Use this free Wedding Budget Template to plan for a successful wedding. This template includes the categories and items typical for a wedding. Because people’s funds are generally limited, it’s important to set a budget. Use these 17 ideas to manage your wedding budget, to stay out of debt, and allocate your finances to the items that will contribute to lasting memories.
17 Ideas to Save Money on your Wedding: Wedding Budget Template
System Requirements: Microsoft Excel® 2007 or later
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A) Have a Budget
Of course our first idea to save money on your wedding is to budget. Going into something as significant as a wedding without a budget is like going on a cross country drive without
a map your phone.
This wedding budget template has been designed to be simple to use. We’ve taken the time to include several items typically found when planning for a wedding. It’s a great place to start. Going over this list may help identify items you wouldn’t have expected. It might also help you determine how far your budget will actually get you.
There are instructions at the bottom of this page with specifics on how to use this wedding template. The template also comes with notes so feel free to download it and give it a shot.
B) Identify your Responsibility
Ultimately, you need to know what aspects of the wedding you and your soon-to-be spouse will be responsible to cover. Maybe you have a very generous family who is going to help, no questions asked. If that’s the case, you’re probably not the person looking for ways to manage the budget.
Everyone’s family situation is different. However, having a discussion with your parents doesn’t have to be a bad experience. It should be presented as you’re being responsible and thinking things through. Don’t go into the conversation with any expectations. If they want to help great, see what they’re willing to do. If not, that has to be okay too.
Going through the budget before the topic is brought up is a good idea. This will demonstrate that you’re prepared. Maybe you can even go over your budget with your parents. They might have ideas that are very helpful. Once you’ve had these conversations you’ll feel a lot better about your plan. Even if the financial help isn’t what you hoped, at least you’ll know where you stand.
C) Meaningful vs. Meaningless
Okay, your wedding day is a very special day. Hopefully, you won’t be doing this ever again with anyone else. With that said, be careful not to get caught up in things that are not meaningful to you or your spouse.
What is meaningful? I don’t know. That’s a personal thing. Something might be very meaningful to me but not to you.
One way to measure meaningful is to think about it in terms of memory creation. If the item will contribute to a lasting memory that you’ll cherish for years to come, then it probably has meaning. The trick here is to ensure that you’re spending your money where it matters.
Try making a list of things that are important to you without thinking about money. You might find the list includes things such as the first dance, personalized vows, songs played, family etc. Your list might not include an open bar, the place settings, your shoes, the type of invites or programs used, etc.
Make sure the meaning of the day is not lost in the desire to impress.
D) Outsource (friends and family)
You’ll be amazed with what friends and family can bring into the mix to help out. Think through the people you know and what they’re good at. Maybe you have a friend that is really good at photography. If you do, find out if they would be willing to take pictures at the wedding. Pay them a small fee. You can still hire a professional for certain pictures, but you’ll save a fortune not having a professional the whole time.
We had a relative that was very good at making cakes. She did two cakes for us and considered that our wedding gift.
Talk to your friends and see what ideas they might have. I bet a few have some amazing talents, and they would be flattered to be asked to help.
Be careful with this one. Planning a wedding is a long and complex task. If you’re going to take on some DIY projects, be sure to plan them out. Don’t end up putting them off.
DIY projects can save a lot of money and also add memories and stories to your wedding. Here are a few ideas that might make good wedding DIY projects and provide some much need relief to your wedding budget:
F) Checklist It
Right along side of putting together a budget you need to think about all of the to-do’s before the big day. This Wedding Checklist contains almost 100 individual tasks categorized by month.
Going through this checklist is another vital planning step that will be helpful in looking for opportunities to save money.
When you’re organized and know what you have to do and when, you reduce the chances for something to go wrong. When things go wrong, they sometimes require money to fix. Every wedding budget should have a contingency fund of around 5% – 10% (depending on the size of the budget). If you don’t plan properly, then expect to be closer to 10%.
This is by far the largest expense people typically have on their wedding day (and in their wedding budget). This one item can consume 35% – 50% of the budget for the average wedding. Because of this fact, this is one of the areas you really want to give some thought to when planning.
Some simple ideas to save money on the venue include:
- Go for nontraditional – having a wedding outdoors is a great way to save on the venue. Also consider ideas that might not generally be thought of as a wedding location but have some type of meaning for you. Just don’t forget to account for chairs, tables and other types of items that you might need as well as the time of year you’re going to get married.
- The Combo – pick a location that might enable you to save money on other items. For example, if you pick a location that has a great sound system, you might be able to be your own DJ by putting together your own play lists. Or, maybe a location like a restaurant will also include an option that satisfies the food and drink needs.
- Destination Wedding – certain resorts and cruise ships make it easy to get married. Just consider how many people you want at your wedding and who will be paying for their expenses. This is a great way to get going on the honeymoon as well.
To save on food, the trick is to keep the menu simple. Just be sure you check the difference between individually served meals and buffet style menus.
This is also an area to leverage the friends and family idea above. Why not come together and make your own appetizers or desserts or even make it a potluck.
Just because you’re trying to save money on this item doesn’t mean it has to look that way. Get creative. Have a cupcake cake as opposed to a “real” cake. Serve dishes on unique platters or bowls. Put side dishes into martini glasses. Put desserts into shot glasses. You get the drift.
Having an open bar can get expensive very quickly. The ideas we have here are similar to the ideas for Food. The easiest place to start is by limiting the options. Only serving wine and beer will significantly reduce your costs. You can spruce that option up a bit by renting a margarita machine and/or creating your own signature drink.
If you want to go all out but manage your costs, you still have options. Limit the time the bar is open. Also, look into getting charged a price per person as opposed to a price per drink. You can also have all of the high-end liquor off the list.
J) The Wedding Dress
If you go shopping for a wedding dress at places that sell wedding dresses, expect to pay top dollar. Look at other stores that sell nice dresses – shop around. Also, consider getting a dress that’s “used”. Generally they’re only worn once and a dress having been in someone else’s wedding doesn’t make it any less desirable. If you look good in it – no one else will know.
A few other points to consider in dress buying. Don’t feel pressured to buy all of the accessories. Shop around online. Give yourself enough time to exchange items you’re not happy with. Lastly, don’t be fooled by discounts. Large discounts on prices that were already outrageous still puts you in a position of over paying.
We also found some interesting handmade wedding dresses on Etsy, some are priced reasonably and others are high.
Try to negotiate everything. Don’t be shy. Ask and you’ll be amazed at what you can get. If you give yourself enough time and several alternatives you’ll be in control. Even if the price comes in at what you expected, see if there’s room.
The worst thing that will happen is the person you’re talking to will say there’s nothing they can do. If that’s the case move on to your next option.
Time is on your side here. When negotiating, here are a few tips that have worked for me. Ask the person how you might be able to accomplish “X,Y & Z” more affordably. They are probably experts in whatever it is you’re talking to them about and who knows what they might come up with. Also, be honest. If you really want to use this provider tell them. Tell them you’re on a budget and their price is causing limitations and now you don’t know what to do. People love to give advice, just ask.
Overall be sure you’re nice.
L) Make the Cut
The number of people you invite will have a significant impact to your wedding budget. Generally about 20% of the people you invite will not be able to make it. Manage your RSVP list so you get a good headcount. Also, if money is tight, be picky about who you invite. This is your day and you’re not obligated to invite everyone you know.
M) Go Digital
The times of traditional invitations, RSVP’s, and all things that require printing and postage are no longer expected. Today, just about everyone has their phone on them at all times. There are now several options to send your wedding information electronically. Check out a few free options here.
If you don’t want to go completely digital, then consider getting documents you can edit yourself. Our Wedding Invitation template is free and easy to edit. You can also take a look these options from Etsy.
Don’t forget to track those RSVP’s to help keep your sanity.
N) Sign-up Wedding Deals
This is one instance when the more planning you do, the better off you’ll be. Look for Wedding deals and sign up for them.
Here are a few places to start:
- Wedding options on Groupon
- BridalGuide Sweepstakes
- Also check your local listing of bridal shows – there will be plenty of options to test your luck
This probably goes without saying, but Google all major ticket items and compare prices. Sometimes you can find great prices by just doing some comparison shopping.
Side note, make shopping for your wedding is simple for your guests. Create an Amazon Wedding Registry
O) Musical Options
We’ve already touched on the option of being your own DJ, see Venue above. But there are other great ways to keep your costs down and have unique music options. We hired a band that at the time was just playing at local bars that was a friend of the family.
You can also check your local college campuses and music teachers. A lot of times people who don’t promote themselves as wedding musicians can be hired affordably. Just be sure you know enough about their ability that it doesn’t turn out to be a bad idea.
If you have a fun group, you could even consider doing some Karaoke. Not everyone will be a fan, but if you know you have a few people who will get into it, this could be a great option for part of the evening.
P) Hidden Terms = Hidden Costs
This is more about knowing the terms and conditions of any agreements you’re looking at signing. Be sure you understand exactly what the agreement is obligating the provider to and what you’ll be obligated to. Cancellation fees, up charges, need for additional equipment, overtime for any service providers that will be on site, taxes, clean-up costs, tips, deposits, etc.
R) Keep it Simple
If you want to save money on your wedding, just remember to keep things simple. All of the add-ons and options add up. Simple is elegant and provides for less stress. You’re starting a new chapter in your life, enjoy it!
How To Use The Wedding Budget Template
When you download the template, start with the summary tab. It has Steps 1 – 5 identified along with notes next to each step. The notes are in the little red carrot in the upper right hand corner of the cell – hover your cursor over the cell and the note will be shown. Below is additional information for each step.