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You’ve said “I do,” but now you find that your piggy bank is significantly leaner. Are there some things you could have spent less on or eliminated altogether during your wedding celebrations? What are the things that brides regret spending money on?
Brides and grooms regret spending money on wedding invitations, the gown, table favors, and transportation. They also wish they didn’t splurge on the bouquet, decor, bridesmaid dresses, and their own shoes. Some have mentioned that a dessert table and hiring a band incur unnecessary costs.
Below, I will take you through a list of things brides regret spending money on for their weddings. I will also offer some budget alternatives you can consider when choosing elements you would like to include in your wedding.
What Do Real Brides and Grooms Regret Spending Money On?
After doing some research on Reddit, Facebook, and other forums, I compiled a list of the most common things brides and grooms regretted buying.
Brides and grooms claim they regret spending money on items and decorations that cannot be used beyond their wedding day. There are many budget options that couples wish they had thought about before their wedding. Also, things that are unappreciated by guests are the cause of financial regrets.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common things regret spending their wedding budget on.
1. Wedding Invitations
Wedding invitations take a lot of effort and money to make. Custom designs, paper, and printing don’t come cheap. Considering most invitation cards get binned or recycled after the event, not having physical invitation cards is something brides should think about. Or at least not spending a lot of money on them. Here’s my guide on the best wedding invitations for the price.
Why not use electronic invites instead? They are the most economical option, and you can opt to buy designs on Etsy for a low price. Some couples go further and invite their guests to RSVP through a wedding website or Google forms.
Alternatively, if you are set on using paper invites, look at my guide on making wedding invitations look expensive. I will show you what materials you can use and how to present them to your guests.
2. The Dress
You’ll remember the wedding dress for the rest of your life. However, it is also a dress that rarely gets worn outside any couple’s big day.
It’s not just the design and material that goes into the cost of a gown, alterations can also take up a large portion of the total amount. Here’s how much alterations cost for reference.
Cost-savvy brides advise you to browse off-the-rack dresses instead or have a loved one’s wedding gown refashioned for sentimental value. My best tips for saving money on a wedding gown are here.
I personally saved money on my dress by setting a hard budget of $2000 and buying an off the rack dress that was even less than that so I would have money set aside for alterations, which were minor.
Check out my budget guide to get a personalized recommendation for how much you should set aside for your dress or suit.
3. Table Favors
While it’s a nice little thank-you gift for your guests, most newlyweds find that table favors are not always appreciated. Some couples claim that many gifts are left behind at the table, and not everyone is inclined to use their personalized gifts at home.
Table favors like mugs, utensils, and keychains require costly materials. Choosing a door gift like chocolates can be a better option for guests. Most people like chocolate, which can be an after-dinner snack when the reception is over.
I went to a wedding once where the couple had a candy bar after dinner with bags for guests to fill to take home with them as their wedding favor. This was a great idea for favors because it was both fun and practical – serving as dessert, creating a memorable experience, and little of it went to waste. I mean who doesn’t like candy?
I also went to another wedding where the grooms donated to a charity instead of giving out plastic favors. This was a nice gesture and a great use of money that typically goes to something useful instead of something that might otherwise be thrown away.
4. A Vintage Car
You decide that you want to arrive at the venue in style — but do you need to hire a fancy vehicle to drive you and your beloved around for just one day?
You can transport yourself in any other vehicle and still arrive at the venue looking gorgeous. Better yet, keeping your ceremony and reception at the same venue means you probably won’t need a car.
5. An Extravagant Bouquet
In general, flowers are costly. A bouquet with intricate floral arrangements and exotic flowers can cost hundreds of dollars, but they will eventually wilt.
Choose a simple floral arrangement of your favorite flowers and skip the luxurious flower shops. If you want to decorate the wedding venue with flowers, consider getting blooms made from synthetic materials rather than natural plants.
For my own wedding, flowers was an area where I had significant cost savings. I spent about 1/6th of the average cost for florals and saved thousands of dollars. My best tip is to not give your wedding party bouquets. I had my bridesmaids each hold a large statement flower. And the groomsmen had a small greenery boutonnière. I have several other tips for saving money on florals in this article where I share how I saved money on my wedding and stayed on a budget.
Decorations can make the guests go “ooh” and “aah” when they are first seated. Still, other than that, does the decor add any value to the ceremony? Eventually, the event planner will clear them away once everything is over.
Most brides report that decorations need not be at the top of your wedding expenses since they are only temporary. Keep things simple and elegant by placing fewer decorative items around. It will make the venue look less cluttered as well.
7. Bridesmaid Dresses
If you have a color scheme, you probably want your bridal party to have dresses in matching colors. However, you can avoid having to spend a fortune dressing up your besties by asking them to pay for their own attire and accessories.
Opt for dresses that are inexpensive yet beautiful. By choosing dresses sold in retail rather than custom-made ones, you also avoid paying alteration fees because everything is in standard sizing.
I kept things reasonable for my wedding party by picking out a color and telling them they could purchase their dresses wherever they wanted to. That way they could decide how much budget they wanted to put towards the dress and I didn’t have to pay for anyone’s outfit.
8. A Dessert Table
The dessert table may look very appealing when you first enter the venue. But after the main courses have been cleared, there’s not often a line for the sweets. Couples have noted that guests are too full after dinner to think about buffet-style desserts.
Ask for desserts to be delivered directly to the table. Or, you can also pack a takeaway box of sweets like chocolates or biscuits for your guests to take home. That way, there will be no food or money wasted.
My favorite hack for saving money on a wedding cake is to have a smaller show cake to cut into for pictures. But then your caterer has a sheet cake in the back to serve your guests from.
9. A Band
While a live band is fun, hiring musicians does not always come cheap. Typically a band is the most expensive option for wedding music.
Sometimes it is better (and cheaper) to hire a DJ instead. DJs are getting very popular at weddings because of how versatile they are. They can play you any song out there to suit the mood or theme of the wedding.
If you love live music and want to incorporate some into your big day, consider a small dose of live music by hiring a musician for the ceremony or cocktail hour. Here’s a guide to hiring a violinist for your wedding and how much it costs.
I personally hired a pianist to play at my cocktail hour and it was such a fun addition to the wedding. He played for an hour so it was economical to pay him a few hundred dollars. And it added a lively atmosphere to that portion of the event.
Or check out my guide on playing Spotify at your own wedding. Being your own DJ allows you to save on entertainment costs and share your favorite playlist with your loved ones. My sister used Spotify for her wedding and it was a great way to have music at her smaller, more intimate wedding. She wrote the article above and it’s chock full of tips from a real bride’s experience on how to do it right so your guests won’t miss a DJ. And it won’t cause undue stress to you when planning.
10. The Shoes
The “wedding dress + shoes” shot is a favorite for the wedding photo album. But beyond the pictures, will the bridal shoes ever be worn again?
Many brides report not wearing their wedding shoes after the “I do’s.” Instead, some newlyweds wish they had bought comfortable and affordable shoes that last long-term. After all, no one can see your kicks if you’re wearing a long gown.
I myself bought some very expensive Badgley Mischka shoes for my wedding, thinking I would wear them even after the wedding on special occasions. Well, let me tell you they are the most uncomfortable shoes I’ve even worn. I took them off immediately after the ceremony and changed into FLIP FLOPS. And every time I try to wear them since I end up changing after 1-2 hours because they are unbearable to wear longer than that. Sadly the pretty designer shoes are not always worth the money.
Couples regret spending money on things that can’t be used beyond the wedding day. They also regret spending too much on elements of the wedding that often go unnoticed by guests.
However, not all soon-to-be married folks feel this way. If you have a large budget, choose whatever makes you and your partner the happiest. The most important day after your birthday is your wedding day!
Staying on a budget can be a challenge if you don’t have the right tools.
You can check out my free budget guide if you sign up for my newsletter. It automatically calculates what you should spend where based on your budget and guest count and helps you stay on track. It’s like the fairy godmother of numbers.
Additional budget resources
I’ve written extensively on budgeting for your wedding because I have experience setting and sticking to a budget I could afford without sacrificing the wedding of my dreams. And I want you to have the same experience. Here is some of my best content on budgeting for your wedding: