3. Trim reception food costs.
Food can take an enormous bite out of the wedding budget, ringing up at an average total of $9,520 (based on a typical cost of $70 per person with 136 guests).1 To save on reception food, keep your menu and service style casual.8 One option: a morning wedding with a brunch reception. If you're planning a later wedding with a pre-meal cocktail hour, forego servers and fancy appetizers in favor of a simple-but-elegant spread of cheeses, fruit, and olives. For lunch or dinner, consider buffet or "family style" meal service. Bringing your own beverages or limiting options to non-alcoholic drinks (such as sodas, mocktails, or smoothies) can add to the savings. And for the cake: a tiered cupcake "cake" is a fraction of a traditional wedding cake's cost.
4. Fine-tune your musical choices.
Music is another area where couples can save substantially. A wedding D.J. costs about a quarter of the price of a live band.1 Even less expensive: DIY it with a playlist created by the couple, a rented sound system, and the help of your friends.9 To personalize the music even more, you can ask friends to suggest their favorite songs.
5. Include free or inexpensive touches.
Sometimes it's the personalization of the ceremony and reception that linger in guests' minds long after the last slice of cake is eaten. For example: a ring warming ceremony is a free and meaningful way to include guests in the ceremony. 10 At the reception, consider letting guests put a "message in a bottle" that the couple will open on a milestone anniversary. For fun, get some inexpensive hats, eyeglasses and other props and create a DIY photo booth.11
If you follow these tips, you can hold a beautiful wedding for much less than the typical wedding cost. With average wedding costs so high, you could even save enough to start married life by putting a down payment on your dream house.