How To Reduce Your Wedding Budget

Are you planning your dream wedding but looking to keep those budgetary reins in check? Well, you've come to the right place! In this blog post, we'll share some friendly and creative ideas to help you reduce your wedding budget without compromising on style or joy. From the allure of eloping to the beauty of DIY flowers, skipping the DJ for curated playlists, and embracing the trend of cash registries, we've got you covered with budget-savvy tips that will make your special day truly memorable. So, let's dive in and discover how you can create the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank in 2023!

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01. Elope Instead!

Think about the best day you and your lover could have together. Think about what you’d want to do from the moment you woke up to the moment you went to bed. Where would you be? What would you eat?  What ‘s the view? What adventure would you take together? Here’s how we see it—this is your big, fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime day that you’re going to look back on forever. It’s your anniversary date that you’ll relive every year—shouldn’t you have a day that you want to remember because every single moment was perfect? And more than that, shouldn’t you have a way to relive every single moment? That’s the thing—sometimes people think that elopements are all about a few portraits, saying vows, and scheduling out an hour or two of photos.

But that doesn’t have to be it. An elopement can be a full day (or two!) celebration. All you need is a destination, photographers to capture the moment (hey hey I also officiate) and maybe a few friends or family to watch. It’s that simple (and also several grand cheaper than the average wedding in Hawai’i, which was ~$37,000 in 2019!). But the numbers published by the Knot, Wedding Wire, etc. are known to be wildly inaccurate. You can easily rack up a 50-75k bill in cities like New York or LA without trying. By contrast, you can have an entire destination wedding in Hawai'i for 10-20k (travel included!).

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02. Ask a friend or family member to officiate.

Even if you’re not trying to save money, we still think you should have a friend or family member officiate. Why? Because it makes the ceremony that much more special. Unless it’s a religious ceremony, or you have special ties to the officiant (they’ve been your pastor for years), we suggest that everyone uses a friend to officiate. Trust us, we’ve heard our fair share of ceremonies. The ones I cry at, laugh during and remember have all been ceremonies done by friends or family. Most professional wedding officiants have a script that they’ve performed hundreds of times. Not all speeches are created equal, and some have clearly not been revised in years. We literally heard the exact same ceremony, performed across multiple couples. Your love is unique, don’t you think the words that marry you should be too? The process itself is pretty easy, and it will make your wedding (and the photos!) all the more special.

03. Skip the Big Band or DJ

When we first started looking into music for our own wedding, the band we wanted would have cost between $5,000 - $12,000 (I know! Apparently, we have expensive taste in music!). But a small wedding band or DJ can still run you several thousand dollars. For our own wedding, we opted to make our own playlists, rented a speaker (for around $150), and plugged in an iPod. One of our more outgoing friends MC’d when we needed, i.e., to announce speeches, the first dances, and that it was time for Patrick and me to shove my mom’s beautiful cake (hey oh! - homemade desserts also saving us money) in our faces. Plus, Patrick and I have pretty indie tastes in music, so I knew I wouldn’t like 90% of the playlists a DJ would give us. We went a bit more mainstream with our music choices for the wedding to make sure our guests knew some tunes. But, choosing our own music ultimately meant that every minute of our wedding would have an ambient sound that we loved, which made it all the more special. We’ve been to several other weddings where they made their own playlists, and it never feels like you’re missing something or the dancing isn’t as upbeat as with a DJ.

Plus, it was super fun to make playlists as a date night task!!! Before our wedding, we sat together, had a dance part in our living room, played our favorite songs, and sorted them into playlists. We knew how long each playlist needed to from our timeline.

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04. Make your own bouquet (or downsize your flower order)

So many of our brides have made their own bouquets, or a portion of their wedding flowers. Fresh flowers are equal parts beautiful and expensive. The perks of having a Hawai’i wedding? The islands are gorgeous, so any outdoor venue will naturally need less decor. Understandably, many florists have a minimum order quantity ($3,000 + is not uncommon). Full scale florals for a large wedding can easily run over 20k. Know before you sign anything what the expectation is, and ask your florist if there’s a cheaper flower option for your color palette. Supplementing large floral displays for smaller leaves is also a stunning alternative that’s usually less expensive. And, most items (like lei’s) can be bought separately.

If you are eloping, most florist will make just a bouquet or you can easily order Lei or Lei Po'o (flower crown) for a fraction of the cost. We've found that most couples spend between $200 - $500 for their flowers when they're eloping.

04. Use a Cash Registry (promise it's not tacky anyomore - it's just 2023).

This was honestly one of the best decisions we made for our wedding. Most of us have all the pots and dish towels that we need. Instead of registering in stores (pretty sure this was only invented so rom-coms can have a plot point where the couple argues) opt to use a cash registry like ZOLA instead. Need extra money for your honeymoon - great? Want to use the money to pay for extra vendors - that’s great too. If you’re not sure that aerial photos or an underwater trash the dress session are in the budget they make a great gift. We’ve know brides that have used their registry to pay for a bigger wedding cake, honeymoon adventures, and print credit for the wedding pictures.

Wedding guests LOVE to feel like they are getting you something specific (whether that’s a new set of pans or a wedding album). Need help creating the perfect print package? We’d be happy to help! Just make sure you ask for what YOU really want -below you’ll find some ideas for how to use your wedding registry.

Other Ways to Save Money on a Wedding

Choose a Non-Traditional Venue: Look beyond traditional wedding venues and consider unique locations such as public parks, beaches, or even a friend or family member's backyard. These options are often more affordable and can still provide a beautiful backdrop for your special day.

Opt for a Buffet, Food Stations, or Food Trucks: Buffets or food stations can be a cost-effective alternative to plated dinners. They offer a variety of food options and allow guests to choose what they prefer.

Use Digital Invitations: Save money on printing and postage by opting for digital wedding invitations. There are plenty of online platforms that offer stylish and customizable designs.

Borrow or Rent Decor Items: Check with friends, family, or local rental companies for items such as linens, chairs, and decorative elements. Borrowing or renting can save you money compared to buying everything brand new.

Opt for Off-Peak Wedding Dates: Consider getting married during non-peak wedding seasons or on weekdays. Special number dates (ex. 02/04/2024 or 12/31/2023) can cost thousands more. Venues and vendors may offer discounted rates during off-season, allowing you to stretch your budget further.

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