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25 Smart & Easy Ways to Save Big on a Wedding

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There is an old nursery rhyme that starts with “First comes love, then comes marriage…” but once you see what a typical wedding costs…. many people are inclined to skip the whole thing.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go broke to have a beautiful and memorable wedding. You can still have everything you want; you just need to think smart.

Check out these insanely smart ways couples used to make their wedding day wonderful and still conserve their cash.

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Avoid Saturdays

Almost everyone gets married on a Saturday, which means your venue, unless it’s at your parent’s house, will be more expensive. You can have a late Friday night or Sunday wedding and literally save thousands.

“We were offered a 15% discount if we got married on Sunday. It was a holiday weekend anyway, so no one had to worry about being hungover on a Monday!”- Ashley Fizzarotti: a recent bride.

Average Estimated Savings: $2,000-$10,000

Think Outside the Season

While weddings can start as early as April, the peak months, and therefore the most expensive, are June through September. Winter weddings, done just before or just after the holidays, are usually the cheapest time for renting your venue.

Recent bride Jessica said, “We got married in mid-May, so we still have beautiful weather but saved tons of money by not booking it in June.”

Average Estimated Savings: $1,000-$5,000

Invent Your Invitations

You can save a few hundred bucks, or more, by either going paperless and sending electronic invitations via sites like Joy, or by printing your own. Sites like Etsy have templates for invites that you can download, design, and then print yourself or take it to your local FedEx or other stores for printing.

“I saved more than $500 by going paperless. I got lots of compliments about not wasting paper and I was happy to have the money for other things.” – April Daughtry: newlywed.

Average Estimated Savings: $200-$1000

Get Serious Savings on a Gown 

While everyone wants a stunning wedding gown, brides-to-be have a lot of options these days. There are a great many sites offering used wedding gowns, such as Wore It Once, or Nearly Newlywed, which offers new gowns that women bought but never used.

Other thrifty brides have worn white prom dresses or had family heirlooms (your mother’s wedding gown, for example) refitted and/or restyled to suit them.

“I had a tailor adjust my sister’s old wedding gown and used my mother’s veil for my wedding. The only thing I purchased new were my shoes!” – Valerie, recently wed.

Average Estimated Savings: $200-$5,000

Have the Ceremony and Reception in One Place

Guests can sit at tables to watch the ceremony and enjoy appetizers or drinks before you even walk down the aisle. Not having to pay for transportation costs means you can save some serious bucks. Some locations will even cut you a deal if you tell them you will hold the ceremony there.

“I got married in the hotel our guests were staying at. All we had to do was walk from the room where the ceremony was held in the dining room! I would totally do this again. “Emma McGregor; new bride.

Average Estimated Savings: $1,000-$3,000

Use Your Own Vendors

You can save a fortune by finding a venue that doesn’t require you to use their vendors. You can choose far more inexpensive caterers and DJ’s than what most venues are going to charge you.

Lyndsey says that she saved over $7,000 just by choosing a venue that let her bring her own vendors. “This is the tip I give all my friends when they get married. Choose the right venue.”

Average Estimated Savings: $2,000-$10,000

Think Restaurant Reception

Rather than rent a location for your reception, have it catered, bring in chairs and decorative items, you might find that holding your reception at a nearby restaurant makes it easy. Everything is there except for perhaps some flowers or other decorations. Most restaurants will be more than happy to provide those when you book a reception in advance.

“After an exhaustive search, I found that it was so much cheaper to hold the reception at a restaurant, they already had everything I wanted!” – Jolene; newlywed

Average Estimated Savings: $1,000-$5,000

Wedding Cake Hack

When you consider that a wedding cake can be as much as $3.00 per slice, if you are willing to have a different type of wedding, you can save a small fortune by thinking outside the wedding cake box. Many modern-day brides are turning away from wedding cakes and have served mini-pies, a variety of cookies, cupcakes, and even a make-it-yourself banana split bar. Check out #17 for another money saving cake idea.

“I found a baker who worked out of her house and made us a huge variety of mini-pies. Each guest received 2 mini pies, and everyone raved about them!” – Emily Erker: recent bride

Average Estimated Savings: $200-$1,200

Great Deals at the Grocery Store

Almost all grocery stores use the same big bakeries that cake makers do. You can order your wedding cake and flowers all from your local grocery store for less than half of what a baker and florist will charge you. Some grocery stores even offer catering.

“I ordered all my flowers from the florist at my grocery store. It cost me thousands less and I got more flowers as well!” – Stephanie: a new bride

Average Estimated Savings: $1,000-$5,000

Save Big on Décor

If you choose a venue that is already beautiful, you won’t have to spend much on décor. Some ideas that other couples have used include:

  • A Japanese garden
  • An old ornate bank from the 1920’s, which had a beautiful rose garden
  • Almost every location has beautiful decorations in December
  • Public parks
  • Bed & Breakfasts
  • A large house with spacious or extravagant gardens rented on Airbnb
  • A college campus

“We got married at a water reclamation plant that had a beautiful Japanese garden. It was only a couple hundred dollars and we saved a fortune.” – Laura; newlywed

Average Estimated Savings: $500-$2,000

Let People Help

When friends, family members, or co-workers offer to help you with something in place of a wedding gift, take them up on it! If your friend’s mother owns a bakery and wants to give you a wedding cake as a gift, say YES!

“Rather than presents, we asked everyone to take care of a small part of the wedding. One guest paid for the photographer, another for the cake, it was awesome! We hardly paid for a thing and we saved big time!” – Gemma: A recent bride.

Average Estimated Savings: $200-$750

Consider the Cost of DIY

Many couples think that they can save money by doing a lot of things themselves, but sometimes, your life is so busy that the emotional turmoil isn’t worth it. Seriously consider the cost and the savings before you try to do everything yourselves.

Recently wed June Beedie told us “I wanted to do so many things but, in the end, it was really worth it to let someone else do it for me and it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be.”

Average Estimated Savings: $100-$500

Think Thrifty!

Thrifty as in thrift stores or consignment shops! No one will know if your décor items, linens, or your wedding dress is used unless you tell them. You will be shocked at the number of wedding items people donate to thrift stores after their wedding.

“I went to garage sales for almost all my décor items. I bought Mason jars and old doilies and made the most beautiful centerpieces for next to nothing.” – Dee Fox- August bride.

Average Estimated Savings: $500-$2,000

Don’t Do Dinner

No one says that you must have dinner for your guests. Think about serving hors-d’oeuvres, finger foods, and cake or, heck, just cake and champagne!

Newlywed Emily Olson says that she saved over $1,000 by having her wedding in the late evening and then served nothing more than appetizers and cake. “Everyone seemed happy and a more than a few women told me that they wished they had done the same at their wedding.”

Average Estimated Savings: $20-$100 per person

Cut Out the Cocktails

Like dinner, there are no rules which say that you must serve an endless variety of liquor to your guests. Save big by offering just champagne for toasts, or nothing other than beer and wine.

“We gave our guests only one “signature” cocktail, then keg beer. No one complained, and we had a great time!” – Rochelle: A new bride.

Average Estimated Savings: $2,000-$7,000

Save a Fortune on Flowers

When you consider that most couples spend more than $2 grand on flowers alone, looking for ways to save here can buy you a nice honeymoon! Some of the best ways to save on flowers and décor items include:

  • Ask if other newlyweds still have leftover centerpieces you can reuse
  • Check out Facebook and Craigslist for people who are offering to sell their leftover décor items
  • Craft stores have great ideas for wedding decor
  • Use flowers that are in season
  • Ask florists if they have any excess inventory that they are willing to sell cheap
  • Think big when it comes to flowers. Hydrangeas have huge flower heads that take up more space, which means you buy fewer stems.
  • Reuse flowers from the ceremony and have someone move them to the reception area
  • Flowering plants in large pots are sometimes cheaper than cut flowers

“I got some ideas for my décor from a craft store, then bought the actual items at the dollar store. My friends and I made everything in one weekend. It was both memorable and inexpensive!” – Kristen: Newlywed

Average Estimated Savings: $2,000-$10,000

Fake It

While you might think that fake flowers look, well, fake, you can get away with a lot more than you think. Try mixing half real flowers with half fake flowers. Other’s have used real flowers for bouquets and boutonnieres but used fake for church decorations.

Speaking of fake, one bride we know of made a “fake” wedding cake out of cardboard with only the very top layer being a real cake for cutting and face smooshing by the bride and groom. Guests were served cheaper sheet cakes in the back and no one seemed to notice.

“My mother and mother-in-law bought flowers from a wholesaler and fake flowers from a craft store. They added greenery from our own yards and made the most beautiful decorations and bouquets!” – Leslie Roundy: newlywed

Average Estimated Savings: $2,000-$10,000

Managing the Guest List

While no one wants to insult people by not inviting them to the wedding, guests really rack up the cost of your event. Keep things intimate by inviting only couples, not singles who may or may not bring a guest. If possible, keep your guest list very intimate, inviting only family members and/or those who you have close relationships with. If you can’t keep it small, have both the bride and groom cut 10 people from their list. This alone will save you a minimum of $1,000.

“I didn’t want to spend a fortune on favors for my guests, so I made one charitable contribution and printed up cards telling my guests that I did so in their names.” – Judith Solis: A recent bride.

Average Estimated Savings: $1,000-$3,500

Limit the Photographer

Save yourself money by limiting the hours that your photographer/film crew are at your event. Yes, you want pics of the ceremony and at least through the cake cutting, but everyone will be taking video of your nephews dancing with grandma and your brothers singing karaoke badly, so you really won’t need a professional for those shots.

“I had my photographer take a minimal number of photos and no one seemed to notice the difference when I show them my wedding album.” – Allison Brody: June Bride.

Average Estimated Savings: $500-$2,000

Or Be Your Own Photographer

Another creative money saver is either pay the photographer for the ceremony only, then make your own photo booth. Put butcher paper on a wall or in a room and leave fun stuff for photos like silly hats, wigs, oversized sunglasses, etc. Put a camera on a tripod and let guests take their own pics using the timer on the camera or via Bluetooth remote control.

“A professional photo booth was over $500. We made our own for $50 and everyone raved about how much fun it was!” – Doreen: recent bride

Estimated Average Saving: $2,000-$4,000

Save on Entertainment

DJ’s can be expensive, but you can save here by being your own DJ. Rent some quality speakers (or borrow some) and hook up your phone or use an online account like Spotify with your chosen playlists. Check Craigslist or ask your friends for help in this area. If you know someone who has a karaoke machine at home, ask to borrow it for the night.

“Our venue had a built-in sound system, so we plugged in our computer and played from our own song list we stored on the computer.” – Kelsey: A new bride

Estimated Average Savings: $1,000-$3,000

If You Have Time

Long engagements are great because they give you time to shop for the best sales deals. You can pick up cheap décor items that go on sale after Easter and prom dresses for bridesmaids are a bargain in August!

“I bought all my bridesmaids’ gifts at a Black Friday sale, even though my wedding was planned for May. I saved a ton of money!” – Alexis: newlywed

Average Estimated Savings: $500-$2,000

Cutting Back Saves Serious Cash

It’s the little things that add up. Save on delivery fees by asking someone to pick up items. Ask friends and relatives if you can borrow their tablecloths and cloth napkins (white tablecloths with different colored napkins look awesome!) If you are having your reception at someone’s house, bring inside furniture outside (tables, chairs, nightstands) or ask people to bring a few chairs from home.

“I borrowed dining room chairs from everyone I knew and used those instead of renting chairs. The different colors and types of chairs made my reception look chic and it didn’t cost me a thing.” – Kelly Vaughn: a new bride

Average Estimated Savings: $500-$1,000

Be Aware of What You DON’T Need

It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness, so pay attention to the little details that might be nice, but certainly aren’t necessary, such as personalized napkins or placemats with the bride and groom’s picture on them.

“I avoided as much “personalized” items as possible. No one remembers those things anyway.” – Carole Knapp: recently wed

Average Estimated Savings: $100-$450

Sell the Extras Afterwards

Many people are looking to buy items that were used once or are still in like new condition. Consider selling items you no longer need (or want) such as tablecloths, unused décor items, decorations that are still in very good condition, anything that isn’t personalized will sell for almost what you paid for them!

“I resold my table runners and cloth napkins on eBay for far more money than I expected!” – Lacey: recently wed.

Average Estimated Savings: $100-$350

Kat Begonja

Kat Begonja

Lover of animals, writing and all things Croatian!