Reader Question: How to Save Money on Weddings

Reader Vicky is getting married next year and wants to know if anyone has any tips on how to save on wedding expenses.

Question:

I am getting married next year and I would like to see if there is any way that I can save on my big day. For example, bridesmaids dresses, decoration (flowers, linens, center pieces), photobook, etc

It’s been a long time since I planned a wedding so honestly, I have no tips but I’m sure a lot of you have either planned or are planning weddings.  If so, what tips do you have for Vicky to save on her big day!

If you have a questions you would like to ask the LRWC readers, you can send it to cindy@livingrichwithcoupons.com.  Put, “Reader Questions” in the subject line.


 

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  • For your photo album, find a photographer who will give you the photos unwatermarked and doesn’t mind not doing an album. Then make your own using Picaboo. For $200, I got a really nice looking book with hundreds of photos in it, as opposed to an $800 book with 25 prints.

    I went really cheap on flowers. Wasn’t a priority for me so I just had a flower floating in a bowl rather than elaborate centerpieces and simple bouquets.

    • Aileen C

      I did the same thing with the photographer. Some of them looked at me like I was crazy when I said I didn’t want an album. The one I chose gave me a leather box with all of my proofs (4×6) plus a cd with all of the photos (high resolution). I made my album on Shutterfly.

      • Kandi

        Yes – We were married right before they started using digital. I told my photographer that we would only choose him if they threw in all the negatives. Now I would ask for a cd with high resolution.

  • felicia

    My best advice (I got married on 10.10.10) is DO NOT SAY “wedding”. I told all of my vendors that I was having a “party”. We had a $20,000 wedding for LESS THAN HALF THAT! We had our reception at the PNC Arts Center for $3,500 on a Sunday afternoon for 100 people!!

    • Erica

      I manage a hair salon and this suggestion makes me nervous. Many vendors have specific wedding pricing for a reason, however many are willing to negotiate, especially smaller business that are still growing. Be upfront with your vendors but don’t be afraid to ask for a deal.

      Moreover, ask around. See who has friends that do flowers, hair, makeup, even a seamstress if you’re comfortable with that. Have an honest conversation with yourself, your spouse and your families as to what you’re willing to splurge on and where you can cut costs.

      I’ve helped my mom do flowers for a few weddings, and I highly recommend wholesalers and creating your own arrangements if you’re crafty.

      • Sobeida

        Erica, and what would be the reason people feel they have to charge more for wedding services when in conclusion is the same???

        I make cakes and it outrages me that people charge triple or more for a wedding cake when in reality the cost is the same and the same amount of work. So do you think is fair to just go ahead and take advantage of the situation just because is a BIG DAY?

  • Bonnie

    I guess eloping isn’t an option?? 😉

  • felicia

    Oh! And we ordered individual cakes for centerpieces. They did double duty!! We had “Tiffany” boxes for cakes, and it cost us the same as one big cake would have!

  • Bridget Merker

    We had cupcakes instead of a wedding cake. The bakery gave us a very small cake for us to cut for the pictures. We uses coasters from Michaels (bought with coupons of course) as our placecards and our gifts to our guests.

  • TM

    A lot of ladies spend most of their budget on their dress. Broaden your mind! I bought my dress from…ebay! There are tons of shops on ebay where you can choose a couture beautiful dress and send your measurements and any specific details and they will custom make your gown. With everything, including shipping, I only paid $90 for my wedding dress.

    • Wendy Y

      I found my dream dress for $800 in a bridal salon, then bought it from an online retailor for $300!! Do a LOT of research first to ensure it’s a reputable shop and get your measurements done professionally to ensure it is not way too big (requiring lots of alterations, which means $$) or small. And make sure you order at least 7 month in advance to ensure no disaster of it not arriving!!

      • Erin

        i also got my dress on ebay for $330! my mom was so happy!

  • justine

    I’m also planning my wedding for next year …. Luckily, I’m not paying for the reception/ceremony myself, my maid of honor is paying for it — for MY flowers, I am going with artificial flowers that match the colors I chose……for decorations, try wholesale websites

    • Nadyme

      I used artificial flowers for my bouquet too. but when you do that spend a little and get the ones that look almost real, I got mine at Michaels and noone noticed that they were artificial, and the pictures looked great. (if you want to see it i can email you the pic so you can get an idea of what to do). I also agree with not telling the vendors is a wedding because they will overcharge you, when i went to get my flower arrangemenst i said it was for a party and i asked if i could provide the vases (got the at Michaels at clearance so it was much cheaper than the plain ones offered by the florist).

  • Anonymous

    Start early and slowly stock up when items are on sale. We had to pick our priorities and make a plan early on in order to stay under budget. I would’t change anything about the results

  • We bought bridesmaids dresses at a Lord and Taylor…with coupons of course! The store was more than happy to ship any sizes they didn’t have to the individual Bridesmaids’ homes and then the bridesmaids went and the dresses altered on their own.

    • Nadyme

      I agree, be considerate with the people you are asking to be on your briday party and try to choose a dress that they can use in the future, I went to group USA, they have great selections of party dresses. My bridesmaid were super excited that they didnt look like a regular bridesmaid dress.

  • Erica

    Get married in the off season! (Jan-Mar) I’m planning a 2013 Jan wedding, and it really makes your dollar go farther, because everything is less expensive since there is a much lower demand.
    For dresses, if you’re brave, there is the running of the brides in D.C. and Boston, twice a year (I’m sure NYC has a similar event), bring a LOT of people, and wear spandex so you can try on dresses over your clothes. It’s extreme, but can really save you thousands.
    And if you are crafty, DIY! You can save so much money if you’re willing to make your own favors, invitations, etc. I’m buying different blue glass vases at a antique/thrift shop to use in my centerpieces, which will give them a unique look, without breaking the budget. Also, all flowers you use should be in season. I’m looking at lots of greenery instead of big flowery centerpieces, plants = cheaper than flowers!
    Pictures are the most important thing to me, I’m willing to spend full price on these, since it will be what lasts long after the day. But, I agree with Keri, save money and make your own album.

    Hope that helps!

    • shannon

      I am planning my wedding for feb 2013 and are also looking for ways to save!

    • Deena

      And don’t get married on a weekend!! A wedding on a Thursday night is much less than a wedding on a Saturday because everyone has more time for you!

  • Leigh Ann

    Print your invitations, programs, etc yourself. I had a specific design I used on everything and scoured the internet and found paper that I could print everything myself on.

    I had a candy buffet for my favors. Using my color theme, I bought candy off the internet and using decor from my house and my friends, I was able to have a beautiful candy display and everyone loved it. I personalized it with beautiful quotes on love and marriage using frames from the dollar store.

    And I agree with Ebay….it’s amazing what you can find on there!

  • Ginna Senn

    One of the things that I saved on that I was most excited about was the cake.. I bought sugar candy flowers (some of them are really beautiful, I had pink roses and tiny white flowers that looked real) and had the baker make a simple 2 tier cake with swiss dots and then decorate it with sugar flowers.. I actually did it that way because my husband was a friend of the baker and all they had in their portfolio was birthday cakes so I had no idea if they could even make a wedding cake and didn’t trust them, so I figured I’d pick all the flowers out myself. It was gorgeous and only costs us about $350.. It was a great deal since they didn’t have to make all the flowers by hand with icing..

    congrats and happy planning!

  • Alison

    Join pinterest.com lots of awesome ideas! Lots of them are DIY project!

    • Anonymous

      My new obsession just found this site can’t stay away from the food section!

      • Melanie

        I was also going to suggest pinterst! Yes it is very addicting. Also check out the blog for wedding photographers Tony and Amy Hoffer at http://www.hofferphotography.com . They are amazing! At the very least it will provide you with inspiration.

  • I just got married in June of this year and just started a wedding recap on my blog – I’ll be posting once a week about some way that I saved on my wedding if she would like to check it out at BreezyPinkDaisies . I just posted this weekend about my wedding dress deal I bought on Craigslist!

    Brie @ BreezyPinkDaisies

  • Love Coupons

    Alot of women spend a good amount on their dress, if you don’t already have a dress or your mind set on one, check different places….ebay, some online retailers… my friend bought her dress from Marshalls (for under $100) and it was beautiful.

    We had very simple flowers for my wedding, but flowers weren’t quite important to me. They do make some decent looking fake flowers. Or if their not that important to you, do the bare minimum or none at all.

    I left my mother in law in charge of the cake. My only suggestion is if you want an edible cake – do NOT get a fondant cake – they look nice but are just that.

    Making your own invitations, menus, response cards, etc is easier then you would think and much cheaper then having someone do it for you.
    Favors, decorations, and center pieces (or things to make center pieces – a center piece can be as simple & beautiful as a floating candle $1 dish at $1 store plus a floating candle which is maybe 50c each. – just an idea) can sometimes be found at the dollar store, or cheaply at walmart, targe, or an arts & crafts store. I check clearance for alot of these things.

    As I think of other things I’ll post more. Congrats! Have fun with it!

    • andrea thompson

      I agree with the fondant thing. I have made a few wedding cakes. I love the look of the fondant but it is not very good to eat. I have a recipe for marshmallow fondant which is MUCH better but harder to work with. If you can, find a cake with good old buttercream. A good cake artist can make it look just as good as a fondant cake and it will taste much better.

      • Sobeida

        Fondant is not what it was before, Wilton fondant still taste like gasoline but they are a few brands which taste delicious… I am a cake baker and people love the fondant i use! it taste like vanilla. there is also chocolate fondant which taste like tootsie rolls

  • Julie

    PRIORITIZE!! Think of what is most important to you and make a list in that order. At first you will think you need everything that a magazine or online blog tells you that you need, but you can have an amazing wedding day with everything you want vs what they tell you that you want! (makes sense i hope)

    Use Michael’s 40% off coupons on anything you can craft – invites, escort cards, favors!

    Also, use friends as vendors whenever you can! I was so thankful to know a chlidhood friend that did amazing photography for us for less than 25% of all quotes I got (it was also nice to know him and be able to say eactly what i wanted without feeling like a bridezilla 🙂 ). Tell everyone you know that you are looking for vendors – florists, bakeries, limos, whatever it is that you need and its amazing who knows who. A neighbor’s sister did our flowers, my now brother-in-laws baseball coach did our cake, all for way less than i would have paid even at the lowest quote.

    Good Luck with your planning!

  • Sherri

    The biggest money savor for me was having my wedding on a Friday night. It saved me money on everything!!!!! The reception hall was 25% less my dj was half price, my photographer gave me a huge discount.. It was amazon how much I saved… And since it was an evening wedding the centerpieces were floating candles that I did myself no need for the expensive flowers… My mother made any flower arrangements out o artificial flowers… Also find a hall that provides the ake for you! I spent less than six grande on my entire wedding and it was perfect!!!! Of course no limo was necessary and my husband and groomsmen wore suits instead if tuxes… But in the grande sche of things the saved money was well worth it… An my men looked great in their suits ( same price ad a tux rental and they can wear them more often than a tux)

  • SharonD

    Keep the fact that this is only an event that will last for a few hours on a single day, and that your marriage will (hopefully) last a lifetime first and foremost in your mind. If you are tempted to spend on anything, ask yourself “Will this be something that will matter in 15 years?”. If it is, spend the money. If it isn’t, go cheap or go without.

  • Lori

    I’m helping plan my daughter’s wedding since she’s away at college. I’ve been going to michaels, acmoore, and hobby lobby with coupons several times a week. For example, I bought all the favor boxes one pkg at a time and got 180 boxes for about $20. I’m ‘collecting’ paper lanterns from HL to hang in the tent. I bought the table number holders there as well. It takes more time (and I think the HL cashiers are getting to know me!) but I never make a special trip…I just always stop in when I’m out anyway.
    One other thing…you can find many items you’ll need NOT in the wedding sections. The table number holders (which I bought in yellow) were literally twice as much money in black in the wedding section. Same holders, same company, wedding packaging.
    Another great way to shop…garage sales! We’re doing a candy buffet and I got all the varied jars for 25/50 cents! (check craigslist too…type in wedding in the search and it’ll come up with a lot. I havent found anything I need yet, but a lot of people sell their ‘used-only-once’ wedding decor for cheap.
    Congrats!

  • Corinne

    I found that using a wedding place that supplied linens, small generic centerpieces, table cards, table numbers, etc. saved us a TON. Then, I used Michael’s and AC Moore coupons (we always get the 40% and 50% off on item coupons in the paper, and they accept each other’s coupons) to get cheap boxes for the favors, and other little things like the guest book and whatnot. Basically, my budget was spent on the place bc everything was included, I found a great deal on a dress, only got bouquets (instead of elaborate centerpieces that just annoy the guests anyway), and did all the rest with coupons.

  • Jay

    There used to be a great website/e-book ‘Fire Your Wedding Planner’ That gave me amazing tips on our wedding several years ago. Biggest thing – Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

    Photos – as mentioned, if you can get a photographer that will just give you a digital copy of everything then you can use something like Shutterfly to do your album, thank yous and reprints. I was 110% satisfied with the product.

    Linens/Decor/Flowers/Favors – Check out Fabric Warehouse for linens if you are a true ‘do-it-your-selfer’. I love the site http://www.towervase. com (wholesale vases and decor accessories). Flowers weren’t my most important thing so I googled wholesale artificial floral vendors and ordered one flower from each to eliminate the cheap looking ones. I wound up with http://www.afloral.com. Nice stuff. Got flowers and accessories all done 4 months early. I got nice fresh corsages for the moms at a local supermarket, they looked fine. I’ve also heard good things about flower packages at Costco/BJs/ etc. Mueller’s in Newark has a good rep too. Also, don’t forget about http://www.orientaltrading.com and Ebay.

    Dresses/Shoes/Accessories – Grab your girls and go hit the outlets (Group USA, Saks, Neimans, etc). Also check the clearance rack at David’s Bridal. My girls got their dresses for $30. Don’t forget, if they don’t have what you want have them shipped from other stores. The Lord & Taylor Outlet at Jersey Gardens had a lot of dresses just this week. Of course DSW and MJM are great for shoes.

    Cake – This was the ‘piece de resistance’ of our wedding. Cake for 400 people = $350. I got my cake done at Shoprite! It tasted great. I had them do my specialty display cake of three tiers with edible photos all over of our family, our dating, engagement, etc. That fed maybe 100 people and served the purpose for pictures. Then I ordered undecorated sheet cakes to feed the rest of the guests. The cakes went straight to the kitchen, no one was the wiser, everyone had the same cake/filling and I saved a TON of money. But some supermarkets are catching on and raising prices, so call around.

    Remember, its always cheaper to do it yourself even if it is a little more time consuming. Plus, if you get the stuff at places like Joann’s, Michael’s, AC Moore, etc, you can use coupons. I don’t know where you’re located but here are some vendors to look at.
    Aristocrat Limo, Parsippany NJ
    T&L Catering
    The Gran Centurions, Clark, NJ
    Milan Banquets, Garfield, NJ
    Catering by Essex Manor, Bloomfield, NJ

    Hope it helps!

  • Tirzah

    We bought our flowers in bulk from Costco and they were beautiful and cheap! Bought our bridesmaid dresses on clearance on JCrew…they didn’t all have to be the same style, I just wanted the same color. Had our reception at an Elks Lodge that catered – super affordable. Didn’t hire a DJ but made our own Ipod playlist and played it over the speakers. Don’t get the “save for a year” layer on the wedding cake. It doesn’t always freeze well and they usually charge extra for it. Have fun!!

    • Wendy Y

      Mine threw in the top layer for free…we had ours done by a woman who does it out of her house. And here’s how to freeze it so it’s just as good a year later: Freeze it in a larger box for 2 days so you are confident it’s frozen through. Then wrap tightly in 2 layers of wax paper and then 2 layers of tin foil snug against the frosting (which is frozen so it won’t smudge). Take out of the freezer 2 days before you are ready to eat, unwrap all layers, and thaw in a larger container (again, so as not to ruin the frosting as it thaws). Ours was better than we remembered it has been a year earlier!

  • Jayme

    I got married 11/11/06 almost 5 years ago! I went with artificial flowers and literally Michaels and Joannes were my friends for a long time! haha every week I would go and get flowers or whatever I could with that coupon they give every week! I made my bouquet and all the bouquets and bouteneers. I also made my invitations I got a nice stamp. Stamped a white piece of paper put that paper on cardstock then put a piece of vellum over top and tied it with a bow. Hard to explain but I have pictures if you would like to see.
    Also the centerpieces were flowers and the favors were pink hershey kisses (My color was pink).
    My husband is a chef- and all of his friends are chefs as well so to be honest they took care of the food and also baked our wedding cake! My friend is an aspiring photographer so she took the pics and gave me the negatives.
    The biggest money saving thing was the venue. I got married in Nov. My husband and I had our first date walking my dog in a local park. It cost me 100 bucks to rent that park for the day….The backdrop was gorgeous and we had pavilions if it rained..but most of all the place was special to both of us. All in all for 200 guests we spent 3000.00 on the entire wedding. That was the cake, DJ, invites, food, etc. I loved it!

    Congratulations by the way! I wish you both the best.
    Jayme

  • Anne

    Have your bridal party wear black dresses and shoes; Men can wear a suits. Everyone should already have these and they will go with any colors you choose.

  • Lori

    I bought my dress at a Vera Wang store that only sold bridesmaid dresses and as it turned out, made dresses in white for graduation season! I got so lucky and they had some dresses leftover (I bought toward the end of summer) and only paid $250 for my dress…a beautiful long, strapless dress and you couldn’t tell the difference.

    Also, theknot.com is a GREAT resource, specifically the message boards! A lot of girls on there sell their wedding leftovers for much cheaper, you can get great advice and some also sell their services (many are very creative!). I had a destination wedding, so that was the board I used but there are also local boards.

  • Jen

    My brother is a professional DJ and him and my sister in law have their own company. If you live in NJ/PA/DE/MD (surrounding areas) book him and I’ll tell him to give you a discount! Seriously, ask for the prices of other DJ’s and then ask him and I guarantee he will save you more money. And he is a lot better than almost all the other “expensive” DJ’s. (I don’t just say that b/c he’s my brother either =]). Oh and he also is really good at playing the violin if you’re looking for something like that during your ceremony.
    http://www.timewing.com/

  • Andrea

    Don’t do favors! I am a wedding coordinator that works with a caterer and I can’t tell you how many favors are left on the tables. Instead, pick a favorite charity and do an in lieu of favors picture frame and state the charity you have chosen for your donation. Also, use candles instead of flowers for centerpieces A large pillar candle in a glass hurricane with votives around it makes for a stunning glow on the table. Look at yard sales, craigslist, thrift stores, etc. for these items.

    • Kathy

      The first thing the owner of our reception hall said to us was to not do favors. He said they have dozens left over every time. We donated to a charity instead and I’m so glad we did!

  • Sarah

    Like many have said above, just doing your research can save you a ton of money. I got married just over a year ago, and we asked around to our friends and family for recommendations of places and people to use. My husbands family had a hand in starting a golf course/country club, so we had our reception there for nearly half the price they normally ask. Same with the DJ and the limos. As with produce, the same principle applies with flowers, things in season are cheaper. I also bought a sale dress for $250. It was a 2 sizes too big, but my mother in law’s seamstress altered it for a ridiculously cheap price. Our favorite way that we saved money though … my mother in law made our cake. It was awesome, and she had a blast doing it. 🙂 It wasn’t necessarily the fondant covered smooth cake, but it tasted just the same, and it’s a personal touch that we will never forget.

  • my dress. $100 from a bridal show. my bridemaids bought prom dresses which were WAY cheaper than bridal dresses. Check clearance now for a wedding this time next year. I did fake flowers for the bouquets.

  • April S

    We did our own centerpieces, used Michael’s coupons for the glass bowls and Sams Club for hydrangea. They were nicer flowers than the ones in my bouquet done by the florist!
    I printed my own invitations, labor intensive but they came out awesome.
    We also got Bridesmaid dresses at Lord & Taylor.
    We kept with beer & wine vs. Open bar and ordered from a liquor store that picked up and didn’t charge for unopened leftovers.
    Best money I ever spent was my wedding planner! It was a small wedding, less than 100 guests, but having someone there to manage the various vendors was priceless.

  • Kathy

    My advice is to offer to pay cash for everything that you can. That will generally save you about 10%, maybe more for a vendor like a photographer.

    Some reception halls will let you use or rent centerpieces so you don’t have to bring them in. Take advantage of whatever the hall has to offer. And in the first place, choose a hall that you already like the looks of, so that you don’t feel the need to do much, if any, decorating

    And the DIY route is great, but know your limits. If you are going to be up until 3 every night the week of the wedding so you can paste labels onto favors, then you probably should have just paid money for someone else to do it.

  • amber

    When I got married I was able to get 1/2 off the reception hall price since I was willing to take a date that was only 6 months away that someone had just cancelled and lost part of their deposit
    Ask around, ask questions. Most vendors will work with you
    My bridesmaids and I made the bouquets-simple bunches tied with pretty ribbon
    Favors-ebay and we gave out slices of the wedding cake in boxes I paid 8cents each for on ebay
    I did spend waaaaay too much on my dress
    I still have it and it’s in excellent condition-italian satin, halter neck, size 6. If anyone is interested I would sell it for $150. Had paid $5000 in 2003. Can send pics!

  • Mina

    You can save lot of money by not getting married.

    • If you don’t have anything nice to say…

      Wow that was a great suggestion!

      • Anonymous

        really, and had the nerve to leave their name! miserable much?

    • Sobeida

      the fact that you are miserable doesn’t mean everybody else will be.

  • Caroline

    For my favors, we used $1 lottery scratch offs…we had the DJ make an announcement and the waiters pass them out. On the count of 3, everyone scratched their tickets…some people actually won. It was fun and exciting for all. Oh – and we put each ticket in a cellophane bag with a shiny new penny for scratching and sealed it with a sticker that said our names, the date and “Luck in Love”

    • Shannon

      I like that idea! def unique!

  • Cheryl

    Yes I agree with a lot of the past advise. For center pieces I used 3 different size pillar candles with a small tray from the dollar store and place small rocks at base that you can get in a large beg at Lowes or Home Depot. If your lucky they will match your colors or white works well. One thing is sometimes you get what you pay for so prioritize. I have done photography for Weddings and I have done what the other ladies were saying where they would get photos and no album for a great price. But I have gone to friends weddings and I ended up taking better pictures then the photographer so get recommendations and see past work. The biggest thing is do as much as you or friend can do yourselves. One thing to consider is the day. Fri. and Sun are usually cheaper then Saturday but for me I knew most people did not work Sat and I wanted lots of people to stay over so we could continue the party. So I hopewith all this great advise we are giving you lots to think about:-)

  • Dana

    I got my bridemaids dresses from Davids Bridal, but in the party dress section. We did not like any of the style bridesmaid dresses they had, and I thought the prices were up there. The ones we bought were so much prettier and detailed, plus well under $100.

  • Tm9876

    If you want unique, customized wedding invitations but not spend a million dollars, check etsy! You can work with a graphic designer by selecting an existing design or even have them create your own custom vision for a wedding invite! You can then print at home or have them printed with a reliable online printer like overnightprints.com. This will save you hundreds of dollars yet make your invites special and unique!
    Check out http://www.etsy.com/shop/PaperHeartCompany?ref=si_shop

  • Christine

    I got married in June 2007 and LOVED planning my wedding. I researched everything to get the best possible deals on a tight budget ($15,000).

    I chose a venue that was beautiful and very reasonably priced. The cake and fresh flower centerpieces were included in the package.

    I made my own unity candle, flower girl basket, ring bearer pillow, guest book and card box.

    I got my dress at David’s Bridal for $299 during their big bridal sale.

    I used the florist that the venue used for the centerpieces for all of my other flowers (bouquet, bridesmaid’s bouquets, etc) – they gave me a discount for the referral from the venue and there was no delivery charge because they were delivering the centerpieces anyway.

    We did the ceremony at the same venue as the reception – didn’t have to get limos and it was so much easier on our elderly guests to not have to travel from one location to another. We are catholic and needed to get married in a church – so the day before our wedding my husband and I and two witnesses went to the church and the priest married us! Afterwards we went to our rehearsal dinner and it was so cool knowing that we were already married and no one else knew! It was our romantic little secret… The next day the priest married us in front of our family and friends at the reception hall and it was perfect. To this day, my family still doesn’t know we got married the day before!!

  • Felecia

    I wanted gorgeous flowers for my wedding, so after being terribly disappointed hearing quotes from a local florist, my mother and I found a wholesale floral distributor. The flowers were gorgeous and so very very cheap! Look for one in your area and make your own centerpieces and bouquets I saved hundreds of dollars on beautiful roses, lilies and more! 🙂 Happy Nuptials to you!

  • Susann

    Use your resources! My sister (professional pattern maker) made my dress, My mom did my flowers and pretty much all decorations, my sister-in-law was my photographer, my cousin made my wedding cake. Save money by doing things yourself. Check out clearance dresses on-line. Be creative and think outside the box. How important is it that your bridesmade have matching dresses? In my wedding we actually did away with the whole “bridesmaid” idea and just had everyone in the family wear our colors. You don’t have to spend a lot on a wedding, but the hard part of cutting costs is deciding what things are most important to you. Best wishes!

  • Anonymous

    I was at Goodwll recently and couldn’t believe that there were racks of weddng gowns and bridesmaids dresses from the stores with the tags still on!!! Wedding gowns from $79 – $129 and brdesmaids dresses were all around $19!!! Don’t know if this was the usual but there were lots of sizes in the same styles and colors. Good luck and just remember that the marriage is more important than the wedding. When everyone sees how happy you are they will have a great time celebrating your day!

  • Jessica

    For flowers, choose in-season assorted arrangements. This is MUCH cheaper than going with a specific color, flower, etc.
    For the wedding gown, try sample sales or asking on freecycle.com. I’ve seen many beautiful gowns being given away on there. I was watching TV the other day and saw that Costco now carries wedding gowns as well.

    Congratulations! Hope this helps!

  • Erin

    I made a lot of stuff for my wedding. I am not very crafty, but everything was very easy. I was married in November, so we did a fall theme wedding. I found the “make your own” invitations at Walmart with pressed leaves in them and printed them on my home computer. Professional invitiations can easily cost you $300, my cost was $30. Also, try your local grocery store (Publix, Winn Dixie, Kroger) for your cake. You may be able to get a credit from your caterer if the cake is included in the package and it will be cheaper to arrange for your own cake. I think my cake cost me about $300 from Publix, but the caterer would have charged $600. Check Good Will for flower vases and make your own centerpieces. A lot of the grocery stores also do floral arrangements for weddings and are less expensive than local florists and do just as great a job.

    You can also make your own party favors. Because it was around Halloween, I found Hershey’s chocolate candies shaped like fall leaves at Target and wrapped them in burgundy tulle and tied it with ribbon with our names printed on them.

    There are plenty of ways to save money on a wedding. Just keep in mind that in the end, the small details aren’t really important. It is about getting married to your best friend. Congrats and good luck!

  • andrea thompson

    check at your local technical college. They often have culinary arts classes. You may be able to have your wedding cake done at a drastically reduced cost. The students need the experience. They are usually of great quality since they are being instructed on the latest techniques. I have seen florists advertising on Craigslist. They are usually new florists that are looking for jobs to use in thier portfolios. If your arrangements are not too complex they may be a good option. The one area I would suggest NOT using unexperienced help in is photography. Photography is VERY complex and needs to be done by someone with the proper tools and training. That said, you may be able to find a “newbie” photographer (usually fresh out of photography school) that is willing to do the job cheap or free. I would suggest picking one that has shot at least 5 weddings. Check references and view thier portfolios.

  • Payton

    I’m planning my wedding for Oct 13, 2012 and am totally hooked on the site offbeatbride.com has tons a fun d.i.y. ideas to save you money while still putting your own personal touches into your wedding

  • Susan

    I have absolutely no experience in planning a wedding. However I did attend one that was great! They had a catered BBQ (maybe not your thing) and individual cupcakes on stand (which were home made) and it was one of the best weddings I have ever been to. Very low key and just lovely! The bride carried and wore a handpicked wildflowers headband. The were in love with each other and that is what mattered!

  • Maria

    Vicky,
    Hi fellow bride on a budget! I am getting married on 3/22/13 and have spent a large amount of time trying to plan a low budget wedding, high quality wedding. The first is book during the super off season (jan, feb, march), not only will you have more options to book but you will also have vendors desperate to pay their bills. I also got a really good deal at a NJ hotel chain called Hotels Unlimited. They have 6 beautiful all inclusive venues (inside a hotel), and run specials often. I would urge you to give them a look (google them) because I think they are running a special right now.
    I could probably go on for hours for what we are doing; so I will leave you my email address and we can defiantly chat, mariamadsen76@yahoo.com

  • De

    i bought most of my decorations, cake topper, diy invites and place cards, and a few other things on ebay! ( i searched wedding lot and found alot of nice stuff) i saved so much money! Walmart also had alot of wedding stuff on clearance. my sister was my maid of honor and for my shower, she asked that someone buy our glasses, unity candle, and sign in book. for a wedding dress you could try goodwill or salvation army but ebay is good(if you know your exact size) and there are websites that sell used wedding dresses for pretty cheap, and they are beautiful dresses. You could also wait for davids bridal to have their dress sales! good luck and best wishes to you and your fiance!

  • Julie

    Try supplementing your flower order with seasonal flowers from your garden (and your family and friends’ gardens too if they don’t mind). I was able to cancel one of my shipments of flowers because there were 200 stems available at a family member’s house! Also, ordering roses directly from the grower can save lots as well.
    Also, considering making your own cake (or having a friend or family member do it as a gift)! There are wedding cake tutorials all over the net. Cake mixes can be really cheap or free with coupons and they taste great!
    Consider having guests bring a dish(potluck style) instead of hiring a caterer.
    I used all of these options for my wedding and it saved lots of money:)

  • Tina M

    My Husband and I renwed our vows last year, Military family so we never had a wedding. We had a modest budget 3000.00 for 75 guest( ended up with 40 guest)! We had our ceremony on the beach since it was our last year while stationed in Florida so that was Free, just get a permit from the city again free. My grandparents are florist so i have been around flowers my whole life, we ordered from a wholesaler Potomac Florals http://www.flowerwholesale.com I bought vases to my luck on clearence at Burlington coat factory for 2.98 each!and tons of tealights from the dollar store! My dress to was from ebay $29!!!!!! so was my veil $11 and it was perfect and cathedral length. Flower girls dresses were $10 each again from ebay so were the boys pants(linen ralph lauren 14$ and shirts $4) My MOH’s dress I got on clearence at Ross $4!!!!! the banquet hall was the most expensive 1100$ inclusive!( wine beer soda mixed drinks coffee tea appetizers dinner and cake cutting and serving) My Dj was $250 for 4 hours he was amazing even brought holla hoops for the kids to have a holla hoop contest!!!! I asked a friend of a friend to set up the reception room she only charged me $70! my cake AMAZING from Publix!!!! 2 tier wedding cake, 1 layer vanilla with rasberry filling the other layer carrot cake, they matched a photo I gave them perfectly! $141 NO TAX!!!! our photopher was the sons of our officiant their total fee to set up ceremony with chairs, tables and bamboo archway and over 500 photos $375!! our invites http://www.etsy.com, some ladie son there helped me with vellum overlays and program covers everything else i printed myself at home!Make up artist for myself moh, and both mothers $80 total!! I was very proud of my self and so was everyone else when they realized I did almost everything myself. Not to mention it was fun! a wedding can be beautiful and inexpensive with timing and planning, Ill be happy to share photos if you would like!

  • Amanda

    Use the after holiday clearance section for ideas. You can get white lights after Christmas. You can get cutsy heart things after Valentines.

    Also… sometimes it’s cheaper to buy your linens rather than rent them (when was married two years ago there was a $1 difference). But beware that they are HARD to resell afterwards!!

    We made our own cupcakes for the centerpieces of the tables (on cupcake holders purchased at Michael’s with coupons).

    Our venue also had a closet of stuff that other people leave. So we were able to use pretty vases to hold cut up veggies and fruit for our buffet (we also made our own food too) for free. And the best part.. our venue let us leave all the extra food and they had a not for profit pick it up the next day. No clean up & food storing necessary!

    Ok.. one more. I had one bridesmaid. I told her to wear a paper bag and cute shoes (she has an AMAZING shoe collection). She wore a dress outta her closet and didn’t feel pressured to buy/wear something that she wasn’t comfortable in.

  • MichelleK

    Look at grocery stores for your flowers. We used Price Chopper, and for $400 we got my bouquet, 3 bridesmaids, 6 corsages, 6 bouts, flower petals, and flowers for the cake.

    You can also use grocery store for wedding cakes. Have a simple white cake, and decorate with flowers. Also you can do the faux cake. Many bakers have a fake cake made of styrofoam that they will decorate. Then, they make 1 layer of it real. You cut that layer, and your guests are served from a sheet cake in the back. No one knows and its cheap!

    And, do edible favors. People do not need more picture frames and the like from weddings. Do chocolate or candy…it’s much cheaper and people may actually eat it!!

  • desiree

    Ok this may sound crazy, but i called funeral homes to find my limos. I ended up finding a company that gave me 3 limos all night for $125 peice! Also, I bought my dress from Macys. It was a “floor model” but had never even been tried on. Apparently alot get stocked in closets and forgotten about. It was $500 and I negotaited alterations with several places and let them know who was the lowest. They fought to give me the best price! For photography, I didn’t get an album either, just the negatives and rights to them. For the reception I negotiated a steep discount for all kids under 21 and all my pregnant guests (there were a few) plus the other vendors. The biggest cost was the alcohol and cleary these guest wouldn’t be drinking so that was a huge price break. Plus I got married in August so I got a 10% discount for that. Lastly, I found ways to make my guests feel very special (dedicating songs, played a compliation that played most of the married guests own wedding songs, inexpensive overnight bags for hotel guests and thank you cards in the morning, etc). I didn’t have the fanciest, most expensive wedding, but people left remembering it because i found ways to make everyone feel a part of our day. 7 years later our friends and family still talk about it. Hope this helps:)

  • Kristen

    Decide what is the most important thing to you & TB husband.
    a colleague of mine is in the process of planning….the best place to find a photographer & videographer may be your local college. There may a student who is building his/her portfolio. Snag them really really cheap.

    Anyways….
    We both wanted a beautiful ceremony & reception with great drinks & food. Then came the pictures. We did spend about average but we also had twice the number of people. $20,000 for 300 guests.
    We got married in December on a Friday night. Our venue rarely had weddings booked on Friday nights so they gave us the party prices instead of the wedding prices.
    We hired a DJ who again rarely had weddings on Friday nights…he gave us the party rate instead of the wedding rate. Our videographer was just starting out when I found him the year before we got married. I booked him in at $500…his rate when we got married went up to 1,500.
    Everything else was DIY. my husband and I create rose votive holders that were everywhere at the reception. I did our invites…even lined the outer envelope with gold. The original quote I received for invites…..was almost $800! I think it cost me $120 or $150 (including postage). AC moore and Michaels knew me by first name.
    we ordered flowers for centerpieces direct from the wholesaler. I think 30 centerpieces cost us $300 or $350. They were simple fish bowls filled, I mean overflowing, with simple red roses. We added some gold ting tings for sparkle. My husband and I put them together the morning of the wedding reheresal. The florist I went to quoted me $50 a piece. I won’t even tell you what she quoted me for bouquets.
    Flower girl dresses were off ebay….$20 each. Loved them. Wish the dresses grew with the girls. 🙂 My cousin still has hers (she’s 11 now)
    I did splurge and have my makeup and hair done at my house. I didn’t want to have to worry about that.
    sorry about the rambling mess. 🙂

  • Maria

    I still have my dress that I am willing to donate (just pay for shipping if you live outside of Philly!!) Just needs to be cleaned. But its not in a bad shape whatsoever! If you are interested, please let me know and leave your email address? Thanks!!!

    • Maria

      Oh…and my friend is a professional make-up artist…so if you’re close to Philly…she might assist!

  • My sister in law just got married in June and the biggest way they saved money was by doing it themselves or having family members help out. For instance, the groom’s brother was the DJ, a friend was the bartender, the bride’s sister did the table centerpieces, I made the cake and dessert bar, etc. This was our wedding gift to them and it worked out beautifully. Good luck!

    • Forgot to mention that for the favors, my SIL did a candy bar. She bought a bunch of different size canisters and scoops and filled them with different kinds of candies. She bought the favor bags on etsy that had the bride and groom’s names and date printed on. The candy that was left over she is going to use for Halloween and the canister now house flour, sugar, etc. in her pantry.

  • Erynn

    JUST ELOPE!!!! I’m knee deep in planning and the money just keeps racking up lol. Along with the stress level!

  • Always use th 40% of 50% off coupons at Michael’s. Don’t ever pay full price. They are widely available.
    Don’t think you need to have flowers for centerpieces. Candles are your best friend. And super cheap. I bought short vases at the dollar store, filled them with sand, stuck a candle and some shells (beach wedding) and voila. Instant centerpiece for a couple bucks.
    Your other best friend is craigslist. I found an up and coming videographer looking to build his business who charges three times now what he did when I booked him (two years ago). He was awesome.
    Gigmasters.com – you can have dj’s/musicians provide you with a quote. They should be competing for your business – not the other way around.
    I purchased just my bouquets/bouts from a florist. I bought hydrangea (needs no arranging!) from SamsClub.com and used them in vases to decorate the ceremony, and a couple for centerpieces. Easy easy.
    Book a photog that is up and coming. Check craigslist, or local art schools. Ask if you can just get the digital photos on a cd, then do what you want with them. I made my own wedding book on My publisher – got 2 copies for $80 including shipping.
    Consider Friday/Sunday weddings. Think outside the box when it comes to your reception. I had mine at a restaurant that had a large room for parties. They didn’t have a “wedding package” – i picked out what I wanted a la carte and paid for it. Entree, salad, etc. Everyone thought that I paid more because it was at a nice restaurant. Little did they know I paid less than half what other places were charging.
    It is YOUR wedding. Don’t let anyone tell you what is expected or what you HAVE to have. It is all about you and your personality and what you want.

  • Becky

    For me, spending alot (ie, more than a few thousand) was not an option, and neither was debt. I was so grateful we stuck to this! We had alot of friends and church family, (300 ish guest list) and we really wanted to include as many as possible. So I sacrificed on alot of areas–it wasn’t fancy, but it celebrated our relationship in the context of our community. We had it at our own church with a reception of lite fare (made by us and friends) afterwards. Friends helped with everything from decorating to flowers to music to food… we asked lots of people for help. My maid of honor did my nails, and my childhood babysitter did my hair. A long-time friend of the family with florist skills did the flowers. My boss gave me a discount on the cake. We bought lattice and greenery, and the church secretary spent hours creating a beautiful backdrop. I gave thank you gifts, but it really was a labor of love on their part. We tried to ask alot of people for little bits of help, so that no one was burdened.

    I look back and think that no one left the wedding impressed by “oh what a beautiful wedding, fancy food, expensive flowers” etc, but the atmosphere was special. It was truly all our friends and supporters coming together to celebrate that we were getting married–and they were part of what made the relationship and the wedding happen.

    My mom made my dress–not every mom is up to that, but she did an awesome job. I went to a friend’s wedding recently where she bought a nice white sun-dress–and it was very classy. So there are options.

    We had the guys buy Jackets and slacks and gave them matching ties. That way their cost was an investment that they could use later. Worked for us! The maids dresses were made by my mom and a few other sewing friends. Again, a labor of love from true friends.

    If I had to do it again, I would have gotten a more professional photographer, though. Had problems with lost negatives. Might not be so bad now that so many amateurs have digital cameras and you could get a cd of the shots (in the raw) to photoshop/print etc later.

    Sometimes I go to a really fancy/classy wedding with an evening reception at a nice venue and get a tiny bit jealous. But then I remember how blessed my celebration was, and I remember that I wasn’t personally comfortable (or able) to shell out that many dollars, and I have no regrets. And I’m still happily married 🙂

  • tala

    go on the cruise – let everybody pay for themself

  • Nadyme

    Choose carefully your photographer and videographer (if you choose to have one) we had an issue with our videographer, he run out of tape at the exact moment our Pator was declaring us husband and wife #stillmadaboutit.
    The photographer took nice pictures but they were charging outrageous prices for the proofs. we ended up buying the proofs and i made my own photobook with Shutterfly.
    But as a gift we decided to do “day after” wedding pictures, i still have my wedding dress and my hubby wore one of his suits (which he looked AWESOME and HOT!!! #stillmuchinlovewithhim) Our friend did the pictures for us and they came out GREAT. it was a win win situation, he needed wedding pictures to create his portfolio and we were on vacation that week plus our 2 daughters played the “flower girls” roles. Tthey day was gorgeous too. You can check out his work at (http://www.leandrodasilva.net/index2.php#/home/ ) – and see our pictures there too. 🙂
    Also, if you are in the NY/NJ/CT/PA area. my brother is a DJ (http://djfernandos.com/) he is great at what he does (not because he is my bother but he is) he played our wedding and the guest didnt sit at all all night long (well just when we had dinner but the rest of the time they were on the dance floor) our friends still talk about out wedding and how much fun they had.
    My husbands motto while planning the wedding was “simple…but elegant” I know we accomplish that and more.
    Good luck and Happy planning!!!

  • Maureen

    I got my flowers at Stew Leonards which is a grocery store in CT. I know several people who have use Shoprite and Stop and Shop florists. They provide great service, the flowers are just as beautiful and the price is about 1/3 less than a trditional florist. I actually thought the service I received was better that the other florists I interviewed because the sales clerk at Stew’s was so excited to be doing a wedding. She was really interested in all the details and I believe she put extra effort into making it all perfect.
    Best of luck to you and I am glad to hear you are trying to save. I know its an important day and you want it to be perfect but I cringe when I hear couples saying they spent $10,000 to $20,000 on one day of their lives. That money could be a down payment on a house or your future child college fund.

  • Lana

    If you’re able to, use cash. We saved so much money with the reception hall, DJ, and florists when we offered cash. At the very least, the vendor didn’t charge us tax.

  • Melissa J

    You can definitely save money for your big day. I had my wedding on a Sunday which saved $2000 right off the bat compared to a Saturday night wedding. I got the bridesmaid dresses for my girls at JCPenney’s for $35 and none of them needed alterations. No one knew that they weren’t $150 dresses from a bridal shop. My photographer was a friend from the past who I didn’t realize has been in the photography business for 7 years but was going out on her own. Put a post on facebook with what you are looking for and people will respond. You can start there. We also bought our flowers from a wholesaler for my centerpieces. I did a simple bouquet of flowers (like you would see at a grocery store) in a vase on a mirror tile with 3 votives around it. It looked beautiful. I also bought my dress “off the rack” at a bridal shop. It was originally $700 and I paid $400 for it. Remember that you don’t have to pay a lot to make your wedding. Most importantly, know your budget and your limits. Go from there. Good luck 🙂

  • Sharon

    I had all my bridesmaids choose their own dress, so long as it was long and black. They all looked stunning and chose what was most flattering to them, they all wore them many times, and I didn’t have to organize anything or feel guilty for making others spend money. And anyone who might be pregnant or thinking about it will be hugely grateful as well as they can change things up last minute if need be. If you love a color, wrap their flowers with it or buy them an inexpensive wrap to accessorize with. Happiest. Bridal party. Ever.

  • Clo

    I am horrified by the suggestions of skimping on a professional videographer and photographer. Even a student with a great eye and fancy equipment can not come close to years of actual life experience. Besides your love for each other, these are the ONLY things that will last. Also, YOU HAVE SELECTIVE MEMOrY as you process your special day and the photos and video will surprise the heck out of you!
    no matter what your decision, see examples first…of entire weddings!, not just the best images from each of their weddings.