Ballin' On A Budget

By Teresa Curto

January 11, 2019 4 min read

Just a few years ago, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. rang in at $35,329, according to the wedding experts at The Knot. For many, weddings have long left the realm of a simple ceremony with a modest sit-down meal to follow. Instead, many couples choose to host a full-day event filled with personalized decorative touches, activities and foods as family and friends gather to celebrate their new union. Fortunately, for those who are recently engaged and looking to tie the knot without breaking the bank, there are many ways to enjoy an affordable yet admirable wedding day.

Beyond hearing the exchange of vows and declarations of "I do," perhaps the most anticipated part of being a guest at a wedding is the food. And hiring a caterer for appetizers, dinner and dessert can be one of biggest expenses. However, There are many economical ways to approach the culinary portion of the wedding day. Even if choosing to hire a traditional caterer, hosting a daytime reception can save couples thousands. For the truly frugal couple, there are many brunch or lunch meal ideas that can be prepared with help from willing family and friends that will both satisfy hungry guests and keep food costs low. A waffle or pancake bar, bagels, sandwiches with cold-cut selections and pasta are all economical and tasty options that are not too labor intensive.

For dessert, couples needn't spend $500 on a wedding cake -- the average amount reported by Wedding Wire. There are many trendy possibilities. For those who are crafty, creating a "doughnut wall" can be an affordable way to indulge every sweet tooth in attendance. Doughnuts can be purchased in bulk from a local doughnut shop for far less than it costs to have a cake prepared and then attractively displayed on pegs for guests to see and choose from. Dessert bars have also reigned supreme as an alternative to cake for years. Homemade cupcakes, brownies and cookies can be prepared in advance and guests will love having options.

Flowers are rightfully adored, and shouldn't be skipped for the sake of a small budget. The easiest way to slash any floral budget is to purchase and arrange the flowers with the help of family and friends. Many wholesale or bulk stores, such as Costco or Sam's Club, offer great deals on flowers, which can be ordered in large volume. Couples can also find great deals at farmers markets. Those with little familiarity with flower arrangement may look to a professional for the bouquets or boutonnieres, as they require a little more craft and savvy.

It has become popular to offer activities to help guests fill downtime during the day, such as when guests wait for the couple to take photos after the ceremony. However, many popular choices, such as a photobooth or a caricature artist, can be costly. There are a few, more frugal ways to help guests have fun as they wait. Placing disposable cameras at each table is an exciting way for couples to see their wedding day from the points of view of their guests. To provide a memento, couples can have a polaroid camera available for guests to use. A firepit with a s'mores bar is another affordable and delicious way that attendees can be entertained throughout the night.

Using these tips, having the wedding of their dreams isn't out of reach for any couple, no matter the size of their budget.

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