Planning a wedding is one of the most joyous occasions followed closely by one of the most challenging. For some of us, our wedding dreams have been building up since we were little girls, while others have stemmed from recent Pinterest searches and creating the ultimate wedding boards. Whether you’ve been mentally planning your big day for decades or are just now clicking through popular blogs for inspiration, there’s one aspect that we can all probably agree on: Weddings are more expensive than we initially imagined they would be. That may sound daunting, but Team LC is here to reassure you that regardless of what your budget is, it won’t hinder how magical and perfect your wedding will turn out to be.

Just like every love story, each wedding and its corresponding budget is unique. Thanks to a great question that Lauren recently received in her Ask Lauren inbox, we’re breaking down how to plan your dream wedding on a $10,000 budget. If you’re worried that your funds won’t sufficiently execute the wedding day that you’re envisioning, we encourage you to read our tips below to see how you can cut costs without sacrificing your dream wedding.

How to plan your dream wedding on a budget

Know When to Splurge

An important question to ask yourself at the beginning of your planning process is which big ticket items you are willing to splurge on. Vendors like the photographer/videographer, DJ, caterer or florist are more likely to foot a bigger bill, but are also extremely important to have on your big day. One of our editors knew that she wanted her wedding day to be filled with beautiful arrangements and preserved forever in professional quality photos, so she decided to splurge on both the florist and the photographer. We encourage you to sit down with your significant other and pinpoint which vendors you’re willing to spend a little extra on. And don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that the rest of your vendors will be any less wonderful at a more affordable price.

How to plan a wedding on a budget

Skip the Wedding Cake

There are some wedding rules that are just fine to break, including the tradition of “the cake”. Wedding cakes have recently been deliciously replaced with dessert tables, candy bars, cupcakes and even apple pies. That doesn’t mean that you have to ditch the cake altogether. Set aside a small wedding cake that you and your significant other can cut into while allowing your guests to enjoy a table filled with homemade or catered treats.

How to plan a dream wedding on a budget

Merge Your Ceremony & Reception Sites

Another great way to cut the overall cost of your wedding is to merge both your ceremony and reception sites. Consider nailing down a venue that provides you with everything you need to execute your entire wedding day. For example, if you’re leaning towards an outdoor wedding we recommend scouting locations that have a big open lawn for the ceremony, as well as a space where you can set up dining tables and a dance floor for the reception. We’ve even been to weddings where the chairs used for the ceremony are then transferred over to the reception area… genius!

Another thing to consider: Have you ever thought of getting married on a Friday or Sunday? Most venues offer discounted fees for couples who are willing to get married on a day other than Saturday. Opting for non-peak times and dates can pay off in the long run.

Shorten the Guest List

One of the toughest items to check off your wedding planning to-do list might be the guest list. It’s time to tell your mom that even though your great aunt twice removed is a lovely lady, you’re keeping the guest list to immediate family and close friends only. Most venues and caterers have a specific price based off head count—so the shorter the guest list, the more affordable the wedding. Try sitting down and writing two different guest lists. List A should contain guests that you couldn’t imagine not being there while List B has guests that you’d like to invite, but may not have the budget for. Look over both lists and use them to help you narrow down the final selection. Always remember that your wedding day is entirely up to you, including the guest list.

How to plan your dream wedding on a budget

Be a DIY Bride

You probably knew that this category would pop up, especially since Pinterest is one of our very favorite websites. DIYing your decorations, flowers (we even have a bouquet and boutonniere tutorial here on!), and even your centerpieces can help you cut major costs on your wedding day. This is the perfect opportunity for you to enlist the help of any creative friends, family members, and even your bridesmaids. There’s no better bonding time than sitting on the living room floor, wine in hand, and crafting up a storm!

How to plan your dream wedding on a budget

Consider Your Contact List

There are plenty of opportunities for you to utilize your resources when it comes to your wedding day. Enlist a talented friend or family member to do your hair and makeup, officiate the ceremony, or even bake your cake or do your floral arrangements. These are just a few ways to incorporate special people into your wedding day, all while keeping your budget on track.

We hope that these suggestions can help alleviate any concerns that you may have for your dream wedding. Don’t forget to enjoy the wedding planning process! With a little creativity and help from your family and friends, we’re sure that your day will be perfect (and perfectly on-budget!).

Do you have any tips for anyone looking to plan a wedding on a budget?

Let us know your tips in the comments below!

XO Team LC

Photos: Jessi Burrone, Love Me Sailor, Marble Rye Photography, Elli Lauren Photography