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Planning a Frugal Wedding

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Couple on their wedding day.

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.

Solutions: Planning a Frugal Wedding

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Article: My Frugal Life: Big Wedding On A Budget

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.

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!

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

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Tip: Frugal Wedding Tips

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

Article: My Frugal Life: Weddings on a Budget

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. My Frugal Life After that, my middle daughter got married in August of 2009. So that was 3 weddings within 10 months.

Being frugal has always been a priority to me. I knew we couldn't afford any of these weddings, but we'd do what we could. Fortunately, we did pretty good with two of the weddings but the second one was awesome.

She decided on a Spring wedding and I had enough notice for us to begin the big hunt for all the proper things. I decided to jot down what we spent in a notebook to keep track of it. Never ever did I ever think her wedding would only cost us $733.94.

The trick to this was there was enough time to find the items, make what we needed, and we were able to shop all the winter sales for the best possible prices. Winter is usually not the biggest wedding month, so that gave us even more of a chance to get everything she wanted without coming away broke. wedding flowers

Here is a list of the things we used the $733.94 to buy:

  • her dress
  • veil
  • shoes
  • jewelry
  • flowers (bouquets, boutineers, mother's and grandmother's corsages and 3 huge centerpieces)
  • favors
  • invitations
  • stamps
  • centerpieces
  • garters
  • gifts for the wedding party
  • wedding cake topper
  • ring bearers pillow
  • flower girl baskets and petals
  • personalized ribbons
  • personalized cake server
  • knife set and champagne glasses
  • his shoes and suit
  • decorations outside and inside
  • champagne glasses for the guests
  • the fee for the pastor

The manor she got married at was a wedding gift from one of the managers. The food was bought by them but it was only about $50.00 for a full banquet (simple but sweet). The cake was also a wedding gift.

If you already have a date in mind for your wedding, try to buy your items ahead of time and during the off season. Making the favors and other small items is very beneficial. I am going to put in a precaution here - do your homework. If something is cheaper to buy, then don't make it.

As I sit back and think over all of the frugal things I have done in my life I think when it comes down to money, these were the best deals we could ever find.

By Gem from VA

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here:

Tip: Have Groom's Family Help With Wedding Costs

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 (or the groom) can pay for another part of the reception.

We, as the groom' parents, were informed that we were responsible for the alcohol. There were only about 10 guests from the groom's side in attendance because of the location of the wedding, and none drink! The bill was substantial, but we gulped and paid it without a squeak of protest.

Anyway you slice it, the groom's side is usually responsible for a portion of the wedding, as well as the rehearsal dinner the night before. Sad but true, when the parent's of the groom have almost no say in any of the festivities.


Tip: Limit Your Shopping for a Frugal Wedding

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

  • Wedding dress - $25 (Garage sale, but never worn)
  • Both father's shirts - $20 (Walmart clearance)
  • All 5 bridesmaids skirts - $40 (thrift store prom dresses remodeled)
  • Bridesmaids white shirts - $15 (Walmart clearance)
  • 3 flower girls skirts $3 (hand sewn from thrift store fabric)
  • Flower girls shirts - $5 (thrift store)
  • Flower girls buckets - $3 (Dollar Tree)
  • All bouquets - $10 (flowers from Dollar Tree)
  • Food sandwiches - $200 (most expensive item)
  • Brides cake donated in lieu of gift, also grooms cake.
  • Reception hall - $125 (for 5 hours)
  • White bows and flowers for church - $5
  • Unity candles - $3 (Dollar Tree)
  • Candle holders - $3 (Dollar Tree)
  • Rehearsal lunch - $20 (Little Caesars' pizza)

By Randa from San Marcos, TX

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Here are questions related to Planning a Frugal Wedding.

Question: Small Wedding or Elopement

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

Most Recent Answer

By Mina2184 [11]01/16/2014

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.

Question: Ideas for Planning a Wedding on a Budget

I would like some ideas for planning a wedding with the theme, soul food. Please provide thrifty ideas. Thank you.

By Tawana

Most Recent Answer

By Henrietta B. [7]12/12/2012

My nephew got married in May of this year. He and his bride to be didn't have a lot of money, so she wanted to get married at her moms house, and they asked each guest to bring a covered dish. We live down south, so he asked his relatives to bring their soul food, like they have around the Holidays. They did, and it was just wonderful!

Also, my hubby & I just did finger foods at our wedding that pulled it off nicely and it was a small get together because we didn't want a huge expensive wedding. I really liked my nephew & niece's (yeap she's family now!) Idea of covered dish! Wish I'd thought of that! Hope this helps!

Question: Wedding Meal on a Tight Budget

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

Most Recent Answer

By Veronica [10]01/03/2011

Lasagna, salad and bread is perfectly normal wedding reception food. I would put a call out to my family and friends asking to borrow table linens, fancy serving platters and silver/silver-plated serving utensils, most moms, aunts and grandmothers have them! If not, you can sometimes pick up nice cut-glass platters and the like at thrift shops. Good luck and Best Wishes!