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One of my favorite things Emily says is “You can have a wedding on any budget, you just can’t have any wedding on any budget.” Preach, girl! A price tag has nothing to do with how beautiful and meaningful your celebration is, but the fact of the matter is, weddings are expensive. If you, like the vast, VAST majority of brides, aren’t able or willing to splurge on every single detail of your wedding, the key to using your budget well, in the places that matter to you and your beau, is choosing your priorities early on.

From Alex and Connor’s wedding, by Mustard Seed Photography

We can’t stand “advice” that tells you exactly what to cut from your wedding–everyone’s priorities are different, after all! That said, there will always be some things that you can cut or save on, as well as things you’ll want to splurge on. To figure out your own priorities, we’ve found that the most helpful thing to do is to sit down with your fiancé in front of a list of possible wedding expenses (we’ve started a list for you below!). After crossing off anything that you know isn’t applicable to your unique situation, take turns circling the THREE things that matter most to each of you about your wedding.

Possible wedding expenses:
– Paper goods
– Bride’s gown
– Hair stylist
– Makeup artist
– Bride’s accessories
– Groom’s outfit
– Groom’s accessories
– Ceremony venue
– Reception venue
– Photographer
– Videographer
– Wedding planner
– Wedding coordinator
– Florist
– Ceremony decor
– Reception decor
– Catering
– Alcohol
– Band
– DJ
– Getaway vehicle
– Bridesmaid gifts
– Groomsmen gifts
– Welcome bags
– Favors
– Cake/dessert

This is just a starter list, so feel free to add anything you can think of! (P.S. If you have our Joyful Wedding Planner, there’s a worksheet for this on page 47).

From Maggie and Travis’ wedding, by Gracie Blue

Once you each have your top three circled, narrow it down to your three overall priorities. If there’s anything you both circled, those are obvious choices! Answers all over the place? That’s okay too. Think back to your wedding vision and choose the priorities that best match that. For example, maybe he circled catering and you didn’t…but you both LOVE the idea of a family-style meal made with all local, seasonal ingredients, just like the way you cook at home. If that’s central to your values and your vision for your day, it may need to take priority over the wooden cross-back chairs you’ve had your eye on for the reception.

Again, there are no wrong answers here. Just like your love story is totally unique to you and your beau, your wedding priorities will be too. For a little encouragement, here are some examples from a few of the weddings on our team:

Lisa: photography, flowers, my dress
Emily: photography, videography, paper goods
Marissa: photography, reception venue, catering

From Anne Sydney and Jesse’s wedding, by Melanie Mauer

We hope this exercise is helpful! Once you complete it, we’d love to know, what are your top three priority categories? Let us know in the comments below!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Shaun – Wedding Videos reply

    love <3. Such gorgeous photographs. The cake at the end is amazing.

  2. avatar Annika Larson reply

    I am planning my wedding for this fall. We want to make sure everything is planned out perfectly. This is a great idea to help prioritize all the different things that need to be planned. I definitely think that the reception and ceremony venue has a big role in the planning process.

  3. avatar Being a Gracious Bride Throughout Your Engagement     | Kyla Mary Events & Design reply

    […] dreams and preferences for your wedding day, ask your beau for his input and opinion. Define your wedding priorities together and ask him what he envisions for the day you’ll […]

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The full title of this post is “3 Creative Ways to Cut Your Wedding Budget Without Sacrificing Style” — and though that was a little long for our formatting, the second half is equally as important as the first! I firmly believe that the most beautiful weddings don’t have to cost a fortune, and that they are ways to trim your wedding budget that not only don’t detract from your day, but actually add beauty and meaning. Read on for three of my favorites!

From Emily and Matt’s wedding by Clark Brewer

Supplement your professionals. While some things should ALWAYS be left to professionals, I think there are some amazing ways to cut costs while working hand-in-hand with the pros you’ve hired! For example, I provided the centerpiece containers and ribbon to my florist, knowing I’d be charged a mark-up for those items if I didn’t. We also hired a live band for our reception, but worked with them to play a CD my uncle mixed for us over their sound system at cocktail hour. Our calligrapher, Moya, hand-lettered our first names for our invitation, and we were able to use that digital file several places in our wedding instead of, say, paying her to letter each one of our favors individually. A few more examples: order a professional wedding cake but ask family friends to bake additional sweets for your dessert table; hire a fabulous photographer but design your own wedding album with a company like Artifact Uprising or Milk Books; rent larger lounge furniture items like couches but add in pillows, ottomans, or side tables from your own home.

Elaine Palladino

Borrow! Not everything has to be bought new (or even old) for your wedding! Borrowed pieces can lend a beautiful air of family and heritage to your wedding day, and, in my experience, guests love having a hand in the magic! I borrowed my clutch, my bracelet, my earrings, lots of our centerpiece containers, our communion cups, easels from my artist friend, pillows and blankets for our lounge area, cake plates, and probably many other things I can’t remember. Replacing expense with meaning = always a win in my book.

From Darcee and Hunter’s wedding by Jen Dillender

Share! I was lucky enough to be marrying just two months after my now sister-in-law, so we purchased several things to use at both of our weddings, including our veil and four boxwood garlands. We were also able to split some bulk supplies (like out-of-town bags) and therefore get a lower cost. I’ve long loved the idea of brides getting married on the same weekend at the same venue sharing major costs, like a tent or draping, and was thrilled to get a press release from a company the other day that’s making this more plausible! Bouquet for a Day is a site that matches brides together that are getting married at the same location and within a day of each other. Not sponsored, just thought it was a super cool idea after my own heart :)

I would LOVE to hear: are you using or did you use any of these budget-slashing tactics at your wedding? They really can make a huge difference!!

P.S. More budget advice.

Jen Dillender and Elaine Palladino are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
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  1. avatar 4 Ways To Save On Your Wedding Venue – Affordable Wedding Resources reply

    […] gave some off-beat tips on 3 Creative Ways to Cut Your Wedding Budget […]

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Last week we tackled one of the trickiest (and most common) wedding planning questions when we asked “how much does a wedding cost?” This week, we’re moving on to the next logical step: who ponies up the money? :) Read on for our thoughts on who pays what in the wedding!

See more from this engagement session by Elle Danielle on Facebook Friday!

According to Emily Post, “The days when the bride’s parents were expected to bear all the expenses of the wedding and reception are over. It’s now more common for engaged couples, especially those who are established wage earners, to pay all or most of the costs or at least to share some of the expense with their parents. The groom’s family may also make a substantial contribution.”

We tend to agree, as does the data! From a survey of 16,000 couples married in 2014, Splendid Insights found that 80% of respondents contributed to their wedding. 62% had parents who contributed to the wedding, and 35% had a partner whose parents contributed.

This pattern of a community coming together to pay for the wedding seems to hold true in the Southern Weddings office, as well. Marissa and Lisa reported to me that they, their parents, and their husbands’ parents all contributed or are contributing to their wedding budgets. Same goes for my household, except my grandmother was added into the mix, too! For all of us, the money all seemed to go into one pot, though the tradition of the groom’s parents paying for the rehearsal dinner seems to have some staying power.

Of course, while you might hope your parents will contribute, unless they make the first move, you still need to ask them! We’d recommend going into the conversation with a grateful heart and without expectations, being thankful for any contribution they’re willing and able to make. I’d also recommend taking the lead with your parents, and letting your fiance do the same with his.

Not all parents are willing or able to contribute financially, but they (or other friends!) might be pleased as punch to contribute in other ways on or before the wedding day: sewing napkins, stuffing envelopes, assembling favors, playing music, setting up your reception space, scouting vintage china, lending centerpiece vessels, addressing invitations, brewing beer, or baking desserts are all places to start! Graciously take people up on their kind offers whenever possible – not only will it help cut down on costs, but it can give your wedding a beautiful sense of community. In our experience, loved ones love being asked to play a role in the big day!

Finally, don’t despair if you’re financing your celebration on your own. Start saving as early as you can (just $5 a day over one year adds up to $1800!), and prioritize the parts of the wedding that matter most to you. And when all as fails, keep in mind that the quickest (though not the least painful) way to cut your overall budget is to lower your guest count.

Friends, I’d love to hear: who is paying for your wedding? You and your fiance? Some combination of your parents? Let us know in the comments!

P.S. More of our best budgeting advice.

We’ll be sharing a quick and simple piece of wedding planning advice based on our most frequently asked questions once a week! Feel free to email us with your own question, or pick up a copy of the Southern Weddings Planner for all of our best resources in one place!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Anna reply

    My husband and I were so grateful that both of our parents were able to help contribute some to our wedding. After sitting down to talk with them and learn what they were gifting us, we supplemented the rest of our budget with our own savings. It was so important for us to do this before we started planning to have realistic expectations of what we would be able to afford for our big day!

  2. avatar Jen reply

    My parents decided on a set budget, and anything over that my fiancé and I will cover ourselves. It works out because we are blessed with funds to cover all of the basics, but we have the option to add a few more things if we’d like!

  3. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    I love the idea of a self-sufficient couple paying for their own celebration. With that said, I think graciously accepting any gift to help with your day is wonderful, too. It doesn’t take a huge budget to make a dream day!

  4. avatar Abby reply

    My parents wanted to go a very traditional route and paid for our wedding. They gave me a budget to stick to and we were able to plan the wedding we all wanted within that. I think my fiancee’s parents would have been happy to contribute but my parents actually refused. They have 4 sons and I am their only child so I think in their minds at the end of the day they were probably all spending the same on weddings in our lifetime. It was such a blessing to have that financial support, we would not have had the same wedding if it were left to us to pay for on our own and is giving us the ability to put our money towards a house in the future.

  5. avatar Samantha reply


    Our 27 year old daughter met a 61 year old man 2 months ago and is now engaged planning a wedding!

    This is her first marriage and his 4th.

    She wants to sit down and talk about the wedding.

    What can her father and I expect to have to pay for?

    It just seems to me that the advanced age of her fiance’ would say that he should be paying for this wedding!

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Mom and Dad

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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