The wedding planning world has changed in many ways since 2008 when I was planning my own, but one thing has remained the same: the area that stresses couples the most is their budget. But today, there’s vastly more potential to be pressured into spending on things that aren’t actually necessary. Thanks to social media, an ever-expanding plethora of options and choice, not to mention newly-invented “traditions” and products designed specifically to get couples to spend more money on this once-in-a-lifetime event, it’s no wonder that modern couples find themselves ending up in debt for their weddings.
When I started The Budget Savvy Bride, I was documenting my own ideas and resources I discovered along the way to save money on my wedding. I was just a bride like you who wanted to have a wedding I was proud of on a budget we could realistically afford. What started as a pet project eventually grew into a top resource for couples with similar goals for their weddings.
My goal has always been to empower and inspire couples with doable options and ideas to save on every aspect of the wedding day. Perhaps it’s the designer in me, I just love creative problem-solving! The tips and advice shared on this website and in my best-selling wedding planning book range from common sense suggestions to DIY alternatives to professional services.
Fear-mongering and budget-shaming within the wedding industry
Not surprisingly, I’ve had my share of pushback from wedding vendors on the advice that I’ve given couples over the years. I’ve actually been verbally attacked by vendors in the past for sharing options to help couples do certain things themselves. All DIY advice is given with the caveat of “if it’s not a high priority to you and your partner and you need to save money somewhere, do it in an area of little importance to you.” In an ideal world, everyone would hire talented professionals for every aspect of their day, but that’s not realistic for couples working with a smaller budget. And so, they turn to resources like The Budget Savvy Bride to find creative ideas, money-saving tips, and DIY alternatives to traditional wedding services.
So it’s upsetting to hear that some couples are experiencing fear-mongering and budget-shaming by potential vendors during their planning process. There have been vendors who’ve said doing certain things yourself will ruin your wedding! That your wedding will suck if you DIY your wedding reception music or if you buy a grocery store wedding cake or arrange your own flowers. 🤣 Some vendors have even said if you don’t have enough money to afford to hire professionals, you just shouldn’t have a wedding at all. (Um, sorry… what?!)
Don’t get me wrong… I have the utmost respect for the hard work that wedding professionals put in to make their clients’ wedding days amazing! I have personally worked in several areas of the wedding industry throughout my career. From designing wedding invitations to day-of coordination and wedding planning assistance to catering services, and even working as a photographer’s assistant– I’ve seen what happens on a wedding day from nearly every possible angle. I know firsthand the long hours, care, expertise, and literal sweat that go into putting together a celebration.
However, I still know (not just believe) that couples can have an amazing wedding day even if they DIY aspects of their event. Anyone who tells you otherwise is using fear-mongering to prey upon your insecurities during a time in your life where you’re likely already feeling external pressures.
While the mainstream media and the Wedding Industrial Complex love to publicize the yearly reports that the cost of weddings is rising, it is most certainly possible to plan an awesome wedding on a budget of less than half the amount of those so-called “averages.” And having a beautiful wedding on a smaller budget usually means getting creative. More often than not, budget savvy weddings include some form of DIY or seeking out alternative sources for traditional wedding services. Not only does it help reduce costs, but it also usually adds an extra dose of personality to the day.
Wedding Planning Encouragement for Couples on a Small Budget
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or pressured about your wedding plans or your wedding budget, you need to read this because I know these things to be true:
1. You don’t have to spend $30k+ to have a “real wedding.”
It is more than possible to have a beautiful, personal, and meaningful wedding without spending a fortune. If you need further proof just check out our real weddings section where you can browse by state, color, and wedding budget! Most of the weddings we’ve published have come in at $15k or less!
2. Your wedding isn’t going to suck.
Remember the purpose of a wedding is to unite you and your partner in marriage. If the two of you end up married, that means it all went perfectly! No matter if your neighbor bakes your cake or you have playlist run from an iPad instead of a DJ — it’s still going to be an amazing, special day you’ll never forget. To keep things in perspective, focus on the purpose, not the party.
3. Starting your marriage without debt is setting yourself up for success.
Money is a major source of stress in relationships. Avoid adding extra strain at the start of your marriage. Don’t let anyone budget-shame or pressure you into spending more than you can afford. Going into debt for a party isn’t worth it, so make it your shared goal to have a debt-free wedding.
4. Couples who plan together and stick to a budget strengthen their bonds.
Planning a wedding you can actually afford is such a rewarding experience. You and your partner get to be a team to creatively plan this thing! Working together towards this common goal while using your priorities and values to guide you along the way will strengthen your bond as a couple.
5. Budget-savvy doesn’t = CHEAP.
This is an incredibly important thing to note: being budget-savvy isn’t about being cheap, it’s about being smart. Budget-savvy shouldn’t be a dirty word, it should be a badge of honor. Be wise with how you spend your wedding budget and make the most out of what you have to work with. Sometimes that involves doing things you can handle yourselves.
Don’t give in to the wedding budget pressures.
It breaks my heart to hear that couples are being made to feel ashamed of their budget, being pressured into spending more than they can afford, or being warned against doing things themselves (especially things y’all are totally capable of!)
If you’ve shared your budget and priorities with a vendor, and they continue to push and pressure you with fear-mongering or budget-shaming tactics, do yourself a favor and walk away. You want to work with vendors who respect you and value you as a client, not just as a paycheck. Keep the wise words from one of the world’s top wedding planners, Mindy Weiss in mind when selecting your vendor team: “The first rule for choosing vendors is to avoid those who suggest that your budget isn’t sufficient. The planning process should be about taking your ideas and making them work.”
In the meantime, we’re here to serve as a safe space for practical wedding planning advice. Be sure to join our Facebook group to get support from like-minded brides and grooms-to-be!
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Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.