Weddings are freaking expensive! The average wedding for this year was over $35,000! That’s a huge down payment on a house, a really nice brand new car, or a crazy all around the world vacation.
There is so much you can do with the amount of money people spend on weddings. And a lot of people don’t even have that option to spend that much. If you’re anything like us, we wanted to stay faaaaar away from that number and stick to something MUCH MUCH cheaper.
So we found some really great ways to save money here and there, that will end up adding up to saving thousands and thousands of dollars on your special day.
First things first…know what your priorities are. Everyone will be different, so if the cake is one of your top priorities of the entire day, you don’t have to skimp out on that portion…maybe you don’t care about the flower then, so you can save more money there.
Here are some ideas we have heard and used to save lots of money on our wedding day.
Do Your Own Flowers
Flowers can be crazy expensive, and adding a professional florist to the mix can add lots to your cost.
For us personally, we didn’t care much about the flowers, so we worked to do them a lot more affordable.
Of course I still wanted flower centerpieces, flower decor on the arch, and wanted all the girls to have bouquets, and the guys to have boutonnieres, so I found the next best thing.
Rather than hire an expensive package from a florist, we ordered pre-made flower arrangements and bulk flowers from Sam’s Club. That way, we didn’t have to fuss with making all the bouquets, centerpieces and boutonnieres, but we still ordered bulk flowers so I could have my bouquet arranged how I wanted, as well as make an arrangement to hang on the arch. They turned out so beautiful.
We didn’t hire a florist to put them together, but for things like our wedding arch floral arrangement, we had a friend come help set that up, since she had done several before.
At a sister’s wedding, we went to the flower market and picked up hundreds of flowers and did DIY arrangements.
Order Flowers That Are Cheaper And In Season
If flowers aren’t your priority, find a friend who can help, order in season and more affordable flower options, and check out the bulk and pre-made flower arrangements from Sam’s Club.
There’s a season for each flower, and if you choose flowers that are already in season, you can save money instead of having to have them shipped in and pay a pretty penny for other flowers that aren’t growing locally at the time of your wedding.
There are also different versions of flowers that look very similar as well. Go for the cheaper option of flowers to get about the same look you’re going for. No you don’t need to just stick to baby’s breath and carnations, but check out more affordable options you can pick from.
Have A Smaller Cake
We were shocked when we found out how much wedding cakes can cost. Some girls were telling us they had spent over $1000 on theirs! Neither my husband nor I are huge cake fans to begin with, and I knew I wanted to have an ice cream station as well.
We almost decided to just forego the cake, but I really wanted to cut the cake and feed it to each other…still wanted a little bit of tradition, plus I wanted to have the top layer on our one year anniversary. So, we opted for a smaller cake and cup cakes instead.
Having a smaller cake will save you loads of money to begin with, but you can also have a smaller cake and add sheet cakes to be cut in the back before serving to your guests. No one will know its not the actual wedding cake, and you get to save money.
Have Pre-Cut Sheet Cake To Serve
The larger the cake, the more it cost! Also, you’ll have to think of things like paying for cake cutting to be done as well. We were quoted anywhere from $3-5 per piece of cake cut! That’s $500 extra just to have someone cut it.
No thanks! We decided on cupcakes, and our planner cut our smaller cake for anyone else who wanted to try the cake.
Get Your Cake From A Grocery Store
We got our cake for $70 from Sam’s Club! It was 3-tiered and could serve 60 people. We went away from the traditional white wedding cake and went for a fun mermaid and fisherman cake (Everyone calls me the mermaid cause of my long red hair, and B is a fisherman).
But Sam’s Club has serval beautiful traditional white wedding cakes if that’s more your speed. Costco has great sheet cakes, and we’ve heard nothing but great things about Public cakes.
Have Your Wedding On A Different Day Than Saturday
Weddings that are on Friday or Sunday or any other days of the week tend to be much cheaper. Lots of different venues will give you a huge discount if you have your wedding on any other day than Saturday. That’s because Saturdays are the most popular days to have weddings, and they can still book a Saturday wedding and have yours that week as well.
Check with your favorite venues to see if they have discounts for an “Off-day”.
Having a week day wedding, or a Sunday wedding can also save you money with your vendors for the same reason. Lots of different vendors will give you a discount if you have your wedding on a different day, since you won’t be taking up their coveted Saturday wedding slots.
Be sure to ask all your vendors if they have off day discounts as well.
Let Your Friends/Family Help
Planning a wedding can be quite stressful, especially when you are trying to stick to a budget and start thinking of doing things yourself. But allow you friends and family to help! Most likely, people who are close to you will ask if you want help already. And if not, there’s no need to feel weird about asking for help.
Have a friend who is great at makeup? Let them do your makeup for the day. Have a family member who does awesome calligraphy? Ask if they would like to address your invitations.
Try to stick to things your friends and family are good at, and if they are willing to help, let them! Don’t expect everyone to say yes, and don’t get offended if they give you a price in which they can do something. There is a fine line between asking for help and expecting people to work for free.
But if they offer, and lots of people genuinely want to help, then let them!
Check Facebook For Awesome Wedding Deals
Did you know you can get some awesome deals on wedding stuff on places like Facebook, OfferUp and other marketplace apps? There are several Buy/Sell Bridal groups on Facebook, where brides are selling lots of their decor, dresses, signs, etc. and trying to make some money back from their own wedding.
You can usually find great deals in here instead of paying full price for something at a bridal store. You may need to be patient and keep checking to see what’s available, but it can be very rewarding once you find your perfect decor.
Purchase Your Veil On Amazon
One of my favorite ways to share with brides to save money on their weddings is to buy their veil from Amazon! While you’re trying on your dress, bridal shops like to add a veil to complete your look to have you saying yes to the dress. But then you fall in love with the veil that just so happens to match perfectly, only to find out that veil costs hundreds of dollars. We’ve heard of brides being quotes up to $1200 just for the veil alone.
I purchased my cathedral length veil for $15 on Amazon! And we have a post where lots of other brides have found their beautiful veils from Amazon as well.
Barter With What You Can Offer Them
A unique way you can save money is to trade services with a vendor for services they need as well. If you’re a web designer and your photographer is looking to hire someone to create their new website, you can trade services for each other for a win-win. Maybe your make-up artist friend needs her own wedding invitations addressed and you know calligraphy!
Use your skills and family businesses to your advantage. Even if it’s something you can offer for a discount. Understand that each vendor you hire is putting some money into your wedding, and know that each one will be a valuable addition to your day. But if there is something mutually beneficial, then don’t be afraid to bring it up and see if they are keen on working with you.
Hire A Student
We’ve heard lots of brides opt out of having a videographer because it’s just too expensive, or decide to try to do their own hair and make-up because they don’t have the money for a professional.
This is where you can bring in students and people who are just starting out. Ask around at your local colleges to see who is working on creating and building their photography and video portfolio. Or head to your local Cosmetology school and get your hair and make-up done by a student. Each of these will be way more affordable, and you might be able to book something you thought you wouldn’t.
Opt For Buffet Style vs. Plated Dinner
Of course being served your food is a more elegant way, but having a buffet line can save you money! And, we think it’s even better for your guests since they can pick and choose what they want and how much of it as well.
If you do a buffet line where your guests fill their own plate, you’ll cut the cost of having to have servers to each table several times. Buffets tend to be cheaper as well since it’s just one set up rather than plating each meal separately and serving each course with all the additional plates and staff.
Have Food Stations
We actually found it was cheaper for us to set up different food stations from different vendors than it was to hire one caterer who did the whole wedding. I think this is mainly because we were hiring someone who does events and wasn’t just a wedding caterer.
Each place will be different, but if you can find ways to hire food that isn’t a wedding caterer, their prices may be much cheaper.
Ask About Cash Discounts
Another great tip to save some money is to pay in cash. We’ve heard of vendors who will give a bit of a discount if their services are paid in cash, rather than on a credit or debit card where they have to pay a fee attached to it.
Ask all your vendors if they have any discounts available, especially if you pay cash.
Skip Save the Dates
Save the Dates can be fun, but if you’re trying to save money, they aren’t really necessary. You can let your friends and family know what date you’re getting married with a text, through Facebook, or just send your invites out just a bit earlier than you normally would.
If your friends and family are coming from far away, we recommend you sending a quick message or giving them a call, so they can start booking flights and asking for time off.
Then send your invites around 4 months in advance instead of 6-8 weeks. That’s still plenty of time for people to get ready for a wedding.
To tell you the truth, most guests will forget their favor or not even bother to take them home. This is a great way to save money if you’re looking for areas where guests won’t even notice.
Don’t spend tons of extra money and time on favors unless it’s something you are really wanting to do. We actually did do cheap favors with chocolates and had probably half left over after all was said and done. It really wouldn’t have been missed if we skipped out on the favors.
Skip Wedding Programs/Menus/Name Cards
Skip all the paper extras! No one needs to know the schedule of the day or the menu of what they will be eating. And if you want to keep everyone informed, just make a large sign and post it at the entrance so everyone knows whats coming up.
Don’t waste your wedding budget adding in all these paper details that will cost you extra for no reason.
Same goes for name cards. If you prefer to do a seating chart, go with table numbers and let them choose a seat at the table.
Do Your Own Hair/Makeup
Or at least have a friend help. Whenever you say it’s Bridal Hair or Bridal Makeup, the price jumps like crazy! I ended up doing my own hair and make up at my wedding since that wasn’t super important to me, and I can do my hair better than random people who don’t know how my hair holds.
I personally couldn’t justify the couple hundred dollars to have someone do my makeup when I didn’t want the air brushed look and wanted more of my natural look.
If you absolutely cannot do your own and have no friends who are comfortable doing it, try heading to places like Dry Bar and M.A.C. where you can have your hair done by a professional, but not pay bridal prices. And many makeup places will do your makeup for free if you buy products, so that’s always a good option as well.
Have People RSVP On Your Wedding Website
Save your money on the extra postage and paper for RSVP’s. You can get a free wedding website and have everyone RSVP there. You’ll save on stamps, extra paper that can add extra weight to your invitations (meaning more Stamps) and you’ll have everything organized for you.
If someone cant seem to figure out how to RSVP, they’ll call you and let you know.
Weigh Your Invitations So You Only Need One Stamp
Invitations these days can come with so many extras. And while they’re really beautiful and fun, they can really up your cost when it comes time to ship them. If you’re inviting lots of people and you have to add an extra stamp because of the weight of your invitations, it can start adding up quick.
Buy Decor You Can Re-Use
If you’re spending money on your wedding, might as well make it last. While shopping for Wedding Decor, find things that you will be able to re-use in your new home. We used globes, pictures and canvases that we were going to use in our home anyway. Also, lamps, pictures, and signs are good ideas as well.
Find things you will use after the wedding, and you can even use decor that you or a family member already has and re-purpose those items.
Don’t Rent A Car To Drive Off In
It use to be a fun tradition to get a “going away” car that would whisk you off from the reception to your honeymoon. Now days, not everyone stays until the very end, and brides and grooms are wrapping up the party themselves. You can save all that money on a rental car and just use your family car to go to your hotel.
Stock Your Own Bar
If you have the option, bring in your own alcohol. You will save so much money this way. There are some really great ways to save money on the alcohol you get for your bar, including getting it from a large retailer like Costco or Sam’s Club, or stock your whole bar with Total Wine & More.
Instead of taking the full bar package that you have to pay for, buy your own alcohol and you can decide what types you get. That way you have full control over the amount of money you spend on your bar.
Do a Wine/Beer Bar – Signature Drink
On that note, do a beer and wine only bar, or just have a few signature drinks available. We decided to do beer, wine, and whiskey (B’s fav), and came up with a menu of 6 different drinks our guests could order on top of whatever beer or wine they wanted.
It turned out great and everyone complimented our drink choices all night. Plus we saved over a thousand dollars stocking it on our own with Total Wine and More.
Cut Your Guest List
This one in particular was not an option for us. Remember when we said to write down your priorities? We were both willing to skimp on everything else except for our guest list. We decided we would rather do everything super cheap but still have all of our loved ones present.
Does that mean we invited everyone we knew? Not at all! When it came down to it, we decided to invite those who were closest to us and who were involved in our relationship over the years. Before planning the wedding, I envisioned inviting everyone we knew, but when it came down to it, we felt good about inviting a smaller number of people who were closest to us.
Skip The Fancy Chairs
As long as your chairs are comfortable, no one notices the chairs. We were quotes $10 per chair and we would need chairs at the ceremony site and at the reception site. That could easily have been $2500 PLUS set up and delivery charges. NO WAY!
We opted for the boring chairs included in our venue for the ceremony, since people would not be sitting in them long, and again, no one notices the chairs…then we rented a little more fancy padded chairs for our reception, and opted to pick them up and drop them off ourselves saving another few hundred dollars.
Wedding Day of Coordinator
If there is one “extra” we DO recommend spending money on, it’s a Day Of Wedding Coordinator. We didn’t have it in our budget to have a Wedding Planner (and I really didn’t want one, since I was a hands on bride and wanted to plan every last detail), but having someone who will be your dedicated person to make things run smoothly and be “in charge” of the day will allow you and your family to relax and enjoy the day like you should.
Spend money on a Day of Coordinator, but you don’t have to pay the thousands of dollars for someone to plan your wedding for you.
Skip The “All Inclusive”
If you are not worried about a wedding budget, then “All-Inclusive” may sound great. They take care of lots of things (not all things) that you won’t have to, and most of your planning can be done. BUT, we noticed that a lot of places that had “all inclusive” packages didn’t really mean ALL INCLUSIVE. Check to see what their version of this means. Sometimes you still have to book a DJ, Photographer, Dessert, etc.
Also, all inclusive can tend to run you a lot more than if you pieced everything out on your own. I had my own vision of what I wanted our day to look like, and knew I would have to go the DIY route and not get stuck having to pick someone else’s caterer and vendors.
If you’re looking to save money, skip the all inclusive places and find your cheaper vendors on your own.
Buy Your Dress Off The Rack/Used/etc
No, we are not saying you can’t buy your dream dress and you have to stick to what you find in a thrift store. What we’re saying is, you can find very affordable options if you look for them. Buying the dress that is hanging on the rack at the bridal store that fits you like a glove and needs minimal alterations will save you lots of money.
Alterations can cost a pretty penny, sometimes even as much as the dress costs! It’s a lot easier to find a dress that fits you where you don’t have to pay for all the work that has to be done.
There are also so many places these days where you can buy a dress secondhand, and have a gown that’s worth thousands and thousands of dollars marked down with a really steep discount because a bride just wants to get rid of the dress instead of having to store it forever.
Check out some of the Facebook bridal sales groups and see what you might be able to find. Also, keep up with the sales. Chain Bridal Salons will have sales every few months, and sometimes local boutiques will have special sales too. And there’s always Amazon.
Have A Smaller Bridal Party
Yes, we get it…you have your 3 sisters, 4 cousins and 6 best friends.. But, the bigger the bridal party, the higher the cost. You’ll have to think of things like gifts, robes, rehearsal dinner meals, hair and make-up if you’re doing that, jewelry, lunch for the day, and more.
There are lots of hidden costs you might not think about and the more people you have in your wedding, the higher the cost of everything will be. Obviously if this is your priority, keep those parties huge…but if not, narrow it down to those who are the absolute closest to you.
The girls will most likely understand and some may even appreciate not having to spend all the extra money it takes to be in a wedding.
Another way we saved money on our wedding was, we repurposed our decorations and flowers. You can use your bridesmaid bouquets as centerpieces after the ceremony, or use your arch decor on your sweetheart table.
If you have a beautiful welcome sign, use it for your ceremony AND your reception. You can use decor in 2 different places, especially if you have your ceremony and reception in different rooms or areas.
Do Drink In Hand Toast
Sure a champagne toast sounds nice, but save all that extra money on champagne, glasses, servers to get it ready…and do your toast as a “Drink in Hand”. This means that your guests can toast with whatever drink they have in their hands that they ordered from the bar.
No rushing around making sure everyone is filled up with champagne, and no corkage fees trying to put a bottle or two on every table where lots of it will go to waste. You’ll save money on the drinks themselves and on the execution of a champagne toast. (More glasses, more servers, more clean up)
Opt For A Dessert Table
Rather than just a huge cake, try out a dessert table. Dessert tables tend to be much more affordable and you can still have your traditional cake for cake cutting. Then, serve your favorite desserts that are easy for your guests to grab and go…like cupcakes, a slice of pie, candies, and other goodies.
This saves you money on a cake cutting service, and turns your dessert into another buffet line. And your guests will get to eat what they want and not just have to have the cake that’s served.
Don’t Give Everyone A Plus One
You’ve already worked to cut down your guest list, why would you add your second cousins new boyfriend of a week and pay for their dinner rather than someone you actually know?
There are several ways to decide who gets a plus one like; “no ring, no bring” (meaning they must be engaged or married), give plus ones to only the partners you have actually met, who are living together, or who you know will be by themselves and you want to make the evening more comfortable for them.
You don’t have to give every single person on your guest list a plus one. We had one guest who we allowed to bring a plus one, since they didn’t know very many people, and they broke up AT OUR WEDDING! And they wish they never brought their date.
So instead of spending all the money on people you don’t know and people who probably won’t even be in the picture in a year, skip inviting every single plus one. Use your best judgement on this.
DJ vs. Live Band vs. DIY
We always heard that a DJ would be way cheaper than a live band, but for us personally, a live band was one of our priorities. And we actually found one who was way cheaper than a DJ for the night!
Look around at all your options and price out what makes the most sense. Recently, we have been seeing lots of people having a friend do the music through a music app and loading up the songs to their playlists and letting that run through the night.
This could work if your priority is not on dancing and having an emcee. But we probably recommend getting someone who will be dedicated to keeping the show running.
Remember Extras You’ll Be Paying For
A quick note we want you to remember is, when you’re setting your budget, make sure you have wiggle room in a lot of the different areas. Things will come out more expensive than you think.
Don’t forget all the little extras that can sneak up on you like dress alterations, taxes, tipping your vendors, valet parking, security, etc.
Every wedding is different in what they are required to have, so be sure to get a full list from your venue on what is required and add those things to your budget.
There Is Such A Thing As An Affordable Wedding
Weddings don’t have to be insanely expensive. There are so many different things you can skip on and still have your dream day. With a little bit of creativity, help and doing things a little differently than “most”, you can save thousands and thousands of dollars on your dream day and still be able to afford the best honeymoon you can imagine!
Sara, a seasoned expert in wedding planning and date ideas, brings a wealth of experience to our couples blog. With a background in the television industry and hands-on involvement in a dozen weddings, including working as a wedding assistant on "My Fair Wedding with David Tutera," Sara has an innate understanding of the magic that makes weddings truly special. Growing up with four sisters has given her unique insights into the dating world, making her a go-to source for practical and heartfelt dating advice. Her knowledge and enthusiasm make her the perfect guide for couples seeking to infuse their relationships with creativity and love.