Planning a Frugal Wedding

Money is tight for many people and wedding costs can easily get out of hand. There are many ways to keep the costs down and still have a nice wedding. This is a guide about planning a frugal wedding.
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November 25, 2011 Flag
6 found this helpful

My husband and I were single until we were thirty, so we agreed that a "full blown" wedding was not what we wanted. Instead we opted to save our money for a honeymoon trip to England, and to put together a more economical wedding. We planned a small invitation list, about 50, that included a few friends and relatives.

Were we ever surprised when many of our friends and co-workers "invited" themselves to our wedding with comments like "We thought you two would NEVER get married", and "This we gotta see! When's the date?" The guest list grew to almost 200! Well, we couldn't afford hurt feelings OR a big wedding so this is how we solved it.

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We made a list of all the components : location, food, flowers, music, decorations, invitations, cake, dress, beverages, etc. Then one by one we decided what we could scale back. As we were doing this my best friend, (who was going through a nasty divorce at the time) called in tears and said she could not afford to give me a gift or even attend the wedding. Of course I was crushed, by her absence, NOT the gift! LOL. A solution came to me and it also provided the solution to our ever-expanding guest list.

My friend is an excellent seamstress and the dress I had purchased from a vintage shop needed repair. I suggested that as her gift she fit it for me and I would pay her a token sum as well so she could attend. She was thrilled, and so was I!

Next I approached other friends and made like suggestions. In place of the usual gifts or money, would they be interested in pooling together for the wine? The cake? The flowers? The response was tremendous!

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One friend, a florist, supplied the flowers at wholesale and donated her talents as designer. Another did my hair. Several others bought the cake and champagne. We had opted for a champagne and dessert reception to keep food costs down and had chosen 8 p.m. for our June date.

Another close friend, who lived on a lake,very generously donated her garden for the ceremony and reception and relatives rented the tent. We got the chairs from the local Fire Auxiliary at 50 cents each, with the understanding that we would pick them up and return them ourselves.

My colors were pale yellow and white, so we covered the tables with snow white sheets that we pinned under and put wide yellow florists ribbons criss-crossing and cascading down to the grass. In the middle of the tables, to hold the ribbons and the bottles of champange, we put small Styrofoam coolers, covered in pale yellow satin and filled with ice cubes. These were surrounded by wine glasses from the dollar store. Flowers finished the festive wine tables. The dessert table was buffet style, the goodies made by a young woman starting her own catering business. She gave us a great price because we let her put cards on the tables.

Our photos were taken by my new brother-in-law, mostly candid shots, which really were so much fun to look at later. No video! The music was a student string quartet that played waltzes and hymns throughout the evening and our wedding song, The Sleeping Beauty Waltz, whenever my new husband gave me a kiss.

There were no disappointed guests, no "rubber" chicken dinner and no tacky jokes. There was a very happy party, a delicious reception and a fabulous honeymoon in England.

One of the guests had taken her own photos and sent them to a local paper with the story about our wedding. The paper ran it on a full page!


Today, 30 years later, many of our former guests still say it was the best wedding they ever attended. (Me too!) Oh, and by the way, my total cost for my dress, husband's new suit and 200 guests was 2500.00!

By PlumCottage

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

November 30, 20110 found this helpful

I know there are some people who would frown & say this was tacky or rude. I however, think it was an absolutely fabulous idea!

When a couple is marrying & they pretty much have everything they need, it's hard to figure out what to give them (and I for one, don't like contributing to wish lists where the sky's the limit, with items that are hugely expensive - like big screen tvs, vehicles , furniture, etc.). I would much rather contribute towards making the wedding a happy & memorable event for everyone.

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December 10, 20110 found this helpful

What a beautiful story! I'm totally in love with the idea :D

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November 2, 2010 Flag
5 found this helpful

When planning a wedding, there are ways you can be frugal. One of them is to make your invitations instead of getting them made. Buy pretty printer paper, type them up, and decorate them with your personality. People never notice the difference and it's so much cheaper.

Another thing you can do is have family members help with setting up. Your nieces and nephews think they are playing when making paper mache flowers and folding napkins.

Although these ideas may seems a little too cheap, no one notices that there is anything different and studies have shown that people like when the bride and groom use their own creativity in a wedding!

By Claire Bear from Columbus, OH

November 3, 20100 found this helpful
Top Comment

I can't vouch for the frugality of my daughter's wedding, but I do know it seemed to be a "neighborhood affair." One neighbor's wedding present was the whole hog for the pulled pork, which they served on large croissants. The rest of the food was mostly various chips, cheese cubes and a couple of kinds of hummus (which I think was the most expensive food served, except maybe for the croissants.)

Another group of friends, a classical quintet, provided the wedding music. The reception music was simply a CD player or something of the sort, I think. They designed their own invitations, and I believe they got a deal from the printer who duplicated them.

The party favors were the unique thing I remember best. My daughter and son-in-law found origami patterns online and printed enough of them to allow each of the 150 or so guests to take home their own creation. They cut off the excess paper, rolled each printed page into a small scroll and tied it with a thin ribbon.

Last but not least, the wedding and reception were in my son-in-law's parents' back yard, so there were no rental costs for the venue.

My oldest son took the super-frugal route this past August: they almost eloped, lol! The wedding was at the county courthouse, with a post-wedding lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. Everyone paid their own way. My youngest son's wedding was also in his in-laws' backyard, too, but the reception was in a local party room that used to be a roller skating rink. Subway sandwiches and fruit punch were served. Too bad he forgot his sister's pineapple allergy; she had to request bottled water. Sigh, "pobody's nerfect," I guess. Anyway, I hope this gives you some ideas!

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August 15, 20140 found this helpful

December 15, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

We have a small budget for our wedding and catering is so expensive. If we do it ourselves with frozen lasagna, salad and bread will it look cheap? How can we have a nice meal on a tight budget?

By Sarah from Sacramento, CA

December 16, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Sarah, it's your day. I say do what works best for you. My oldest son got married at the courthouse, with just a handfull of us attending. Then we all gathered at a local Mexican restaurant and paid for our own meals. That in no way detracted from our joy in the union!

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December 16, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

What we did was, prepare a menu together, cook for 3 days together and we enlisted parents for the cake and we provided beer on tap, coffee and tea, also a lovely punch and kept our expenses low. Our reception was in our rented home and we fed 50. It was fabulous and we knew that our love would last. It has for 30 years. We still cook together too.

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December 17, 20100 found this helpful
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November 15, 2010 Flag
5 found this helpful

In 2008, a series of events were brought to our family. Our oldest daughter decided she wanted to get married in October (the month and day they met). So, that was one wedding. Then, the next wedding was for my step-daughter in May.

wedding flowers

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December 3, 2004 Flag
0 found this helpful

Our daughter is getting married in June of '05 and we need to be careful about the amount we spend on the wedding.

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September 10, 2008 Flag

When my husband and I got married, we only spent $300 out of our pockets for the entire wedding. That included the flowers, my dress, invitations and programs. You can have a great wedding for a lower price as well.

Tips for a $300 Wedding

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October 24, 2007 Flag

You can have a large beautiful wedding if you limit your shopping to thrift stores, Walmart, and Dollar Tree. This wedding cost under $600.

By Randa from San Marcos, TX

October 24, 20070 found this helpful

I commend your amazingly frugal efforts. We should all take a huge leaf out of your book. I bet you had a fantastic, fabulous day with no worries as to how to pay for it all. Have a WONDERFUL and happy life.

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November 4, 20070 found this helpful

Congtratulations! Great budget.

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November 5, 20070 found this helpful

April 5, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

I got married in October so I used the flowers in season. This was very cost effective. I also did a small round two layer cake to cut, and did a sheet cake in the kitchen to serve to the guests.

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November 16, 2013 Flag
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When planning your wedding, ask the groom's family to be in charge of, and pay for any alcohol beverages served. If you aren't serving alcohol, the groom's parents can pay for another part of the reception.

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November 2, 2010 Flag
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I'm interested in any suggestions on how to contain the cost of a wedding. For example, I need help with dresses, flowers, food, venues, etc.

By Lucy

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November 3, 20100 found this helpful

If you need ideas for a frugal wedding, just plain go and get married. It is the thought between the two of you that counts, not a showy affair. Have a couple friends or relatives stand up with you and go out for a meal after the ceremony. Otherwise have the ceremony in somebody's house with just immediate family attending. Have it during a time of day that you won't be expected to serve a meal and just have a small wedding cake with coffee, tea, and punch. Have a couple relatives do the serving. As far as dresses, flowers, etc. you know better than anyone what you like.

When I got married we got married in the pastor's study, and I wore a white brocade street length dress that I had made with a white hat and shoes and a red carnation corsage. My sister wore a red dress that was a hand me down from me a couple years before and a white hat and shoes. That was it. The men wore dark suits and had boutonnieres. Back then if I had bought my dress it probably would have cost at least $100.00, ready made. I can't remember what the fabric cost but it was pricey for the early 60s. However, even now you can find really nice looking street length dresses or even really dressy suits that can be worn for other occasions.

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November 3, 20100 found this helpful

Just look up "wedding" here & you will find lots of frugal ideas. It can be done, I have done 2 weddings for very little (Under $1,000).

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January 11, 2014 Flag
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We want a super small wedding! Either just the two of us, or very few people. We live in Washington state and need some help with ideas. We don't know if we should travel somewhere to get married or just do it around home? Help!

By Ashley

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January 16, 20140 found this helpful

This was exactly what hubby and I wanted 20 years ago. We were married at the Wedding Chapel in Hamilton, ON and had two of our best friends with their spouses share the special day with us. After the ceremony, the six of us went to Shakespeare's Steak House for a fine dinner. No muss, no fuss but everything done with a touch of class.

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