While gathering with friends and family to celebrate weddings is fun, festive and memorable, it’s also very expensive. Not only that, but costs are rising. According to wedding website The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in 2022 was $30,000 — up $2,000 from 2021. With such a financial impact, a wedding can end up being more stressful than celebratory.

But with a few tricks of the trade and tweaks to your plan, you can trim your budget back, allowing you to breathe deeper, enjoy the event and maybe even have a little extra money in your pocket after the guests have all gone home. 

Here are a few ways to save on big celebrations. 


Hire a wedding planner.

While it’s an additional cost, hiring a wedding planner can ultimately lead to additional savings. Wedding planners come with their own Rolodex of preferred vendors, many of whom provide a special rate or discount to their clients. Their expertise will help lead you to less-expensive options, while their job is to keep you on budget. Plus, there’s the whole part where they save you time and stress, which in some ways is priceless.


Choose an off-peak day and date.

A Saturday night event in October sounds lovely — but that popular day of the week means almost everything will cost significantly more for everything from the venue to rentals to the officiant. Hold your event on an off-peak day in a less-popular month and you could save a good chunk of money. For example, look at US holiday weekend Sundays — think Memorial Day or Labor Day or Indigenous People’s Day — for an event that’s less pricey while also still travel-friendly. 


Go paperless.

Weddings and other events come with many printing costs, including invitations, menus, programs, and more. One quick way to have a less expensive event is to cut down on paper costs. Opt for paperless invitations. Print out one large seating chart poster instead of hundreds of place cards. Post one large fancy menu that all guests can see instead of one for every place setting. Eliminating paper goods is a quick and easy way to save money while also making a positive environmental impact. Plus, guests love the ease of a quick-click RSVP. 


Be flexible with flowers.

From altar blooms to abundant bridal bouquets, flowers can eat up a large part of the event budget. If you dream of a flower-filled event, you can maximize your budget by moving ceremony florals into a reception venue, or using bridesmaids’ bouquets as centerpieces. Or, if you’re not married to the idea of flowers, opt for candles as décor, which are less expensive while also dramatic and beautiful.


Strategic food and drinks.

Let’s be honest: Unless you’re serving a gourmet menu, guests rarely remember what they had for dinner at a wedding. Simplify your bar menu by offering only beer, wine and soft drinks, or by providing spirits through one signature cocktail. When it comes to the cake, opt for a giant, delicious sheet cake from a store like Target or Hy-Vee and add flowers, frosting and other decorations. We’re guessing few people will know the difference — or will even care.


Select the right venue. 

Rental costs for chairs, tables, linens and other essentials can take over much of an event budget. But if you hold your party at a restaurant instead of an event venue, you’ll eliminate these costs altogether. Restaurants have these supplies on hand already — think seating, serve ware, plates, tablecloths and serving staff — which will save you big bucks on rental costs, permits and other fees.


Stay on top of social media and store sales. 

Follow your favorite vendors, boutiques, stores and other event-centric outlets on social media and keep your eyes out for special offers and discounts. Additionally, keep tabs on your favorite local bridal or consignment stores for sales on gently used dresses, suits, jewelry, shoes and other wedding attire. 


Tap your friends and family for help. 

When it comes to throwing a budget-friendly event, no one is a better help than enthusiastic friends and family. Ask your best friend to serve as officiant or emcee. Have your friendly aunt cut and serve cake. Tap your best college friends to play bartender. Get your music-loving sibling to create the perfect playlist. It will not only save money, but friends and family will feel honored to be part of your big day. 


Cut the guest list.

Simply put: the bigger the guest list, the higher the costs. According to The Knot, the average cost per wedding guest is just over $250 per person. It’s difficult not to have everyone you love at your event, but cutting a few people off the list can yield significant savings. Take a good, hard look at your guest list and make a few cuts to help save money. Kids and plus ones are a great place to start, especially if your guest doesn’t have a significant other.

With a few hacks, a commitment to saving and a strong financial plan, you can ensure your wedding or other big event falls within your budget, so you can enjoy yourself and truly celebrate the occasion — while starting your new life together on the right foot.