Low-Cost Wedding Tips

The average wedding is estimated to be around $26,000 – that’s as much as new car and a down-payment for a first home!

If you’re looking to save a few extra pennies to have AFTER the wedding, here are top tips from five frugal brides from across the country.

Thanks to Viveca, Nan, Amanda, Betty Fraser and Stacy Francis for their wedding tips. Happy wedding planning!

  1. Location! from Viveca, Greenwich, CT

    • My mother offered us the use of her yard in the Bronx, which I at first scoffed at, but after figuring that the size was perfect, I quickly seized the opportunity. If a nice yard is not available to a future bride, I suggest a park with an amazing view as a reception location.
  2. Off the Beaten Track from Betty Fraser, “Top Chef” contestant and Co-owner of Hollywood, CA-based companies As You Like It Catering and the award-winning restaurant Grub

    • Choosing an “off-the-beaten-track” location for the wedding can help save money and create a more memorable experience for your guests.

      I learned of a home in the Hollywood Hills that had transformed their enormous backyard into a Japanese garden.

      We approached the owners, who were pleased to share their beautiful location with us free of charge, we brought in an inexpensive sound system and a long red carpet to be used for the aisle.

      After setting up the inexpensive, white folding chairs for our 100+ guests, the spot was turned into a magical oasis; as intimate as it was beautiful.

  3. Pick a Theme to Keep it Simple from Betty Fraser

    • We chose “Mardi-Gras” as our theme and with such inexpensive decorations as hanging lanterns, white lights strewn throughout the trees and beads, beads and more beads, the residence was transformed into a New Orleans hot spot, complete with its own bar and karaoke machine positioned in the garden art studio.

      To kick-off the reception, beads were handed out to the guests upon leaving the wedding location and the entire contingent paraded through the streets to the reception.

      The parade was led by some of the wedding guests who donned Mardi Gras type costumes while everyone played songs on the cheap kazoos they received with their beads.

      It was truly a wonderful sight...especially for the neighbors!

    WHN EXPERT TIP: "I Do" to Brunch

    By having a morning wedding with a brunch afterwards, you can save a lot more money than if you have to have a wedding with a large lunch or dinner - Stacy Francis, Certified Financial Planner and founder of Savvy Ladies

  4. Do-It-Yourself from Stacy Francis

    • Make a list of your skills, as well as people who have offered assistance. By doing your own flowers, invitations, table decorations and as much as you can, you will be able to save a lot of money on wedding expenses.

      Guests and family are often more than willing to assist you wherever they can and by making good use of this, you are able to greatly cut down on your wedding expenses.

  5. Use What You’ve Got from Amanda, Tallahassee, FL

    • We were able to use our own linens on just a few tables for a splash of color and it ended up looking nice.

      We also saved on the photography by finding a photographer who just charged us to take the pictures and not any prints. He gave us all the photos on a disc and we can take them anywhere to be printed... it was significantly cheaper then all the other photographers that included a certain number of prints in the price

  6. Shop Stores from Stacy Francis

    • Find out about sales that are being offered at wedding-related stores and florists and try to take advantage of these when you can.
    • Also look for wedding stores that may allow you to purchase your perfect wedding dress from them, and then sell it back to them after the wedding so that you can get some of the money back
  7. Shop Online from Amanda - Tallahassee, FL

    • We saved a ton of money by shopping around on different websites to find the best deal. Every time I found something I liked in a store or bridal magazine, I was able to find it online for significantly less money.

      I saved on my shoes, bridesmaid dresses, favors, attendant gifts and even the centerpieces for the receptions by shopping online

    WHN Reader TIP: Don't Forget

    • Thrift shops and resale shops.
    • Places to rent designer gowns.
    • Prom gown sales after June. (Great bridesmaid dress idea!) - Nan - San Diego, CA
  8. Use Beginning Businesses and Schools’ Services from Betty Fraser

    • For the food, I solicited the efforts of a local culinary academy who took on our wedding as a class project. We ended up just paying for the cost of the food and of course, an appropriate tip for the student chefs who also doubled as waiters. The food was delicious and the chefs were highly motivated to do a great job because they were being graded!

  9. Consider Your Guest List from Stacy Francis

    • Do you really need that many people at your wedding? A great way to save money on wedding expenses is simply to cut down on the number of guests.

      Try to opt for a small wedding instead of a larger one and you could save money by having a smaller venue, less food and fewer overall costs.

  10. Donate to Charity from Stacy Francis

    • Get a tax deduction from your wedding – donate left over flowers or other good items to a charity. Although this may not directly save money on wedding expenses, it will give you a tax deduction and so save you more money after the wedding.
  11. Wedding Insurance from WHN staff
    • Still spending a lot? You might want to look into wedding insurance…just in case something happens before or on that big day! Read our Wedding Insurance article for more.

Reviewed 6/2009