How to Have your Dream Wedding on a Budget

The first thing to know about having a beautiful wedding is that it begins not with gorgeous decorations, a stunning dress, or the perfect color scheme. It begins with two people, so in love, and both committed to spending the rest of their lives serving each other as one – no need for credit card debt here. The rest? That’s cake! …pun 100% intended.

The following tips and tricks are things that I actually put into place on my wedding day or wish I would’ve. Hindsight’s 2020, especially in 2020. Here’s a few notes before we get started:


Before you get knee deep in excel spread sheets, decide what your top 3 priorities are and invest in your wedding accordingly. For me, the non-noegotioables were (besides the groom) the photography… duh, the date, and the dress!

be crafty or have crafty friends

A few of the following tips are going to be a lot easier if you’ve got a leg up on being crafty or a Pinterest aficionado. You’ve been warned.

Cut the Guest List

This one may be the hardest pill to swallow but is one of the best ways to cut cost on your wedding day. Having a smaller guest count means less food, less tables and chairs, a smaller (and less expensive) venue, and the list goes on. It can be really hard to shorten the list of people that get to be there on your big day but the shorter the list, the less that people are offended they weren’t invited. But when it really comes down to it, the day is not about them anyways. Truthfully, I have a hard time remembering who was at my wedding and who wasn’t. To give some perspective, our wedding day was just 2 years ago and there was *maybe* 85 guests that showed up! A big blessing that the pandemic has brought for some close friends of ours is that they got to have intimate weddings with only their closest friends and family and they felt such a relief of having the big wedding postponed or cancelled all together. Not to mention its normalized live streaming your wedding so your distant relatives can tune in!


Cut the DJ

So many friends have told me stories of their DJ’s playing horrible songs, not sticking to the set list, and having a random, nonsensical arrangement of music. Instead, get yourself Spotify Premium and a trusted friend to press play and announce the special dances and speeches. It’s one of the best choices we made for our wedding and our friend absolutely crushed it! If a DJ is one of your non-negotiables, just make sure you check out some reviews beforehand and chat with them in person/over a video chat so you can see if your personalities are a good mesh and if they see your vision.


Restaurant > Catering Company

My boss at the time of me planning my wedding had a daughter planning her own. She told me they found a great catering company that was very affordable at only $37 a plate… I couldn’t believe THAT was “affordable”. To be fair, at the Phoenix Bridal Expo I talked to catering companies that we $60+ a plate. I don’t know about you but I’ve never paid that much for a meal for myself in all my life. So why am I going to pay that much for every single guest at my wedding?? Instead, I picked my very favorite restaurant, Joe’s Real BBQ, purchased lemonade and tea in bulk, paid for a few servers to serve from the buffet line, cake, and bus tables; in total, we ended up paying $1200 to feed almost 100 people.

The Dress

Off the Rack Dresses

A great way to save a few bucks on your wedding gown is to purchase your wedding dress off the rack. I purchased my wedding dress from Brilliant Bridal and have recommended them to my brides, all of their dresses are 70% off retail price and they referred me to a very affordable and efficient seamstress who makes alterations out of her home. She removed the straps I didn’t want and used them to hand make me a veil. In total, my dress and veil cost less than $1,000. Another option, if you’ve got the time, is to check out consignment stores – that’s where I’ve purchased a couple of gorgeous dresses (that are available for sale) for unbelievable prices!

The Cake

We were blessed to have our cake created by on of our sweet friends – it was both beautiful and delicious! That being said, here’s what I suggest: Get a small beautiful cake that’s just what you want it to look and taste like, then get yourself to Costco and order one of their gigantic (and delectable!) sheet cakes to give out to your guests! We also LOVE alternatives to cake like a donut wall or, my favorite; a milk and cookie bar!


Silk Flowers or Ditch em all together

Eucalyptus is treennnddding so if you decide to ditch the florals all together, no one will bat an eye. If you want flowers, I encourage you to check out Hobby Lobby’s flower selection. They regularly have 40-50% of sales all floral. I purchased all of my flowers from there and put together bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and centerpieces in one night with my bridesmaids. A couple of boxes of pizza later and we had the most gorgeous floral arrangements on a dime you’ve ever seen. The best part? They look perfect forever, I have my bouquet sitting in a vase on my bookshelf as I type this and I smile EVERY time I look at it.

Having real flowers really important to you? Purchase them from you local grocery store and put them together yourself the day before.

Warning on this one: you or your bridesmaids are going to need to be really crafty people otherwise I suggest chatting with a florist about the most affordable florals to purchase for your wedding day (did I mention eucalyptus…)


Get Married in the Off Season or Avoid a Saturday Wedding

There are a couple of options I know of to help decrease the cost of your venue. The route that we ended up going is using a venue during the off season which, Arizona, meant August. We were able to get a massive discount on our venue. If getting married in the off season is not an option for you, avoid getting married on a Saturday. This can help you to get lower cost for venue as well. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your venue. The basic package at our venue included a limo and some other details which we opted out of to get an even lower cost.

Use an Untraditional Venue

Secondly, go an untraditional route for a venue! One option we looked into was getting married in a national forest with a more intimate sized ceremony. If you decide to do this, make sure to double check to see what permits you need. Another option is to rent out an Air Bnb. This is so fun because you can stay the night beforehand with your wedding party and have a blast! Once again, make sure you ask the owners beforehand as it’s the law!

Extra Decor

Ask your friends for their left over wedding decor! There’s a lot of decor to buy for a wedding and then it either goes in a box or (if your like me) I use as decor in my house. The most recent friends of our to get married asked all of their close friends to lend them their decorations so we just took the faux eucalyptus and 1 Corinthians 13 sign and loaded them up into our wooden pallet boxes to bring them along. Between 3 couples, they had more decor than space to put it up! If there’s anything specific that you want, you can always purchase it and look into selling it on Offer Up later on!

Were these tips helpful to you?

To see more images from weddings like these, check out my wedding gallery!

If you’re reading this because you’re planning your own wedding right now, know that that no matter how much you spend on your wedding, it’s one day. I highly encourage you to choose to invest in the things that will last a lifetime… the photos. Trust me on this one.