It’s wedding season, squad! I know so many people who are currently planning (or almost done planning) their upcoming nuptials, and having just gotten married myself I can relate hard to their biggest complaint: the cost of a wedding. Yep, this shit’s expensive ya’ll. There’s no way around it. Or is there?
While a huge party with all of your friends and family will inevitably run up a pretty substantial bill, there are definitely ways to get creative and cut down costs. Adam and I were on a mission to save money during the wedding planning process, having just bought our first house. When all was said and done, I was really happy with what we were able to save without sacrificing my wedding must-haves.
Keep reading for ideas on how to save money on your wedding, looking at all aspects of the big day.
1. DIY Centerpieces & Double Duty Flowers
One cost that really caught me off guard was the flowers needed to decorate our wedding space. The thing is, you’re not just paying for the flowers— you have to pay for whatever the flowers are held in! Many florists offer rental decor such as vases, lanterns and jars. Being able to cut this rental cost can save you hundreds of dollars. You’ll be surprised that simple, elegant vases are sold for $1 at local 99 Cent Stores or Dollar Trees. They can be easily dressed up with spray paint, plant filler, or ribbons. We went the true DIY route, repurposing used wine bottles and matching them to our color scheme with paint and wired ribbons.
You also don’t want to pay for more flowers than you need. Another way we cut down our florist bill by having them transfer our ceremony decorations inside. This isn’t uncommon for items like arch sprays (which are usually moved to a sweetheart table), but we also did it for our aisle pieces. The small bunches that were used to decorate the ceremony aisle were then placed in our DIY centerpieces to make the most out of them. This usually involves a “transfer fee” but is still cheaper than a second set of flowers.
2. Limit the Bar
Alcohol is probably one of the priciest things you’ll be facing, especially if you’ve got a lively crowd. There are two common pricing structures for a bar at a wedding: a per-person flat rate, or a by-consumption rate. Per person is pretty self explanatory— it’s either bundled into the meal price or is charged separately per guest over 21. By consumption means that you fund the bar, and each drink is charged against your balance. You may also be given the option to stock your own bar for a corkage fee.
Our bar was by consumption, so to help limit the budget being drained too quickly, we took premium liquor off the shelves. Adam didn’t want many other restrictions on the bar, but there are so many more ways to save money on alcohol, including:
- Limiting to beer and wine only, or at least for a portion of the event. We have a friend who is having an open bar, but during dinner service is limiting to only serving beer and wine. This will help people slow down a little bit.
- Serve beer, wine and signature cocktails. If you want to serve liquor without letting things get too crazy, giving your guests the option of signature cocktails is a great way to save. They also let you add a personal touch to your bar, with a cocktail that represents the bride and another for the groom. This way, only certain alcohols will be stocked and you’ll avoid any extra boozy orders.
- Eliminate shots. Our wonderful wedding coordinator at The Pines let us in on this tidbit: shots are the most expensive charges a wedding bar can get. People tend to order rounds of shots, and then another, then another. Taking shots off the menu can help save a ton.
3. Start Dress Shopping Early
My first appointment for dress shopping was almost exactly a year before the big day— even before we booked a date and venue! This appointment let me explore the different styles of wedding dresses, get fitted, and understand what I was really looking for. But the real benefit was, I was able to bookmark certain dresses and keep my eye on them during sales. Sure enough, one of my favorite dresses that I tried on, originally $349.99, was marked down to $99! I highly suggest doing this if you’re looking at retailers like David’s… just don’t get caught up in that first appointment and buy something right away.
4. Be Flexible on Dates
I mentioned this in my How to Start Wedding Planning in 5 Steps post, but being flexible on the actual date of your wedding can help you out in the budget department. Some venues have “off-season” rates during winter, and may even knock off a few hundred dollars for a weekday or Sunday wedding.
If you’re doing a destination wedding, three-day weekends can be helpful for allowing your guests to travel without asking for too much time off work. However, holiday weekends such as Memorial Day or Labor Day are huge for travel. Check the availability for bank holidays that aren’t necessarily “party” weekends, such as Veteran’s Day (which was the weekend we chose) or President’s Day.
5. Selfie Station over Photo Booth
We really liked the idea of having a photo booth at the wedding, and guests always seem to have a blast with them. But when we started pricing them out… damn! Then I got to thinking, what do you do when you get a strip from a photo booth? You take a picture of it on your phone to post it to social media. So we ended up cutting out the middle man, setting up a selfie station. We purchased a background and props off Amazon, set out two selfie sticks that didn’t need bluetooth connectivity or charging, and let our guests have free reign. It worked out great, and cost us less than $40 to put together.
6. Find Accessories on Amazon
If you’re buying all of your accessories, decor, and party gifts through wedding vendors, you’re paying top dollar without a doubt. Check Amazon first for accessories like a veil, shoes, and a belt for your dress. I personally picked up my hoop petticoat to go underneath my ballgown dress on Amazon. It literally cost less than 20% of what David’s charged for theirs, and worked out beautifully.
Other things I personally picked up on Amazon for the wedding:
Rehearsal Dinner Dress
Table Number Holders
Tassle Photo Booth Background
Photo Booth Props
Confetti for Table Decor
Clutch for Mother of the Groom
Kippot for Guests
Are you a guest at an upcoming wedding? You can find great wedding guest dresses on Amazon, too!
Hopefully this helps you if you’re trying to cut down the ridiculous cost of a wedding! For more tips, check out my other wedding blog posts where I take you through my wedding planning, and of course the recap of my big day. For something extra, watch my wedding video below!