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How to Plan a Wedding for Less Than $10,000

How to save money on a wedding
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You can cut wedding costs in half by choosing a free or inexpensive venue to double as the location for both the ceremony and reception.

3. Trim reception food costs

Food can take an enormous bite out of the wedding budget, ringing up at an average total of $11,560 (based on a typical cost of $85 per person with 136 guests).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.

Important Disclosure Information

This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

  1. Kim Forrest, The Knot, "How Much Does the Average Wedding Cost?" The Knot, published February 19, 2024; accessed March 7, 2024. Back
  2. Brides, "Should You Rent Your Wedding Dress? Pros & Cons to Help You Decide" updated February 15, 2024; accessed March 7, 2024. Back
  3. The Knot, "This Was the Average Cost of a Wedding Dress," Updated February 28, 2023; accessed March 7, 2024. Back
  4. Alabama State Parks, "Weddings" accessed April 20, 2022.  Back
  5. Georgia Department of Natural Resources, "Weddings in Georgia State Parks," accessed March 7, 2024. Back
  6. South Carolina State Parks, "Weddings," accessed March 7, 2024. Back
  7. Tennessee State Parks,"Weddings," accessed March 7, 2024. Back
  8. Money Crashers, "23 Cheap Wedding Reception Food & Drink Menu Ideas on a Budget" Updated May 30, 2023; accessed March 7, 2024. Back
  9. Sharon Naylor, "How To Save On Wedding Music," Bridal Guide, accessed March 7, 2024. Back
  10. Erum Salam, "What Is a Ring Ceremony and What Does It Signify?," Brides, updated August 21, 2023; accessed March 8, 2024. Back
  11. Jen Glantz, "7 DIY Photo Booth Supplies Your Guests Will Love," Brides, updated on June 13, 2023; accessed March 8, 2024. Back