1. Don’t get married on a Saturday.
“We moved our wedding to a Friday (originally planned for Saturday) and saved a few thousand dollars by doing so.” —Kim Ryba White, Facebook
“We got married on a Sunday and they offered a 15% discount. It was a holiday weekend so many had off from work on Monday — it worked out really well!” —Ashley Fizzarotti, Facebook
“We got married on a Wednesday, completely nontraditional, so we saved an incredible amount! Easily a couple thousand.” —jennicas2
“We had our wedding on Wednesday, July 3. Everyone was off the next day and our wedding began at 6 p.m. so some came right after work.” —Dee Clifford-Bremner, Facebook
2. Take your time.
“Having a two-year engagement has saved us a ton of money! We booked our venue and caterer super early so the prices would not go up. We have been able to do a ton of research on what places/vendors are the least expensive without sacrificing quality. We saved a lot of money on save the dates and invites by waiting for deals to be emailed to us. It’s also nice because we had four birthdays, two Christmases, and two years worth of tax returns between the time we got engaged and our wedding.” —Alexis Ziegenfuss, Facebook
“I literally spent hours googling wedding venues, and I had what my now-husband calls a crazed look in my eyes and a notebook of stress, but it was worth it in the end. A little research before touring places can help you avoid falling in love with a venue you can’t afford.” —Meghan Thibodeau, Facebook
3. Get married right at the end of the off-season.
“My hubby and I got married a week before peak season started. So we had nice weather but cheaper prices!” —jessicaa4ce278f9b
Carly Abbott carlyabbott.com
4. Find a venue that doesn’t require you to use their vendors.
“My best wedding saving tip is to find a venue that doesn’t require you to use a particular caterer/bartender/DJ. I saved so much money by being able to select my caterer ($1,300 for service for 100), bartender ($500 for the bartender, beer, and bar necessities — we bought most of our own alcohol for $400 from a wholesale liquor store and had a full bar), DJ ($350 flat rate, and they even did our ceremony music!), and photographer ($795 for all rights to our photos, an online album for a year, and a flash-drive with all of our photos — not to mention he stayed for the entire day, 3 p.m. to after 12 a.m.)! I ended up paying $3,345, when I would’ve paid $10,700 for those things ($4,000 for catering, $4,000 for the bar, $700 for four hours of a DJ, and $2,000 for photographer) at the other venue I was considering. I saved $7,355 for just picking another venue.” —Lyndsey Gallian Thompson, Facebook
5. Rent a house for the wedding and for lodging.
“We rented a house, which tripled as wedding venue, housing for out of state wedding party participants, and secluded honeymoon venue the following week. (Off-season is a great time for a romantic getaway in a vacation destination.)” —margueritew2
“We rented a huge vacation home and had a house party! It was low-key, intimate, yet still was major cause of celebration. Hiring a caterer with a kick-butt menu to do a party was so much better than a sit-down meal. We didn’t even do tables — lots of bar tops and existing comfy furniture for perching. We also were able to have our entire bridal party stay in the bedrooms of the house, cutting their expenses too.” —alixei
6. Have your ceremony and reception in the same place.
“We had the ceremony and the reception in the same room. The guests sat at their tables during the ceremony and were able to start the cocktail/appetizer hour immediately after the ceremony while we took pictures. This saved on transporting the bridal party — no limos, less time restraints, and out-of-town guests didn’t have to worry about getting lost.” —Heather Watkins Imani, Facebook
“Got married in a hotel. The flowers from the hall were carried through into the dining space and nobody needed transport to the reception. Since a lot of guests stayed in the hotel, the management cut us a deal with the food.” —Emma McGregor, Facebook
7. Consider getting married on campus.
“I work at a college with a beautiful dining hall, so we got married there, and they gave me an amazing discount on the venue!” —Kayce Taylor, Facebook
“Aunt #1 worked at a university, so we looked at locations on the very picturesque campus for Aunt #2, who got a huge discount because of the staff connection. If you know anybody who works at a university, park, whatever, check with them to see if they can swing something like that for you. You can get some GORGEOUS locations simply by putting out a call and seeing who knows what.” —Kaitlin Kelly, Facebook
8. Have your reception at a restaurant.
“After an exhaustive search, I realized that getting married at a fancy restaurant was our most affordable option. Instead of paying $1,000 or more (sometimes much more) to rent a space and then bring everything in, I had to buy only food and alcohol. The room, furniture, linens, lighting, beautiful decor, dishes, silverware, fancy display items, etc., were all included. So much cheaper than renting a space and having to bring in everything from forks to outhouses.” —jolenel45b27bba0
9. Get married at the courthouse.*
“We had a courthouse wedding and a family and ‘friends like family’-only reception. Having the wedding at the courthouse was so much easier because they guide you through all the paperwork so there is absolutely no confusion. It also took the pressure off of having to create a fairy tale for everyone to watch me. We put more effort into the reception and it was beautiful.” —Rachel Luttrell, Facebook
“Have a courthouse wedding! More money for the honeymoon and less stress before the big day! That’s how we did ours and I remember being excited but not stressed out about anything.” —ditiegirl
*A courthouse wedding doesn’t have to feel like a trip to the DMV; you can still wear a fancy dress and invite a decent amount of guests! Look for historic courthouses in your state — the buildings are often gorgeous but they are still budget-friendly.
The Food & Drink
Laurelyn Savannah Photography laurelynsavannahphotography.com / Via glamourandgraceblog.com
10. Don’t serve a sit-down dinner.
“We had a small ceremony at our hometown church, went back to our place for cake, champagne, and gifts, and then went to a local bar in our wedding clothes and didn’t have to pay for anything all night!” —Amanda Weber, Facebook
“Instead of having a dinner, I held an evening wedding and served hors d’oeuvres, saving another $1,000 at least.” —Emily Olson, Facebook
11. Think beyond chicken and fish.
“I saved thousands by having a guy roast a hog and having a friend make sides only. The guy who roasted the hog did so at his place of business and brought the pulled pork to the hall with different sauces already on the pork. Pulled pork on jalapeño rolls, green beans with almonds, cheesy smashed potatoes, and cornbread for my country-chic theme. We had 250 guests for less than $2,000! I still have people talk about how good my wedding food was!” —Dfox1984
“We had a local club make fried chicken and we made our own sides. We had a bonfire in our backyard after with wine and beer.” —Christina Waugh, Facebook
“We got creative with our food. We had BBQ from an amazing local BBQ joint and were able to feed all 110 guests for $600.” —Emily Erker Szucs, Facebook
“We had a baked potato bar. Potatoes are cheap, so we were able to get a lot of toppings for variety. My parents are wonderful and helped prepare the food and set it up. I also made a small cake for the cutting, and we got a sheet cake from the grocery store bakery (you’re skeptical, but it was awesome — people were asking where we got it) to serve guests. No catering bill. (And frankly, it tasted way better!)” —Susan Marie Cole, Facebook
12. Fake your wedding cake.
“Fondant and tiered cakes are insanely expensive. Have a baker make a fake cardboard and decorated cake with the top layer (and smallest) real for cutting and the rest just pretty for decoration. Then have basic sheet cakes in the back for the caterers to cut and serve to your guests.” —Mary Brylski, Facebook
“Have a small cake or make some of the bottom tiers a facade (ice and decorate a styrofoam wheel), and serve cut sheet cake pieces from the back.” —Whitney Williams, Facebook
13. Don’t feel like you HAVE to have a wedding cake.
“We decided to have a milk-and-cookie bar at our December wedding! As opposed to serving cake to our 250 guests at $2.50 a slice, we bought 300 cookies (chocolate chip, sugar, etc.) from the bakery at a local grocery store and then had drink dispensers filled with white and chocolate milk. My husband and I then cut a cupcake for our cake cutting. It was a huge hit and cost half the price!” —Clare Bogle, Facebook
“Skip the cake. Your guests just want a nice dessert. Quality is key. They want sweet and they want it right after dinner.” —Teri Staub, Facebook
“We had mini pies enough for each guest to have two for about $350… I talked to friends who have recently been married and scoured local bridal blogs and talked to all of my vendors to find a pie lady who worked out of her house. She rocked and we didn’t have ANY left over.” —Emily Erker Szucs, Facebook
14. Don’t offer endless alcohol options.
“We got two kegs from a great local brewery and had one ‘signature’ cocktail, that’s it.” — rochelleluck
“Do not have liquor at the reception! Trust me… As someone who plans weddings for a living, beer and wine is the way.” — robinwintersonm
The Decor & Flowers
Arrow & Apple arrowandapple.com / Via abeautifulmess.com
15. Choose a venue that doesn’t need much decor.
“We are having our ceremony and reception at the same venue. It used to be an old National Guard Armory; new owners came in and renovated it beautifully, which saves on decorating costs since the venue is so amazing.” —kassyh4d7b0cb42
“We were married at the water reclamation plant — only a couple hundred dollars and a beautiful Japanese garden for pictures!” —laurapappt
“We were married 10 years ago in a beautiful hall with a garden courtyard; it was built by a Rockefeller as an ornate bank in the early 1920s — the ceremony was in the courtyard and reception inside. The courtyard had a beautiful garden, so no decoration needed except for some ribbon on the archway we married under.” —rochelleluck
You could also get married in December, when a lot of venues will already be decorated beautifully for the holidays.
16. Consider doing your own flowers. (Yes, it’s possible.)
“If you’re crafty, or know someone who is, do your own flowers. This will save you thousands! Our entire floral budget was $250, and we ordered from fiftyflowers.com. We used red ranunculus and white garden roses, and that made seven bouquets, 10 boutonnieres, and all the table flowers. We picked greenery out of my backyard for filler. We purchased small colored bud vases from Hobby Lobby when they went 50% off and stacked them on top of wooden rounds (my husband’s grandfather made them instead of purchasing) and old books.” —lacilace
“My mother-in-law and her friend bought the flowers from a local flower wholesales, and made all the bouquets, button holes, and decorations.” —primandpropa
“We did potted plants in Mason jars as centerpieces instead of flowers from a florist! Centerpieces for 10 tables was $20 total instead of $20 per table.” —jessicaa4ce278f9b
17. Don’t have real flowers. (Yes, it’s possible.)
“I’m making our bouquets and bouts out of fabric flowers (that I also made); you can keep them forever and have ANY color or pattern you want!” —kassyh4d7b0cb42
“We used artificial flowers. I really wanted there to be a lot of flowers inside the church and I knew it would be crazy expensive to use real flowers. They looked great!” —mollyp4e13db336 (Hint: Afloral has beautiful, realistic-looking faux flowers!)
“I learned how to make crepe-paper flowers, and used them instead of a florist. The supplies to make them cost a fraction of the amount of real flowers, they were therapeutic to make, and they will be functional long after the wedding to use, sell, or give as gifts!” —Kate Mason, Facebook
18. Try an alternative to bridesmaids bouquets.
“As opposed to carrying flowers down the aisle, my bridesmaids each carried a lantern! We bought neon orange and yellow ones at Kohl’s for $7, then spray-painted them silver to match our wedding colors. We also wrapped purple ribbon around the handles! My bridesmaids loved that they were able to take them home afterwards.” —Claire Bogle, Facebook
19. Or don’t have flowers at all.
“We skipped flowers altogether. No one missed them.” —leaho4f38c9b5e
20. Get items secondhand.
“I borrowed 90% of my decor from my mom’s friend’s daughter, who had gotten married a couple of years earlier. Most people getting married usually have friends, or friends of friends, who have recently gotten married too, so ask around!” —Kalie Sacco, Facebook
“I went garage sale-ing for most of my decor. Mason jars, doilies, old mailboxes, milk glasses, etc. I saved thousands by decorating with the help of some friends!” —Dfox1984
“An old bookstore was going out of business. With our love for reading, I thought, what better centerpiece than an antique book! Each book cost us around 15 cents. Then I painted on numbers and voilà!” —Katie Alcock, Facebook
Rico Castillero studiocastillero.com
21. Be your own DJ (or have a friend do it).
“Our venue had a professional sound system built in. We literally plugged in a MacBook Pro, had a friend help us create a playlist that flowed, and danced the night away. We did arrange to have an MC present to keep things flowing.” —Emily Erker Szucs, Facebook
“Our friend/bartender from the bar my husband and I met at got certified just for us and married us for free! He also DJ’ed using a sound system and my Spotify premium account.” —kelsid4eb82d052
22. Create your own photo booth.
“We really want a photo booth for our reception next year, but they’re obscenely expensive. Instead, we plan on putting a huge piece of butcher paper (decorated with paper flowers) on an empty wall and buying a photo booth kit, which includes fun hats, sunglasses and other accessories. You could also easily and cheaply put a kit together yourself. Guests will be able to take their own pictures with their phones! The total cost for the project will be around $50; the cheapest photo booth we could find was $500.” —Emily Christine, Facebook
“We bought a Bluetooth remote and tripod for our iPad for $50 total and will be using that to take pictures for our photo booth! Also, I found that it’s so easy to make your own props with a color printer, card stock, and dowel rods.” —Brandy Ginther, Facebook
23. When people offer to help, let them!
“Don’t be afraid to take guests up on their offers for services in exchange for a wedding gift. A cousin did my beautiful cake and we saved big there, and it was so appreciated. My mom made the groom’s cake, just a regular red velvet, and it was awesome!” —Laura Hope Jackson, Facebook
“We’ve asked our friends and family to please help on the day, take responsibility for something or join in with the bake-off instead of getting us a present. We really don’t need a set of champagne flutes, but someone making sure my granny eats would be super.” —Jemma Beedie, Facebook
24. Don’t feel like you have to DIY All The Things.
“Be realistic about what to DIY, and what not to DIY, because sometimes having to get all the materials yourself and spending the time on the projects costs you more than hiring someone else to make/do it.” —Andrea Jung, Facebook
Save on Basically EVERYTHING
Ryan Polei ryanpolei.com / Via Flickr: ryan_polei
25. Utilize the grocery store.
“I ordered both my flowers and cake from a grocery store. I had beautiful flowers for everyone for way less than the price of just my bouquet at a regular florist. I also had eight round cakes decorated in white that I placed roses on. I put them on different heights of cake platters.” —Y2jasmine (See how you can fancy up a grocery store cake here.)
“We ordered all of our wedding flowers through the florist at the grocery store. We saved thousands of dollars and still got more flowers than I thought we would be able to afford!” —stephaniea4d15128ce
26. Shop for white dresses that aren’t specifically wedding gowns.
“Bought my wedding dress online from a teen prom site during off-season. The dress was amazing and cheap!” —Lucy Clay, Facebook
“If you’re even just a little bit talented with a needle (or know someone who is), buy a white bridesmaid’s dress and embellish it. You could save yourself THOUSANDS and still get a beautiful, one-of-a-kind dress.” —Terri Schlichenmeyer, Facebook
“Bought my dress from Macy’s and had alterations done by a very good seamstress. My friends were shocked when they learned it cost me less than $200!” —Bethany Harbison, Facebook
“The dress I ordered was actually a bridesmaid dress, but instead of a blue dress with white, I flipped the colors and ordered white with blue. Beautiful dress and I saved well over 50% on it.” —Kimberly Baron Honea, Facebook
27. Plan to hit big sales.
“I saved a ton of money on bridesmaid gifts by shopping on Black Friday.” —Alexis Ziegenfuss, Facebook
“My bridesmaids dresses were all bought around Christmas. They were just sale holiday dresses, rather than bridesmaids dresses.” —Molly Mac, Facebook
“I chose colors based on the seasonal holiday directly preceding my wedding (Easter) and shopped at Michael’s for the clearance tchotchke and decor pieces.” —Michelle Katherine, Facebook
28. Try to cut back on the small fees that really add up.
“If you have anyone who can pick up flowers, dessert, etc., you can save a lot on delivery charges!” —oceanview
“An art gallery downtown offered free table and chair setup, and the rental for tables and chairs was also included in the room fee. (Look for that — that is a major place generic reception venues really nab you!)” —Emily Erker Szucs, Facebook
29. Wear a previously owned dress.
“I found my dress on eBay for $40.” —amyn44a87f26c
“Buying a used wedding dress from a place like Once Wed or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com! I spent $350 on a dress that sells for $1800 in bridal stores!” —Sara Harkins, Facebook
30. Check out non-wedding retailers.
“I needed my wedding cake on the cheap side. So I posted on Craigslist for people to give me their cheapest price to make the small cake we were going to cut and feed each other and then cupcakes for the guests: $100 for 65 cupcakes and our cake.” —jessicab4721e304b
“Check Amazon — our groomsmen had matching ties and pocket squares for $9 each and we were able to tie the dads’ stuff in too!” —alixei
31. Take advantage of a credit card with good points.
“We found a credit card with cash back and 0% APR for a year. This allowed us to use our gift money to pay for catering, and we saved 15% with all the cash back (about $500). Not too shabby.” —kelcicortrecht
(Of course, do this only if you’re sure you can pay it off quickly without incurring interest; no one should go into debt for their wedding.)
32. Sell as much as you can after the wedding.
“Buy items that can be easily resold versus renting them. I purchased all my tablecloths for $10 a piece, and resold them on eBay after. Did the same thing with the burlap runners I wanted, and they both resold so easily!” —lacilace
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33. Know what you DON’T need.
“I kept getting emails about napkins personalized with our names and picture on them. I didn’t want people wiping their faces with a picture of my face, so we decided to skip that.” —carolinenicolep
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