51 Ways to Save Money on a Wedding
Weddings are about starting a life together. When you begin your lives as a couple, you also start a joint financial journey. Start it on the right foot with these 51 ways to save money on a wedding:
1. Buy a used or sale dress or sample dress
Keep in mind, you’re only going to wear this dress for the big day. You may not even have it on for a full 24 hours. Why sink your money into buying a new dress when that cash could be better spent on things like catering and decorations? Websites like Nearly Newlywed sell used wedding dresses at lower price points. You can also try local thrift stores or go to sale events at bridal shops. Additionally, many bridal shops sell their sample dresses for low prices at special events. Ask your local stores about a sample sale. You can always have it altered later, but you won’t be able to beat that lower price!
2. Wear a non-wedding dress
You also have the choice to not wear a “wedding dress” at all. Formal gowns, prom dresses, quinceañera dresses, and even more casual outfits could substitute for a wedding dress. Something white that isn’t specifically marketed for brides will almost always be cheaper.
3. Rent or borrow jewelry
Get glitzy without breaking the bank. Many pieces of wedding jewelry are available to rent just for the occasion. Often, this means you can have even more high-end jewelry for a lower price than if you bought it outright. This list of jewelry rental sites can help you find the right accessories for your big day (and your wallet).
4. Rent a tux
Tuxedos are also prime for renting. It’s convenient and often cheaper to rent a tux or a suit for your big day, and many places will also rent you accessories like shoes and cufflinks. You can also borrow a tux from a friend or family member, or buy one using our tips for saving money on clothes.
5. Save on Bridesmaid Dresses
There are plenty of ways to help your bridal party save money on their dresses and avoid maxing out their credit cards. A modern approach is to pick a color scheme and let your bridesmaids choose whichever style of dress they like in that hue. If you’re afraid of mismatching, go for shorter dresses. They are often cheaper than the floor-length gowns.
6. Recruit friends
Just because you don’t want to spend on a wedding planner doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. If your friends are willing, delegate some planning tasks to them. Try to keep it light and avoid getting caught up on the little things. They aren’t professionals, but they love you!
7. DIY invites
Printing paper invitations is expensive. Give your invites some homemade flair by creating them yourself! Take a trip to the craft store for some nice cardstock, use a home printer to print on the details, then add some embellishments. It takes some time, but it’s much cheaper and much more personal.
8. Mail a postcard instead of a reply card
Minimize invitation costs even further by including a small RSVP postcard instead of a full-size reply card. It’s cute, more customizable, and much cheaper.
9. Free wedding website
Wedding websites are no passing trend! Efficient, eco-friendly, and simply more fun than a card, they are here to stay. The best part? Many wedding websites are free. That’s right – $0. Zola, Wedding Wire, and the Knot all provide websites and much of their planning features for free.
10. Have a long engagement
Enjoy your engagement for as long as you can. A long engagement gives you more time to plan and more time to save. Waiting a couple of years (or three, or four) may mean you have to put up with a lot of people asking when you’re going to get on with it already, but it also means that when you finally have your wedding, you will have the money to make it perfect.
11. Get bubbles beside real champagne
Real champagne is only made in the Champagne region of France. Go with another type of bubbly to avoid overspending on your toast. Prosecco, sparkling rose, and cava wines are all great choices that taste similar to real champagne.
12. Find a store that lets you return unopened alcohol
Ask the liquor provider you work with if you can return unopened beer kegs or bottles of wine and liquor. If you have extra, you can waste less and get your money back for what you haven’t used.
13. Limit options to only beer & wine at dinner
Having a full bar at dinner is unnecessary and costs more than it would be worth. Offer only beer and wine at the reception dinner. It will give your guests something to sip on that’s not too expensive and won’t get anyone too tipsy too fast.
14. Create one or more signature cocktails
Personalize your cocktail hour and cut down on costs by creating a menu of 2-3 signature cocktails. You can name them after you and your new spouse, your pets, your hometowns ̶ whatever you like. Make a little sign to explain each drink and talk to your bartender about what you want each one to consist of. By doing this, you keep your liquor purchases at a minimum.
15. Don’t use top-shelf liquor
Speaking of liquor purchases, stay away from the top shelf for this event. Especially since most of it will be mixed into cocktails, you don’t need to splurge on big-name brands. Stick to well liquor brands and you (and your wallet) will be fine.
16. Try family style or buffet
Guests usually like this more, anyway, because they get to eat a wider variety of foods and they can portion for themselves.
17. Plan brunch or tea
Go non-traditional and don’t serve dinner at all! If you have an early afternoon wedding, serve brunch or have tea time instead. There won’t be as much food to buy but it will still be fun and filling.
18. Choose cheaper, but more creative foods
Find ways to use cheaper ingredients in innovative ways by using unusual spices or picking pretty presentation styles. It will save you money on food, but it won’t look or taste cheap!
19. Serve small plates/tapas rather than a big meal
They may not be as filling as a big buffet, but small plates and tapas mean lots of fun and variety. If you have an afternoon wedding, this is especially fitting.
20. Host a potluck or BBQ
Get help from your guests and have a potluck or BBQ instead of a traditional dinner. Every family can bring a dish they love, ensuring that everyone will have enough to eat. Just make sure to create a spreadsheet or email chain to record what everyone is bringing beforehand. You don’t want 10 people bringing sides of mashed potatoes.
21. Get a fake decoration cake
Instead of having one huge decorated wedding cake, ask your baker to make a fake one just for decoration. Then they can bake less decorative (but just as tasty) sheet cakes for the guests to actually eat. Or you can have them make a single tier of the cake real, then make the rest fake.
22. Buy a traditional real cake ̶ but small, just for you
Instead of a fake decorated cake, get a real decorated cake, only small. That way, you can your spouse have something for the cake cutting for the cameras, but guests will have some yummy sheet cakes instead.
23. Go with non-traditional desserts
Why stick with cake? Try something different and have a variety of smaller, non-traditional wedding desserts. Brownies, lemon bars, cannolis, cupcakes, cake pops, and other small bites are perfect for a cost-effective and adorable dessert bar. If your wedding is outdoors, you can even just stock up on s’mores supplies and have a dessert bonfire!
24. Dress up store cakes
Store-bought cakes are often better than people give them credit for. Buy a variety of cakes and add your own decorations, fresh fruit, extra icing, or other edible decorations for a homemade feel without all the work.
25. Get naked
Less icing = less money. The “naked cake” – a cake with icing between the layers but barely any on the outside, usually decorated with fruit and flowers – is very trendy. You can be fashionable and save money!
26. Make your own playlist
Instead of hiring a DJ, create your own playlist and hook up your computer to large speakers. You can guarantee that the music is exactly what you want, and you don’t have to pay anyone to do it for you.
27. Ask your friends about speakers/mics
If you’re your own DJ, it’s even better if you can borrow speakers and amplifiers from friends instead of renting them. Ask your friends who are musicians or in bands if you can borrow their equipment for a night.
28. Set up a DIY photo booth
29. Thrift dishes and glassware
Get eclectic with some mismatched tableware. Go to a few different thrift stores in your area to stock up on the dishes and glasses that you need, and don’t worry about if they “go” with your wedding colors.
30. Borrow chairs and tables
If you can avoid renting tables and chairs, you will save a lot on your reception costs. See if your religious organization has some you can borrow or ask a local school.
31. Use fake flowers
Most people at your wedding will be looking at the flowers from a distance, anyway, and fake flowers are just as pretty. Choose this cheaper and longer-lasting option to have a cost-effective and wilt-free decoration.
32. Try dollar store/craft store DIYs
Time to get on Pinterest! There are so many ways to DIY decorations. Make it fun and give your wedding a handmade flair.
33. Double flowers or plants as favors
A cute way to use your decorations as favors is to use plants as placeholders that your guests can take home. Little succulents or small flowers are perfect for holding place cards and will look great in your guests’ homes.
34. Find recycled materials
Your decorations don’t need to be brand new to give your ceremony and reception the feel that you want. Check sites like Wedding Recycle to find decorations that fit your needs or use leftovers from other friends’ weddings.
35. Choose a venue that doesn’t need much decór
Some venues are come beautifully decorated, or their minimalist designs already fit your aesthetic. If you’re going to pay for a venue, you might as well choose one that requires as little extra decór as possible.
36. Limit your plus-ones
Don’t throw out a plus-one on every invite you send. Keep it limited to people who you know have significant others.
37. Limit kids
Especially if you want your wedding to have a calmer, more adult-oriented atmosphere, ask your guests to leave the kids with a babysitter for a night. The fewer people there, the less you have to spend.
38. Keep it small
Make your guest list as short as possible and only invite close friends and family for a lower-cost and more intimate affair.
39. Use handmade favors or charitable donations
Instead of dropping big bucks on new favors for everyone, make them yourself! If you’re not very crafty, you can also give a charitable donation in honor of each of your guests.
40. Ask for honeymoon money instead of registry gifts
Creating a registry can be a hassle for both you and your guests. Make it easier on everyone by simply asking for some cash toward your honeymoon.
41. Hire music students
Want some music to walk down the aisle to but don’t want to empty your pockets for a professional? Hire some music students from the local college. Just make sure to “audition” them first.
42. Keep it short
No one wants to sit or stand through an hour and a half of convoluted vows. The shorter the ceremony, the less you have to pay the officiant, and the less you have to pay for the venue.
43. Do it at the courthouse
Bring just a few people with you to the courthouse for a short and simple ceremony. Afterward, you can all go to the reception together.
44. Have a friend do it
Chances are, you have a friend who is ordained to officiate weddings. If they are willing, you can probably get them to do it for free! You can also ask teachers and work colleagues that have been important to you.
45 – Limit photographer hours
It’s unnecessary to have a photographer there for the whole ceremony and the whole reception. Set a limited number of hours for your photographer to keep expenses at a minimum.
46. Lose the limo
Your 20-minute drive to the venue shouldn’t take up that much of your budget. Skip the limo and drive there yourself. Make sure there is enough parking for you and your guests, though.
47. Host the ceremony and reception in the same place
Obviously, it costs more to rent two places than to just rent one. It also means no transportation costs between the ceremony location and reception location. Pick a venue that will work for both the ceremony and the reception to save on venue costs.
48. Schedule on non-peak days
Some months and days are more popular than others, and they are priced accordingly. Set a date for a time that’s not in high-demand to get the best price.
49. Consider spaces that aren’t specifically for weddings
Barns, parks, and college campuses all make fun and unusual venues. You’ll get beautiful photos and have more fun than you would in a traditional, stuffy wedding venue.
50. Use someone’s home
Especially for smaller, more intimate weddings, hosting your wedding at a family member’s or friend’s home is a cozy option that can save thousands