This year, 2.25 million couples are expected to tie the knot in the United States, and even though just a fraction of those weddings will be vegan, couples of all persuasions face similar challenges when planning their celebration. One of the biggies is the wedding budget, and—more specifically—sticking to it!
Weddings are serious financial business; yours will likely be one of the biggest expenditures of your life, right up there with buying a new car, making a down-payment on a house, or sending a kid to college. In 2023, the average cost of a wedding hovers right around $30,000, but whether your resources allow for a six-figure budget or something considerably smaller, you still want to make wise decisions that won’t stretch you beyond your means or send you spiraling into debt. The easiest way to do that—with or without actual budgeting tools—is to determine your maximum budget and commit to it.
It’s perfectly normal to tally up your wedding wishlist and discover all of your dreams aren’t going to fit neatly into the budget you’ve settled on, but there are some relatively pain-free ways to have your (vegan wedding) cake and eat it, too, from rejiggering your cocktail program to swapping out the professional DJ. Read on for ideas!
10 Ways to Save Money on Your Yedding
- 1. Rethink the venue
Your wedding venue will be one of the biggest expenses–if not the biggest expense–of your entire wedding. (Average venue cost: $11,000.) If you really want to trim your budget, this is a great place to do it. Some of the most affordable venues are the ones in your own back yard–literally! If your home isn’t big enough for the celebration you have in mind, cast your net wide; do your parents or future in-laws have an incredible backyard garden? How about your bestie, or even your parents’ besties? Odds are that someone in your circle has the perfect place for an outdoor party, and it might even come with a scenic view, swimming pool, or space for lawn games.
- 2. Pare down the party
Intimate weddings with 50 of your nearest and dearest friends and family have their benefits; you get to spend more quality time with each guest, you’ll find far more options for your venue, and yes, your expenses will decrease considerably if you’re wining and dining a few dozen versus a few hundred. And bonus: smaller weddings often mean less stress–something every wedding couple can appreciate!
- 3. Scale back on favors
We’ve broached the subject of wedding favors several times here at Vegan Weddings, from the benefits of choosing eco-friendly gifts to the merits of quality over quantity. But how about skipping the favors altogether and making a donation to your favorite charity on behalf of your guests, instead? Even if it’s just $100, your charity of choice will be grateful, and your guests won’t know (and likely won’t care) if the donation was in the hundreds or thousands; they’ll simply see “a donation was made in your honor to XX charity” on your wedding program or place card and understand that this is a reflection of your values. Trust it will be OK!
- 4. Rent your wedding wear
Buying something formal and fancy that you’re going to wear once in your life is something couples have done for centuries, but that doesn’t mean you have to carry on that tradition. Today, brides and grooms have options that don’t have to cost a fortune, and are more eco-friendly than the wear-it-once tuxes and gowns of yore. Renting your wedding wear from a company like Something Borrowed, Rent the Runway, or Dare & Dazzle also gives you access to designer attire that might otherwise be out of your price range. And buying used is another stellar option; vintage boutique Dynasty Vintage in Ashland, OR, is a veritable treasure trove of gowns from every era, as is Miranda’s Vintage Bridal in Cleveland, OH.
- 5. Enlist your friends
Everybody has that one friend with impeccable taste in music, a portable turntable (or even a complete sound system), and a willingness to help out on your big day. That’s the friend you want to call on to save an average of $1,500 that you’d spend for a wedding-DJ-for-hire. And if that friend doesn’t materialize, you can still create an incredible playlist and task a bridesmaid, groomsman, or another trustworthy person to hit the play button on your phone and connect to a bluetooth speaker. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, and think what you could do with the cash you’ll save!
- 6. Skip the Saturday celebration
When it comes to wedding days, Saturdays are primetime, and you’ll pay a premium at just about any venue you choose if that's your day of choice (and for most couples, it is). But what if you could save literally thousands of dollars by marrying on a different day of the week? We’re not talking Tuesday morning, but how about a Friday night, or even a Sunday afternoon? Generally, daytime rental prices are more affordable, wherever you choose to hold your celebration, whether that’s your favorite vegan restaurant, local farm sanctuary, or a splendid botanical garden.
- 7. Pass on paper
The world of wedding invitations is vast and varied, beginning with the printing; will you choose offset or digital? And what about wax seals and insert cards? And have you considered whether you want embossing or blind debossing? The decision-making can be dizzying, and so can the prices. It’s not unheard of for couples to pay as much as $2,000 on invitation suites alone! Choosing paperless invitations not only streamlines the process and saves trees, but is infinitely more affordable. No printing costs, no shipping, and no wondering if your invites got lost in the mail. And today’s digital invitations are G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S. We love the many stylish options at Greenvelope, where invites can cost as little as $1 per guest.
- 8. Choose booze wisely
Bespoke wedding cocktails and mocktails are nice, and so is expensive French Champagne, but depending on how thirsty your crowd is, your budget can take a huge hit when it comes to celebratory swills. One way to trim costs is to choose Spanish cava, Italian prosecco, or sparkling wine from other parts of the world instead of Champagne, which is a luxury beverage with a price tag to match. Other bubbles are just as festive, and a lot more affordable. (Check our recommendations for vegan bubbly here.) And you know what’s even more affordable? Having an alcohol-free wedding. Having a gourmet tea bar, on-site barista for coffee drinks, or another special elixir sans alcohol are just a few of the options that couples are choosing instead of spendy booze to save big.
- 9. Re-evaluate the reception
There are many ways to host a wedding reception, including the post-ceremony standard of a sit-down dinner, open bar, and live entertainment. But traditional isn’t the only possibility. Consider a brunch wedding celebration, when prime venues are not only more affordable, but it’s also easier to get by without budget-busting alcohol. Another option is a cocktail soirée with passed hors d’oeuvres instead of formal dining. This is no less festive; just less formal. And it really feels like a party! And heck, even a weekday wedding at City Hall followed by a celebratory lunch at a local vegan restaurant could be amazing and more affordable than a catered reception. Keep an open mind and you could be pleasantly surprised.
- 10. Opt for elopement
Perhaps the most affordable way to get married is to skip the group festivities altogether and simply elope. That’s what Michelle and Elia did when they plotted their celebration à deux on the island of Maui, choosing to focus their financial resources on something that really mattered to both of them. “We knew that we wanted to get married surrounded by wild, natural beauty and that we would rather have an extended honeymoon than a large wedding,” says Michelle. If you’d rather splurge on an amazing travel adventure, or simply don’t have the desire for a group celebration, don’t be shy about choosing what’s best for you. Remember: this is your life, and your wedding! Have the wedding you want and savor every moment.
Want more vegan weddings?
You’re going to love our Great Big Vegan Wedding Idea Book!