Wedding Hacks: Afford your dream wedding on a budget

Updated: Mar 17

8 simple #lifehacks to get the most bang for your buck, from wedding cakes to bridal bouquets

Woman in wedding dress with flowers on a budget

After your ‘gram-worthy proposal, celebratory drinks and kicking off dress shopping, reality sets in: Weddings (can) cost a fortune. Lucky for you, we’re in the Pinterest and #lifehacker era where dream weddings really can come true...on a budget.

But first. Now’s a time to set goals and realistic expectations about your fairytale day. Begin the “money talk” with your fiance (and maybe even both of your parents) early. Take 20 minutes and set your wedding budget now.

Budget set? Okay, let’s get started.

1. The dress. If your mom (or mom-in-law-to-be or aunt or sister or bestie -- you get the picture) doesn’t have a wedding dress you could rewear, consider other less pricey options like a floor sample or even a thrift store find.

2. Picking the date. See if your venue will host a reception on a Friday or Sunday. Many times, an “off day” will be less expensive -- as long as it’s not a holiday weekend. But, be mindful of guests who may have to use vacation days to make your wedding.

3. Paperless invitations. Sure, the intricate, vellum-wrapped, 8-piece, butterflies-flying-out-at-your-guest invitations are lovely. But they’re not realistic for most of us. Explore online options like Green Envelope or Paperless Post. They’ll track your RSVPs for you, removing a big ‘ol pre-wedding task from your Wedding To-Do List. They’ll remove waste, while cutting down on paper, printing and mailing fees.

4. Bouquets. One word: greenery. Focus on the beautiful, less expensive greenery to fill your bouquet. Mix in a couple single-stem faux flowers with your natural flowers to get extra-big blooms that won’t wilt as the day goes on.

5. DIY centerpieces. Skip the flowers, get crafty. Flex your DIY muscles and shop around Michael’s or Hobby Lobby for components to create your own centerpieces. (#Protip: don’t forget the coupon!) Call on your bridesmaids and have a girls’ night while you sip rose, watch Friends reruns and knock another item off your wedding planning list.

6. Reuse bridal party bouquets. Still want extra flair throughout your venue? Drop your bridesmaids bouquets into vases immediately after pictures and reuse at your venue -- at the bar, at your head table, wherever!

7. Fondant-less cake. First of all, have you tasted fondant lately? Yep, it tastes like clay. And, it can cost $1-2 more per slice! While bakeries love to push fondant for wedding cakes, you can create elegant, simple beauty that actually tastes amazing with buttercream frosting. Or, if you’re not into frosting, try a naked cake.

8. DJ or Band? Finding a quality DJ will trim your costs, while still keeping your party going strong. Get to know your DJ first. Set up a quick meeting to discuss what songs and style you like and don’t like, how your ideal entrance should go, etc.

In general, opting for the DIY approach will save you lots of money at any venue, whether it’s a backyard wedding or at the Ritz. You can still have your Pinterest-worthy dream wedding on a budget. Turns out, you can have your wedding cake and eat it, too!

Great news! The Pocketnest app is now available! Download Pocketnest and get your finances in order—in just 10 minutes a month! No jargony finance-speak, pricey fees or in-person meetings required.

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