When planning a small wedding, it’s understandable that you want to stick to a modest budget without sacrificing quality. And, though wedding costs can quickly add up – from decorations, to venue, to food – there are ways to balance your spending so the money you do spend is spent on important parts of the wedding, and not expenses that will quickly be forgotten or thrown away.
I’ve put together this guide on what to skip and what to savor to help you decide which parts of your wedding are most important to spend money on, and which parts you can go without, DIY, or order for cheaper in order to save money in the long run.
SKIP: Expensive invitations
There is an abundance of options when it comes to invitations for a small wedding. There is no reason to spend hundreds on special paper and printing for invitations that your guests will likely toss out as soon as they mark your date in their calendar. Instead, you can DIY your invitations using a photo printing program from a drugstore, complete with envelopes from a craft store, or even send invites via email or phone. Professional language and a few dollars spent to make sure the invites look good (if they are digital or on paper) will go a long way in ensuring your invites don’t seem cheap or quickly thrown together.
SAVOR: A great photographer
If there is a must when it comes to quality, it is a great photographer. Don’t be afraid to spend a good portion of your budget on a highly-rated and recommended photographer, as photos will be how you remember your special day for the rest of your lives. Skipping out on an experienced and professional photographer will make it difficult to capture beautiful wedding memories, which are a must regardless of the size or extravagance of your wedding.
SKIP: An expensive indoor venue
If you are planning a small wedding, one of the easiest ways to cut down on costs without looking tacky is to use an inexpensive outdoor venue such as a beach or mountainside instead of renting a large indoor venue that can cost thousands. For many outdoor wedding sites, such as a beach, the only thing you need to purchase is a permit. This will allow you to have a beautiful, natural wedding without spending a cent on a building rental. Not to mention, outdoor photos often turn out better than those taken indoors, regardless of venue.
SAVOR: Tasty, high-quality snacks
Instead of serving a large, low-quality/inexpensive meal, opt instead for a smaller assortment of high-quality snacks such as fruits, desserts, and cheeses to keep your guests satisfied without breaking the bank. (Keep in mind that, if you decide to serve snacks instead of a full meal, you should let your guests know ahead of time or host your wedding reception at a time that is not traditionally mealtime.) This will allow you to feed guests more expensive foods without using a large portion of your budget on a buffet or large dinner.
Of course, what to skip and what to savor ultimately boils down to your priority list. If you haven’t done our “Setting your priorities” activity, connect with me as I’m creating a FREE simple course/activity for how to set your priorities and stick with them throughout your planning. This activity will help you to determine what to skip and what to savor according to your vision.
Planning your wedding, regardless of how small the wedding may be, is no small task. There are always many things to decide on, from a location, to a venue, to a guest list. It’s therefore no surprise that it’s easy for wedding planning to turn from a fun, exciting task into something daunting as your to-do list grows.
Regardless of how much has to be done before your wedding, there are many “enemies of fun” that can turn the process of planning your wedding into a nightmare. Here, I explain what the top three are, and what you can do to avoid them.
© Photos by Kathryn Kim Photography
Of course, you want your small, intimate wedding to be wonderful. It’s a special day between you and your soon-to-be-spouse, and maybe even close family or friends. It’s a day you will look back on forever, so the need to make it “perfect” can be all-consuming.
However, you can save yourself much stress if you accept from the very beginning of your planning process that your wedding will not be - and could never be - absolutely perfect. Any event that involves people, weather, and lots of planning is bound to come with hiccups, even for the most experienced or hardworking planner. Accepting this early on will give you the freedom to experiment and have fun while planning your wedding, without the unattainable goal of perfection looming over your head.
2. Doing it all yourself.
You want to keep your wedding simple and small, without any bells and whistles. However, this doesn’t mean you need to do all of the preparation yourself. Having a low-key wedding does not mean that it has to be a complete DIY! It is more than acceptable to get help from a professional wedding planner or group of friends/family in planning your big day.
Not only will this relieve enormous amounts of stress for you, but will also give you a chance to make memories with those close to you before the wedding day. It’s easy to plan small gatherings where people can help you prepare decorations, invitations, or food in your own home, while spending valuable time together.
3. Feeling obligated to make it bigger than you want.
Once you’ve gotten engaged, it’s likely that many people you know will come out of the woodwork to congratulate you and, usually, ask about the wedding. Questions about who is invited and how many guests they can bring can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re planning to keep your ceremony small.
While it can feel inconsiderate not to invite people you know and love, it is extremely important that your number of wedding guests fit your vision, budget, and venue. Explaining to friends (and even family) who are not on the guest list that you value them as a part of your life, but are keeping your ceremony small as soon as possible will eliminate a lot of stress as you start planning your wedding.
Above all, remember: this is your day, and it’s okay to cut yourself slack, ask for help, and stick up for the wedding vision you have. After all, years from now, your memories won’t be of the planning process, but rather of the day itself!
By Wendee Vezzetti
Mother, student, planner, gardener, mountain biker, entrepreneur, librarian, hiker, snowboarder, reader, dork, chocoholic, trail runner and creative.