Rachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

You can stay within your wedding budget and still have a fabulous day. 

My husband, Josh, and I will celebrate nine years of marriage this month. Josh has always said that while our wedding was a big day, it was not the most important day in our marriage. The most important days are all the days after the wedding as we learn, grow, take care of each other, encourage each other, and get older together.

Even if it wasn’t the most important day, we still wanted our wedding to be special. We also didn’t want to blow our budget. I determined what things were most important to me and what was worth splurging on, like my dress and a good photographer to document our day.

Josh and I didn’t hesitate to do some things differently or leave out certain customs if they didn’t matter much to us and might save money.

wedding budget

Here are a few ways we saved money on our wedding:

We had our reception in the church fellowship hall. All we paid was a little to cover the cost of a custodian after our event. We were limited to about 160 guests in the church hall, but it was significantly less expensive – and less hassle to reserve during the busy wedding season – than any other venue we could have rented.

We served lunch instead of dinner. Our ceremony was at noon with the reception following almost immediately in the church hall. Guests nibbled on fresh fruit and chocolate while waiting for our wedding party to take formal photos in the church, and then we all enjoyed a lunch of chicken and roast beef sandwiches, salad, and wedding cake. We saved money in our wedding budget by not serving alcohol, and because it was a lunch event no one really missed it anyway.

On an unrelated note, Josh and I don’t like the popular practice of having an early afternoon ceremony and then making guests wait in limbo several hours while the wedding party takes photos before the reception. Because of the way we scheduled our day, we still had plenty of daylight left after the reception to take outdoor photos on the shores of Lake Michigan and at a local garden without inconveniencing guests. Our photographer also cut us a deal (another wedding budget saver!) because her day with us was shorter than that of a traditional wedding that has a reception lasting well into the night.

wedding budget

We didn’t have a DJ and dancing. Josh and I were slightly older when we married (26 and 29) and dancing wasn’t as important to us, so we didn’t. We not only saved on the cost of the dj but also avoided the cost of renting a larger venue to accommodate dancing. Again, because we had a lunch reception, most people didn’t miss the dancing anyway. If we had opted to have dancing, we likely would have hired a band to play swing and big band music rather than hiring a DJ to play a traditional “canned” reception playlist.

wedding budget

We didn’t go to an exotic location for our honeymoon. Several friends told us how exhausted they were after their weddings and encouraged us to plan a low-key honeymoon. We drove three hours to Indianapolis, Indiana, where we explored the city’s renowned children’s museum and ate at the Cheesecake Factory.

We would have visited the zoo and taken in a dinner theatre show, but I got food poisoning from a fast food restaurant and was sick in our hotel room for a full day. The following day I felt too weak to do much besides go to a movie theatre and sip on chicken noodle soup from Cracker Barrel. At least I wasn’t missing out on, say, activities on a cruise ship. It ended up not being a big deal, or a big expense, for us to just hang around our hotel. My family joked later that Josh gained experience right off the bat with the “loving each other in sickness and in health” part of marriage.

Because we purposely kept our honeymoon simple and saved on our wedding budget upfront, we were able to go to the United Kingdom the following year for our first anniversary. We spent a week and a half exploring London, Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stonehenge, and more. It was a trip well worth waiting for because it wasn’t overshadowed by wedding preparations and festivities.

How did you save money on your wedding or honeymoon? Did you forgo any traditions to cut costs and save on your wedding budget?

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While you’re here, you may enjoy these other posts:

Three Things I’d Do Differently for My Wedding 

40 Years of Marriage: When Young Love Lasts

Date Night: More Than Just a Break From Routine

“Cleavage Gets a Drink” and Other Dating While Married Tips


Category: Saving Money

Tags: Rachael