Want to increase your odds for a happy marriage? A recent study from Emory University found that couples who keep their wedding costs down tend to have longer-lasting marriages than those who splurge. Also noteworthy is that couples who spend $1,000 or less on their big day tend to have a lower-than-average rate of divorce.
This finding isn't about having to serve burgers and beer on your big day, though. The good news is there are practical ways to pull off a seemingly lavish celebration that can keep your day meaningful, under budget and below the national spending average of $29,858. It's easier than you think. Wow your guests and make the day uniquely you with these eight dream day cost-cutters:
- Crowdsource your wedding photo album. Invite your guests to download various apps–a fun way to share their photos and videos with you in one convenient place. Plus, you'll get lots of fun, candid shots that are easy to upload and share after your big day has wrapped up.
- DIY invitations. If you have a great printer at home, you're halfway there. Browse wedding blogs or online stationery stores for free, customizable invitation templates. Or, purchase a hands-on kit from your nearby craft store. The upside: your invitations will reflect your personality far better than a standard design.
- Use inexpensive mason jars or eclectic vases for centerpieces. Fill them with floating candles, flowers, photos, decorative rocks or branches. You could save hundreds on centerpieces, barware rental or gift expenses. Plus, they'll make great decor around your home later.
- Pick your favorite flower and go wild. It's cheaper to order one kind of flower instead of multiple types. All baby's breath—and lots of it—can give your wedding an ethereal look. Create baby's breath chandeliers for your reception tent, big wreaths or chair sachets. This is an easy way to make your budget go further by putting your bridal party to work rather than a florist.
- Think big for small desserts. Skip a big tier cake and save hundreds. Serve cupcakes or a dessert buffet instead. It never hurts to ask around to see if your family and friends have baking talents to share!
- Consider brunch. The time of day and day of the week affect costs. Look into Fridays or Sundays. Many venues will cut you a deal on an off-hours reception. Consider brunch-time with a waffle and mimosa bar. It's budget-friendly (easy on the bar tab) and delicious.
- Ditch designer for your gown. Wedding dresses can be a huge expense, especially if you're thinking designer. Consider a sample sale, off-the-rack option or a designer bridesmaid dress instead that serves as a solid stand-in for a wedding gown.
- Consider the off-season. The typical wedding season runs May through October, and selecting a date outside of that range could translate to deep discounts. For better or for worse, keep your spending in check. As you get into full swing shopping for flowers, food, dresses and more, track your spending. With Navy Federal's Spending Tracker tool, you can view detailed account breakdowns of your expenses by category and time periods. Plus, you can view, manage and tailor your budget to help stay on top of your spending. That's something to say "I do" to.
Overspending often comes from an unrealistic budget. Follow this basic breakdown of what you can expect to pay:
- Reception: 48-50%
- Ceremony: 2-3%
- Attire: 8-10%
- Flowers: 8-10%
- Entertainment: 8-10%
- Photography/videography: 10-12%
- Stationery: 2-3%
- Wedding rings: 2-3%
- Parking/Transportation: 2-3%
- Gifts: 2-3%
- Miscellaneous: 8%
Once you have a starting point like this, you can shift your spending around to accommodate the things that matter to you most.