How to Plan a Beautiful Wedding with a Small Wedding Budget

In the middle of an economic recession, you might feel like your dream wedding is far out of reach. However, having a budget that seems too small to give you all the elements you want at your wedding can actually help you get creative and make the most out of your special day. So let’s go over how to plan a beautiful wedding with a small wedding budget while maintaining all the parts that make your special day unforgettable! And when you're done here, be sure to read our 50 Ways to Save for Your Wedding to help create your target budget, visit our friend Jessica's Budget Savvy Bride for the ultimate online resource for planning weddings on small budgets, and grab her budget savvy wedding organizer book! You can and will have an incredible wedding day at any budget!

How to plan a beautiful wedding on a small budget

Shrink the Guest List

The first thing to consider when you're on a small budget is the guest list. While you might have originally envisioned a huge wedding with hundreds of guests, sometimes this isn't feasible unless you have the savings to splash. Make a curated list of your nearest and dearest, be it family or chosen family, and have an intimate ceremony and a small party for a reception. These more micro weddings are just as beautiful and special as larger celebrations.

Once you know the overview of wedding size, organize that wedding guest list so you can be sure to provide a memorable day for everyone. And as a bonus, you won't have to fret about the seating arrangements for and dietary restrictions of 200 people!

How to plan a beautiful wedding on a small budget in Virginia

Look Around for the Best Prices

Wedding vendors range in price depending on experience, materials needed, and overhead. We don't recommend haggling professionals as it's frowned upon, but that doesn't mean you still can't be savvy to find the perfect wedding team within your budget. There's no harm in asking if the vendor is offering any specials or booking discounts -- just do so respectfully as wedding pros have been hit the hardest when it comes to the pandemic and being self-employed. Some might not be able to offer a discount on products, but they might be able to upgrade a service if it's within their power!

Beyond the vendors, make it a habit to search for decor and wedding attire items you need in places you usually wouldn't think of. Look at local thrift shops, garage sales, and even clearance bins at your favorite big box stores (cough Target cough)! If you're feeling crafty, you might find great affordable fabrics for table runners, cute candelabras, or centerpiece accessories to help make each table look perfectly decorated. Small boutiques carry samples and pre-loved pieces that cost a lot less than new designer items!

If you love flowers like we do, ask your florist for what's in season as seasonal flowers are cheaper and easier to source amidst global floral shortages like we are experiencing at the time of writing this.

For your venue and your other vendors, getting married in the "off-season" can save you tons of money if your heart isn't set on a particular date, so ask the professionals when are their available most affordable dates. (And when you do visit potential venues, save this top 10 list of questions to ask a wedding venue!)

It bears mentioning that with an intentionally smaller budget, setting realistic expectations will help you avoid disappointment. A smaller budget may mean compromising on certain details (e.g., rare roses only grown in another country, uniquely patterned linens if renting, wanting a popular holiday weekend date, etc). That phrase "champagne wishes on a beer budget" is very apropos here! Allow your wedding vendors to offer what's available within your budget so they can help make your day spectacular and complementary to your love story. More money doesn't mean more beautiful. It just means different options!

Ways to plan a beautiful wedding on a small budget

Have a Home or Backyard Wedding

You can save so much money if you have the option of a home or backyard wedding. If you have the space in your or a loved one's backyard, setting up a tent or a gazebo can cost a fraction of renting an outdoor venue. If you want an indoor wedding ceremony and have only a few family and friends in attendance, you can set up a beautiful altar area anywhere -- beach houses can be a great option to consider for this since they are mostly sized for large families!

You also may know someone who has oodles of land or a family estate home that might serve as a unique wedding location. And if you don't, consider your local parks for community venue space. Our editor-in-chief Chelsea and her husband already got married in the UK, but wasn't able to celebrate with her American loved ones because of the pandemic. Since there were two weddings they had to pay for, their intimate Virginia wedding reception had a small budget that needed to mostly go towards catering, so they looked to a beautiful little-known outdoor/indoor community space at a Williamsburg park.

Best ideas for how to plan a beautiful wedding on a small budget

DIY Whenever You Can (And When It's Sensible)

For the smaller details like stationery, gifts, and tabletop decor, we are huge cheerleaders for wedding DIY projects. You have seen our collection on Tidewater and Tulle that is the most visited section on the website, right? 😉

If you or your family have a penchant for power tools and are confident in your ability to use them safely, you can also sometimes save money by building things for your wedding. (Think about the materials' costs first though! Sometimes it is cheaper to just rent and not deal with all the hassle.) While we don't recommend building your own wedding tent for insurance and safety reasons, trying your hand at tables, bars, or decor can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Just be careful not to undertake a project if you’re not 100% certain that you can finish it in time for the wedding!

Sometimes DIY isn't realistic and can cost far more in materials and time than renting, so do your research and plan accordingly.

How to plan a beautiful wedding on a small budget

Focus on What Matters Most

Of course, weddings are beautiful and amazing, but that's not what getting married is about. Some couples can find themselves getting caught up in the costs and forgetting that what matters is that you’re starting your new life together with your partner, and you can’t put a price tag on that! If something is causing financial stress, ask yourself if it's a necessity. If it's not, consider getting rid of it. You may even be able to add more to another area in your wedding budget by eliminating things that you learned just weren't "must haves" for your wedding.

Photography: Aurelia Studios | Venue & Catering: The Hotel Weyanoke | Planning: Elite Event Management | Invitations: Faye Street Studios | Styling & Signage: Water's Edge Design | Florals: Black Creek Flowers | Calligraphy: Letterful | Videography: Stephen James Films | Makeup: Meg Sadler Makeup | Face Masks: DIY | Rentals: Paisley & Jade | Bride's Skirt & Groom's Suspenders: Amazon

[Originally published from this Hotel Weyanoke elopement inspiration on Tidewater and Tulle]

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