Planning a wedding can be, although immensely fun and exciting, stressful. Behind the scenes of beautiful flower arrangements and romantic lighting is a whirlwind of decision-making that can be tricky. Yet although it may appear so, the happiest day of your life does not also have to be the most expensive. If you’re planning your wedding on a budget, or simply want to make sure your expenditures are efficient, this list of tips will help you plan the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank!

Get your priorities straight

Do you want the wedding gown of your dreams or your first choice acoustic band? Do you want the venue you’ve been eyeing or the dishes from your favorite restaurant? In order to plan the wedding you want, you have to make some sacrifices so that everything can fit comfortably in your budget. Decide the priority order of your vendors, including which ones are at the top of your list. The important part here is that you understand the top 3 vendors that you can’t compromise on, and figure out how to adjust the others to fit into your budget.

Keep time in mind

Just like you want to be smart with how you spend your budget, you want to be smart with how you spend your time. The best idea is to have a short engagement and start making your wedding plans when it is less than a year away. Your opinions, ideas, guest list, and the latest trends can all change if given enough time. Planning too early can leave room for changing your mind once you’ve already started spending, which can result in losing deposits or needing to take money out of other certain budget areas.

Trim your guest list

It’s a simple concept that as your wedding guest list gets smaller, so do your wedding costs. Most people think that they have to invite everyone in their address book to have a wonderful wedding, but that really is not the case. This notion that a big wedding is a better wedding is an outdated idea. Instead of sacrificing certain planning items like decor or food in order to invite everyone you know, opting for a shorter guest list will allow you to plan your dream wedding on a friendly-sized budget.

Don’t be afraid to be thrifty

Many people have this notion that secondhand items do not have a place in weddings because everything should be something that you picked, not what someone else picked. However, previously loved dresses and decor certainly have a place at weddings that are on a budget (and you don’t have to be a penny pincher to want to save a chunk of cash). Wedding dresses at consignment stores sell for a fraction of their original price and have only been worn once, if at all. Another thrifty option is to sell your wedding items after your big day has passed because, what else are you going to do with hundreds of vases? Although these tweaks are just small adjustments in the grand picture of your wedding, they will save you large amounts of money that could be used for hiring an excellent wedding photographer, or even towards planning an exotic honeymoon!

Have a destination wedding

You may think it doesn’t make sense, but weddings that are overseas can actually help couples save money (and not to mention make your wedding extraordinary). Although the flights to a destination wedding cost a pretty penny, the flowers, cuisine, and decor can be so inexpensive that it offsets your plane tickets. Having a destination wedding also cuts your guest list, making your wedding even more affordable and wonderfully intimate.

Although it may be tricky, focus on planning a day that will be perfect for you and your fiancé, and not perfect by someone else’s standards. It is important to not create too much financial stress from your wedding, because it starts your marriage off on the wrong foot. Just remember that your wedding is a wonderful occasion that you will cherish for years to come, so make sure you plan something that is truly your own.

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