- Print your own invitations
- It’s definitely to print from your own printer than to pay a printer to do it for you! Printing your own invitations saves you money and you can put the printing on your own deadline.
- Limit what you send out with the invitations
- Don’t use an inner envelope or blotter paper.
- Be creative with replies
- Ask guests to reply online or by telephone. Or you can use postcards for RSVPs so that you save on postage.
- Don't use square envelopes
- Square envelopes cost more for postage, which adds up when you're sending out a lot of them!
- Save on wedding rings
- Get simple gold bands. If you like white metal, opt for white gold. You can also save money by coordinating the wedding bands and the engagement rings. Think of options for semi-precious stones other than diamonds. Look at antique bands or family heirlooms. If you can’t afford something you really want now, consider using an inexpensive option first and then upgrading for your fifth or tenth anniversary.
- Consider tungsten or titanium
- Tungsten or titanium is a lot more inexpensive than gold and it's a LOT sturdier - which is great for guys who do sports.
Early Planning Tips
- Keep in mind ALL expenses, including gratuity
- There are expenses that may come up and you don’t want them to surprise you. When budgeting, remember there may be rental fees, food, beverages, parking, set up fees, rental fees for tables and chairs, canopies if you are outside, flowers, linens, etc. Also remember that there are certain people who should get a gratuity – yes, in addition to whatever you’re paying.
- Think about who you know
- Do you know someone who owns a restaurant that could be used for the reception or that could cater? Do you know a DJ? A photographer? If they are close enough friends, you could ask them for a favor or a discount and ask that that be the gift for your wedding.
- Reuse & Recycle
- If you know someone who recently got married, then perhaps they have some decorations, silk flowers, ideas, or suggestions that you can reuse or recycle. If nothing else, it will save you time researching these things!
- Avoid picking wedding colors
- Picking wedding colors will limit your options for flowers, decorations, attire, everything! By not selecting colors, you can roll with what comes and what you find AND it will look cheery & great with lots of different colors.
- Limit the number of guests for the reception
- Most of the cost of a wedding involves the reception – food, drinks, table decorations, etc. By limiting the number of guests, you can save a lot.
- Prioritize when budgeting
- When you're creating your budget, figure out how much you want to spend on the wedding and how much you're willing to spend on each item. Figure out which items are most important and which items you're willing to drop if you can't afford them.
- Consider the off season
- Getting married in the winter is much cheaper than getting married in the summer. The summer season is the hardest to book locations and vendors! But a lot of times vendors and venues will give discounts in the off season.
- Don't pick a holiday weekend
- Holiday weekends are often more expensive - both for venue and vendors. Plus your guests will have to pay more for hotels.
- Consider free locations
- Because venues will charge you, consider getting married in free places. Perhaps you can get married in someone’s backyard, a church that someone belongs to, or a community park (though you might need to reserve space). Keep in mind that for some of these venues, you will still need to rent chairs.
- Select a different day
- Weddings on weeknights or Sundays are cheaper than Saturdays or Sundays – both venues and vendors.
- Have the wedding & reception in the same place
- By putting the wedding and reception in the same place, you don’t have to worry about transportation costs and dealing with two separate contracts and vendors.
- Don’t make people wait
- If you delay the start of your reception dinner, in honor of cocktail hour, that is one more hour you are paying for the reception site! Cut down the time that you’re paying for by only hosting a dinner OR a cocktail reception, not both.
- Look at parks and government owned venues
- Parks and recreation centers are often cheaper than other venues, but you might have to do more of the set up yourself. Be creative!
- Limit the wedding party
- A smaller wedding party means fewer expenses for tuxes and dresses, as well as gifts for the wedding party.
- Pick a color, not a dress
- Save money by asking the bridesmaids to get a dress in a certain color, rather than asking them to get a particular dress. Then they can work within their budget and you will get the color coordination you want!
- Don’t use a ring bearer or flower girl
- Without a ring bearer or flower girl, you won’t need to spend money on their attire, the extra flowers, and the gifts for them.
- Ask someone you know to perform the ceremony
- Instead of hiring someone, use someone you know. If you’re getting married at a church, it might be included. If you’re getting married in a secular ceremony, ask a friend to perform the ceremony. Most counties allow people to become a “minister” of sorts for a day.
- Give personal (but inexpensive) bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts
- Many gifts can be personal and touching, though not so harmful to the wallet. For example, give a book that means a lot to someone and inscribe it. Consider making them a meal. Give them something that is meaningful or that they would enjoy, but that is less expensive. It’s the thought and appreciation that counts.
Favors & Centerpieces
- Make your own favors
- There are lots of things you can do that are inexpensive but would be nice favors: seed packets, candies (like M&Ms in your wedding colors) in small sachets tied with a ribbon, or small plants.
- Instead of buying favors, make a donation
- Pick a cause that you and your spouse care about and make a donation instead of giving out trinkets that someone might toss in a drawer, throw away, or accidentally leave behind. Your emcee can make an announcement telling guests that in lieu of favors, you made this donation. It saves you money and you do something nice for other people.
- Look everywhere for the wedding gown
- Department stores have dresses in every color in their dress department and you may find your perfect dress there, as opposed to in a wedding dress department. There are also vintage shops or stores that sell wedding dresses that have only been worn once.
- Limit the wedding dress details
- Beads and details cost much more than simple dresses. Keep that in mind when imagining the dress and shopping for it.
- Check out the sample dresses
- Sample dresses at bridal boutiques are often marked down significantly.
- Check the store's website before you go
- Sometimes stores have promotions or coupons that might be applicable. Sign up for their mailing list if they have one -- they might have a promotion coming up soon!
- Consider another designer
- Your guests wont be able to tell if your dress is a Vera Wang or another designer. Many of the less expensive brands look just was fabulous as the name brands.
- Keep shopping
- After you find the perfect dress, keep shopping. Different stores carry the same dress for different prices. Or you might be able to order your dress online fo rmuch less than you'd pay in the store. You might also be able to try price matching at the stores.
- Don't buy accessories at a bridal shop
- Purchasing accessories from a bridal shop costs much more than it has to -- partly because they know you're buying for your wedding. Instead, consider buying from smaller stores, individual vendors, or other stores (like etsy.com) that sell the items you need.
- Make your own veil
- The fabric for a veil is very affordable at a craft or fabric store and you can design it exactly the way you want to.
Wedding Cakes & Dessert Options
- Consider different options for wedding cakes
- You can make your own cake or make your own cupcakes. You can also try ordering birthday cakes instead because cakes that are designated for birthdays are often cheaper than the wedding version, even if they look the same.
- Have a dessert table instead of a cake
- Have some friends make different desserts and put a collection out. If you want to do a cake cutting, then make sure one of the desserts is a cake!
- Order a smaller cake for cutting
- Order a smaller cake for the cake cutting and you can have a flat sheet cake in the back to serve the rest of the guests. All of the decorations on the wedding cake make it more expensive, but guests won't be able to tell once it's cut up into pieces.
Photographers & Videographers
- Use almost-professional or non-professional photographers
- There are a lot of photography courses and schools; some of those students are phenomenal photographers, but aren’t professionals yet. They will cost less but provide lovely photos. Alternatively, ask your friends and family to take pictures; maybe one family member has an extra interest in photography -- take advantage of his/her passion! You can ask your friends or family to make this their gift to you, so they don’t feel like you’re taking advantage of them.
- Use almost-professional or non-professional videographers
- Similar to photographers, there are people who are training to be professional videographers and those in training would be more inexpensive than professionals. You can also get your friends or family to use their digital cameras to video certain portions of the wedding. You can also rent a camcorder and tripod and film the whole thing. You can ask your friends or family to make this their gift to you, so they don’t feel like you’re taking advantage of them.
- Share your digital photos instead of using disposable cameras
- Save money on disposable cameras, postage, and printing by asking your guests to store their digital images on your wedding blog, website, or in one album on The Wedding Lens. That way family and friends can download and print only the best pictures – and you can still see the wedding from everyone else’s perspective.
- Ask for digital negatives
- Asking your photographer to order pictures for you is more expensive than if you print them yourself. Negotiate a price with your photographer so you can get those prints and reprints for cheaper.
Catering, Food, and Drinks
- Use a buffet instead of a sit down meal
- A buffet option is usually much cheaper than a meal that is served.
- Go heavy on appetizers
- Have more appetizers and less dinner. Sometimes this works to save money, especially if it’s a buffet.
- Cater yourself
- By making your own food and/or enlisting friends and family to help (again, asking them to do this as their gift to you), you can save a lot of money on catering.
- Hire a family-owned restaurant
- Family-owned restaurants are often cheaper than if you hire larger catering companies.
- Have the reception in a restaurant
- By having the reception in a restaurant, you don’t have to rent chairs, utensils, etc. Most restaurants don't usually charge room rental fees, but other reception sites might.
- Have a breakfast wedding
- Breakfasts (and morning weddings) tend to be less expensive than any other meal and if you and your significant other are breakfast people, that might be the best option!
- Have a bbq!
- Instead of something fancy, consider having a backyard barbeque for your reception. People can cook their own entrée, which will surely be less expensive than catering. Plus, you can use paper plates, paper cups, and napkins (make sure it’s recyclable!) which will save you money.
- Have a cocktails-only reception, without a full meal
- By only providing cocktails and apps, you will save a lot of money! Just be sure you host the reception at a non-dinner or non-lunch hour! You don’t want your guests to leave early because they’re starving!
- Bring the drinks yourself
- If you can be responsible for providing the alcohol, instead of the venue providing drinks. You can price shop different places (like BevMo or CostCo) to get good deals. Some wine stores also will give you deals for buying in bulk. Some places might have corking fees per person, so find out what that is before assuming this is the cheaper option.
- Limit the drink options
- If you can’t bring your own, consider limiting your drink options to wine, sparkling cider, and water. You could also have a cash bar or no bar at all.
- Set open bar limits
- If you want to do an open bar, set a limit on either the time or the amount you want to spend.
- Consider a signature cocktail
- A signature cocktail is often cheaper than having unlimited choices for your guests.
Flowers, Decorations, Centerpieces
- Ask friends and family to help with bouquets and arrangements
- Ask friends and family to put together bouquets and arrangements. Usually flowers aren’t nearly as expensive as arranging them.
- Get your vases or flower containers from an inexpensive source
- If you are using flowers as your centerpieces, get whatever flower vases or containers you want from a thrift shop or ask friends to save jars. You can put ribbons on the jars or vases to dress them up.
- Limit the flowers
- You can also limit the number/amount of flowers to save money. Maybe only have the bride and bridesmaids hold flowers and decorate with other things.
- Use an inexpensive flower as a centerpiece
- Baby’s Breath is cheaper than most flowers and a big bouquet with a ribbon can look lovely as a centerpiece. For the head table, add a couple roses.
- Use something other than flowers as a centerpiece
- Try putting pyramids of fruit in the center. Use simple candles with candle holders or floating candles in a bowl. Potted plants can also be a lovely alternative.
- Use your guest favors as the centerpiece
- Whether it’s a box of tea, a small pouch of candy, seeds, candles – you can arrange the favors as the centerpieces so that you don’t have to purchase one of each.
- Make your own decorations
- You can decorate with white lights on trees or potted plants. Use candles as the centerpiece: buy tea lights and put them in inexpensive candle holders – think Ikea or Target. You can also use ribbons to tie napkins, instead of buying napkin rings.
- Go Ikea or vintage for vases
- Ikea often has inexpensive vases. But if you want a vintage look, consider going to goodwill or garage sales for vases.
- Use artificial varieties
- You can arrange the artificial variety of flowers months in advance AND it's cheaper than fresh flowers.
- Find a cheaper alternative
- Flowers that are in season are a lot cheaper than ones that aren't. Because of that, consider alternatives. There might be some pretty alternatives to your favorite flowers that look just as nice.
- Reuse from your ceremony
- Reuse the flowers from your ceremony at your reception. It will save you having to do double duty on the flower purchasing. But make sure someone is in charge of moving them!
Music & Entertainment
- Use friends, family or amateurs for music during the ceremony
- For the ceremony, ask a friend or family member who plays music to perform. It gets the person involved and you get the benefit of not having to pay for it. You can ask your friend or family member to make this their gift to you, so they don’t feel like you’re taking advantage of them. Alternatively, a single performer is cheaper than a whole band. Consider a flute, violin, or clarinet.
- Hire a DJ for the reception
- For the reception, a DJ is usually cheaper than a band.
- Get a mix tape/I-tunes mix
- You could have someone set up a mix tape or mix mp3 list and play directly from a computer to a sound system, without having to hire anyone.
Miscellaneous Planning Tips
- Ask for vendor cards in exchange for a discount
- Some vendors might be willing to give you a reduced rate if you do some advertising for them. For example, you could put a small card of each business along with the contact information.
- Have a friend act as your day-of coordinator
- There are lots of last minute details that need to be remembered – which is why a lot of people choose to hire a day-of coordinator. If you can’t afford to, then maybe you have a Type-A personality, super organized friend who would be willing to help you out. You can even request this as part of his/her gift to you, so that he/she doesn’t feel like you’re taking advantage of him/her.
- If you’re hiring a limo, get two instead of one (no, really)
- It’s much more cost effective to have one limo drop you off and a different limo pick you up later, rather than paying for one limo to wait throughout the ceremony and photos. Hence: 2 is better than 1.
- Use a family friend's nice car
- Instead of renting a limo, have a friend or family member with a nice car do the transportation. You can feel classy but save money.
- Stay organized
- The best way to save money is to stay organized – with to-do lists and items to buy. That way, you don’t end up buying things at the last minute for more money.
- Host the rehearsal dinner at home
- Host the rehearsal dinner at your home or the home of a family or friend. Order a few trays of food and provide drinks and voila! It's much cheaper than a sit down meal at a fancy restaurant, but it allows your guests to mingle (and YOU to mingle with your guests more easily!).
- Money over gifts
- In some cultures, it's appropriate to ask for money in place of gifts. You can use this money to help pay for your wedding or wait for sales at your favorite stores to buy the things you otherwise would have registered for.
- Something borrowed
- For your "something borrowed," use your best friend's earrings, your grandma's pearls, or your mom's old veil.
Cheap Wedding Tips Topics
About The Wedding Lens
The Wedding Lens allows you to create a customized online wedding album filled with photos from you and your guests. Everyone uploads their photos into one online album that is only accessible by you and your friends. From there, you can download and print whichever photos you like – regardless of who uploaded them to the album.
It's a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to have the equivalent of disposable cameras on each table. But it’s even better because you don’t have to print blurry photos and everyone (not just the bride and groom) get to see all of the fabulous photos from the event.
Wedding Planning Tips
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