Nearly 40% of couples who got married in 2014 spent $10,000 or less, according to The Wedding Report, a research company that tracks wedding industry trends based on government data and daily surveys of couples. The Wedding Report says the average spent on a wedding last year was about $26,400, in line with other sources, such as The Knot, whose figure is a bit higher at about $31,200. But averages can be skewed by the high cost of services in places like Manhattan.
“Not everybody buys everything,” The Wedding Report CEO Shane McMurray says. “People that are spending that little, they’re basically just not spending money on certain things. They’re not spending $20,000 on the venue. Maybe they did it in someone’s backyard.”
The first thing you should do if you’re looking to cut costs is cut your guest list, says Sarah Shewey, founder and CEO of Happily, an a la carte wedding planning service. How many people you choose to invite will affect the price of the most expensive parts of your wedding: your venue, catering and any furniture rentals.
Some couples are choosing to forgo the stress of a year of planning and paying professionals to take care of the details to instead put together weddings that resemble small family parties; particularly when faced with the financial responsibility of things like student loans — which nearly 71% of college grads have — and home-ownership.
How to throw a wedding on a small budget:
• Slash the guest list. Do you really care if your second cousin’s boyfriend is in attendance? The fewer people attending, the smaller your bill will be for everything from the venue to the food to the invitations.
• Skip the wedding planner. A full-service planner costs an average of about $3,000, according to The Wedding Report. You can hire a day-of coordinator or opt for a la carte services for less than $1,000. Or, take it all on yourself and ask friends and family to pitch in.
• Rethink timing. A Friday or Sunday wedding will likely be cheaper than a Saturday wedding. You’ll save about 20% per head for throwing your party on an off-night, says Kristen Maxwell Cooper, deputy editor of The Knot. Having a daytime wedding instead of an evening wedding can also save.
• Only serve beer and wine. You can still have an open bar, just pass on the hard alcohol.
• Buy wholesale. Places like Sam’s Club and Costco aren’t just great for stocking up on toilet paper and bulk groceries. Williams is getting her beer, wine and flowers from Costco for her wedding. Her sister is doing the flower arrangements.