wedding costcutting ideas??


I cannot believe how much people spend on weddings!! I read these post and think how this money could go for a down payment for a house!! I am a wedding planner and am known for my cost affective weddings--a girl at church only spent 500.00 on everything except her dress--her dress was 300.00 on sale a year ago--lets all give some advice for cost cutting!! My biggest one is to use the church you go to if possible--and sometimes these churches have a wedding closet you can borrow decorations from--also make pewbows and other things your self--its easy and can be done!!Your turn

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My only advice is choose a reception site that essentially already has good decor. If not, you will spend lots of money bringing in flowers and decorations. It will cut down on the florist bill tremendously if you are not hiding unsitely things. In my case, I had originally planned to have the reception at my parents house in a tent in the back yard. Although my parents house and property are lovely, the tent was very bland and lots of plants and flowers were going to have to be rented and purchased. Not to mention the tent was insanely expensive. I eventually had to re-plan everything because costs were just ridiculous. I found a really old historic hall with wood floors, marble stairs, and various statues/carvings. Rent for the hall was 1/3 the price of the tent and I pretty much don't have to do anything except bring in the tables with centerpieces. Floral/decoration bills can be huge and unexpected. Use them wisely!

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Use the bride's & bridesmaids' bouquets for the flowers for the head table (if you have one).

For the other tables, everything doesn't have to match. For DD's wedding, we had just votive candles for the table decorations. And the candle-holders didn't match. We just picked up a variety at garage sales and goodwill. Some of the holders weren't even really candle-holders -- they were very small juice glasses.

And, of course, the greatest cost-cutter is to *not* have a dinner reception. Even by really comparison shopping and getting good prices, this is a huge expense. A cake & punch (with nuts & mints, etc.) reception is much less costly.

Favors: I think some people would find this idea kind of cheesy, but our guests -- at both DS and DD wedding -- absolutely loved them...we ordered ball-point pens with B&G's names, the date, and a special saying. (The guests used the pens to write advice to the B&G on the special cards we placed at the tables.) Depending on what kind of pens you order, and how many, you can pay well under $1 a pen -- we paid les than $.40.

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My suggestion isn't quite cost cutting but more mindset. Don't "cut down" to the wedding you can afford. But rather "build up" to the wedding you wish to afford. It is hard to imagine a $10,000 wedding, then try to make a nice one on $1,000. Instead, imagine a nice $100 wedding. You'd need so much for the licence. How cheaply could you get an officiant? Etc. Now, imagine you had TWICE that much money? Golly that extra $100 could get you.... It is so much easier to have a wedding you love if you build up to it rather than cut down to it.

Oh yea, and make a budget. It isn't fun. It isn't easy. It isn't romantic. But it is SO incredibly important.

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You might not like what I'm going to say, but having been around the ol' wedding block more than once already myself (I'm probably the "elderly" bride on this board!), it's my opinion that weddings are way overblown so much of the time. While a young woman may dream of her wedding as being the most important, special day of her life, in all likelihood as the years go by, she'll look back and think that while it was a nice wedding that she had, it certainly wasn't the be all and end all. So my advice is this: Consider what you're going to do after the ceremony and reception. Are you going on a honeymoon? Would you rather have some extra money to spend there? Are you buying a new home? We all know how funds come in handy when it's time to sign your life away on a mortgage! Plan to have children soon? Oh my ... they are expensive little critters!;-)

In other words - don't get caught up in believing that you "need" this or that in order to make your wedding a delightful experience. All you really "need" is the groom and someone to officiate. And of course, the good wishes (you hope!) and love of those you hold dearest in your hearts. All the other stuff is, by and large, merely "fluff". Your guests probably won't remember it a month after the wedding. And as you get on down the marital road yourself, you'll realize that it wasn't really the things that were important at all in making the day a special one. It will be the laughter and the hugging and the kind, congratulatory words that you'll recall. So consider very carefully what you're spending, and anything that you feel you could maybe do without ... do without it. Trust me on this one, girls. :-)

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Of course, you need an officiant and some sort of location, so that's essential. After that, I'd spend most of the money on things that make for a really great -- in the sense of joyous and fun, not fancy and "perfect" -- celebration. Flowers are nice, but inexpensive ones or other kinds of decorations are almost as good as really expensive ones. And I would try hard to have some kind of photography (although studio portraits aren't important). But venue, music, and food and drink are the most important for a really festive occasion. You can get any of those in any price range, too, so I'm not saying to spend as much as you can on them, either. But I'd cut back on everything else first.

I would think it would usually save money to have the ceremony and reception at the same place. Considerate to the guests, too! Although I am aware that some people want to be married in churches that do not permit alcohol or don't have a big enough room. And as Lyn pointed out, you may end up paying more if the room needs serious decorating not to look dreary. But if your congregation has a lawn, and you are having an afternoon cake and coffee reception with perhaps a musician or two -- well, you'd have all the posh of a royal family wedding, for hardly any money at all! :-)

I'd definitely skip prom-like things like professional makeup and limos. No one else gets to enjoy them anyway. If you aren't confident about applying makeup, go to a department store a few weeks before and get a lesson at a counter so you can do it yourself (and LOOK like yourself at your own wedding!) I'd also get an inexpensive dress; the price range is huge, and really, you will be just as charming in a very inexpensive dress. Better yet, borrow one, and never mind about saving it for your daughter(s) -- I can't think of the last time I saw someone wear her mother's gown. Maybe once in the zillion weddings I've attended. I'd skip favors, too. They aren't necessary and many people don't even like them (see the strings on this point).

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I'm saving money by basically taking a lot of the advice above:

Ceremony & reception in same spot (the staff will turn it over in between, which will make for an awkward five minutes but save lots of travel time & hassle for the guests)

$97 non-bridal dress off the rack (& $70 non-bridesmaid dresses off the rack)

No limo - I'm taking a taxi! It's only 8 blocks and it's just not worth the money

Doing my own makeup (I am getting my hair done though)

Spending only 1/80th of my budget on flowers (small but distinctive bouquets with unusual flowers - protea & bird of paradise)

Not stressing about centerpieces - just some plain glass tealights; I spent $30 for 120 of them.

Spending the money I do have on good food and a memorable venue with a good view - hopefully it will give people something to notice besides the centerpieces.

Then there are some others we're doing that haven't been mentioned:

Cut down your guest list if you can (ours is 85).

Find a venue that lets you bring in your own alcohol.

Do one or two kinds of cocktails instead of a full bar (cosmopolitans for us).

Don't be afraid to tell vendors what your budget is so they can tell you what they can do for you, within your budget.

Don't be afraid to negotiate (read about how it's done if you aren't used to it - I wasn't able to do it until I read about how to buy a used car, and bought one, then it clicked and I'm pretty good at it now I think!)

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My advice is E-Bay, E-Bay, E-BAY! LOL

I have gotten everything from E-Bay, with the exception of my dress. And I had picked a dress there too, but I am 6'2", and I needed a special order dress. Kinda hard to buy off the rack.

I am buying things every payday as I go along. Using up the 50% off coupon at Michael's weekly. I am doing all my own decorations and flowers(using all silks).

I got hurricane centerpieces from E-Bay, 24 for $24! The seller told me they were tarnished, but I easily wiped the tarnish off of a dozen of them, and repackaged them. I just need greenery and flowers to fill the planters with.

A co-worker is doing our photos. He has shot several weddings, and they look great! Family members will be doing video tapes for us, and then we will edit the best parts together. Another co-worker is going to do my Bridal photos. We are going to go to a park here in Savannah in March when the azaleas are in full bloom. I can't wait!

Fiance's friend is a DJ and has offered to DJ for us for only $250 (1/2 of what everyone else quoted us)

Save the date cards I printed out myself on the computer. I am looking into printing our own invites too to save $$$.

Reception will be our biggest expense, but at $16 a plate, it's still much cheaper than any wedding I have attended!

I still need to find a cake. I went to one bakery and they quoted me $3 a slice! Too much for my budget! We are now thinking of using a grocery store bakery. I am even thinking of maybe having a small cake, and either cheesecakes or pies.

Fiance and I attended a wedding in August that cost $50,000! Way too extravagent, food sucked, and entertainment was not worth the price. No one ate the cake, which had fondant and sea shells, so I am sure they paid BIG bucks for it!

I believe the marriage is more important than the actual wedding, and I just cannot see going broke, or going into debt for basically a "party". We are saving the money for the honeymoon!


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"I believe the marriage is more important than the actual wedding, and I just cannot see going broke, or going into debt for basically a 'party'."

I think this is very key. In many ways, a "wedding" isn't the important thing. It is a celebration of an important thing. This makes for a huge difference in spin, attitude, focus, stress and cost of the day.

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There are many places to find a dress other than in a bridal shop, though do check their sale racks. Brides who have broken their engagement or those who have divorced sell their gowns through the classified ads or a resale shops. As mentioned above, check out ebay. Bridal shops use ebay to dispose of their overstocks and shops going out of business dispose of inventory this way. You might wear your mother's gown or borrow one from a friend. Also consider non-wedding formal gowns at department stores. You can save several hundred dollars by shopping around.

For cake, choose a smaller cake and have sheet cakes available. As someone else mentioned, you don't have to serve a huge amount of food. Guests love a dessert reception with wedding cake and a variety of mini bite-sized desserts. (Make several of your favorite bar cookie recipes, then cut them into 2" squares and place in paper liners.)

For flowers, have the bride and her attendants carry a few long-stemmed roses tied with a ribbon. The men can wear a sprig of rosemary or of greenery for their bouts.

With a little imagination, there are any number of ways to cut costs without your guests even noticing.

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IF there are vocational schools in your area with a food service, food prep, or chef school you might be able to get a cake through them very reasonably. Don't forget the warehouse and supermarket bakery departments, you can probably get a small "dressy wedding cake" for the photo op and have sheet cakes to serve. Or maybe you have a talented friend who will make one as a gift to you. All of the previously mentioned ideas are very good, if you do an internet search on frugal weddings, a lot more ideas will be listed, be happy and good luck!

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network and use people you know! A reporter at the paper where I work does weekend DJing, and he gave us a really good rate, and my sister's friend's dad makes cakes and he did ours...we saved a lot of money that way.

We also skipped the limo (one of the groomsman's parents' have an Escalade so we rode in that) and borrowed cars from family members for each bridal couple to ride in.

Most importantly, do NOT go into debt...there are so many things you could do without that people will never notice! Also, see what you can do yourself. BMs and I made the favors...Hershey's hugs and kisses, wrapped up in tulle, with a little thank-you note attached that also said "hugs and kisses from the Mr. and Mrs."

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I read it in a bok if you wnat real flowers like we do, check out a local horticulture school or program, see if they can make your flower arrangements cheap.

Sheet cakes sound in CA a frined who owns a bakery quoted us $400 for the cake, I think I'd rather just go to Costco and get a few sheet cakes for $10 each.

Dresses and such, ebay...tho i found decent bridesmaids dresses at Davids bridal for $150...but then I'm not paying for those so it doesn't matter. :)

Make your own tosser boquet, and have the bridesmaids carry a few stems of your flowers tied with ribbons, as for pew decs, forget it, tis too much money and will be thrown away anyways.

Centerpieces, i'm leaning towards a simple long necked vase with a few stems of roses of your colors... and have some confetti sprinkled around it. Youcan get a dozen of these vases at Michaels for like $20 especially at sales.

Favors, diggin the hershey kiss idea, infact hat is what we were gonna do too,a swell as making our own CDs

Food, see if your reception hall caters, its cheaper to go through them...worst case scenario...have an hour between ceremony and reception for guests to go out to eat and then come back for acake and champagne reception. Or if you don't want that, do a buffet style from a cheap caterer.

oh yeah, limo, forget it, drive yourself, or have you MOH drive you. everyone else can get htere by themselves, its not rocketscience.

makeup, do it yourself. hair get it done.

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weed30 St. Louis

I agree with auntjen, and I wish I had stuck with my original plan of only having family and very close friends. The plan was to get married at the Temple and then go to a glorious restaurant, would have been about 25 people.

Ended up with 90 people and a cocktail/hors d' oeurve reception. I did work in foodservice at the time so I got the food at cost and the Chef gave me his labor for free as a gift. Flowers were also about 40% less than normal due to a florist friend. Despite those deals, things still added up and we probably spent close to $7K, and this was 12 years ago!!

I wish I would have gone with the family/friend dinner and taken the leftover money to pay off our cc bills.

The one thing that I did not scrimp on was our photographer. That was on the advice of a friend and I'm glad I followed it. Our pictures are just fabulous and the photographer was very unobtrusive. My sister got a friend to take pics at her wedding and something was wrong with the camera so she has NO pictures. (she's divorced now so I guess that doesn't matter...)

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I set my budget first ($3,000) and then made the wedding fit the budget, instead of planning a wedding and then figuring out how much it would cost.

Ebay is KEY! I bought the majority of my wedding stuff there, including my dress (new, $100) and shoes (new, $1.25), as well as most of the decorations.

If you need ideas, run, don't walk, to the bookstore and get the latest edition of "Bridal Bargains" by Denise and Alan Fields. If you prefer to do most of your shopping online (as I do), their companion book, "CyberBride" is also excellent.

I agree about finding a venue that is already attractive. That's what I did. I also really searched until I found a place with reasonable wedding policies, as well. I booked a venue that is trying to attract wedding business (Denver Press Club) for its "off" times. They are not charging me for linens, cake cutting, or helping to decorate. It's $100 to book the room, and $175 for the staff. the food is insanely inexpensive but fabulous, and the atmosphere is very classy. The key to this success was persistence and research and thinking outside of the "traditional" venue selections.

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I also read "Bridal Bargains" from cover to cover and have to agree that it is excellent! I highly recommend it.

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Gosh, my wedding was 14 years ago come June. Seems like so long ago. I have to say that reading this thread brought back a lot of memories. We were on our own as far as paying for an expensive wedding, which was out of the question. Needless to say, I had lots of help from family and friends.

My sister made my dress, and we made the veil together. We made heavy use of the hotglue gun with rosettes, ribon, and gatherings.

We booked the Iris Garden in Nashville which was free and gorgeous. There is a gazebo there and even a "japanese iris garden" with a small bridge that was perfect for pictures.

My brother's wife and her mother made finger sandwiches and a good bit of the finger foods, and she used her own beautiful china and serving pieces.

I bought silk flowers from a discount warehouse and my sisterinlaw and I made the arrangements and bouquets.

The bridesmaid's bought their own material and we had the dresses made rather than bought.

Folding chairs for the garden were borrowed from the local church.

The Gazebo was decorated with lots of ribbon and potted hanging ferns "borrowed" from my sisterinlaw's mother.

My youngest brother plays guitar beatifully, so he played the wedding music. While a waitress at the resturant where my husband was a chef had just recorded a wedding album. She sang Unchained Melody to my brother's playing.

My first cousin was the reverend.

The dessert chef from my husband's resturant made our wedding cake. It was beautiful and unique, with upside down champagne glasses decorated with icing "vines" and "roses" separating the layers.

His boss donated the champagne, and glassware was borrowed from the resturant.

The jewelry my bridesmaids wore was their bridesmaids' gifts.

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#1 Elope, If you can't:

#2 find a place that includes everything you can get (tables, chairs, linens, dishes, all big bucks to rent). A hotel can be very inexpensive for that reason.

#3 If you don't ask every girl you know to be a BM (and you shouldn't if your trying to cut costs), enlist the rest of your girlfriends to help you set up and clean up the wedding. (and guyfriends too)

#4 Forget about programs, look at how many people leave them behind.

#5 My sister made my cake and it was beautiful. I've also heard of the guests all bringing a small cake. After dinner was served, the buffet was cleared and an impresive aray of yummy cakes were laid out to taste. (instead of the over priced wedding cake)

#6 Do you really like Champagne? Cut it out, everybody takes their painful sip then leaves the full glass behind in persuit of something that will kill that flavor. (yuck)

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A related piece of advice from me is don't expect to save TOO much money by having friends and family do things for you instead of hiring pros. We used friends and family who happened to be professionals (cake, DJ), those who were just talented amateurs (officiant, ceremony musician), and those who just did favors for us (like picking up the keg). I was super happy we used them instead of hiring strangers, because it was more personal and special (even the keg!). But you will definitely feel that you owe them very nice gifts and/or generous tips, so it doesn't save as much money as you might think at first, so be sure to budget for that! And remember that picking out gifts takes time and energy too.

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Definitely skip monogramming things like matchbook favors.

Skip having a zillion bridesmaids. There was someone on a Wedding Story who had a wedding party of 26 people, including 12 b-maids.

I won't be doing my makeup myself, though. I want to look my best, and I loved the way the professional did my makeup for the prom.

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Anita.....did you have your wedding?? I know there was alot going on with you in the past with cancelations and illnesses. Last I heard I thought you were rescheduled around this time and judging by your post above, you sound married. Is it true?? When was it?? How did it go? Give us some words of wisdom.

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Everyone's covered pretty much everything I can think of...although I also have to sing the praises of e-bay. I'm doing many of the things that people mentioned above (making my silk bouquets, having a friend make the cake - yes she's experienced).

But I have a suggestion for the girls who want a dress that's more formal than a non-wedding gown, and still want a new dress - surf the net for legit bridal shops that sell over the net. You can get a huge discount on a dress that way. Close to half price anyway. I'm not sure what the USD price tag is for the dress that I'm getting (I live in Canada) but it costs $1600 cad, but I could order it from several sites and pay under $800 cad. And apparently the place that I'm buying my dress from ships free within the US.

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I think that everyone has some wonderful ideas for saving money - cutting back on flowers, trimming down the guest list, not having favors/having inexpensive favors, etc. I just think that it is important not to have reverse discrimation when it comes to weddings. Who is to say/judge that someone spent "too much" on her/his wedding. People should be able to spend their money as they wish. If I am invited to a wedding, I do not judge them on the opulence or simplicity of the wedding - I am honored that the couple included me on their special day.
I probably spent more than some people would, but I didn't overspend. My DH and I stuck to our budget and trimmed where we could/wanted. And, I worked hard a getting the best deals I could. I saved 30% on my dress (got it through DBS), brought in our own alcohol, got a great deal on flowers, photographer and DJ. My parents were so proud of me and my DH because we paid for a good portion of our wedding ourselves. We are not in debt. We just bought a home.

I think it is wonderful that we can use the forum to help each other save money, but let's not alienate other people and bash them for spending more than $500 on their wedding. It isn't fair for us to spend someone else's money - whether it be your parents', MOH's, or friends'...everyone has a budget, and each of those budget's are different.

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Autumn bride, I think you are completely right. It's a special day and each couple should be able to celebrate their marriage as they wish. You said you are not in debt and just bought a house, I think that is a key point. Friends of mine went into so much debt for the wedding that she wanted that it'll take them years to pay it off. We are having a small backyard wedding because it suits our personalities. If we had more money we would probably spend it for a garden venue with a casual atmosphere. We wouldn't have any more people. I'm making as much as I can (favours, centrepieces, bouquets) because I really enjoy being crafty, because I have a lot of time to make the stuff (my wedding is still a year and a half away) and because I like people to see the finished product of something I made and what a great way to showcase it. I'm wearing the dress that I want because I love it not because it's fitting for a backyard wedding (it's probably more formal than what one would typically wear at a backyard wedding). Most things we would do just the same even if we had more money to spare. Couples should most definitely feel free to customize their dream wedding however they please, but still being realistic about what they (and their respective families, if appropriate) can afford.

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-Do your own flowers
-Look for a location that has wedding-suitable decor as is (i.e. a historic home, museum, art gallery, public park/garden), and consider combining your ceremony and reception into one place.
-Bargain-hunt! Our guestbook was a blank journal less than 1/5 of the price of the cheapest "wedding guestbook" that I could find.
-Be prepared to make things yourself (ring-bearers pillow)
-Consider having a friend marry you
-Nix the favors, no one ever remembers anyways
-If you want an amazing designer dress but don't have the thousands to drop on it, consider having it copied by a seamstress with lower-grade fabrics. You can get a remarkably similar look for pennies on the dollar.

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I had a HUGE wedding the first time around, expensive big (80's) dress with puffy sleeves and ruffles galore. When I think of the money my parents spent I cringe. I re-married 9 years later and opted for a simple yet elegant wedding. My current husband had never been married so I wanted it to be special otherwise we would have gone to Vegas for all I cared. I contacted several restaurants that had banquet rooms. We ended up getting married at a beatiful Polynesian (sp?) restaurant on the bay of San Diego that had oriental style gardens beside the water. They serve an amazing sunday brunch there so we got married in the gardens right before they opened for brunch. The restaurant was kind enough to arrange for seating for about 30 guests and I rented an arbor that framed the gorgeous view of the bay. After the ceremony we went upstairs to the banquet room and had champagne brunch. The restaurant let me chose the table linens and bring in my own cake. Since it was a Polynesian atmosphere, my bouquet was made of banana leaves and orchids and I bought an ecru colored dress off the rack which was beautiful. My husband had never ever worn a tuxedo, not even to school dances so we did rent him a tux. My guests thought it was very nice and the food was unbelievable..loved the macadamia nut pancakes and mimosas!

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I got married before ebay, but still spent only about $2500 for everything.

My dress was the single most expensive item- $800. I paid for that. My mom bought the $200 veil. I used ballet slippers that I already had, as I am not the most graceful of people in heals.

We got married in the church where his mom worked, by the pastor and the assistant (who happened to be a priest my mom knew from childhood, oddly enough). I think that cost $100 for clean up. Then the priest my mom knew gave us a $100 gift. So that cancels out.

Our reception was at an American Legion hall, where his dad was a member, and with a nice (but not extravagant) dinner was $600 for 120 people. It included top shelp open bar.

The music at the church was from the organsist, plus his sister sang before the wedding (she has a wonderful gift). We tipped the organist $50 (the going rate at the time.) It would have been more, but we specifically requested "Amazing Grace" NOT to be played as it reminded DH and I of Spock's death, but he did anyway.

The pew decorations, bouquets, corsages, table settings, and cake decorations were all hand made by my mom, aunt, and I out of silk flowers. My mom and aunt had some connections (which they didn't know about until they started talking about the wedding) to both the silk flower and ribbon industries. My bouquet looks just as beautiful almost 12 years later as it did on the day we were married. The pew decorations were used as centerpeices at the reception, and the bouquets were the centerpeices for the head table. Total cost on them $300.

We had planned for a friend to be our dejay at the reception, but we messed up the dates. He found a replacement for us, the programming director of a very popular local radio station, and arranged for him to be the dejay for $400. He met with us before the ceremony and asked for a list of songs. He found every single one of them on DAT (THE thing back then), including "Time Warp" from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Hands down, he was the best wedding dejay ever.

Pictures were from an old high school buddy of husbands, but that didn't work out so well. We just wanted him to take the pics and hand us the negatives, which we agreed upon, but the photographer's girlfriend got involved and refused to give us the negatives. Until we got DH's lawyer uncle to intervene. We got the pics and negatives for $150.

Another friend videotaped the wedding and a bit at the reception as a gift.

People will offer to help out. Take advantage of their offers.

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The entire wedding and Reception for UNDER $3,000!

This was my GOAL, and everyone told me I couldn't do it. I kept hearing...."Brides spend that much on a Dress". but all I said was Watch me! I'll break it down for you step by step.

Ceremony site: Quoted $500 for 150 people. Decided to look elsewhere. Found a site for a $25 donation for 150-200.

Reception site: Quoted $500 pluse $250 for alcohol insurance and we had to provide all our own food and alcohol. Total: $1,400, excluding tax. Looked elsewhere. Found a site for $200 and $5.95 a plate. Total: $1092.50, that's including tax and tip.

Flowers: Quoted $725 for everything(bouquets, bout., corsages, ceremony decorations, centerpieces for reception). Made all flowers myself for $125. Very easy to do. Found a lot of articles online.

Wedding dress: This was my most expensive splurge for the day. I fell in love with a dress but the price was $685.75 when alterations were done. My mom paid for $350 so I only footed $335.75. Gotta love our mothers!

Tux: Quoted: $120 plus the cost of shoes. Looked elsewhere. Found another tux shop with the EXACT same tuxes; Free with rental of Groomsmen and Ushers tuxes.

Invitations: Quoted $415.50 for all 150 invitations and response cards. Made our own for $100.00 and that's including the postage to send them.

Shoes: All the "bridal" shoes I was looking at cost well over $100. I don't know about anybody else but eek! I don't like heels anyways, I'd never where them again. I decided to go for white flip flop sandals and decorated them. $15 and they're COMFORTABLE!

Decorations: Reception hall is already beautiful so not many decorations needed. Centerpieces, votive candles with a ribbon of our color around the outside of the candle holder. I made them myself. $20 for 35 centerpieces. And a balloon arch. $5.00 for the strip off e-bay and $15 for all the balloons to fill it. Heart Balloons spread throughout the room $5.00 for 50.

Misc: We spent another $95 for misc. items.


If anyone would like to know more specific details on how I saved money, I am MORE THAN WILLING to help anymore of you Thrifty brides that everyone tells you, you can't do it. My e-mail address is

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Wow! Sounds like you shopped around and got some real bargains.

You didn't mention photographer or caterer. How did you save money on the food for your reception? Did you have a sit down meal or finger foods?

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Oops. You did list your food costs for the reception. My mistake.

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Smithcir, you did do a great job of shopping around for best prices, etc. I admire your determination.

I found, though, in planning DD's wedding that it was all the "little" things that add up.

So, I'm wondering what you did/are doing for items such as gifts for your attendants, favors (completely unnecessary, but some couples want them), honorariums for the officiant, musicians, etc. And, Lindsey already mentioned the photographer...unless you forgo pictures completely, there will be some cost, even if a friend or relative takes the pictures (film, developing, etc.)

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Had anybody tried to save on wedding video?
For example, not to hire a videogrpher at all?
Or to split the job - get your friend or family member to shoot your wedding and then get it professionally edited?

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We did not hire a videographer. DH and I were more interested in experiencing our wedding than recording it. We don't miss having a video at all.

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I lean towards the idea that a quality video of the wedding is one of the most important things you should not eliminate or skimp on. Imagine how much you would love to see your grandmothers or your mothers wedding video and what that would mean to you to see a time when you did not exist and the joy that your parents or grandparents had on their wedding day. I cannot imagine anything I would love to see more especially now that I am planning my own wedding. If it were just for my fiance and myself, I could see that maybe we don't need to see it again, but it really is a priceless historic peice that will be cherished by so many people after you. And if you pay for a quality videographer with innovative editing, it will not end up being 8 hours of documented stuff. Instead they can cut it down to a very meaningful 2 hour video.

Thats just my 2 cents. Obviously our videographer is one of our biggest expenses for our upcoming wedding. I realize that everyone places importance on different things.

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Wedding videos can provide for a fun ladies' night out. A few years ago I went to such an evening where everyone brought their wedding videos. Being much older than the other women, I didn't have a video to bring, but I brought my wedding photos.

But what really made it fun was that everyone who came who had ever been a bridesmaid wore the bridesmaid dress...and those who hadn't, borrowed one from some of the women had been a BM more than once...some of the women could even still get the dresses fastened closed!! :)

It made for a lot of laughter, and was great fun!

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okay. here is what i'm doing to cut the costs of my wedding!
-My aunt is responsible for hair.
-My sister is in charge of makeup and fingernail-painting, for those that want it
-My mom is catering. i love my mom!
-The officiant is a good friend of our family so he's not charging us! yay!
-My sister grows these beautiful ferns that she's going to let us borrow for the reception hall.
-My aunt has volunteered to alter my dress for me so that i don't have to pay someone to do it.
-My friend, Dawn, has volunteered to do to floral arrangements for us, so all i have to do is buy the flowers!

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It is another idea of the cost-cutting. You can pay hundreds or thousands of bucks for the professionally done DVD, or have your cousin or uncle to do that. It may be not such nicely done, but the event will be captured.
I have seen many low budget ''professional'' videos. Many video enthusiasts can beat those ''professionals'' to the ground. If it is $600-900 offer, you better ask someone who loves you for a favor.
DIY Wedding Video,

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I bought the flowers at Kroger - $125 total including the bridal bouquet and double-corsages for all the family (no bridesmaids). They were marvellous, exotic orchids and roses tied with ribbons. I would never use another florist's shop!

My sister did all the decorations using WalMart tulle (88 cents a yard), silk flowers and white Christmas lights.

We were married in the "pool house" at my husband's boss' development. It had vaulted ceilings, beautiful furnishings including small tables and comfy club chairs, and a huge (20' wide) double-sided fireplace as the central feature. We were wed on one side of the fireplace, and the feast was set on the other side, saving all the time & hassle of a second venue. Rent was nil after the $125 damage deposit was returned.

The one thing I wish we had was live music, but we were unable to find anyone (it was a month between the proposal and the wedding day, and we were brand new to Atlanta).

Wedding video was a gift from an uncle and photos were from my husband's colleague. VERY happy (and lucky) to have them.

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Well, the wedding gown is the most important item for the bride - and also the biggest waste of money. Hundreds of dollars for something you wear for part of one day. There must be some way to deal with that.

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Scarlett, in my area there is a consignment store called "I Do, I Do" that bills their service as "twice chosen wedding gowns." It's pretty popular. They are selective about the styles they accept (recent style or vintage). I know several people who've either gotten gowns there or sold theirs.

Personally, I wore an ivory silk bridesmaids dress.

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Chadwicks has bride's dresses (not really gowns, though they're long) that are very pretty and cost about $100. They're not the traditional bridal gowns, but some are very pretty.

Here's a link to my favorite.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chadwick's bride's dress

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Also, J.Crew just started selling bridal dresses. I think the Sophia dress, for $260, is just gorgeous, and very elegant.

Here is a link that might be useful: J.Crew bridal shop

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My wedding 7 years ago was fairly cheap -- about $4000. What we did:

1) Had the wedding outside in a botanical garden. It was a lovely floral setting, and the only flowers that had to be bought were my bouquet and those for my bridesmaids.

2) Only had about 50 guests -- this was family, and a few friends.

3) Had a morning wedding, and a lunch reception. No dancing.

4) The only music was a harpist. She played light classical while things were getting set up, Pachelbel's Canon as I came down the aisle, and then more light classical during the reception. It was a light, classy touch that made things very romantic, and she wasn't too horribly expensive.

5) I looked for cheap alternatives whenever possible; got my dress on sale at David's Bridal, shopped around carefully for the flowers and cake.

6) Didn't do any of the kitschy monogrammed things that add pointless expense. We had cheap handmade favors (tulle packets with Dove heart chocolates inside), and that's it. The reality is -- your wedding is super special for you, and maybe your parents and close family, but for everyone else? They're going to throw all that monogrammed crap out within the week. Don't waste the money.

7) Went homemade or do-it-yourself whenever possible. One of my sisters did my make-up, and another made my veil. Another sister filmed everything.

The biggest expenses for us were the reception luncheon, and the photographer -- those easily ate up more than half our budget; I knew there would be cheaper ways to do photography, but that's the one thing I really wanted done professionally, and I don't regret that expense at all.

But...if I had it to do over again, I would just elope. Heck of a lot easier, and far less stress. That for me was the single defining aspect of the whole day -- I was so stressed about everything, I don't really remember my wedding day. Well, I have lovely pictures of it to help me remember, I guess :)

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i work at walmart, so i'm gettin my wedding for 10% off. ha ha. i'm buying almost all of my decor there and i'm getting my cake there as well (they make a great cake for half the price of any local baker). i'm doing my own floral arrangements. i have a friend who is a florist and i volunteered to help with a wedding she was doing so that i could see how to make the bouquets and now i can do it myself... i'm looking for a clearance dress, but might actually splurge. having my ceremony at the church where i'm a member. fiance is making several mixed cds of songs from the 'net (THE LEGAL WAY). Fiance's grandfather is sending us on our honeymoon as his gift to us (TAHITI Y'ALL). we're actually having a sit down dinner which is pricey but we got a really great deal from our caterer and we're only spending about $1500 for the food and servers... i'm making the centerpieces, programs, wedding favors, and save the date cards myself... i'm hoping to get married for under $4000, stay tuned to see how well i do!

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What so many fathers of the bride suggest--elope and spend the savings on your new home.

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Have a wonderful and fun day. I had brats and potato salad on disposable plates, with flowing gin and tonics and a great jazz combo. My engagement ring was from T.J. Maxx ($12). my dress was from Coldwater Creek ($79, not even on sale), the groom wore (new) black jeans. MOB had striped capris and FOB had a nice white linen shirt. No gifts requested or expected, any cash goes to a local environmental charity. Flowers were fresh bouquets from the Farmer's market in second hand and borrowed vases, none of the candle holders matched. We rented a popcorn machine and a snowcone machine, and the kids loved the bubbles. No neckties, no silver, nothing monogrammed, no guestbook, no gilt, no guilt. Everybody happy-happy.

Where did this hyper-formal white ball gown nonsense come from anyways??? Few can afford it, and very few people enjoy these over-priced fancy uptight soirees the bridal industrial complex has managed to advertise as required.

JMHO, hope this gives someone confidence to break out of the mold.

Here is a link that might be useful: Queen for a Day by Neil Shister

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my ds and ddil were married last aug. and it was very pretty and less than $600 for all! we did all flowers ourselves and i got many different candle holders at thrift stores and spray painted them all silver to tie them togetehr.we used tullr every where we could. a lady who makes cakes in her home did the cake fro $100 and that encluded delivery and set up for 3 layers of white cake with strawberry glaze between layers and whiteicing and pink and white silk roses ( we provided roses that mathced bouquets)we used a simple cut glass topper. we got all food from sam's and did ourselves,collected serving pieces from thrift stores,got cups,plates,napkins and forks at party city.(useing leftovers this aus. fo dd's wedding! also gathered her up decorations from clearance sales and thirft stores) we rented a log cabin ( girlscout cabin~only $150 for 8 hours!)reception was in cabin and ceremony was outside at the stage/log benches for seating under the tall trees,nice and shady and so pretty..i htink it is for the scouts to do plays and things. vey nice.we got the guest book at dollar tree of all places...we made the favors,went to park and took pix of couple and made many copies,got scrapbook paper and made lil books with names/date on front in silver ink and pix of happy couple inside,tied corner with pink,white and silver ribbon...everyone loved them,had them in silver basket beside the guest book with lovely candle lit,all this on top of the piano,which we draped in lace.lace curtain panels make great table clothes!bride was 8 mos pregnant at the time ;) and worn a pretty ivory dress with white lace overlay ( short) she got whiet flip flops at old navy and hot glued the white/cream roses to match everyting else..too cute...the wedding music was a cd they in d for her,elvis,i can't help falling in love with you fo rht ecouple and sweet caroline for the baby on the way...sadly we had to use the sweet caroline again 6 days later as caroline was still born 4 days after her mommy and daddy were wed.ddil had them play sweet caroline at the funeral home for the viewing,very sad but so sweet. we will never know why she was taken ,doctors have no idea...but we are getting stronger and will see her again one day...sorry to get off topic but i can't talk about the wedding without talking of her...
i love all the ideas i am getting on here to use for dd's wedding next month,thank you all for sharing...beth in ga

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As one previous poster suggested, I too, got married in an ivory bridesmaid dress.

Just about ALL bridesmaids dresses can be ordered in white or ivory. And bridesmaid dresses are waaaay cheaper than brides dresses. There won't be a color swatch of 'white' on the color swatch card they show you. Ultra formal debutante gowns are just bridesmaid dresses ordered in white.

The bridal shop will probably try to steer you away from doing this and might even try to tell you it is impossible to order a bridesmaid dress in white. It is not.

Also if you find a bridal dress that you absolutely love, but find it's price prohibitive, there is often a matching bridesmaid dress to that syle that could be ordered in white. The higher end lines almost always offer a matching bridesmaid dress. It will be a slightly less 'fancy' than the bride version but will still be more formal than an 'off the rack' white dress. This is not an option if you want a long train on your dress of course.

If you are obligated to invite a large number of guests, (business associates, distant cousins, groom's childhood friends, ect.) for whatever reason, maybe you could have an afternoon ceremony immediatly followed with hordorves(sp?, finger sandwiches, and punch for everybody and then have a formal dinner with open bar in the evening for a smaller number of guests. That way no one feels 'not invited' and 'left out' and they understand that the evening event is for close family and dear friends.

That is the way I handled my wedding reception. I just couldn't fathome feeding prime rib and bourdeax to 200 people.

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Looking back, I spent way too much on my wedding. Here are some tips and advice from someone who wishes she wasn't still paying off her wedding.

1) Consider the time and day or your reception. Friday nights and Sunday Brunches are cheaper than the almighty Saturday evening reception.
2.) Flowers can be done very inexpensively. Your local supermarket has flower bouquets already put togehter. Buy some or they have assoreted flowers 3 bunches for $10. You can use those for centerpieces and have thr bridal bouquet made if you want something nicer.
3.) Realize that if you want to save money you'll need to have a small guest list or a less formal wedding. You can't have lobster and filet mingon and 150 people, it's one or the other.
4.) Don't stress about favors, honestly people don't care about them. Make a small donation to your favorite charity and have cards printed that say something like "a donation to XYZ has been made in your name. Thank you for sharing our special day"
5.)One thing to remember, if you are hiring a non professional DJ you must meet with him/her BEFORE the wedding day to discuss how you want the day to go. Usually the DJ is the MC and gets the crowd dancing, announces when it's dinner time, and facilitates many of the other wedding day activities (speeches, first dances, garter toss, bouquet toss, cake cutting)you don't want to worry about that stuff on your special day
6.) Have a cocktail party, with hor derves, beer,wine, and champagne. Depending on the time of year, you may not be able to have this option on a saturday night. Friday's are ideal for cocktail party weddings. Have a private ceremony for family only then a later reception for cocktails and hor derves, and dancing. This way your guests will not have to take time off work. Also, you can make this a really formal occasion and invite more people.
7.)make or borrow your veil.( michaels has them for $15) if you want one with more volume buy two and put them together.
8.) If you are creative, make your own bridal party gifts. If not, jewlery stores are always having sales on certain overstocked items. I got a beautiful single pearl necklace for $29 they were usually $60.

Remember this is your day. Have it the way that you want it. but remember if you want a classy formal affair keep the guest list small. If you want a simple more laid back kind of day host a bbq and invite as may people as the venue can fit.

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We had set the date several months ago and all of a sudden our business started to get really slow which reduced my budget considerably.
I didn't care about it though, I used this draw back as an opportunity to be creative and am using my 'bargain hunter' instincts to create beauty out of limited resources.
First of all, we have a beautiful home with spacious rooms and a nice grassy backyard. I felt it would be really stupid to rent a place and not to use what I have.
So, ceremony/reception locations = $0
Then, I only picked my teenage daughters for my MoH and BM.
I found a place in Phoenix, AZ called Azteca that has a whole clearance store. They sell high tone gorgeous dresses for only $22 (I am serious!). I got 2 bridesmaid dresses for them.
Next I went to Target near the Holidays and got my little flower girl a gown for $24. I still need to get her a tiara, gloves and shoes, but I am sure I can get those at Claire's pretty cheap.
My wedding cake is my best story. I am a web designer and about 3 months ago I started calling all local bakers and asking if they would trade my services for a wedding cake. It is a really sweet deal (no pun intended) for them because a website costs 3 times more than a cake.
I got to choose any cake I wanted, with the flavors, textures, colors, etc and it only cost me my time!!
Then I had a brilliant idea for my favors. I saw some darling vintage tea cups filled with a planted flower/bulb. I went to Goodwill and several thrift stores and bought non-matching tea cups for less than $.40 a piece.
I am gonna have a cupcake tree stand filled with my tea cups (w/ the flowers inside) and a sign that says: 'We are all the same, we are all unique and there is beauty inside us all.' (BTW, I'd like your opinions on that idea.)
Oh, I bought my dress at Azteca also for $144 on sale with 75% discount. The gown is glorious, strapless, A-line with beautiful embroidery and it has a medium train.
The only thing I am paying a little extra is for my shoes. My fiance is over 6' tall and I needed extra high heels. So I went to and found a pair of 5" heel pumps for $37.23
For food, we will get some platters at Cosco (veggies and fruit), we will have some large chafing dishes with pasta, 7 layer bean dip and scalloped fish w/ bacon.
Nobody in the family drinks alcohol, so we will skip buying any of it. We will just make some juice/pop/fruit punch.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfully Sweet Cakes

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At our church there are a few of us who help to do the catering for other church members for the cost of the food. I happen to have 5 daughters and this will be a huge blessing for us when our girls get married!

One time we did a dessert bar for 500 people. It was so fun. There were Costco sheetcakes, cheesecakes, 4 layer chocolate cakes, and several of us made fancy bar type brownies/cookies. It wasn't a pot luck, we asked specific great cooks for their specialty and they were honored to help. One couple made huge platters of chocolate dipped strawberries that were gorgeous. We got some of the men (mostly our husbands) to make those yummy frozen coffee drinks with blenders at the outdoor bar. It was hot in July at this outdoor wedding (7:30pm) and the coffee drinks rocked. We had punch and beautiful water glass urns, with filtered water, and a few floating fresh cherries, lemon slices, and lime slices & tons of ice. Even the water was elegant. Don't use strawberries, they plug up the urns, and just generally fall apart and look nasty after awhile.

We did an all hors-doeurve reception once, and it was labor intensive and not less expensive as hoped. Won't do that again.

We've found the outdoor weddings to be less expensive and can be BBQ style, or very elegant.

TIP: Go ahead and use paper goods for dishes/silverware, but always use white linen rented cloth tablecloths for all surfaces/tables. The dishes come and go off the tables, but the lovely tablecloths are there for the duration of the party, are not expensive to rent, and add elegance for very little money. Also cleanup is so easy. Call around for tablecloth prices though, they vary. Do not think you can make your own cloth tablecloths and save money. Just try washing them and getting them white again! And to have them dry cleaned (a friend found this out after borrowing some from a church for "free", and they required professional cleaning) it costs a fortune. They could have rented hundreds more for the price of cleaning.

We have made bouquets, bouts, and decorations from Costco roses, 2 dozen for $12. Votive candles are safer than tapers for tables.

If time/calendar permits, definitely shop for decorations the day after Christmas (& Valentines Day to a smaller extent.) Just picking up a dozen or two boxes of little Christmas lights (for .75 each) can create a lot of beauty when wedding day comes around.

If the wedding list is less than 100, having a free place like a botanical garden, park, or beach is great. The food is not difficult to trek in for a smallish party like that.

Oh, and the photography sessions seem endless sometimes, and a simple hors-doeurve and punch during the wait at the reception site is a God send.

Happy planning, Cena

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My friend's daughter saved a bundle on her cake. She had the baker do one tall cake layer ( the top) and the other 4 tiers were styrofoam. They were all cpveered in the same fondant and decorated with beautiful silk flowers. After the B&G cut the cake it was taken to the kitchen foe cutting and serving.

Everyone received a nice slice of a sheet cake

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We Have a budget of $5,000 and are managing well.
We are having a beautiful, classy wedding in Santa Barbara with a cocktail reception for less than our small town offered. Just because its a nice place does not mean it expensive. Take chances to ask lots of questions. We also live in a college town where there are lots of people trying to build thier portfolio so our photog is only $500 for everything, Wedding coordinator is $350, we are renting a video camera for $25 from a camera store! Think outside the box.

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I just finished a series of posts about cost cutting ideas in my own wedding. You'll find that series, and other frugal wedding tips here:

Just a couple of thoughts:

When you can, have your wedding at your church (or your groom's church). And if your church has a place appropriate for a reception, take advantage of it. You'll save a bundle.

If you can have the wedding and the reception in the same location, do it! It saves your guests from having to mull around waiting for things to begin at the reception. (And it means they only have to find one - not two - locations.)

Buy as much as you can on sale. Get creative about where you purchase things.

Choose items that you'll be able to reuse later. (Like potted plants, candlesticks that don't look to 'weddingish,' etc.)
Accept that everything will not go as planned.


Here is a link that might be useful: Wedding Tips

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It is an important day for sure, but Auntjen made some great points. Here's some stuff we did for my daughter's wedding and it was a beautiful ceremony and great fun at the reception.

- Dress on sale--that should be a given. Daughter made her own veil with a ring of flowers from Michael's and tulle.
- Bridesmaids (only 2) dresses were made by groom's grandmother at minimum cost.
- Kept guest list to mainly family (86 people).
- Found a florist--a young girl with an impressive album of her work that did the chapel and reception (not in the same place) for practically nothing. It was beautiful.
- Wedding was at 1 p.m. followed by the reception, so we had a couple of canapes (including some really good crab somethings) followed by finger sandwiches, beautiful strawberries dipped in chocolate, veg. platters and other finger food. Too early for a big dinner.
- We served beer, wine, sodas, water and coffee. Mixed drinks were available, however.
- The reception was held at a hotel on the water and the reception room had french doors leading out to a deck where they set up the bar. Nice water view. The hotel was new and they were looking for repeat business or hoping for new business from the guests.
- No band. They didn't want one since they don't dance. There was music, just no band or DJ.
- No favors. Don't know how that custom got started, but I don't buy it.
- Splurged on the cake. Man, it was good! People are still talking about that cake today. There wasn't a single piece left and it was a big three layer.

The whole thing was way under $2500. Granted it was 14 years ago, but it was inexpensive even for then.

Whatever you decide, I hope you have a wonderful wedding and life. Enjoy!

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I have a green arbor in my backyard we are using to get married under. Right now it has about 2 feet tall climbing roses on it (2 yellow and 1 red). I wanted to drop tolle from the top so it would hang down and keep the opening open for us and the minister. I am not sure how to do this and figure that the tolle will need to be trimmed so as not to get into the roses. Since our Blessing Ceremony (we are already married but wanted our marriage recognized by the church) is in June, I was also wondering if there are different colors of tolle so as to keep the heat from the sun down. Any suggestions and help is most appreciated. BTW our wedding is formal only in ceremony, after that it is BBQ and Chicken and party!! Thanks so much! Tami

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I really like this forum and there are great ideas!
I'm having to do all my planning from France (luckily my maid of Honor is awesome), but I am also going to have 2 weddings! A smaller, civil wedding in Strasbourg and a religious one in Atlanta.
I am having a hard time finding a long-sleeved dress that looks something like this one :
Any ideas?

Also, has anyone prepared or been to a marriage in France? Any advice?
Thanks in advance!

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Our neighbors kids got married last summer and had the neatest wedding. Neither family had a lot of money so they made the most out of what they had. The groomsmen wore khaki pants with different colored shirts. The girls all had different style white sundresses with the color ribbons of the guy they were matched up with. They even wore flip flops in the same color. The moms wore khaki colored skirts with a colored top of their choice and sandals. Their reception was at a local building that only charges $50.00 a day. They made all their own food and had the room decorated really nice. A great time was had by all.

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I'm doing everything on a $3,000 budget and everything seems to be working out.

What I've recently found out myself:

Buy your wedding gown at a sample sale - If they have your size or a little larger. I got my regularly $899 dress for only $250, same day.

If you have connections in some way, shape, or form, use them:
- My photographer is a friend. We're only paying for prints and a book.
- Our officiant is going to be my soon to be BIL. He ordained himself online.
- Tables, chairs and linens will be 1/2 price because we're friends of the manager's son.

If you can, go semi-casual. This allowed for my BMs to wear a cute summer dress from J. Crew for only $50 each. Spiff it up with some $2 ribbon from Jo-Ann's around the waste and they've got a semi-formal BM dress - very easy when you only have 3 BMs all in the same size.

If you can, have your ceremony site and reception in the same location.

Choose a museum or historical site for your venue. Here in Southern California, if the place is geared toward weddings and special occasions, it'll cost you an arm and a leg.

Book everything before the end of the year. Prices rise at the beginning of each year. I learned that the hard way. Hence why I will not be having my wedding where I wanted last year.

Do your own hair and makeup, if possible. That will save you some dough there.

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Check out publix weddings for great cakes I know it's a supermarket but have you tried their cakes yummy!

I fell in love with a very expensive dress at David's bridals and got the name made a search on google and found it at $98 at omg! You should see their prices! And since I had already tried the dress, knew my size and color it was easy.

Since my budget is 3500 I did mini chocolate fountains for $23 at eBay and will surround them with strawberries and marchmellos due to my red and white color theme.

I found a historical court house that has a gazebo outside and it's gorgeous inside at $170 per hour they will include chairs and tables

For hair and makeup my friends and I will do our best which I think will work completely.

I also found a restaurant that will provide u with everything all they want is for you to buy the food and comes real cheap if you want a nice indoor place.

Good luck and thanks for the great ideas. God bless

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1) Get a used dress, let's face it, they all look the same anyway. You can save a lot of $ wearing a dress that everyone will think is new anyway. 2) Cut back on the flowers, they're way too expensive. I didn't have a bouquet at all but got them for my 2 attendants. It was a fall wedding so I had small pumpkins on the table (got a good deal by buying 30 of them) and everyone could take them home for halloween. There was fall color everywhere so I let Mother Nature decorate my wedding day! I agree Charityoh, there are lots of ways to be frugal and still have a beautiful wedding day, AND have money for groceries afterward!

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