How to Say 'I Do' Without Breaking the Bank

About the Episode

On Zola, you’ll find that the average wedding cost is up to $31,020 for Florida couples in 2024. Depending on the size of your event, some will spend upwards of $100,000, while others spend under $10,000. It all comes down to how you want to spend your day, and this episode is full of budgeting guidelines to keep in mind. Cristina and Randy are talking all about weddings with Jessica Bishop, creator and author of The Budget Savvy Bride.


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Large Wedding Costs


Cristina asks Question 1: “What are some of the biggest costs to consider when planning a wedding?”

Jessica responds: “One of the things I really recommend all couples do is consider the guest count. With the 150 guests that we had, we had to stretch that $10,000 much farther to cover all of those guests. So, that’s one of the biggest factors that plays into what type of experience you're going to be able to offer to your guests that you do invite. So that's always number one for me.”

Jessica follows up: “When it comes to your different expenses across the board, venue is obviously a big one. Where you're going to host it, what type of venue – that can play heavily into how much that's going to cost, and the level of service you're getting for that cost. Then, food and beverage. Feeding  all those guests is a significant chunk of your budget. Sometimes venue and catering is at least 50% of your overall budget. Those are some definite big ones. Then, obviously something that many, many couples prioritize is photography. Photography and videography is often a larger expense as well, especially to get a good quality photographer.”

Finding Vendor Details


Randy asks Question 2: “Jessica, do you have any tips about getting the best deals from vendors? I know this is always a point of contention.”

Jessica responds: “One thing I would say is the farther in advance you can plan, the better pricing you can get. If you're booking a year, two years out, potentially you can get 2024’s pricing for a 2026 wedding. So sometimes it really pays to have a long engagement.”

Saving with DIY


Cristina asks Question 3: “What are some creative ways to be able to save money on decor at a wedding venue and do that DIY spin without it looking like DIY?”

Jessica responds: “I have a really great recommendation for this. One of the companies that we work with a lot at Budget Savvy Bride is called Something Borrowed Blooms, and they are a rental silk flower company. They’ve done the DIY of arranging these beautiful silk floral arrangements. They do centerpieces, bouquets, boutonnieres like all sorts of decorative accents, from garlands and aisle decor and everything. You rent them, they ship them to you, you set them up and use them for your wedding, and then you get to ship them back afterwards. They look absolutely stunning in photos. You totally cannot tell that they're not the real thing, and you don't have to get your hands burnt on glue guns or anything like that from assembling them yourself.”

Jessica follows up: “I think it’s a 70% cost savings when compared to traditional fresh flowers that are arranged by a florist. I mean, at the end of the day, you're giving the flowers away to your guests or they're getting thrown in the trash. It can be so wasteful. And I think a lot of couples experience major sticker shock over the cost of flowers.”

Commonly Overlooked Expenses


Randy asks Question 4: “So, are there any common expenses that couples often overlook?”

Jessica responds: I think something a lot of couples kind of neglect to budget for or to factor into their budget can be things like tips or gratuities for the different vendors involved in the day. There's a lot of debate over who should be tipped, who shouldn't be tipped – if they're a business owner, if they're a freelancer – there's lots of discourse about that online.”

Jessica follows up: “I think things that surprise a lot of couples are things like cake cutting fees or corkage fees. If you're providing your own wine or alcohol and it's not being provided by your venue, they might still charge you a corkage fee, which is essentially just a fee for opening the bottles. So those are things to watch out for in your contract.”

Where to Begin


Cristina asks Question 5: “When you're talking to a couple that are just starting in their journey of planning their wedding, what are some really great budgeting tools or budgeting apps or ways that you kind of coach them to start with?”

Jessica responds: “I think it's really important for couples to start by sitting down with their partner, their fiance, and looking at what you both have saved currently in your personal savings. Also, considering the length of time you want to be engaged, because that'll factor into how much you might be able to save each month to contribute to that wedding fund as well.”

Jessica follows up: “And then really just trying to keep your wedding and what you're going to spend on it in the context of your greater life goals and plans. If you're planning to buy a house, if you want to expand your family shortly after getting married – those are significant investments as well. My biggest soap box is about wedding planning and what you're going to spend on your wedding is to not go into debt over it, because at the end of the day, there's no ROI on what you spend on a party.”

Funding the Wedding


Cristina asks Question 6: “What advice would you give couples when you're bringing the family together? I mean, traditionally the bride's parents pay for the wedding. But how do you start having those conversations about who's paying for what?”

Jessica responds: “It’s so important to approach the subject with respect and open communication. Worst case scenario, if you and your partner end up paying for everything yourself, that means you also get creative license to do exactly what you want without having to weigh their opinions into the matters. But I think sitting down with both of your families and saying, ‘Listen, we're getting married. We would love your support in any way financially, if you're willing and able to contribute.’ Just get really clear on what the expectations are on their side for those donations or contributions to the funds. Because like I said, when your families are contributing financially, they might want to dictate some of those decisions. So you kind of have to weigh those options.”

Jessica follows up: “I think the sooner you can have those conversations, the better. Get clarity around how much they're contributing, when they'll be contributing it, and if they have any sort of desires or what they want their money specifically to go towards. Communication is key.”

Making It Count Essentials


Randy asks Quick Question 1: “How far in advance should couples start saving and planning for a wedding?”

Jessica responds: “As soon as possible, in my opinion. It's never too soon. Ideally, you're saving money anyway. So, maybe you're going to earmark some of that for your wedding fund. As soon as you get engaged, setting aside a dedicated fund is definitely a must.”



Cristina asks Quick Question 2: “What is the biggest budget mistake couples make?”

Jessica responds: “I would say not really sitting down and calculating what is financially feasible for them before they go out and start booking a venue or talking to vendors. You really need to know how much you have to spend before you go out and start talking to vendors.”



Randy asks Quick Question 3: “Are there any off-peak dates that are significantly cheaper?”

Jessica responds: “I think there definitely are, and it depends on the market where you're getting married. Obviously, seasonal sort of trends vary by location, but there are definitely discounts to be had by choosing dates in the off-peak seasons.”



Cristina asks Quick Question 4: “What are some last tips that you would give to couples that are about to go through this journey. What are the best ways that they can save?”

Jessica responds: “One of the best things that couples can do is sit down and talk between the two of you about what's most important to each of you, individually and jointly. Being able to make those decisions along the way, like what you want to splurge on versus what isn't so important is going to help you navigate the entire process.”



In this episode, Cristina and Randy highlighted a previous Making It Count episode, Money + Love Series Part 2: Wedding Planning Within a Budget.

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