Planning a wedding can be an expensive business, and not everyone has that kind of money to spend. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to have the most special day you can put together, right? We’re big believers in making your wedding truly personal and memorable, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth to do it. Here are our top tips on how to create a beautiful, personalized NYC wedding on a budget. We hope you find it inspiring!
We know how excited you are to get started with planning your special day. And the last thing you want to think about is the sensible stuff like how much money you have to spend. But stop! Before you go any further, we recommend tackling the difficult budget talk before you go wedding planning crazy.
If you’re a couple with a tight budget, then the first thing you need to figure out is your priorities for your big day. Does it matter to you to have the big expensive dress? Have you got your sights set on a super fancy venue? Do you want 100+ wedding guests and can’t imagine not inviting everyone to celebrate with you? Or is having your dream photographer your priority?
Ask yourself these questions, and then make sure you’ve got whatever is most important to you at the top of the list. Then, whatever doesn’t make a top priority is the thing you can cut back on and save the pennies on.
It can be hard, and sacrifices might have to be made. But it’s ok. Because, at the end of it all, you’re going to be getting married to the love of your life! And that’s worth more than any budget, isn’t it?
Some couples choose to prioritize NYC wedding photography and videography. It’s important to them to capture the moments of their day forever. At the end of the day, being able to relive the wonderful whirlwind is so important. Your photos are the heirloom that will last you forever from this occasion. Future generations will look back and see what a love-filled, marvelous day you had.
Some couples think they have to book a big, grand venue to create a unique wedding. But we disagree! In all honesty, if a space doesn’t have the atmosphere, then that’s what people will notice. So, instead, choose a place that has meaning to you. After all, you can dress up a humble venue to make it feel special, but you can’t always make the already grand space feel the same way.
We recommend choosing a place that’s personal to the two of you. It could be that you met in a park. Or you had your first date on the beach. Or perhaps you’ve both got a spot that you love being in and can’t think of being married anywhere else!
If no particular space springs to mind, why not scope out friends’ rooftops for a unique, breathtaking but intimate location? Here in NYC, you can’t fail to have an epic view from just about any rooftop. It’d certainly be a memorable and incredibly personal wedding.
And for an even more personal option, if you or your parents have a backyard, why not plan your event there? We love a backyard wedding. For one thing, you won’t have far to go after you’re dressed and ready. And there are always many lovely personal touches dotted around that are wonderful to capture as part of your day too.
When it comes to food, you don’t have to pay out for the big sit down dinner if you don’t want to. Catering is one of the largest wedding day expenses, especially if you’re planning on inviting a big crowd. So, get creative when it comes to feeding your guests and save on your budget!
If you’ve got a favorite food spot, why not talk to them about catering for your wedding. You might find, if weddings aren’t their usual business, that they come up with some low-priced options for you.
Like we said, you don’t have to do the big formal dinner. We once had a couple who ordered pizzas for everyone and served donuts for dessert! It was the best! You can also get everyone involved with a potluck dessert station, where everyone brings their favorite dessert to share.
So many people think they have to buy an expensive outfit for their wedding day. But what’s the point in buying something you might only ever wear once? You don’t have to wear the big white wedding dress, or an expensive tux or suit. Yes, it’s your wedding day, and we’re all for you wearing something that makes you feel amazing. But that doesn’t mean having to spend thousands on an outfit. Remember that!
If you’re worried about how to afford your wedding party’s outfits, ask them to wear their own clothes but bring things together with something they can all wear. A matching pin, cufflinks, shoes or something similar can bring everyone together but be a cost-efficient way to do things.
And, instead of buying yourself expensive jewelry or a watch, speak to your parents or grandparents and get a loan for the day. Is there a necklace of your Mom’s that you’ve always loved?
For a special little touch, why not sneak into your beloved’s shoebox and leave them a little shoe note? Some loving words on the sole of their shoe will be a wonderful surprise when they’re getting ready on the morning of your wedding.
When it comes to your NYC wedding ceremony, there are a thousand ways to make it personal and memorable. And most of them are relatively budget-friendly too! Personalize your ceremony by choosing favorite songs to walk down the aisle to. Or, better yet, if you’ve got any musical friends or family members, why not ask them to sing you down the aisle?
Speaking of friends and family, you can always have someone you love standing in as your officiant. Here in New York City, if your friend or relative isn’t already pre-approved to officiate marriages, they can be ordained online instead. They will then need to register with the NYC City Clerk’s office. So, make sure you research the process to do this!
While it’s lovely to spend out on professional flowers for your big day, it can feel like an unnecessary spend, knowing the flowers won’t be around forever. But there are some great ways you can still have beautiful flowers without spending a small fortune!
An idea is to give your flowers a dual purpose. So, flowers created for the end of aisles could then be moved to table centerpieces after the ceremony. Your bouquet could double up as your top table centerpiece, or be used to decorate your wedding cake.
Or why not look at alternatives to real flowers? You might consider using silk flowers or create a button or brooch bouquet for something totally unique and personal. And you’ll be able to keep it afterwards as a precious memory from your day.
Table centerpieces can really elevate a space and bring together a theme if you’ve chosen one for your wedding day. And, these days, anything goes! If you two are prolific readers, you could pile up books with flowers and candles. If you’re sports fans, use old trophies or frame some baseball cards. Basically, anything dressed up with some flowers and candles can pass as a fantastic centerpiece!
Another thing that unfortunately doesn’t stand the test of time is your wedding cake. We know plenty of couples that don’t get to even enjoy their cake on the day, and it’s not fit for eating when they return from their honeymoon. So spending out on this item may be low on your list of priorities.
When it comes to decorating the cake, you don’t have to buy an expensive cake topper. There are lots of awesome low-cost ones you can find online these days. Or create one yourself with some inspiration from Etsy or Pinterest.
Favors can end up rolling into some big money as you come up with ideas to thank your guests for being with you on your special day. But saying thank you and gifting your guests doesn’t have to be the big spend you might think.
Create little gifts that last, like small packets of wildflowers they can take home and grow. Or give them something they can enjoy later that night or the day after, with a food treat of some kind.
You can totally DIY your favors too. Plan an evening with some of your closest friends or your wedding party, and get them to help you put the favors together. Reward them with pizza and beer, and everyone is happy!
Ultimately, there are so many ways you can make your NYC wedding a memorable and personalized event without breaking the bank. Get creative, brainstorm ideas and enlist your friends and family to help. When you’re ready to talk about New York wedding photography and/or videography for your totally personalized wedding day, get in touch! We’d love to hear all your plans.
Hudson Valley wedding photographers capturing candid, authentic moments. Documenting elopements and wedding days in Westchester, the Catskills, and beyond. Available in Ulster County, Orange County, Dutchess County, and beyond. Wedding photographers based in Beacon, NY serving all throughout the Greater New York Area including Tarrytown, Hudson, Kingston, and more. Proudly serving LGBTQ+ couples.
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