Weddings—this one word excites people across the world. Some people dream about what their wedding will be like and who they will be marrying. However, some people cringe at the very thought. Today’s wedding industry has exploded with a variety of “necessities” and each comes with a hefty price tag. While some leave the bill with their parents, others decide to pay for everything themselves. A single engagement ring alone can often cost thousands of dollars. Once the flowers are hand-selected and the dress is altered, the wedding is about the same price as a brand new house.

I remember looking at wedding dresses on the internet for months wondering how I was going to afford one. I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little extra effort and a little patience, you can easily spend less than $2,000 on your wedding, honeymoon included!

Plan your ceremony

When you plan your ceremony, be sure to plan it from start to finish. For some, preparations will be extensive. Maybe you’re planning for a large wedding. Or perhaps everyone will be flying to a special location. Whatever your situation, be sure to include any events before, during, and after the wedding.

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Even the order of the ceremony is important when it comes to spending. Any special effects or a particular location could add a lot of extra expenses to your bill. Try to step back for a minute and honestly evaluate everything. Is it necessary? Do you need it or can you do without? Do not take so much away from your big day that it is no longer special to you, but the important thing is to just get a solid plan of what you want and take out what’s unnecessary.

Create a spreadsheet

Creating a spreadsheet is a great way to keep track of what you actually need as well as keep your budget in check. I used Microsoft Excel, but you can use whatever program you have available. Why a spreadsheet? Because it is so much easier to put everything into cells and let it keep track of the calculations for you. Why add more work to your wedding?

Start by making a list of all the items you think you need. Dress, flowers, candles, and invitations are a good place to start. Work from there until you have everything added. Look over these items and estimate how much you will be spending on each item. You may need to look around on the internet a little to get an idea of the price. Once you get your estimated prices, you may realize something is more expensive than you thought. Perhaps silk flowers cost more than real ones. Try switching out expensive items for less expensive alternatives. This may even mean eliminating an item or two.

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Once you have your items and their prices on your spreadsheet, it should be ready. Just make sure you have a place for the actual costs of the items. As you make purchases, be sure to add their price to the actual cost section on your spreadsheet. The key is to get most of the items to cost less or the same amount as what you estimated. This will hopefully keep you within your budget. You may even surprise yourself when your items costs less than estimated.

RSVP

The downfall of wedding invitations—RSVP. I understand this one all too well. You send out wedding invitations and hardly anyone will RSVP. While this can be a little frustrating, still send out invitations. You will get at least some to make reservations, and every little bit helps.

Asking people to make reservations is all too important to not do. Having an estimated number of people attending your wedding helps you have a better idea of how much food to serve and determines the size of the cake. Remember, the more cake you have, the more money it will cost. For some weddings, the number of people attending can also affect the venue itself! So be sure to ask everyone to RSVP.

Shop around

Shopping around and comparing prices is so vital to any wedding budget. Jumping on the first dress you see may break your bank account. Flowers? Yes, if you have the option, you may want to visit several florists to not only get what you want, but also the price you can afford.

With weddings, there are countless accessories and add-ons that may or may not be necessary, but may be wanted. If you want to add any of these, shop around. Stores such as Hobby Lobby and Party City may have a cheaper selection of items that you can use. I actually bought my cake topper from Hobby Lobby and I love it. And don’t forget, stores like this will usually have sales or coupons that can be applied.

Do what you can

Have you ever watched any wedding planner TV shows? I’ll admit, I’ve enjoyed watching these on occasion. I enjoy watching the planner bring the clients’ dream and ideas to reality, and you get to see the end product. Everything is so picturesque and perfect. While everyone would love nothing more than to have a wedding like that, our budgets don’t always allow for it. Instead of hiring a planner, why not do it yourself?

For some brides, this may seem like a lot of stress. But with the right help, nothing could be simpler. Create a team of close family members, best friends, and your soon-to-be spouse to create your special day. Sitting down with your fiancé is a great way to share each other’s ideas and make the wedding to your taste and his.

Decorating can be pulled off with the help of a few friends. My husband’s family did a great job helping me pull everything together and put finishing touches on the decorations. Try to be creative. If you’re struggling for ideas on how you want things to look, try looking on Pinterest for a few hours. You’re sure to find way more ideas than you can use!

The cake can be a little more challenging. I was blessed to have a relative who can make beautiful cakes. If you can, have someone you know make your cake for you. They may not accept any money or at least give you a discounted price. If this is not an option, what about cupcakes? Cupcakes are often times easier to decorate and have recently become a popular choice for weddings. Check the web for great wedding cupcake ideas!

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For the venue, using your own church is a good way to avoid paying for a location. Another option is to use a location or property that is owned by someone you know. If you are willing to change your venue location, you may be able to save a little money.

Choose the time

For some, choosing the time of the ceremony is little more than picking a number out of the air. For others, they may choose a specific time due to a special memory, etc. My advice is to pick a time, wisely. If you decide to hold the ceremony around 12 or 6, your guests may expect to be fed lunch or dinner, resulting in higher costs for your wedding. Serving a full meal to x number of guests can get pricey, especially if you’re factoring in place settings for each one. An alternative option would be to hold the ceremony in the afternoon. Hopefully, your guests will have eaten lunch and will not be expecting a meal. Depending on your preference and your budget, you may decide to serve finger foods or snacks, along with the cake.

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If you manage to avoid setting places at designated tables, you may allow your guests to get their plates, cups, and utensils from a designated location. Try looking around for cheaper options for the dinnerware. Nowadays, you can find a wide selection of utensils that look like real silverware, and plates that look like real china. Shop around and you may find a great option at a cheap price.

Minimize your flowers

Expensive! Need I say more? Yes, flowers can easily cost you hundreds, potentially thousands, of dollars. Shopping around is so important if you want flowers; however, sometimes discounted prices still won’t help your budget. Depending on how the flowers will be used and what type you’re looking to buy, you may want to compare silk flowers and real flowers.

For my wedding, I decided to use real flowers for the centerpieces, boutonniere, and bridal bouquet. Yet, I was wanting petals for the center aisle. For a couple different reasons, I decided to use fake petals. And it worked great. Because I was looking for light pink flowers and petals, it was easy to mix real and fake in the wedding.

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Using smaller bouquets, less exotic flower varieties, and fewer floral pieces are all ways that you can minimize your expenses. Roses are a common, yet timeless, flower choice. Not to mention they come in a variety of colors. Looking for ways to decrease the amount of flowers you use it a key way to keep your budget. Focus using your flowers in places that they matter, such as your bouquet.

You just need to step back and determine what you are needing. If you like, you can even opt out of having flowers in your wedding. There are a variety of ways you could avoid using flowers if you find they’re simply too expensive.

The dress

Nothing seems to be more important to the bride than her dress—the way it looks, the way it makes her feel. Finding the perfect dress can easily make your wedding day feel like a dream come true. But don’t jump on the first great dress you find, even if it gives you all the right feelings. Check the price tag first!

I’m not sure how many dresses I looked at online. It was so easy to find beautiful gowns that looked stunning and made you want to take out a loan at the bank, but that simply wasn’t going to happen. And it really shouldn’t have to. If you shop around at a few dress stores, and possibly online, you may be able to find a good deal. Often times, designers are looking to sell their leftover dresses from last season for a more reasonable price. So even if your gown isn’t hot of the runway, you’ll still have a beautiful dress with money left in your pocket.

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If you’re having a difficult time finding the right dress at the right price, perhaps you can look at getting a used gown. I managed to find a shop that specializes in selling used evening gowns, prom dresses, and wedding gowns, all at a super cheap price. You will have to do some extra hunting to find a dress in your size and style. Sometimes the dresses are a little dated or maybe not quite what you’re looking for. With a little patience, you might just find the one you’ve been dreaming of.

Another option would be to use your mother’s wedding dress, and if necessary, modify it. While you may have to pay for the alterations, the expense may still come out less than buying a new dress. Speaking of alterations, if you can avoid hitting up the big name retailers/designers, do it. Shop around for a local seamstress who has experience working with weddings dresses. Often times, the material and accessories are a little more delicate and picky than your everyday clothes. Or, if you have a seamstress in the family, try recruiting them for the project!

Tux or no tux?

In many ways this will depend on the overall theme of your wedding. If you’re considering tuxedos or suits for the groom and/or groomsmen, order them together. Stores will often times give you a discount if you are ordering multiple suits. Some of the big box stores aren’t a bad place to look either. With tuxedo rentals, you get an entire outfit for a decent price.

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Of course, if you would like to opt out of suits, I’m sure there’s plenty of ideas on the internet. It has become common for men to go without a full suit, which could be a great excuse to save a few dollars.

The rings

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend…that is, unless they break the bank. For me, it really wasn’t too difficult to pick a ring around my price range. I had never really thought much about what I wanted it to look like, except for a few ideas. However, for some brides, the ring is everything.  You have dreamed all your life of exactly what ring you wanted to wear on your finger and nothing else will do. If you insist on having a particular ring, try to shop around, look for discounts, or wait for sales. If your ring choice is forcing you to go over your budget, perhaps you should reconsider. Try to be accommodating—yes, you need to find a ring you love! I really hope you do 🙂 But just make sure it fits within your budget.

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Stores such as Walmart, JC Penney, and Sears are all great places to check. They sell a lot more than costume jewelry, so don’t be ashamed to look! These stores will often times carry good quality rings at a lower price than many of the jewelry stores.

The honeymoon

Once you’ve gotten past the wedding preparations, you will need to decide what to do about your honeymoon. For a variety of reasons, you may decide not to take one.

If you do decide to go, look at options closer to home. Some people are tempted to use their honeymoon as an excuse to take a trip to the Bahamas or Europe. If this is in your budget, go for it!

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Otherwise, you can easily find something a little closer that will still be just as great. For instance, staying in a cabin in north Georgia is a great place to honeymoon. Beautiful scenery and plenty of attractions can make for a fun week away. Using a little creativity can allow you to have a honeymoon even with a low budget.

I hope these tips inspire you to, yes, have a great wedding; but also, I hope that they help you to spend less for it. Having a high-dollar wedding is not always practical or possible. With a little planning and a good budget, you can easily have your wedding for less than $2,000.