15 Insanely Clever Ways to Save Money on your Wedding Day!
The Ultimate Bride’s Guide to Saving Money on the Big Day!
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Was anyone else shocked at how expensive weddings are?!?! Or was I just living under a rock? If you are reading this you are probably trying to plan your own wedding and are in complete disbelief at the costs! (I know I was) And let me tell you it adds up quick! The average wedding costs anywhere from $19,984 and $33,306!!! This of course does not include the honeymoon or the engagement ring! But I didn’t spend anywhere close to that and still had a beautiful wedding with about 160 guests all for about 10,000. (This might sound like a lot if you are just starting to plan but trust me once you start looking around you will realized I pulled off an amazing deal)
How did we host an inexpensive wedding without appearing cheap?
1) We cut our wedding guest list
If you haven’t started the guest list yet, be prepared for a bit of drama. Be prepared to find out about several relatives that “HAVE TO” be invited or certain family drama will ensue. There are family friends that have to be invited, co-workers, church members, neighbors, long lost friends you feel close to because you stalk them on facebook, the list could go on and on. This can get even more complicated if your parents are paying for a portion or all of the wedding.
However, the fastest way to save on your wedding is to limit your guests. One person can add about $150-200 when you add up all the costs. So as hard as it can be making every effort to cut the guest list is the fastest way to say money.
But for me this was not a real possibility. I love people! Really love people! Oh and I have 7 aunts and uncles on my moms side and 8 on my father’s side. So having a small wedding wasn’t really an option for my husband and I. (Although if he had his way we would have eloped 🙂
We cut our guest list of 300 the old fashion way.
Josh & I got married fast! This cut a lot of costs, because we simply didn’t have the time! We didn’t send out save the date cards because we planned our wedding in about 15 weeks. This cut our guest list down to 150 because we had many guests from out of town. Also, since both my husband and I were in our 30s almost everyone of our friends had kids. We opted to make our reception adults only apart from children in the bridal party. This was the hardest decision to make! It meant quite a few people could not make it to our wedding. But it was either none or it was 40 kids. I wish we didn’t have to do this… but we were also dealing with a space issue. (sorry, if this meant you couldn’t come to our wedding. I still feel bad about that).
2) We choose the earlier date
My husband just finished law school so we were planning our wedding around the state Bar Exam (which is the most awful test imaginably). We could have gotten married in November or in April. We choose the earlier date. I am glad we did too! Since I was getting married in just 3 months I didn’t have a chance to become Bridezilla. I found myself saying no to a lot of cute ideas because we just didn’t have the time. In the end, this saved us thousands!
3) We bought the Wedding Rings on Amazon
No really, we did! This sounds ridiculous but a study conducted Emory University in Atlanta showed that the higher the cost of the engagement ring, the shorter the marriage. Those who purchased a less expensive wedding ring had longer more successful marriages. Those who spend a moderate amount of $500-$2,000 on an engagement ring are 1.3 times less likely to get divorced. Now, it’s a silly study with an interesting link between cost and divorce, this of course is not necessarily the cause. But staying within budget is just good sense!
Check out these beautiful stones that cost thousands less than their diamond counterpart.
My husband bought my engagement ring for $15.00 on Amazon… true story. (He later exchanged it for a family stone he put in a new setting that had a lot of sentimental value for me, spending about $600. This was a perfect surprise:) We then bought my husbands ring on Amazon for $25.00 and he loves it! We ordered a few and choose a Cobalt Chrome ring that cost $25.00. Another couple told me they bought a similar ring for $500.00! Honestly, it is amazing how much the rings are over priced in stores.
4) Get Cash Back on the Necessities!
There are so many mandatory expenses for a wedding! Even with massive cut backs you are still spending thousands of dollars. So why not get cash back on every purchase? Solution: Before buying anything sign up for www.ebates.com. Ebates is a website that promotes hundreds of businesses by giving you a small cash back incentive on ever purchase. There are tons of businesses on there like Wedding Paper Divas, David’s Bridal, Macys, Hotels.com, Groupon, and so many more. I used all of these businesses while planning my wedding
The way that it works is simple 1) click on www.ebates.com 2) click through to another site like wedding paper divas 3) order invitations 4) receive cash back on your purchase. For example, if I ordered 200.00 in invitations through wedding paper divas and they were offering 5% cash back, I would receive a rebate of $10.00 just for click through wwww.ebates.com first. That may not sound like a lot but it adds up quick!
Ebates is completely free to sign up and never charges you a fee! What’s in it for ebates.com? They get a small commission for every customer they send to a site, at no charge to you! So they win, you win with cash back, and the company wins by making a purchase. I use it myself and was a little skeptical at first but it actually works! Check out my blog post for more detailed information.
This is a recently e-mail I got after clicking on beats first before going to group. $2.61 isn’t much but I didn’t have to do anything for it so I will take it! sign up here.
5) Save on the Venue
Most of our budget went to our venue. In order to get a great deal you have to shop around, think out side of the box, and have a little vision. My dear friend got married at a retirement community’s clubhouse and everything looked fabulous! She saved a great deal of money but had to do a bit more work. The venue only cost her about $2000. I had another friend would got married on state land in the desert costing her about $500 for the rental. Although she had to rent tables and chairs it kept some costs down.
Call Around until you find a Venue in your Price Range
When I searched for a venue I was looking for something that was inexpensive but didn’t require a great deal of extra work. I stumbled upon a new venue getting off the ground. The venue was just purchased but was run down and it was clear that the owner was just trying to book weddings to raise funds to fix up the place. There were over grown bushes, peeling paint, needed repairs, and a lot of potential. Since we had cash and could pay in full immediately, we got the venue at half price! Even better there was another couple that wanted our date so we switched dates for an additional $750.00 off. All the repairs were done a few weeks before our wedding and te day went off without a hitch.
6) Save on Décor
My husband and I love to travel! Between the both of us we have gone to over thirty different countries. We wanted to incorporate this some how. My mom found a heart die-cutter at a garage sale for $.50! We cut up a bunch of old maps and placed them around the tables and the looked perfect! We used the glass mirrors and lanterns the venue provided to save time and hassle. My mother in-law found a bunch of battery operated votive candles at an outlet store for about $20.00. There is a lot going on the tables so no need for large expensive centerpieces.
I am a multi-tasker extraordinaire and pretty frugal. For this reason the decor I used in my wedding would later be used in my home. I was working with a specific color scheme and budget. There was no time to search for 8 picture frames that were silver or white. The frames were used to tell guests to sign the guest book, list signature drinks, offer basic directions and housed wedding pictures from our parents and grandparents our guest book table. I got most of them under $10, where as similar ones were $20 each at the store. Even better I used these same frames to house my favorite wedding pictures after I said I do.
Here is how I made classic wedding signs which I later reused to display my incredible wedding photos!
7) Cut the Flowers
Holy cow, I didn’t know how expensive flowers were until I started planning a wedding! A friend of mine spent $5,000 on the flowers alone! What!?!?!
I fell in love with this flower called an Anemone because it had a center that looked navy blue, a color I was trying to tie in. (Pictured below) How could I not have this in my bouquet?! After visiting a few bridal shops I was completely shocked! A simple bridal bouquet it was about $250.00! I kept asking around and found a friend who worked out of her home and made bouquets on the side. In the end I spent a fraction! Win!
You can even make your own bridal or bridesmaid bouquet for under $30! Check our my article for the step by step process! You can do it!
My secret for boutonnieres and corsages … Costco
You might be able to get away from buying these all together if you are not a traditionalist. However, tradition when it comes to honoring key family members is important, so I could not avoid this expense. When shopping around it seemed the standard price was about $25.00 per boutonniere. Since we needed at least 6 that would add up to about $150.00 on something that would end up in the trash before the night was over. In addition we needed about 10 corsages at $30 each, increasing the cost of boutonnieres and corsages to $450.00!
Instead, I ordered them on Costco.com! I was planning on just buying a bunch of flowers at my local Costco and making them myself when an employee there told me that they can ship them straight to you pre-made!
Seriously, I tell every bride to be about this little hack! You can order a pack of 16 boutonniere and corsages for $99.99. Even better, you can specify the amount of boutonnieres and corsages needed if you don’t need an even 8 of each. You can also choose flower and ribbon color so they match your wedding colors. Also, I choose cream roses and a navy blue ribbon and they turned out perfectly! Josh got a red because I had to make sure I married the right man 🙂 They were mailed to my house the day before and placed in the fridge. And just like that I saved $350.00 on a necessary expense.
8) Simple Bridesmaid Bouquets
Again, I saved thousands by ordering through Costco! (are we sensing a theme, yet 😉 I knew flowers were expensive so I thought I would cut costs by just having my bridesmaids hold small bouquets of baby’s breath. Well, those “small bouquets” were going to cost about $40.00 each! In addition I wanted to order a bit extra and use it for decorations, which would have cost about $400.00!
Instead I ordered 100 stem’s of Baby’s Breath at Costco.com for $89.99! With this a friend of mine was able to make 5 bridesmaid bouquets, a tossing bouquet for me, flowers to go inside each lantern on the reception tables, and created two gorgeous ganging baby’s breath balls to add to the décor.
In the end I only spent about $285 on flowers!!!
A friend of mine has me beat though. She went to Trader Joe’s the day before her wedding and spent about $30.00 and made her bouquet along with her three bridesmaids. She kept the flowers cool in her basement. I wanted to do this, but I lived in Arizona and didn’t have the fridge space to keep them all cool so I had a friend help me and I paid he a bit for her time.
9) Cut the cake… No Literally… cut it
My husband will be impressed with my Dad joke right there 🙂 But really, ditch the big fancy cake! We ordered a small cake for my husband and I. Then we put some extra flowers on top. It looked gorgeous! And all for the low price of about $25.00 🙂
We were going to just cut up some Costco sheet cake in the back and pass it out to our unsuspecting guests. Can you tell Costco and I are pretty tight? (Costco is not paying me for this, but dang they should!)
I mean, have you tried Costco cake? It is definitely delicious and half the price! But in the end my mom suggested cupcakes and here was the secret… they were just from our local grocery store… GASP!
We looked into what it would cost to get some of those fancy designer cupcakes and they were about $4.00 a person! We didn’t have the budget for that. Instead we tried our local Fry’s grocery store and they tasted delicious! We actually did a comparison taste test, hard work but someone’s got to do it. We barely noticed a difference. In the end it cost us under $.50 a person.
In total we spent about $100 on cupcakes and the cake for us! Saving hundreds!
10) Save Money on your Guest Book
Our guest book wasn’t anything that you would see pinned on Pinterest but it did the trick! I waited until there was a 60% offer at shutterfly and made a little book of our engagement photos. It was an excuse to print all of our engagement photos and we now have a cute book on our coffee table.
Total cost: $25
11) Get Creative with the Food
This is where things can get expensive, unless you get creative and think outside the box. Instead of traditional catering we opted for some Hawaiian BBQ at a local restaurant. Since they did not normally do weddings we did not get the ridiculous up charge for just being a wedding.
Another friend served traditional Mexican food for her wedding for even cheaper! There are ways to cut costs if you look outside the box. You may have to do a bit more coordinating but it is worth the savings!
Total cost: $9 a person
12) Skip the Champagne
We wanted to do a toast with champagne but the price tag was just too much. Even with a more inexpensive champagne it was going to cost us about $800.00! We already choose to skip the open bar but had beer and wine instead saving a great deal of cash but we still needed to cut more to stay under our budget. In order to do the toast we poured sparkling champagne we bought in bulk from Costco, saving hundreds! I can’t tell you how many trips Josh and I took to Costco. But throw in the free samples and you got a cheap date night 😉 Even better we were able to return any unopened bottles.
Savings of: $750!
13) Say Yes to a Cheaper Dress
If you don’t have a firm budget on a dress, your emotions will get the best of you here! I have several friends who found there dresses at a Goodwill or Thirft Store. I wasn’t so lucky. Instead I found one at a store that sold samples and dresses from the previous season. It saved me about $1000!!! Also, you can also check out sites like https://www.tradesy.com/weddings/wedding-decorations/ and https://wedding-recycle.com. These sites allow brides to sell their wedding dresses and let’s be real some of these were never even used because well… life happens. I have a friend who bought two dresses because one didn’t fit right so she resold the other. Others choose to call off their wedding for various reasons and are just trying to recover some of their costs.
Look at the discount dresses first, you might get lucky!
I ended up spending only $500 on a dress that originally cost $1,500! Score!
14) Shop Around for Accessories
While searching for my wedding dress I tried on some veils as well to figure out my style. I found some gorgeous veils with a price sticker upwards of $100 dollars. Utter disbelief! This was something I was only going to wear once. I ended up ordering a few different veils to try them on with my dress at home. In the end, I went with a veil that cost about $15.00 and looked gorgeous if I do say so myself.
I couldn’t believe how expensive hair combs and hair accessories were at bridal shops. The wedding industry really get you used to everything costing an arm and a leg so what is another $100.00? But we didn’t have that kind of cash. Instead I bought this gorgeous hair comb for $18.99. You will definitely have to make sure you are not getting anything that looks cheap. However, this was the perfect accent to my hair and I was able to match my dress theme without countless hours of shopping.
Probably the most shocking thing I bought online was a bustier. But after trying three stores and not finding a single one to try on I shifted my strategy. I ordered five bustier at once in various sizes and styles. My recommendation is that you check to make sure all items have free returns. They all arrived within a few days. I simply choose the most comfortable ones and returned the others the next day. Also, it was great that I was able to try these on with my dress because one of them rose to high and could be seen. I wouldn’t have know if I was just trying them on at the store. When everything was returned I only spent $55.00. Better yet I didn’t have to waste time going from store to store.
15) Tell yourself NO! (trust me this is good for you)
Major confession here: A few weeks before my wedding I was picking up something from Hobby Lobby for the wedding and saw some beautiful table numbers and signs. Instantly, I liked them better than what I had. There standing in the isle I found my self sinking into self pity over the fact that I did not get the table numbers of my dreams… Mine in reality were super cute but then I saw these fancy ones and fell into the black hole of comparison. In a matter of seconds I was in a downward spiral… over decorations. I heard this still small voice in my head saying ‘get used to not getting everything you want, you’re getting married.’
Pulling myself together, I paused smiled and chuckled to myself. I realized a powerful lesson that day. You don’t always get everything you want and it is a good thing! Why? Because that is life! You don’t always get what you want. I see so many couples set themselves up for utter disappointment because for 5 months of wedding planning they got everything they wanted only to realize marriage is built on compromise. There in that isle I learned to say no to spending money on wanted items and learned to be grateful for what I had.
Biggest Tip: Ask!
Ask for help! People love helping, especially for a wedding. There were a few items we wanted but could not exceed our budget. Instead we went to a few individuals and said this is what we have, can you work with us? To our surprise most people said yes!
If you have any other helpful tips on saving money on the big day share your comments below so we can all save a little.
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