After planning (and paying for) our wedding, it was decided. We needed to go into the wedding business. Of course, we were only joking. While we did put on one hell of a wedding ourselves, there’s no way we’d be able to pull it off for others. But it was tempting. Weddings are a big business. I couldn’t believe how much people spent on their weddings – until I started to plan my own. There are so many parts to a wedding and so many things you don’t even think you’ll need to spend money on. Luckily, there are also many things you think you’ll spend money on that you can really save on. Here are 15 ways we did it.
15 Ways to Save on Your Wedding
- Skip the limo. Find a ceremony venue and reception venue that are within close proximity, or a venue that can host both. Scope out great places for pictures within the same proximity and you won’t have to worry about renting a limo for the day.
- Give a new photographer a chance. With the ease of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, chances are you – or someone you know – knows someone who owns their own photography business. See what “family and friends” discounts you can get – especially if your wedding can help build their portfolio. If you want to save even more, hire student photographers, who are looking to gain experience and build their portfolio. If you choose to go this route, make sure you check out their work, meet with them constantly to go over expectations, and provide a list of pictures you want. We used two student photographers, paid $500 (including engagement photos), and loved our wedding photos. You just have to remember, they are students, so every photo won’t be perfect. You have to be willing to take that chance.
- Use multiple video cameras – and camera operators. There’s no better way to view your own wedding than through the eyes of the people who attended it. Encourage your guests to take video with their phones, cameras, and Go Pros (as long as they do not get in the way during the ceremony). After the big day, have them send you all of their footage. Borrow or buy a Go-Pro (buying one would still be cheaper than hiring a videographer) and use it in a fun way. My friend put her Go Pro around a liquor bottle that was taken on the bridal party bus. She had AMAZING footage from moments many people don’t get on their wedding video. Want an ariel view? Rent or borrow a drone to take footage from above. When you have all of your footage, find or hire someone who can put it all together.
- Build your own bouquets. Fresh flowers from the grocery store can create beautiful bouquets. My friend created eight bouquets of gorgeous fall flowers for under $200, and everyone thought they were made by a florist.
- Or choose cheaper – or even fake – flowers. I was shocked at how much altar flowers were going to cost. Besides that, I hated all the greenery that came with them. Instead, I ordered two bouquets of white hydrangeas, which were simple, elegant, and in my opinion, more beautiful than any altar arrangements I had seen. Not only that, it saved me close to $100. When it came to my bridal bouquet, I saved some money by having a few fake flowers in my bouquet. This was originally not on purpose. I wanted anemones in my bouquet, but they were way out of season. I could either choose another flower, or have fake ones in my bouquet. I mixed them with beautiful, real English roses. Months later, when I casually mentioned my bouquet had fake flowers in it, my friends didn’t believe me.
- Skip the traditions. I couldn’t believe how much cake cutter sets were – especially when they are incredibly unnecessary. For us, not using a cake cutting set was actually an accident – I didn’t know we didn’t have one until it was time for us to cut the cake and I realized I forgot to buy a set! We ended up cutting our cake with a butter knife. And you know what? No one noticed, and our photographer took the pictures at an angle to hide the knife. It didn’t matter at all.
- Or DIY your own tradition supplies. If you do want to keep the tradition of a unity candle (another expensive tradition we skipped) or cutting your cake with fancy stuff, make your own. Buy a bigger candle and two candlesticks and normal serving sets for much cheaper, then add lace, gems, or any other fancy decorations.
- Get married on the off season. Many places are in need of business during off season, so they are willing to offer incentives. My husband and I got married in March. We were bumped up to a premium bar for free, received hundreds of dollars off the “peak season” cost, and got a free hors d’oeuvre, ice sculpture, and midnight snack thrown into the deal as well.
- Reuse and get thrifty. Ask your ceremony and reception sites if they have any decorations left over from previous weddings and other events. Many people end up leaving a ton of stuff, and many venues are happy to get it off their hands – or at least lend it to you. I got an entire set of beautiful, handmade pew bows from a church that just had them lying around from a previous wedding. There are also websites that sell recycled wedding items from brides looking to clear clutter. Check out sites like eBay, Etsy, and Goodwill to find good deals on unique items and gently used wedding supplies. Talk to your friends, who may have some items from their weddings that are just collecting dust in the basement. Depending on your centerpieces, check out thrift stores to find great prices for special items. I scoured thrift stores for brass candlestick holders and vintage-looking decanters and spent only about $200 to decorate more than 25 tables (not including costs for flower petals and candle votives).
- Hire an organized, no-drama friend. If your ceremony venue allows for it, hire a friend who is organized and not easily rattled to be your wedding coordinator. I worked as a wedding coordinator for a church for a year. It is not as hard of a job as one may think. Just make sure you work with your friend early on so they can know exactly how you want the ceremony to go and practice their duties. Also, make sure you invite them to the rehearsal dinner.
- Go to bridal expos. Vendors set up booths at expos to get your business. It’s highly competitive, so you best believe they will offer discounts. Not only will you find the people you need (DJs, bakers, photographers, florists, etc.), but you will also get an “expo deal.” There are also a ton of contests you can enter for free services, decorations – even free honeymoons. You never know, you may get lucky.
- Figure out ways to avoid tailoring. If your dress needs only an inch or so off the bottom, consider getting a little bit of a higher heel. Or, consider a corset wedding dress that can be tightened and loosened easily.
- Make some of your money back. After your big day, sell your stuff. Go through your inventory of decorations, attire, jewelry, and ceremony supplies and sell whatever you wont keep as a keepsake or won’t use again. Since they’ll be sold as “used,” make sure you don’t overprice your items.
- Keep the bridal party small. The smaller the bridal party, the less gifts you have to buy, the less entrees you have to pay for at the rehearsal dinner, and the less bouquets and other wedding supplies you need to buy.
- Shop cheaper. You don’t need to have everything you wear be expensive and extravagant. No one will examine your jewelry close enough to know if those are real diamonds, or examine your shoes to know if those are real Badgley Mischka. As long as you love what you’re wearing and feel like a bride in them, who cares? I found my perfect shoes for $25 at Shoe Depot. And my jewelry? I bought my gorgeous earrings for $30 at Macy’s and my bracelet for $10 at Claire’s.
For even more ways we saved on our wedding, check out how we cut ceremony costs and how we cut reception costs. No matter how you choose to save, here’s the most important piece of advice. If you take away anything from this post it is this: No one will notice. No one will know. That is the best advice I ever received from anyone. And if you can’t tell from what I’ve written, it’s true. No one noticed the things we cut or made less expensive. Keep that in mind when you plan and budget your big day.
What ways did your save on your wedding?