay that way for several more years even though it now meant two people were saving up.
And he’s not alone. The average couple spent over $33,391 on their wedding last year, not including the cost of the honeymoon.
While half the couples reported spending less than $15,000 for their marriage, couples in a few cities including New York blew the budget with an average of $76,944 according to a survey by The Knots. For most people, that means taking out a wedding loan to pay for the day.
But a great wedding doesn’t have to break your budget.
Our wedding was very intimate with just close family invited to the ceremony in the countryside and a dinner at a local restaurant.
In fact, some of the most memorable weddings I’ve been to have been small, intimate events. Thinking on our ninth wedding anniversary coming up in June (Love You!), I’ve started thinking about small wedding ideas for our tenth anniversary next year…and how we might pay for it!
Small Wedding Ideas on a Budget
One of the easiest ways to have a small wedding is to get away from everyone you don’t REALLY want to invite with a destination wedding.
A destination wedding doesn’t mean you have to pay for sandy beaches in Playa del Carmen. You can get married at most of the national parks including Yosemite and Glacier National Park in Montana. Fees will run you less than $200 and the views are stunning!
Destination weddings are so budget friendly because you’re not expected to invite everyone you know. If the destination is within a day’s drive, you can ask guests to pay their own transportation and lodging as their wedding gift.
When you get home, use some of the money saved from your small wedding for a dinner with those that couldn’t attend.
Go shabby-chic with a small wedding at home
Maybe it’s the new frugal mindset of Millennials or maybe it’s those crushing student loans, but small backyard weddings are THE thing right now. Besides giving you complete control over food and drink, the smaller size venue means you’re limited to how many people you can invite.
You’ll stress about who to invite and probably have to kick a few people off your list that you might have invited otherwise but your bank account will thank you later.
Get Tough with Negotiating
Even if you plan on a small wedding of only a few dozen people, that still gives you a huge amount of leverage to negotiate with businesses from decorators to where you hold the reception.
Thinking outside the box will give you even more negotiating power. Instead of having the reception at a formal hall, why not talk with a local night club or restaurant to reserve the space? You’re bringing more business than they’d likely see in an off-night and can use that to your advantage.
Intimate Wedding Ideas
Budget wedding ideas can still be intimate and memorable. Getting people involved in the actual wedding itself will not only cut costs but make guests feel special.
Instead of a band, ask guests to contribute to a wedding playlist a couple of weeks in advance. This can even pay for itself by making each song added to the playlist a $5 donation.
One of the best ways to get guests involved and cut your wedding costs is to ask for help instead of gifts. Look through your list of guests to match people with the help they’d most easily be able to provide.
- Design or printing help on the invites
- Help cooking or serving the food
- Someone to manage the music
- Ask someone to take pictures
Unique Wedding Ideas that Won’t Bust Your Budget
These last two small wedding ideas were just too unique not to include and really show how people are opening up to a non-traditional (that’s pronounced budget-friendly) wedding.
Consider hiring a food truck instead of expensive catering. Wedding catering costs an average of $71 per person but promise a couple of dozen customers and you’ll get offers from lots of food trucks for just the menu price.
Photography can cost upwards of $3,000 for the average wedding. When you consider just about everyone has a mini-video recording studio in their pocket, you’ve got to ask WHY?
Ask guests to take lots of pictures and even videos with their smartphones and then send copies to you. You’ll have hundreds of pictures and lots of wedding videos to choose from and it won’t cost you a dime.
3 Ways to Pay for Your Small Wedding Idea
If your name is Meghan Markle, you’re probably not too worried about how much your wedding is going to cost. The royal family receives nearly half a billion a year from various sources and Meghan has done pretty well herself through her acting career.
The rest of us though might need to stretch a little to finance that special day.
When my wife and I got married, I was just this side of destroying my credit on some bad rental properties. I was working full-time and freelancing nights and she had just started working in customer service…so, we didn’t have much of a choice when it came to paying for our wedding plans.
We took out a personal loan to pay for the dinner with family while savings and family helped pay for the ceremony. Instead of just borrowing for the wedding, we took out $10,000 extra to consolidate our debt and get our finances started on the right path.
We’ve since used personal loans for home improvement and moving expenses. Rates are higher than secured loans like a mortgage but you can borrow a small amount and pay it off early without any fees.
One of my favorite ways to pay for special expenses like weddings or that dream vacation is to start a side hustle together. This can be something as detailed as creating a side business or just finding ways to make extra cash a few hours a week.
The idea works on so many levels. Not only do you make the extra money you need for your wedding without having to dip into savings or get a loan but the experience will bring you closer together. Believe me, if your relationship is strong enough to work together, it will hold up against any test.
Finally, consider starting a special savings account for your wedding and taking a cold, hard look at your budget. Understand that paying for your special day means sacrificing spending a little. Fortunately, there are a few places in your dual-budgets that can be cut easily.
If you’re not living together yet, co-habitating can save nearly a grand a month on rent and utilities. It might be a no-no for some couples but it’s not a bad idea to see how well the relationship works when you’re sharing one bathroom in the morning.
Three Ways to Pay for Your Perfect Wedding
- Apply for a personal loan – can be used for all or a portion of the budget
- Start a side-hustle together six months before the wedding
- Start a special savings account
That’s three legit ideas to pay for your small wedding plans but there’s one idea I feel like needs to be addressed. Whatever you do, don’t run a crowdfunding campaign to pay for your wedding! Crowd campaigns for lavish weddings have become the ultimate tacky joke. You’ll alienate everyone you ask and risk becoming an internet meme you’ll never forget.
Planning for Your Small Wedding
There are a few things to keep in mind when planning your small wedding on a budget.
Keep the guest list short. Wedding lists can get out of hand fast! I know you don’t want to offend anyone but there are a few ways to think about this that will do wonders for your budget.
- Are you REALLY that offended when you don’t get invited to someone’s wedding, especially if they apologize in advance and explain who they’re inviting?
- Don’t invite someone because you think they won’t show up anyway. People feel obligated to go to weddings even if they don’t want to.
- Consider drawing the line at people you’ve talked to or texted within the last three months, including family. If you only rarely talk to someone, do they really care about coming to your wedding?
Consider talking to family-owned restaurants for catering. Local restaurants will be thrilled to get the business and you can negotiate a discount for the huge order. In fact, look around and you should be able to get delivery free.
Gifts for Groomsmen and Bridesmaids?!? This has always surprised me, how much of the wedding budget goes to the people in the wedding. Don’t be afraid to question custom and tradition.
If you plan on having an open bar, find a venue that will let you bring your own liquor. The markup on alcohol for a wedding is well over 200%, meaning your guests might not be paying for it but you sure will!
You don’t have to go Scrooge on your wedding plans to stay within budget. These small wedding ideas and planning tips will help create a day everyone will remember without having to pay for it forever. With a little planning and a few creative ways to pay for your wedding, you can have your cake AND your wedding too!