Saving Money on Weddings

You don't have to spend a fortune to have a wonderful wedding. Here are tips from the ThriftyFun community for saving money on wedding costs. What advice can you add?

Be Yourself

Be totally individual and have what you want, not what is fashionable, not what your friends had/expect, not what your parents had/expect and definitely not what you read in wedding magazines which are profitable from the advertising of people who want you to buy their overpriced things for your wedding - these rules also apply to funerals. Plan your own! If you want to get married in a floaty cotton frock, barefoot in the water on a beautiful beach at sunset with your husband in board shorts and a T shirt, or standing under the trees in a local forest and having a picnic afterwards, just do it! It's your wedding.

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By Jo

Tap Your Own Resources

The biggest way I think to save money on a wedding is to tap into whatever resources you can think of. When I got married, I was working for Chick-fil-a that does a lot of catering for many things. So, I went to my boss and asked if I could get a discount on whatever I might need. He gave me 50% off! I also saved a bundle by asking one of my friends/co-workers to do our pictures since I had seen her work and knew she was an excellent amateur photographer. She was thrilled and did it for free, I just had to provide the film. So, if you want to save money just ask people you know, the worst they can say is no. Good luck!

By kittikat1119

Do It Yourself

Our oldest daughter is getting married in June and we looked into having a wedding coordinator do the decorating. It turned out that the coordinator wanted almost $1,400 just to decorate. She was not going to do anything else! It didn't take us long to decide that we would do the decorating ourselves! We have had lots of friends come forward and offer to help and after pricing many items, I predict we will spend 1/3-1/2 as much as we would have if we had opted to have the wedding coordinator do the work. Sometimes doing a job yourself saves a lot of money!

By Robin

Blueprint For A Perfectly Simple Wedding

I agree about tapping into the resources you have, and those you may not even be aware you have. Talk to coworkers and other people. You'd be amazed at the info and help that's available simply by asking around. We had a relatively small wedding and I didn't have anyone else to help foot the bill so had to be thrifty. That said, I still had a very nice wedding.

  • I purchased very simple invitations (these days I'd make my own). I myself have an art background, but with as many rubber stamps and beautiful decorative papers as there are on the market now (even with the help of your home computer), anyone can turn out nice invitations for a fraction of the cost of purchasing them. If you're not comfortable with making them yourself, ask around at craft and paper art stores. There is usually someone who makes invitations/cards as a side business. You may even have a friend who makes cards and can help out.
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  • The church was the one I attended, and was rented for the price of a small donation. It wasn't decorated much, just some bows on the pews, and a few flowers at the alter. The pianist was the grandmother of one of my bridesmaids, and very reasonable.
  • The party afterwards was held at my inlaws house in their back yard. No sit down dinner, just finger foods and sandwich makings. My mother-in-law, her mother, and sister-in-law put the food together.
  • The bridesmaids made their own dresses (no puffy sleeves or odd colors), and dresses that were pretty for a wedding, but could also be worn afterwards for other events. That was a huge goal of mine...not to have bridesmaid dresses that the wedding party would never want to look at again. The girls were in on the pattern decision, and they all wore their dresses for some time afterwards.
  • The groomsmen all wore rented tuxes, including my husband.
  • My wedding dress was purchased on sale at a department store (horrifying to some) for very inexpensively. It was a gorgeous dress, lacey, floor length (no train), and just what I was looking for. I couldn't see the point in spending tons of money I didn't have on something that I'd never wear again. Not everyone would want a simple dress like I had, but the point is that there are sales out there, just keep an eye out for them.
  • I used silk flowers (bridal bouquet as well as bridesmaid), which were much, much less expensive than real ones (not sure if that would be the case anymore), and I made my own head piece (a hat with tulle netting attached).
  • My dad surprised me by buying the wedding cake, which although pretty and of my choosing, wasn't dripping with overly done decoration. It didn't cost as much as some of the cakes I've heard of. And if you have a friend who's a caterer or baker, talk to them about helping out. These days I'd probably do my own cake. lol
  • The photographer was a friend of my husband's, and though that may work out well in some cases, for us it was a huge mistake. I highly suggest if you spend money anywhere, spend it on a good photographer with an excellent reputation. Talk to his other clients and get references. That is the only part of my wedding that I regret. Our guy was a good photographer, most days, but for our wedding he decided to be a jerk. And that could have happened regardless, but we had no recourse in our circumstance. The only good photos I have are those that my brother-in-law took.

That's a suggestion I'd make too, even if you have a good photographer that you like and trust, have a couple of other people walking around with cameras. It's always nice to have some relaxed unposed photos to get the real essence of the party.

By Carole OR

Think Outside The Box For Locations

Just had to add my story. It goes back twenty years, but we were broke, and paying for everything ourselves. We went into the financial district of NYC and spoke to restaurants that were normally closed on Saturday afternoons. They all loved the idea of hosting a wedding; and we didn't have to "compete" in price with other business that they would normally have. The place we chose was big enough to cordon off an area for a dance floor. The per person cost was significantly less than what any one of us would have paid to sit down and eat (and drink) at the same place for an evening. Bottom line (which I guess is what we are talking about) is to seek out a place that doesn't usually "do" weddings, and would normally be closed on a Saturday or Sunday early afternoon. Worked out well for us.

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By Nancy Jean

Look For Ways To Save And Still Have A Beautiful Wedding

My husband and I made up our minds that we didn't want to burden our parents with the cost of a wedding. We managed to put together a beautiful ceremony and reception for $6000 (which is no small feat in South Florida). Here are some of the ways we saved:

  • We had the ceremony and reception at a county park that was special to us. It had a beautiful pavillion overlooking a garden and wooded area that could seat 150, which was attached to a hall with a catering kitchen that came with chairs and tables. The park employees set up our ceremony area and reception for us. My husband, my mother, my sister, our best men and I decorated both areas the morning of the wedding. This was really hectic for our 3pm wedding, and I don't recommend it unless you have a fair amount of people helping, but it would be fine if you're having an evening wedding.
  • Do your own flowers if it is feasible. Many websites that import flowers from South America for florists sell to brides. My wonderful aunts and uncles offered to help me and my mother arrange the centerpieces, and we made the bouquets and boutonnieres ourselves as well. This works only if you are going for simple designs (which I was).
  • We got our wedding cake from the local grocery store. This chain's delicious cakes are very popular in Florida for birthdays, and they have many beautiful designs available for wedding and groom's cakes. My cake cost $2 a slice, and I had several people ask which bakery had made it, as it was very pretty and tasted so good.
  • Our wedding was semi-formal and in the afternoon, so we hired a caterer that specialized in company picnics and barbecues. It was $20 a person to serve food continuously for 90 minutes, and they didn't charge us to cut and plate the cake. No, we didn't have tenderloin or salmon, but it was available to us, and everyone serves that at their wedding, anyway. Everyone liked the food so much, the desserts were gone before we were done taking pictures and the caterers had to save us a plate!
  • Above all, do your homework! I recommend reading "Bridal Bargains" and "How to Have an Elegant Wedding for $5000 or Less". Don't listen to the mainstream wedding magazines and websites -- you don't have to do what they tell you to do, but feel free to steal ideas and do it cheaper!

By Shannon

July 16, 20070 found this helpful

I agree totally with being yourself. A friend did have a barefoot wedding in the park, with the only musician a harpist. It was gorgeous. The marriage wasn't. My first wedding was simple but elegant, with six bridesmaids and six groomsmen. It was held at our church. The marriage failed. When I married my husband of (now) almost 26 years, I made the cake and he made the wine, and we paid the minister $20. We had it in my restaurant on a day I would have been closed anyway. Two good friends witnessed for us. I wouldn't trade it for the world. My folks were married 44 years before Mom passed away. They were married in front of two witnesses; Dad's sister and brother in law. Mom wore her best dress, and Dad buttoned up his shirt all the way, and I don't think they spent $20 on the whole thing. It was 1942 and there was a war on. I just heard about a couple who have been living together for 12 years and are just now planning a fullblown wedding with white dress, veil,flowers, etc. They are in their late 50's. These days, anything goes. Do your thing. Just don't start out your marriage in debt.

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July 19, 20070 found this helpful

I met a couple women at the library who were looking for CDs of wedding music. It turned out they were from a big family reunion and one couple attending the reunion decided that as long as everybody was there from all over the country, they would get married immediately. The result? A scavenger hunt wedding! People were assigned to find the item needed and everyone went out in search! A family reunion (and wedding) to remember!

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July 20, 20070 found this helpful

We held our wedding on SUNDAY of Memorial day weekend - saved big $$$ on the hall and catering. My husband also chose a place that had just catered to another function and he knew the price that group got - we got an even better one because he negotiated!

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June 6, 20080 found this helpful

We had a gorgeous outdoor wedding for $3,200. So how'd we do it? First off, our guest list was small -- 65 people. Because we had a color theme (autumn) instead of just 2-3 set-in-stone color choices, we were able to use a variety of options and this flexibility helped our budget a lot. My best advice is to identify no more than 3 major areas where you want to spend the majority of your $ -- for me, it was food, flowers and pictures. Your choices may be different based on your vision of the type of wedding you want.

I was very openminded about my dress and my only caveats were that I wanted an ivory strapless one. My dress ended up costing $56 on eBay (that's WITH shipping) and came to me brand new with tags bearing an original price of $700. My husband's tux rental was free with the groomsmen's rentals. I borrowed my tiara, and my veil was made by my mom in 15 minutes with a yard of tulle and a plastic comb for under $4. My bridesmaids wore cocktail length styles ordered from a budget website recommended to me by a friend.

Our flowers came from Dollar Tree (for maybe $60), and I arranged our bouquets, corsages, bouts, and centerpieces myself. Invitations, programs, favors, the ringbearer's pillow, and our unity candle set were all DIY projects, too. Our burgundy table runners were cut from bolts of fabric that I purchased for 0.50 each when a fabric store went out of business (for a grand total of $1.50). Rehearsal dinner and reception food were bought at Sam's Club, and our cakes were gifts to us. Perhaps the greatest compliment to me is that people don't believe me when I tell them it was a budget wedding!

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