Let’s face it: Weddings can be expensive. In 2016, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. was over $35,000. That’s enough money for a down payment on a home or a brand-new car!

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to cut costs and still have a gorgeous wedding. By setting a budget and sticking to it, along with creative money-saving solutions, you and your partner can have a beautiful wedding day you’ll remember for the rest of your lives.

Check out our ideas for keeping your wedding spending down and making the most of every dollar!

Trim that guest list

We get it—you want your friends and family there to celebrate your marriage. But do you need to invite your parents’ neighbors, your hair stylist, or your fourth-grade teacher? Unless you have close relationships with these people, there’s no reason to include every sort of friend and acquaintance on your guest list. Every addition to your guest list makes your wedding more crowded and less intimate, while also sending costs skyrocketing, especially when it comes to food.

Hold the ceremony at home or outdoors

Renting a venue is one of the largest costs associated with wedding planning. If you or your parents have a picturesque home, consider having a backyard wedding, which is much cheaper but still beautiful. You can also rent a place at a public park for a small fee. Just be aware of the weather forecast and have a solid Plan B in case of rain or extreme heat.

Use fake or preserved flowers

Fresh flowers can be costly and are one area of the wedding budget for which many couples don’t allot enough money. Consider going minimalist with your flowers, like having bridesmaids carry a single rose or even making your own bouquet from flowers in your garden. And, contrary to popular belief, quality fake flowers don’t look plastic or cheap. You can even purchase preserved flowers that retain their color and shape but cost significantly less than fresh flowers.

Create your own invitations and programs

If you have a computer and a quality home printer, you can create your own invitations and programs and print them yourself—a much cheaper option that ordering from a stationery company. And if you’re not skilled at graphic design, websites like VistaPrint offer cheaper options that will fit better in your budget.

Thrift your décor

Instead of buying pricey, brand-new décor, check out your local thrift shops and flea markets for fun pieces that work with your color palette. And be sure to check out craft stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, which have sales every week and a wide variety of décor items. You can even check out Facebook Marketplace and other online resale websites for recent brides who are selling their wedding décor.

Choose affordable wedding bands

Wedding rings are a major part of the wedding ceremony, but they can be a huge expense as well. Consider going for a cheaper metal than gold, like sterling silver or titanium. And, if you want your wedding band to sparkle, look into alternative stones instead of diamonds.

Ask friends and family for help

When you’re looking for ways to cut costs on your wedding planning, talk to friends and family about your desires and vision for your wedding. You might be surprised what connections they have or clever suggestions for ways to save money.

Avoid the “W word” when talking to vendors

Most vendors have a huge markup on their wedding services but charge significantly less for other events. When first speaking to caterers, florists, and musicians, don’t mention that you’re planning a wedding. Simply ask for a quote for an event you’re planning. Of course, you’ll have to reveal that you’re planning a wedding before signing a contract, but getting a lower estimate at the beginning can help you negotiate when they try to charge you more for the same service. 

Plan as much as possible

The best way to stick to a budget is to plan ahead. List out every item you need for your wedding and start looking around well before you need anything finished. The more time you have, the better chance you have of finding discounts.