Plan a Beautiful Wedding on a Small Budget

You’ve got the ring (and at a great price thanks to Rare Carat!), and now you’re ready to check off lists and plan the big day! Planning the wedding can be a wonderful and exciting time. It can also want to make you tear your hair out, especially when you start to calculate just how much this whole thing will cost. The good news is that a small budget doesn’t mean sacrificing a beautiful wedding. With smart planning and creative solutions, you can keep your cool and your coin.

Here are some ways to avoid sticker shock on some of the big-ticket items.



Feeding a large number of people is one of the biggest expenses of a wedding. Add in an open bar, and the cost can easily outpace all of the others. The dilemma, of course, is you don’t want your guests to go hungry (YOU don’t want to go hungry!) You want to enjoy a wonderful celebration, and good food is a big part of that. While you don’t want to skimp on this important component, there’s no reason to break the bank.

A buffet works great for a  to cut down on the catering cost. Your guests still get plenty of food, but it’s going to cost less than a plated dinner service where you will likely pay for extra staff. You will end up with less wasted food, plus you don’t have to worry about keeping track of which relatives are vegan or gluten free as long as you provide enough options.

Speaking of vegan, eating your veggies is another way to save money on the meal. Meat is one of the most expensive parts of food service, so going vegetarian can really cut down your bill. A light pasta primavera with roasted asparagus and garlic sauce? Yum. Save some of that prime rib money for the honeymoon and you won’t even miss it!

When it comes to alcohol, you don’t have to choose between a dry wedding, an open bar (and massive bill!), or making your guests pay for drinks. The very chic and on-budget trend of signature cocktails is a surefire way to keep it classy and thrifty at the same time.

The Dress


The dress is MAJOR. It’s a quintessential part of the wedding and often the first stop a bride makes after slipping on that brand new engagement ring. Let’s say you don’t have an appointment at Kleinfeld Bridal. You’re probably checking out sample sales and smaller boutiques. Even these options, though, can ring up a hefty price tag.

For the real discounts, nothing beats consignment. The hunt for the diamond in the rough can be an exciting part of the process. We know a second-hand dress isn’t for everyone, especially if you think it might come with some bad mojo. Don’t worry, lots of consignment shops offer sample dresses as well. Sometimes a bride finds a better dress and sells the first one never worn. New dresses can even end up on consignment after a bridal boutique goes out of business. You never know what gems you’ll find, and at a fraction of the price!

If you have a more informal wedding or you are open to less traditional options, look for a dress at a regular retailer other than a bridal store. A white evening gown or cocktail dress or even a white bridesmaid dress will run way less than a bridal gown. Even non-bridal clothing retailers like J. Crew have been dipping their toes into bridal with their own line of dresses. Think outside the boutique and you’ll find plenty of affordable options. For the even more daring, go for a dress other than white and you’re options are almost limitless!

The Guest List


It’s pretty obvious that the more guests you have at the wedding, the more expensive it will be. More people means a bigger venue, more food and drinks, more seats, more centerpieces, more, more, more!

Trimming down that guest list is no easy task, especially if you have a large family. Some couples want to have everyone there in person, some get rid of this cost all together and elope. Most will split the difference and try to balance having the most important people there and letting go of Mom’s second cousin’s boyfriend.

If you’re on a budget but just can’t bear to leave anyone out, this is where technology might be your best friend.

For small venues and budgets consider inviting close family and friends, and let the rest of your loved ones watch on video via a live stream. This is a great option for friends and family who may not be able to travel, couples with young children, and those acquaintances that you wouldn’t have room for otherwise. There are plenty of online services that let you set up live streaming for free including Youtube, Facebook, and Vimeo. Most platforms allow you to set up a private stream with a password if you’d rather not have it be available to the public. Just make sure to do a test run and ask about connectivity at your venue to make sure there are no glitches on the big day!



Most wedding planners say it’s normal to spend about 10% of your overall budget on the flowers. For a $30,000 wedding (lower than the national average) that’s $3,000, and many brides will spend more $5,000 – 6,000 for more elaborate decorations. While it may not be the most expensive item of the day, it’s still a big expense that many underestimate. Luckily, there are lots of ways to save and still get beautiful blooms.

For crafty brides, the DIY option will definitely save a lot of money, and the basics are not too hard to master. Does it require some extra time? Sure. Just make sure you have plenty of help from bridesmaids, friends and family. Many brides actually find it fun, and a great bonding time with their friends and family!  

No matter what your budget is, seasonal and local varieties are going to give you the best bang for your buck. FiftyFlowers ships directly from the farm straight to your doorstep, which means the freshest in-season blooms.

When considering your flower choices, think about picking a couple stand out flowers, and use inexpensive ones or greenery to fill out the arrangements. Carnations and mums are a favorite as a filler and can fit almost any color pallet. Plus these types of flowers are fuller varieties, which means you can use less flowers and still get lots of volume and color. Adding in bunches of eucalyptus greens will create an elegant background and make your featured flowers pop.

Whether you’ve got a budget to rival the royals or you’re the queen of DIY, putting together all the elements that will make your day special takes creativity and planning. Most of all, remember to enjoy the process and keep your eyes on the prize!

This blog post is part of a four-part series with our partners Rare Carat, on how to save on the most expensive parts of your wedding. To read the next post in the series visit

Updated: July 11, 2018 — 2:44 am