The Wedding Budgeting Tips No One Tells You

You probably didn't realize how much the little things can add up—but here's how to save on some of your big ticket items.
by The Knot

Every wedding has a budget, whether you're spending a few hundred dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And according to our Real Weddings Study, the average wedding costs $33,931. Obviously, that's nothing to scoff at. If you're not sure what to splurge on and how to save money, we've got a few smart wedding budget tips to help you stay on track. (And of course, be sure to use our budget calculator for all the help you'll need along the way.)

  1. Stick with a simple wedding cake design.

    A wedding cake is priced per slice—the more guests you have, the more slices you'll need. The baker's time is also factored into the bottom line. If you have your heart set on an elaborate design with a cascade of sugar blooms, be prepared to spend.

    For example: A cake with realistic sugar flowers (each painstakingly dusted by hand with edible food coloring) will cost more than a simple fondant design with basic flower cutouts scattered throughout. 

    Stick to simple designs with less embellishments or opt for fresh flowers instead of sugar blooms. Or talk to your baker about ordering a smaller cake with less tiers and serve from a sheet cake housed in the kitchen—your guests won't even notice.

  2. Choose in-season flowers.

    Some flowers are harder to grow than others—and some have short growing seasons. If you're flying in peonies from Japan, you'll be spending a lot on transport. The complexity of the arrangement, color and size factors into the cost too.

    Make in-season, locally sourced flowers the mainstay on your arrangements—you'll save money and be guaranteed the freshest stems. Also, scale back on the variety of blooms. If your florist can buy a single type in bulk, they can often pass the savings onto you. And consider reusing your ceremony arrangements at your reception.

    Other ways to save? You can go for a mix of less expensive stems (like hydrangeas and roses), have fewer blooms and more greenery mixed throughout and use inexpensive vases (like glass pedestal ones). 

  3. Opt for a smart, cost-efficient wedding invitation suite.

    The printing process is the single biggest driver of price when it comes to your wedding paper. Flat printing is an affordable digital technique, while engraving or letterpress is generally more custom and labor intensive. Many stationers offer a mix of printing options, allowing you to spurge on the invite, but save on the reply or enclosure cards.

    And instead of including a response card and envelope, choose a suite with a reply postcard (so you'll save on postage as well). A Japanese paper string is a more affordable style detail too.

    Compare this to letterpress, which is one of the most expensive types of printing—a simple trifold invite will make its way through the press four times, once for each color on each side. And if the paper has a mega-luxe, high cotton component too, that'll drive up the price as well. Things like letterpressed reply cards, envelopes and jute wrap details will also add to the per-suite cost.

    Lastly, avoid overstuffing and large envelopes—the heavier your envelope, the more you'll pay in postage. Instead of including a slew of enclosure cards, give accommodation details and driving directions on your wedding website—you'll save on printing and postage. And there's a greater likelihood your guests will have their smartphone in hand on your wedding day instead of that invite you mailed them a few months ago.

  4. Pick a wedding dress design with less intricacy.

    Fabrication can play a big factor in the cost of a wedding dress. Specialty laces, hand-embellished detailing and layers of fabric (think: full skirt, long train) generally drive up the cost of a gown.

    Rethink fabric and embellishments—the simpler the dress design, the lower the price tag. If you want some intricacy, look for beading or lace concentrated on the bodice instead of the whole gown. And if you opt for less detail, you can play up your accessories, like gorgeous chandelier earrings or a pearl-encrusted cuff bracelet, which you're more likely to wear again.

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