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  • Writer's pictureJessie Clark

Top 10 Budget Saving Tips for Weddings Under $10k | Nashville Wedding Photographer

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Weddings are expensive. There. I said yet. Everyone knows you can spend an arm and a leg - almost literally - on your big day. But is it worth it?

As a bride, you have to decide what's most important to you, and what you can afford. The average cost for a wedding in the US is over $30k. If that gave you sticker shock, you have to consider: is it worth going into debt and starting your marriage in the red, or would it be better to host a smaller, more intimate, yet equally fun and amazing wedding?

I've come up with 10 money-saving tips for budget savvy brides:

1. Limit the Guest List

Less mouths to feed = less money spent. It's as easy as that. Plus, do you really need your mom's third cousin twice removed from Canada that you've only met in utero there? The answer is no. Probably not. Venues that hold smaller amounts of people often tend to be cheaper, as well, as it is less work for the staff. If it's hard to cut down your guest list, talk with your partner and draw a firm line in the sand. DO NOT CROSS.

Detail shot of wedding dress with Tennessee mountains at Owen Farm

2. Buy a Used Dress

Ladies, your wedding dress is special. It's the one time in your life you get to go all out and wear that big, white, amazing, stunning wedding dress that you've dreamt about your entire life. You've seen celebrities rock your favorite styles, and you binge Say Yes to the Dress. That being said, these dresses can get pricey. And I mean pricey. The average wedding dress costs at least $1,500. Which may not seem like much, but consider this: the money you save on your dress can be used on other things that may be far more important to your big day.

There are many ways to find gorgeous, used wedding dresses. And if you think about it, these dresses have only been worn once. Budget savvy brides should look at consignment shops, online personal "closets" like Poshmark and Still White, or even your local Goodwill. Here in Middle TN, our Goodwill hosts an annual Wedding Gala every March, with designer gowns sold for as low as $99. Now that's a steal!

Another thing avenue to consider is retail bridal lines. Did you know TJ Maxx now has their own bridal line? Other brands such as J. Crew and Anthropology offer gorgeous white dresses at a fraction of the boutique price.

Speaking of boutiques, be sure to keep an eye out for sample sales. This is when bridal shops put their floor sample dresses (the ones you try on when you shop) on super sale. These dresses could be last season, or designer they're looking to phase out, so they'll be priced at a much lower rate than the average designer dress.

3. Consider an Off-Season or Weekday Wedding

Peak wedding season here in Tennessee begins around June and runs through October and into early November. Everyone knows the fall colors here are to die for, which makes fall the busiest in the South. One way to save money on your big day is to consider an off-season wedding.

Winter and spring months are the least busy for most wedding venues. But, there is good reason for that. Winter can be cold, sometimes snowy, and spring in the South is particularly wet. However, most (if not all) venues have a cheaper rate for off-season weddings. The weather can be a bit of a gamble, but if you're a Bridechilla who won't let a little rain wreck your big day, or if you're identify most with Princess Elsa (Let it Go!), a winter wedding might be for you.

Saturdays are ideal for a wedding, since it's the best day of the week anyway. To save money, consider having a Friday or Sunday wedding, or even a weekday wedding if you choose to have a smaller, intimate guest list. Just as with off-season, most venues and some vendors have discounts for weekday weddings.

Tennessee State park wedding

4. Check Out Small or Unique Venues

Are you an outdoor lover, looking for the perfect garden or woodsy venue, but can't pay the top tier pricing? Consider your local state park as a venue! Many state parks, especially in Tennessee, have a very nominal rate (think $35) to rent out a section of the park for an. entire. day. You read that right: $35 for the whole day. You may have to bring in rental chairs and tables, but when most venues' pricing can start in the hundreds and range up into the thousands, I'd say it's worth the trouble.

Another option to consider is a backyard wedding. Maybe your parents still live in your childhood home. Maybe Uncle Bob has some acreage he wouldn't mind hosting your big day on. Whatever the case, try to think outside the box to come up with inexpensive venues. Also consider option #2 for off-season and odd-day discounts.

Candy bar at wedding at Belle Meadows Farm

4. DIY Everything

I'm sure by this point, you've scoured Pinterest for hours, and created boards and categories for your dream wedding. That's great! But a lot of those decorations can be expensive. You can save tons of money by doing a lot of DIY. Want a gorgeous arch for your ceremony? Just get some 2x4s, some power tools, and a YouTube tutorial. What about those perfect country chic centerpieces? Girl, get you some Mason jars and burlap. Voila! Maybe you're a simple bride, looking for candles in hurricane glasses? Goodwill is your best friend. Of course, everyone loves a good Welcome sign. Download Canva and go to work! Even if you're not creative, check for Criagslist and Facebook Marketplace deals for other brides looking to resell their decor.

Cute couple share a laugh during first dance at Belle Meadows Farm

6. Skip the DJ

You've already picked your First Dance song, your Father Daughter/Mother Son dance song, the song you'll walk down the aisle to... Why stop there? Everything in a wedding costs money. But why hire a DJ when you're already an expert at curating a playlist? Another way to save money on your wedding day is to be your own DJ! Create a playlist of your favorite dance jams, throw some slow songs in there to mix it up, and there you go. One suggestion I do have is to designate an iPod police. While you're busy tearing it up on the dance floor, you don't want that pesky Uncle Bob (there he is again!) coming in and throwing off your groove.

7. Who Doesn't Love Brunch?

Along with off-season and weekday weddings, brunch weddings can be a great way to save on your big day. One possible negative is having to wake up early to be ready for an 11am ceremony, but after that you get bacon and pancakes. And lots of coffee. Brunch weddings are quickly becoming a new trend in the wedding world, and it's easy to see why. I mean, who doesn't love mimosas? Brunch receptions are also much shorter than regular receptions, cutting down the overall time for the venue and other vendors to be paid, and therefore saving you money.

3. Email your Invites

In this digital day and age, everyone is online. Consider this: invitations, RSVP, and info cards for a 100 person wedding can start around $300. That's not even counting postage, which has recently increased to $0.50 per stamp. Every little cost adds up in the wedding world, so sending out a digital invitation is an easy way to pinch some pennies. If grandma or Uncle Bob doesn't have an email address, consider sending out only a handful of paper invitations, and have the rest be digital. There are a number of resources online to create your wedding website and handle all of the RSVPs, all in one place. No need to create a spreadsheet and keep track of who is coming and who isn't anymore!

9. Limit the Bar to Beer and Wine

One huge way to cut down wedding costs is to have a beer and wine only reception. Liquor is far more expensive than beer and wine, and with liquor comes all of the mixers. Limiting your bar selection to only beer and wine is not only less for you to think about, but it will also save you money to be used on things that matter more to you. If you and your partner do love a good cocktail, consider a beer and wine menu with a signature drink. While you can buy beer and wine from any number of liquor stores and wholesalers, I would highly suggest finding someone with a Costco or Sam's Club membership. Both of these places sell at wholesale pricing (liquor stores do not), and they allow returns on any unopened merchandise. If you don't know anyone with a membership, Sam's Club offers a one-time, one-day membership. So get your list together, and take advantage of the wholesale warehouse (and the free samples)!

Donut tower at wedding

10. Let them eat cake...?

Wedding cakes are still a big trend in the industry, but budget brides are starting to explore different dessert options. Not only are these oftentimes cheaper than cake enough for a crowd, but they give you a chance to show off your unique style and taste. So far I've seen: a donut wall, mini personal pies, cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and an array of chocolate covered fruits. If you are a cake lover, consider having a small cake made for you and your partner to cut, and then having a sheet cake passed out in slices from your caterer. It still tastes amazing, but baking a sheet cake behind the scenes saves you money by not having a large, tiered, fully decorated cake for everyone.

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