10 Tips to Save Money on Your Wedding – Dresses, Invitations, Venues, Cakes & More
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Tying the knot?
According to The Knot, the average American wedding costs almost $34,000. 😱 While weddings are expensive, there are a lot of ways that you can cut down on wedding costs and still make your special day one to remember. Hosting a cheap wedding doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your style.
1. Go paperless or make your own invitations.
Did you know that you can easily make your own professional-looking announcements or invitations – without breaking the bank? It’s true! There are a lot of free wedding templates available on the web that will allow you to save a bundle without having to compromise on style and quality.
Below are a few online sites that offer free wedding templates that you can customize, download, and print completely free! Some sites even offer the option to email the invites, which will save you the time, labor, and money for all those stamps!
Don’t have time to create your own invites? You can also purchase inexpensive invites from the following retailers and online stores.
- Costco – starting at $0.66 per invitation.
- Etsy – starting at under $25 for unlimited invitations.
- Minted – starting at $1.40 per invitation.
- Be sure to request a free wedding sample kit!
- Sam’s Club – starting at $0.80 per invitation.
- Shutterfly – starting at $1.49 per invitation.
- Be sure to request a free wedding invitations sample kit!
- The American Wedding – starting at $0.80 per invitation.
- Be sure to request a free wedding sample kit!
- Vistaprint – starting at $1.20 per invitation.
- Be sure to request a free wedding sample kit!
- Walgreens – starting at $0.85 per invitation.
- Walmart.com – starting at $0.99 per invitation.
2. Don’t get married on a Saturday.
Saturday is the most popular day to get married, which means venues will charge higher rates…but this may end up changing as even weeknights (especially Thursday nights) are becoming more common.
Many have been opting for Friday weddings as they save couples thousands on the venue and on a weekday rehearsal dinner. Even better, a Sunday or weekday wedding can be up to $4,000 less on location fees—plus food and beverage minimums will be lower.
3. Find a venue that is free (or accepts donations).
Consider a non-traditional venue for your special day, such as a bed & breakfast, a public park, or a beach that is open to the public. There may not be a lot of privacy, but a park with a gorgeous lake or a bed & breakfast with beautiful landscape may be a nice compromise.
Also, be sure to call around to see if there is a venue or church where you are getting married that does not charge to use their location. They may ask for a donation in return for using their facility and they may book up to a year or more in advance, but you’ll definitely save a bundle.
As an idea, there is a beautiful outdoor chapel near me, called the Chapel Dulcinea, that offers free weddings. They do ask for donations, but they are completely voluntary. You can even rent a room to host your reception right there on site. It’s a perfect spot for a beautiful, affordable wedding!
Hip Tip: Request a free wedding catalog from Oriental Trading for frugal wedding favor ideas, reception decorations, and more!
4. Purchase a secondhand wedding dress… or rent it.
While wedding dress prices vary greatly, the average U.S. wedding dress costs around $1,000….but it doesn’t have to!
Instead of paying a chunk of money on a dress you’ll likely wear once, consider purchasing your wedding dress from a cheaper bridal boutique or an online site that sells used gowns for a fraction of the price. If you’d rather not buy, you can even rent your dress from sites like Rent the Runway!
- ASOS – buy dresses starting at $150
- Borrowing Magnolia – buy dresses starting at $100
- David’s Bridal – buy dresses starting at $99 or less
- eBay – buy secondhand dresses starting at $100 or less
- OnceWed – buy used wedding dresses starting at $120
- Rent the Runway – rent dresses starting at $100 or less
- Nearly Newlywed – buy secondhand dresses starting at $100
- Nordstrom – buy gowns starting at $100 or less
- Still White – buy secondhand designer gowns starting at $500 or less
- Tradesy – buy secondhand gowns starting at $100 or less
If you don’t think you’ll wear your wedding dress again or will want to pass it down to your daughter, consider selling it after the wedding by listing it on the sites mentioned above. It’s always nice to put a little money back in your pocket and chances are that you won’t miss your wedding dress either.
You can also head on over to your local thrift store and scout out what options are available. Also, if possible, consider asking your mom or grandmother if you can use her wedding dress for your big day. Just make sure she won’t mind if you decide to completely alter the dresses style.
Hip Tip: Before you head out to bargain shop, check out some of our other favorite thrift store finds!
Want to win free accessories for your wedding dress? Emmaline Bride offers some of the best wedding giveaways, with a new one launching almost every week on their wedding blog! They’ve given away beautiful and high-quality wedding veils, shoes, purses, jewelry, groomsmen gifts, flower girl dresses, aisle decor, wedding favors, invitations, bridesmaid robes, and much, much more.
Hip Tip: Want more inspiration for wedding apparel? Hop on over here to request a free digital subscription to Bridal Guide magazine (click on “free magazines” at the top). Plus, consider signing up for free wedding kits or catalogs from the companies below.
5. Be your own DJ (or ask a friend).
You’ll definitely save money by hiring a single DJ as opposed to a band. But if you’re on a super tight budget, see if your venue has a professional built-in sound system and create your own music playlist. Then just have a friend or family member be in charge of making sure things run smoothly.
You may also be able to hire a graduate student musician to play at your ceremony or cocktail hour as they can be booked for much less than the professional DJs.
6. Have a friend be the photographer.
Network, network, network! Know a family member who loves taking pictures at holiday gatherings? Or have a friend who is always posting amazing pictures on Instagram? Consider asking a friend or family member who has an eye for photography or knows how to use a professional camera to take your wedding photos. They will likely be happy to do so and you could always give them a nice gift in return for the favor…not to mention you’ll be saving a bundle!
Also, look on Craigslist for someone who does photography as a side job or may just be starting their photography business as they often will give price breaks. In fact, there are usually quite a few photographers who are looking to build their portfolio and will offer to photograph your wedding for free – just pay for the digital photos. This is a great way to save big bucks on your wedding!
If you do end up hiring a professional photographer, book him/her for half a day or just a few hours instead of a full day and you’ll dramatically reduce the cost of your photography contract. Then order the lower-end packages with smaller-sized, fewer finished photos to save even more.
Another idea is to ask several of your friends and family members to take lots of photos on their phones and share them with you after the wedding! Smartphones these days are capable of taking high-quality photos, and sometimes candid shots are the best at capturing those special moments!
Hip Tip: For all the best photo deals, be sure to bookmark this page!
7. Order your cake from a local bakery or grocery store.
If you’re not looking for an intricate cake design, seek out your local bakery to see if they can make a wedding cake for you. While they may not have the design skill that a professional wedding cake baker would have, the cake will still be tasty!
Better yet, consider ordering the cake from your local grocery store or warehouse club (i.e. Costco), or even consider having a cupcake tower instead.
If you do decide to order your cake from a bakery, here are a few ways to cut down on the costs:
- Keep it simple – Whether it’s sticking to a smaller-scale buttercream frosted creation or going with a minimally frosted cake, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple!
- Ditch the Groom’s cake – While they’re certainly a fun way to honor the man of the hour, feel free to skip this cake tradition if you’re tight on funds and simply focus on one cake instead.
- Use real flowers instead of sugar flowers – Those sugar flowers take a long time to make, so opt for real flowers instead. They look beautiful too!
- Serve smaller slices – Serving smaller cake slices will definitely allow your dollar to stretch further! Your guests will likely not even know the difference.
- Opt for sheet cake – You can also choose to order a small display cake and then serve a large sheet cake to your guests.
If you’re looking to order from a bakery shop, be sure to call around first as many locations offer free cake tastings or will deduct the price of the cake tasting from your cake purchase.
Know someone who is great at baking? Another way to save is to ask a friend to make your wedding cake. They could create a simple, elegant cake just by stacking a couple of round cakes decorated in white frosting, topping each with flowers, and then placing them on different height cake platters.
8. Don’t serve a sit-down meal.
If your reception does not take place during the peak dinner hour, why not skip the formal meal entirely? Instead of paying for a seated meal service, consider serving heavy appetizers during the cocktail hour and keep them flowing until toast time. Your guests will enjoy the non-stop munchies and get their fill without even thinking about dinner.
However, if you do choose to serve a meal, consider offering a buffet or setting up a “build your own bar” with options like tacos, burgers, baked potatoes or salads or have your caterer set up a buffet instead of a sit-down meal.
Depending on the caterer, you could save anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per 100 guests, and you often get more food for the amount you pay, compared with a plated dinner. And in some cases, you can take home leftover trays if there’s a surplus!
9. Use greenery or even artificial, silk flowers.
When thinking about your bridal bouquet, be sure to buy local, in-season flowers with larger blooms or use more greenery to fill in space. If you’re working with a short time-frame, you can also purchase silk flowers at a fraction of the cost that will look just as pretty and will last for many years. In fact, I spotted various silk wedding bouquets on Amazon for just $25-$35 each! Wow!
And, some brides choose to carry a religious symbol instead of a bouquet, like a prayer book with a flower stem placed between the pages (so just a single bloom is showing).
Large floral arrangements can cost a pretty penny. To help cut costs at the reception, consider mixing floral centerpieces with non-floral décor, like lanterns or lights. You can also re-purpose ceremony décor and bouquets on the reception, buffet, or cake tables! Be sure to talk to your florist about how you can reuse your ceremony flowers to get the most bang for your buck.
Hip Tip: Don’t discount Dollar Tree’s floral section! Check out these frugal wedding ideas!
10. Pay with a credit card that offers rewards.
If you’re the type who pays off their card every month, using a credit card to pay for your wedding expenses can help you build up points to use on special offers or rewards like free flights and discounted hotel stays that you can use towards your honeymoon travel expenses.
Additionally, a lot of credit cards offer additional protection in case something happens, so it’s a great idea to pay for large contracts by credit card, even if you pay it off immediately.
Hip Tip: Did you know that Target, Macy’s, Bed, Bath, & Beyond and even Amazon offer fantastic perks and rewards just for creating a registry – including 10-20% off coupons, complimentary gifts, and much more!?
Tying the knot soon? Congratulations!