5 Financial Tips For Planning The Wedding Of Your Dreams (From Someone Who’s Currently Planning Their Own)

If you’re reading this then you’re likely engaged and walking down the aisle some day soon. So first thing’s first, congratulations on your big day! You’re likely excited, but also anxious, especially if this is your first wedding and you’ve never planned anything more than maybe a friend’s birthday during college.

Trust me, I know all the feelings all too well.

And that’s because over the past several months, I’ve been planning my own wedding. So it’s safe to say I’ve felt all the highs and lows … the pure joy and the godawful frustration, especially when it comes to figuring out how to finance everything.

I know from all the time I’ve spent preparing for my special day that weddings can get very expensive. And it’s not only me saying that. It’s been confirmed. According to The Knot, average costs for a wedding in the U.S. reached $19,000 in 2020, which was a drop from 2019’s average wedding costs of $28,000.

That said, along the way, I’ve learned that there are things you can do to not go overboard with your expenses and still have a celebration that’s memorable.

First of all, you have to think of the kind of celebration you want to have. My first rule is: ONLY invite those who you actually want at your wedding. It’s your day, and there’s no reason to spend the extra effort, time and money on those who don’t really want to celebrate your special day with you. Now I understand if mom and dad are helping foot a large portion of your wedding bill this may not always be your decision to make… nonetheless, definitely voice your opinions and while you’re at it keep these cost-saving tips in mind:

1. Get your finances in order: Talk with your fiancé about how much each of you is willing to put towards a wedding. Now, if you don’t have experience with planning events and hiring vendors, do some initial research on venue and vendor costs, so that when you are discussing how much you’re willing to contribute, you can be realistic about what your options are (say you only want to contribute $10,000 total but also want your wedding to be at a popular venue with 100+ guests, then $10,000 is not going to be nearly enough to make that happen). If you are asking your family if they are going to contribute, then also reach out to them first to have this conversation.

Once you’ve settled on how much you and your fiancé are willing to put towards your wedding, along with any family contributions, you’ll be ready to plan within those parameters.

2. Decide on whether or not having a honeymoon is important to you: If you and your fiancé have dreamt about the day you’d get to run out of your wedding and jump on a plane to Fiji, you’ll want to account for this in your wedding costs.

Weddings are expensive and average costs don’t include the honeymoon!

If the luxury trip is important to you, consider scaling down your wedding by inviting fewer guests or even consider having a micro-wedding, so you can splurge on the big trip.

Now, if the honeymoon is less important and/or you’re willing to wait 6 months to a year to save for a trip, then you have less to worry about. After all, there’s always the option to go somewhere nearby for a romantic night or two that will lower the post-wedding honeymoon costs significantly.

You can also try to have the best of both worlds, but you will need a big enough chunk of change to get you through a decent-sized wedding and vacation.

3. Know what is most important to you at your wedding: You’ll want to make a list of the most important to least important things you want to have on your wedding day and then allocate your funds accordingly.

For instance, I’ve dreamt about my wedding for as long as I can remember and always pictured dancing the night away. So I knew I needed to have an excellent DJ, and was willing to pay more for a good one because I wanted someone who could get people on the dance floor.

Another important factor for me was the décor. But I knew it wasn’t going to be something I remembered or really cared for when looking back on the big day. So that’s why I’ve decided to spend less on smaller flower centerpieces and not go crazy with buying any décor that I know will get thrown away later.

That said, if you are someone who lives for DIY craft projects and wants to put together lots of fun décor for your wedding, that’s awesome! You’ll just want to keep in mind that you’ll have to manage getting these things to and from the venue right around your wedding. You’ll want to consider a reasonable amount of things to bring, so you’re not stressed trying to fit all your beautiful crafts into cars and coordinating logistics.

4. Choosing a venue: Once you know your budget and you’re ready to get rolling with the wedding planning, I would recommend starting with nailing down a venue. All the other vendors will fall into place around the venue and the date, so make sure you nail this down first.

Say you get a photographer first for a certain date, then you find your venue and the available dates don’t align… well then you’re out of luck on your photographer and their deposit (yes, most if not all, vendors require a deposit to secure them for your big day) or you don’t get to have the venue you hoped for and have to keep searching.

When doing site visits at the venues you like, make sure you’re asking important questions like: Do your fees include gratuity? What setup does the venue team do that is included in the cost? Some venues will not touch your setup, flowers, escort cards and so on, unless you pay extra and others have it included in the price, so make sure you ask. Of course, the more the venue does, the better. Some venue costs will even include a DJ or cake to sweeten the deal (I received a free champagne toast for all my guests for free!).

If you have less experience with event planning, I would recommend choosing a venue that also handles the catering. If you have to deal with the venue and caterer separately, it adds an additional element you’ll have to worry about. But if the venue is handling it all, then everything will ultimately be less stressful for you.

Also, you’ll want to read reviews before booking! Wedding-planning sites like The Knot and WeddingWire are great resources to see what other people have to say about different venues. If the reviews aren’t good and you’re reading about similar issues in all of them, then you know you’ll likely encounter the same issues. So make sure you feel good about the venue you choose from a cost and service standpoint.

5. Consider getting married away from the big city: Are you currently living in a big city like Los Angeles, New York or Boston with your fiancé? Are either of you from out of state and/or would have lots of family traveling from another state to participate in your special day? I know thinking of tying the knot in the city of angels where you met may seem like a dream come true, but the price tag is also out of this world. So if you or your fiancé are from out of state and most of their family is there as well, I would consider getting married in that state. That is, of course, if it’s not just another pricey city.

Costs for weddings are much lower in the Midwest. Wedding vendors and venues charge much less than they do in a city like New York. So if you decide to take your wedding to Ohio for instance, because your fiancé’s family lives there, then that will mean less travel for half your guests, and you will also likely spend less.

Now if out of state isn’t an option for you and your loved ones, consider looking at venues away from the big city; 1-2 hours away can make a big difference as well. But keep in mind you’ll want to hire vendors in that area as well (having vendors commute from the city to your venue will also incur travel fees).

This won’t be possible for everyone, but I would also highly recommend this option if you are willing to put in the work of researching vendors and venues outside of your area.


At the end of the day, how you decide to plan your special day is up to you! Just make sure you’re spending your money wisely. You’ll want to leave room in your budget for what really matters to you and learn to let go of things you know won’t make a difference. But remember, it’s your wedding day, and only you get to decide what that looks like for you and your fiancé.

About the Author

Iman Khan

Iman is an event professional working in higher education. She is a Boston area native and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Stage Management from the University of Southern California. Iman enjoys baking, cooking and traveling. You can find her on Instagram posting all about it @imanakhan.