For most women, your wedding is something you’ve dreamed about for a long time. Of course, you want it to be everything you’ve imagined! But that doesn’t mean it needs to put a financial burden on you or your family. Here are ten simple tips for saving money on your wedding, while still making it one to remember.
The average wedding cost in the US is currently over $30,000! So how can you have the wedding of your dreams without busting the budget? Believe it or not, it is possible to do it without sacrificing on the quality of the venue, food, photographer or the DJ. We had all those, plus an open bar while still saving towards our first house. Here are some ways to save money on your wedding and reception.
YOU MIGHT NOT NEED A FLORIST
Professional florists can provide you with beautiful arrangements, however the usual price for a full service – meaning all the bridal party bouquets, flower décor for the ceremony and reception, delivery and set up- range from $2000 to up to $4000. Some include only the wedding party bouquets and maybe 1-2 centerpieces with a price ranging between $400 – $800.
I decided to skip their services and save some money. For the mothers, bridesmaids, the toss bouquet, and my bridal bouquet, I chose to buy these beautiful paper flower bouquets. I bought them early and on sale. The total cost for 8 bouquets was only a total of $150.
There are many options on Etsy that can be custom made to fit your needs or if you’d like to make the bouquets yourself, Sola flowers also offers loose paper and wood flowers.
I also handmade all the boutonnieres for the groomsmen, the ring bearer, the fathers and grandfathers (total of 13) and the corsages for grandmothers, aunt and the flower girl (total of 5) for about $50. I used fake flowers from Michaels/ACE Moore.
For the rest of flower décor, both indoor and outdoor for the centerpieces as well as the aisle runner, I used a mixture of fake and fresh flowers.
The fresh flowers were purchased in bulk from Costco (FYI you do not have to have the membership to buy the flowers, however it will cost a little extra). I spent $440 for 200 roses, 200 baby’s breath and 80 spiders mums stems (this was way too much, half of that would have been enough). Yes, making and arranging all the flowers took some time, but I asked my family and friends for help and we had a lot of fun doing it.
Having some fake flowers allowed me to make those arrangements far in advance so that I didn’t have to worry about it close to the wedding day. And don’t worry that you aren’t an expert in flower arrangements, YouTube offers a variety of tutorials.
MAKE DIY DÉCOR
Making the décor myself was the best decision I made. I was able to make things unique and exactly how I wanted and at the same time I was able to save some money. You can easily find pre-made signs, sand ceremony sets or centerpieces, but that usually comes with a higher price.
For our sand ceremony we looked at several vendors and found the sets to range from $40 to $100. I decided to make my own set and it only cost me $15 total. I bought 4 vases and a bag of white sand bag for $1 each. The 2 bags colored sand were $4 each. I got the large jar for only $2 from Michaels with their members’ rewards program 50% off coupon. Finally, I used letter stickers I already had to decorate the jar.
For centerpieces we decorated wine bottles and frosted glass vases. I asked my friends and family to save their wine bottles, so I really didn’t need to buy any more of those. The frosted glass vases were going to be $2.50 each on Amazon, so I bought clear ones at the dollar store instead and used frosted glass spray paint from Michaels.
Other DIY décor that was easy to do – staining wooden crates, making some of the bridesmaids gifts, flower girl basket, ring bearer box and “Mr and Mrs” sign.
Many supplies to make the décor, like ribbons and burlap, will overlap so you are not spending more money on each item. All this might seem like it would take so much work and time, but honestly if plan ahead you will have enough time to make everything – I am a full time Physician Assistant student so between clinical rotations and studying it was hard to plan a separate time for wedding planning but it is doable. Every week do something little. Also nobody says that you have to do the décor all by yourself – invite your bridesmaids and have a wedding planning night. At the end all the décor can also make a great gift for your guests.
SKIP THE WEDDING COORDINATOR
Our wedding ceremony and reception were in the same hotel and they had a wedding manager as part of the package that took care of the hotel side of the event. However, we chose not to hire a separate wedding coordinator. It just seemed like a lot of money to me for someone who makes sure that everything is running on time and that everyone is in line. I just couldn’t justify spending $1500+ for that role, so I recruited my bridesmaids and my aunt to keep an eye on the timeline and to help with the decoration set up. Keep in mind my aunt is from New Zealand and did not know anybody in my bridal party and everything worked out perfect. I also sent the timeline to the DJ and the hotel coordinator well in advance so everybody knew what was happening. You can also make little timeline cheat sheets that your wedding party can carry. Doing this allowed me to save a lot of money.
ATTEND BRIDAL SHOWS/EXPOS
Planning your wedding in advance and attending Bridal Shows and Expos are so worth the time! They have many vendors there and many offer incredible discounts for their services. It also saves you time since there are many vendors in one place and you can scope them out in one setting vs. making individual appointments. Be sure to go prepared with questions so you can get a better idea if they are a good fit or not.
We booked our DJ for a 7-hour service (ceremony and reception + set up time) for less than $1000. His own regular price for that package was $1400, so we save $400 just by booking it at the expo. He a a sample set up at the show with lights and everything so you could get a good feel for how he operates. Click here to find a bridal expo in your area.
GET RECOMMENDATIONS FROM FRIENDS
If you have friends who are recently married, ask them for recommendations. Also ask them how much they paid, because it will give you a good idea of what to expect. In addition, although some vendors may have increased their prices they might be willing to honor a lower referral price or other discounts. That happened with our photographer, she increased her prices by $200-300 however she gave me the same price as my matron of honor’s price – that’s money in the bank for you ☺!
WHAT CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT?
Don’t add items to your list just because you’ve seen them at other weddings or think they are expect. It’s your day and you should choose what really matters to you. I debated getting a wedding program for each guest, and decided to not order one, which was a good decision. I would have spent $100+ on a piece of paper that nobody seemed to miss. Instead I made one big sign that had all the information of for guests to look at.
KNOW SOMEBODY WITH A SKILL?
Do you have any friends who do photography, love baking or are good with the camera? Ask them if they could be your vendors. Our videographers were our best man’s sister and her boyfriend. First of all, you are helping their business grow and they are already coming to the wedding, so no additional food need to be provided (sometimes a meal is required for the vendors). They did a fantastic and they were so happy when we asked to capture our special day. We paid for their cheapest package, which was less than $1000 but they upgraded us to their most expensive one for no additional cost. Deal like that can save you a lot of money! Same with cake, photographer or DJ – if you have friends who do that professionally use them!
THE CAKE AND OTHER SWEETS
This can turn out to be an expensive item, especially since you need to buy by the slice/serving. We were able to save by buying two different types of cakes. Many bakeries will have 2 prices for cake – one that’s the presentation cake and one for what they usually call the backup cake and what I like to call the guest cake.
At the bakery we booked with, the “backup” cake was half the price of the presentation cake. Still great flavor and they offered extra sweet treats too. Plus we still had a beautiful cake for the cutting. They also offered in the package, a 1st anniversary cake so you don’t have to freeze a layer.
Planning far in advance will help you in two ways. First, it will give you plenty of time to budget and pay cash for things instead of using credit and paying finance charges. Second, it will save you from the price gouges that come from last minute bookings.
Be sure to give yourself enough time before the wedding for all the DIY décor and for spreading out the payments for vendors. I think doing a two year engagement vs. traditional 1 year will give you enough time to make all the decoration yourself and it will help you spread out the payments for all the different vendors so that you don’t feel like there is this one huge payment that you cannot afford.
Don’t have a budget? Click here to get started and take control of your finances.
SELL YOUR ITEMS AFTERWARDS
You can recoup much of these costs by selling the decorative items afterwards. There are a lot of people who will pay top dollar for hand-crafted wedding and reception decor. Although I’m saving few of my favorite things, I’m selling most items like the signs or the centerpieces. There are many websites you can use such as Wedding Recycle, Bridal Garage Sale, and Tradesy. However, I love Facebook Marketplace because you don’t have to deal with shipping and you can get competitive pricing based on your local area.
I hope these tips help your wedding day be as fabulous as mine was!