Wedding expenses: It’s about finding a balance


Photo: David Derong/Iowa State Daily

Stores such as Hobby Lobby provide a full selection of wedding decorations at cheap prices.

Wendy Sloan

For college students, many of which are already paying for college, a wedding is a major expense. There’s the venue, caterer, flowers, decorations, dresses, tuxes, linens and much more. If couples aren’t careful, these costs can quickly accumulate.

However, a wedding is a day couples can treasure for the rest of their lives. And there are things couples can do to cut costs while they plan their wedding.

ISU student April Donahue, senior in interior design, said saving money on her wedding is important to her and her fiancé. The two plan on having a large guest list, so they know they will have to use their money wisely to accommodate for that. The couple’s wedding is still more than a year away, but Donahue said they have already discussed the major items for their special day.

When you should consider spending a little more

The first thing a couple can do is to sit down and discuss what aspects of the wedding are the most important. For some brides, the dress might be the most important thing, while others may want to use the money for flowers or decorations.

Donahue said that she plans on spending more on her photographer and videographer, flowers and other decorations that she can’t make on her own.

As a couple, she and her fiancé decided that they would rather take money they might spend on their wedding and put it toward their honeymoon.

“Tyler and I decided early on that a great honeymoon was very important to us, and we would not go so overboard on the wedding and jeopardize that,” she explained.

Making sacrifices

Once a couple knows where they plan to splurge, they can then look to make small sacrifices elsewhere. While many brides may choose to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on the perfect dress, this is something Donahue doesn’t plan on doing.

“I think it is silly to spend so much on one part of your wedding, and I would rather put the money toward entertainment, decorations and the reception,” she explained.

Consider a hometown wedding

For couples that are from smaller towns, having the wedding or reception back home might save a significant amount of money. Donahue is the sixth sibling in her family to get married. She and her fiancé, Tyler Thein, senior in electrical engineering, plan on getting married in her hometown in northern Iowa.

“I am from a very small town and venue rentals are not nearly as expensive as they would be in a big city,” Donahue said.

Get help from friends and family

Couples can also consider eliciting the help of friends and family to help them find ways to cut costs. In Donahue’s family, it is a tradition that her father prepares the main course at each child’s wedding. If her father prepares their meal, Donahue won’t have to spend any money on catering for the main course.

“I plan to follow in my older siblings’ footsteps and letting my father do that for me too,” Donahue said. “I think it is important to have linens on the tables and use nice dinnerware with real utensils, but by having family do some of the cooking rather than a caterer, I will save a lot of money.”

Donahue said they will also cut costs on their engagement photos and save-the-dates.

“A couple friends of ours took our engagement photos right here in Ames,” she said. “Many people have said they look professional, too.”

Donahue already knows how to use design programs that allow for a professional look. Therefore, she plans on making her own save-the-dates, wedding invitations and wedding programs.

“If you know someone or you yourself know how to do these small things well, you will save quite a bit of money,” she said. “I also plan on creating my own reception centerpieces, as well as enlisting my friends and family to help me set up and decorate for the wedding and reception.”

With wedding planning, it’s all about balancing your splurges with small sacrifices, especially if you’re on a budget.