Limited resources are often the greatest spark for creativity, which is great news for those planning to get married on a budget; the last thing you want, after all, is a generic wedding devoid of any personality. A lot of the ways in which brides and grooms get sucked into spending are unnecessary, despite the evidence Pinterest might be presenting to the contrary. Here, some of our favorite ways to save big on your big day, all of which will simultaneously serve to make your wedding more unique and unforgettable than it might have been had you blindly spent big bucks.
Rings don't have to be prohibitively expensive, especially if you want to do something a little bit different than what everyone else is doing. Remember, your ring can be upgraded regularly, so starting small or off-beat in the interest of budgets is kind of sweet, in our opinion—this way, you'll have something to look forward to in not starting your life together with the Hope diamond.
If you're more the practical type than the sentimental, you and your significant other can save big on rings by skipping the engagement variety altogether and opting for bands only. Those who aren't superstitious can also save big by searching the site I Do, Now I Don't for gently-worn rings in need of a new home.
Emailed save-the-date cards are becoming more and more the norm, and going this route will save you money while saving the world its trees. When it comes to your actual invites, it can be tempting to cave to the mentality that they have to be as elaborate as possible, professionally designed, and the rest; however, you can source excellent design cheaply through a site like Fiverr and then print the invites yourself at a FedEx office, which will offer a lot more choices in terms of paper weight, envelopes, et cetera than you may think.
If your heart is set on professional engraving, consider thermography instead, which will give a nearly identical effect for a fraction of the cost.
When designing your invite, keep in mind that the post office charges more for an envelope if the length divided by the height is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5, so keep the size as standard as possible to save.
Finally, save money on invites by using one vendor to do all of the printing for your wedding—think invites, menus, table cards, and thank you cards.
Get creative here—you don’t have to buy something specifically marketed as being bridal. If you have the time—and a decent smattering of shops to scour within a reasonable radius—vintage might be your best bet for scoring a special dress at a budget-friendly price. You can also just buy a contemporary dress you love that has nothing to do with weddings (and therefore re-wear it on other occasions, if you so choose).
Though it doesn't sound romantic, buying secondhand is also an option. Some of the dresses on sites like PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com have never been worn and are instead simply the byproduct of indecisive or flaky brides.
We don't actually recommend you choose to DIY your flowers unless you're incredible crafty and can handle pressure well. If you do decide to move forward with that route, you can save big by buying flowers wholesale on FiftyFlowers.com or hitting up your local flower market. If that option sounds totally daunting to you, you can still save money on your flowers by opting for arrangements heavy on the greens that incorporate flowers you're likely not seeing all over your Pinterest—the less trendy, the more affordable (though you should buy in season). To further save on flowers, skip traditional yet unnecessary buys like bridesmaid bouquets—we promise, no one will notice.
We're big fans of food trucks at wedding receptions, depending on your vibe. You can save big money this way, and let's be honest—guests would probably prefer to soak up their champagne with an amazing grilled cheese as opposed to some mediocre chicken-and-vegetable combo. To book your trucks, use Roaming Hunger.
Following along this same line of thought—that your guests would probably prefer comfort food to a tiny piece of poorly-seasoned fish—we are also big fans of grabbing low-rent crowd-pleasers like fried chicken from somewhere cheap (ahem, KFC) and then accompanying it with high-rent versions of classic sides (e.g., elevated mac and cheese). You can also try a fun, cheap, and easy concept like a taco bar and grab the affordable catering from your favorite dive.
First thing's first—ditch the Saturday wedding. You'll save significantly if you book on an "off" day, and we're predicting that Sunday brunch weddings are going to be the next big thing. Keep in mind that off-peak wedding dates may mean some added stress for your guests in terms of taking time off from work, but it also means they'll likely save money on travel and accommodations. Timing-wise, you can also save big by booking the wedding the week before peak travel season in your destination of choice—you'll get all the perks of peak season at a fraction of the cost.
Another way you can save money on your venue is by booking a large and special home via Airbnb, Oasis Collection, or One Fine Stay, and then hosting both the ceremony and the reception on the property. The added benefit of this approach is that you can invite your closest friends and family to stay with you, which will make for a great bonding opportunity and save them money on accommodations in the process.
Finally, when booking a wedding venue, look for an option that doesn't require you to use their vendors, as you will save a lot of money by sourcing your own.
Tiered cakes are expensive, so we suggest you have your baker concoct a cake that is largely a facade, with only the smallest, top tier made for actually consumption. This way, you can cut this cake—which was made for a fraction of the cost it would have been had it all been "real"—and then serve a much less expensive sheet cake to your guests.
We also love the idea of skipping the cake altogether. Instead, serve passed dessert bites people can nosh on while dancing, to avoid grinding your party to a screeching halt. This way, guests can also enjoy a variety of mini desserts instead of gorging on one giant piece of cake.
One big way to save on the ceremony? Skip it altogether. Get married at City Hall and let your friends and family skip straight to the party—your parents and a few great aunts aside, the bulk of your guests will likely be immensely grateful you did so.
You can also save big on your ceremony by asking a friend to officiate. Requirements vary by state, but in California, for example, it takes less than five minutes online to meet them.
BYOB if possible, but be sure you check into the legalities behind this approach before you bank on being able to do it. Many websites suggest you offer only beer, wine, and a signature cocktail to pinch pennies on booze, but we actually don't recommend this approach unless you're not allowed to BYOB—people are very particular about what they drink, and it's kind of the one guest privilege you don't want to mess with!
Another option for saving money on your reception is to host it at a restaurant so you won't have to pay the added fees for chairs, tables, linens, silverware, decor, et cetera.
Finally, we suggest you enlist the Maid-of-Honor and Best Man as the night's co-MCs. This generally makes for a more personalized (and free!) experience.
First of all, don't buy into the Pinterest hype—you do not need monogrammed napkins or party favors with your face plastered all over them. You obviously don't want your wedding to look cheap or sparse, but that doesn't mean you need to fill the tables with a bunch of junk that will just get left behind anyway.
Secondly, choosing the right venue can help you save a lot of money on decor—gardens are a good example of what works well in terms of native decor.
It's easy to save money on a DJ—chances are, you have at least one friend or friend-of-a-friend with acceptable or even exceptional DJ skills, and you likely won't have to pay them. You can also work from a pre-made playlist on your iPhone—it's 2016, after all.
If your heart is set on a band, it can be a bit trickier to cut corners. One way to do so, however, is to get married in off-peak months or days, when talent will likely be cheaper. You can also mix the night up—hire a band to perform at the ceremony and for the first part of the reception, and then bring in a DJ to finish out the night. To source your talent, get creative–local universities or conservatories are ripe with musicians in need of exposure and experience, and some local bars and other music venues may feature gems still waiting on their big break. Finally, think small—you don't need a huge band to make a lot of lovely noise, and in most cases, four pieces will do just fine.
When it comes to photography, which can cost around 10% of your wedding budget, it can be incredibly helpful to prioritize. Maybe the ceremony and reception are incredibly important to you, but you're less interested in immortalizing the portion of the program in which you're getting ready. Or, perhaps you think it would be more fun to let the photographer go after the first thirty minutes of the ceremony and rely on your (drunk) friends and families for iPhone photos, which will be just as high in quality and probably a lot more memorable. Either way, you'll save.
Photography is also where favor-begging comes in handy as—much like with DJs—everyone knows someone who takes photos for a living in the Instagram age.