22 Cheap Wedding Ideas on a Budget That Offer Just As Much WOW!
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Use our cheap wedding ideas to have a wedding on a budget without having to sacrifice what you want.
You do KNOT have to compromise on your special day.
We’re sharing wedding ideas on a budget to save on every detail of your day. You won’t sacrifice style with our cheap wedding ideas either.
According to The Knot, the average American wedding costs $30,000. 😱 You’ve likely started to realize just how inflated the industry is if you’ve started jumping into your own wedding planning or helping with a friend’s.
Thankfully, there are a ton of ways you can have a wedding on a budget and still make your special day one to remember. In fact, many of our Hip sidekicks have planned their wedding ideas on a budget so we know they’ll work for you too!
Here are our genius wedding ideas on a budget and how to save money on a wedding:
1. Inexpensive wedding venues are possible when you opt to get married on any day other than Saturday.
Saturday is the most popular day to get married, which means venues will charge a premium. One of the best wedding ideas on a budget is to consider getting married on a Friday, Sunday, or even a Thursday. You’ll get the most bang for your buck. Depending on the venue, you could save a few thousand dollars. Plus, your food and beverage minimums will likely be lower too.
Hip Tip: When sourcing venues, ask what’s included. From tables and chairs to glassware to linens to sound systems. Sometimes the cheapest venue isn’t the best value if you end up paying more to rent all the extras. Be sure to find one that includes everything.
2. The beach is one of our favorite cheap wedding venues and it could potentially be FREE.
The beach is one of the most beautiful places to visit and in case you didn’t know, you can likely get married at your public beach for free too! It’s important to contact the beach you have in mind to set your date and confirm any limitations you may have.
Don’t have a beach? There are plenty of other wedding ideas on a budget and places you can potentially get married for FREE! Just keep in mind some places may ask for a small donation for using their space. Check these places in your area to see if you can get married for free:
- Local park
- Botanical garden
- Warehouse or loft
- Someone’s house or farm
- School or college campus
3. Budget wedding dresses are possible when you buy them at a consignment shop, sample sale, or even rent them.
According to The Knot, the average wedding dress costs $1,900! 😱 And that’s not including alterations! However, you don’t have to make such a huge investment in your dress if you opt for one of our more budget-friendly routes. Still White is a reliable website to shop for gorgeous pre-owned dresses, sample dresses, and even new discounted dresses where you’ll pay a fraction of the cost. It’s also great to shop locally at consignment shops so you can try on the dresses for yourself.
Here are some other places to consider looking for a budget-friendly wedding dress:
- Amazon – buy dresses starting at $11.99 + some you may be able to try before you buy
- ASOS – buy dresses starting at $29
- Borrowing Magnolia – buy dresses starting at $100
- David’s Bridal – buy dresses starting at $59 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
- Tradesy – buy secondhand gowns starting at $100 or less
- Afarose – try wedding dresses at home for just $25
Hip Tip: Consider selling your dress after the wedding by listing it on the sites mentioned above. It’s always nice to put a little money back in your pocket if you don’t plan to one day pass it down.
4. Don’t forget you can rent your other bridal event outfits too!
Our Hip sidekick, Emily, swears by her favorite rental companies for genius wedding ideas on a budget. So much so that she’s planning to rent her bridal event outfits for her 2024 fall wedding. She said you can get so many gorgeous pieces from Nuuly, and it’s only about $100 for 6 pieces to rent for the month!
She loves this idea since she’ll be getting a lot of white dresses and likely won’t wear them afterward. New Nuuly members can usually snag a $20 off promo, and if you have multiple events near each other, you can get all your rentals at once and the cost is under $20 per piece!
You could even potentially win your accessories for FREE…
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, wedding favors, invitations, bridesmaid robes, and much, much more.
5. Book as many wedding dress appointments in one day or weekend as you can to potentially save a couple of hundred dollars on your dress.
Many bridal shops that are by appointment only will have a cancellation fee if you cancel within 24-72 hours. The cancellation fees can range anywhere from $25 to $100 or even more depending on you’re shopping. I accidentally discovered this savings tip when I found my dream dress at my very first bridal appointment but had 4 other appointments I needed to follow through with. Except, the bridal shop where I found my dress offered to PAY for my cancellation fees if I didn’t go to my appointments by deducting the cost from my dress! 😱
With the appointments I had scheduled, I was able to save a couple hundred dollars and the shops never charged me since they were thrilled I found my dress anyways. 🤩 Of course, this tip is only helpful if you actually find your dress. The worst that will happen is you go to all your appointments and don’t pay a dime anyways.
6. Do your own makeup for your wedding day or save on your mandatory makeup and hair trials with our trick.
The best way to save on makeup is to do your own if you’re a low-maintenance bride or know a thing or two about cosmetics.
However, if you’re someone who’d rather not have to stress about doing it yourself, know what costs will be associated with hiring a professional. In most cases, you will be required to have a makeup trial and hair trial done prior to your big day. This could be well over $100 depending on the vendor you booked. One way to save on your trial is to do your trials on the day of your engagement session. Even better, this allows you to kill two birds with one stone if you already planned to have your makeup done for your engagement session.
7. Opt for food trucks or a buffet dinner rather than a served meal to save thousands.
Catering is typically one of the biggest costs of a wedding. We’ve learned from our own experience that opting for more affordable options like food trucks, a buffet dinner, or even a pig roast can save you thousands of dollars. Any of these wedding ideas on a budget will be a much lower price per person. Plus, we’ve heard from past wedding guests that these tend to be the most raved-about foods! Even better, they’re consistently served faster and tend to be hotter too.
You could even consider skipping the formal meal entirely and doing tapas all night or setting up a “build your own bar” with options like tacos, burgers, or baked potatoes. You could even consider having an earlier wedding and serving budget-friendly brunch foods like eggs, waffles, muffins, and more!
8. There are many ways to save on a wedding cake, but nixing it all together can offer the best savings.
There are many wedding ideas on a budget when it comes to the cake. Cupcakes are a much more affordable option to serve at your wedding if you’re not committed to a traditional cake. Most wedding cake bakeries will charge a minimum for cakes, but you can order delicious cupcakes from just about any bakery and pay significantly less. This will also allow you to offer a greater variety to your guests, and they’re more likely to eat them. You can even plan to pick them up yourself so you can save on delivery too.
Still committed to getting a traditional cake? The styrofoam trick is a great way to get cheap wedding cakes…
A big way you can save if you’re still committed to the idea of having a show-stopping cake on your wedding day, is to have it almost entirely made of styrofoam! Many bakeries will offer a significant discount just to put the icing on styrofoam tiers and keep the top cake for the iconic cake-cutting photos. Just keep in mind you’ll still need cupcakes for another dessert your guests can eat. 😉
Better yet, consider ordering a wedding sheet cake from your local grocery store or warehouse club (i.e. Costco) if you’re not set on an extravagant design. We love that vintage-style wedding cakes are coming back as a popular trend and it’s a design nearly any bakery should be able to handle.
As a reminder, 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 if you’re looking to order from a bakery shop. Here are a few more ways to cut down on your cake 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.
- Use a caterer that has cake cutting included – many venues will charge $2-$4 per person JUST to cut the cake so using a caterer that will do this on the house could save a couple hundred dollars.
- Opt for sheet cake – You can also choose to order a small display cake and then serve a large sheet cake to your guests.
9. Save on your bar costs by only offering a limited selection of alcohol.
There are also many wedding ideas on a budget when it comes to the cost of offering a bar. Doing no bar at all will be your biggest savings, but if having alcohol at your wedding is a top priority consider significantly limiting the options. Offering just beer and wine will be your most affordable choices and only offering one or two options will cut costs the most. Even more affordable, offer them in a keg.
If cocktails are another non-negotiable, have your bartender offer just two signature cocktails for guests to choose from that way you’re only paying for one or two types of liquor.
Remember not to stress about the options too much as most people will drink what’s available anyways since it’s free to them. 😉
10. Skip the bridal party altogether to save on many wedding traditions.
Traditionally, there are many costs associated with having a bridal party so skipping one altogether could save you a significant amount. By opting to have your closest friends and family show up as guests and not a part of your wedding you will save on things like proposal gifts, day of gifts, getting ready expenses, bouquets, boutonnieres, flower girl attire, and any costs you may have covered for your bridal party like rentals, dresses, shoes, jewelry and more.
11. Save on a wedding photographer and have them start late and leave early or hire one of their associates for less.
We would NEVER suggest cutting corners on your actual photographer since your photos are all you’ll have left once your day is over. However, there are some ways you can cut costs without sacrificing the quality of the photos you desire to have.
To cut down on photography costs, here are a few ways you can save on your photographer:
- Have them start photographing after you’re already ready. If the getting-ready photos aren’t important to you, you can skip this time of day altogether and jump right into bridal party photos.
- Do a first look as bride and groom. This allows you to save time on photos after your ceremony. Plus, you won’t miss a minute of your cocktail hour either.
- Have your wedding photographer end their day after the first dance. Reception photos can get pretty repetitive once the dance party starts so consider having your photographer leave earlier than usual. You could even consider using disposable cameras to get a POV from the guests that will be more candid anyways! You could even print duplicates and send them off as thank yous too!
- Ask if your photographer has an associate who would be less. In some cases, more established photographers could offer associates who shoot weddings for them. This means they’ll photograph your wedding, but the main photographer will still do the editing. This allows highly sought-after photographers to cater to lower budgets while still giving you the style you desire.
12. Skip a photobooth and offer your own film.
There are so many boujee photobooth options for weddings from photo buses to sleek touchscreen mirrors! Instead of paying $1,000 or more for a trendy photobooth consider putting out an Instax Poloroid-style camera and tons of film. Guests can take a picture and sign as their contribution to the guest book, and take another picture to bring home! Chances are they’ll have just as much fun with it too.
13. Go heavy on balloons and skip the flowers.
Balloons are sure to make a statement on your wedding day and are much more affordable than flowers. In fact, there are so many ways to decorate with balloons these days! You could even consider having someone make a balloon arch as your ceremony arbor. The options are endless and you’ll save big skipping the petals altogether.
14. Bulk up on greenery if you are doing florals or use artificial flowers if you can’t imagine skipping them.
Just about any type of greenery will save you money when you’re comparing it to the cost of flowers. Plus, just one garland takes up way more room than a flower. Consider bulking up your bouquets, table centerpieces, and ceremony arbor with greenery. Baby’s breath is also another affordable trend right now! This will allow you to use minimal flowers or none at all depending on the style you’re after. This could save you hundreds of dollars or even thousands depending on how many spaces you need to decorate.
Opting for in-season flowers is crucial to stay on budget too.
When thinking about your bridal bouquet, be sure to buy local, in-season flowers with larger blooms or use more greenery. If you’re working with a short time frame, you can also purchase silk flowers at a fraction of the cost. They’ll look just as pretty and will last for many years or can be resold. We spotted various silk wedding bouquets on Amazon for just $25-$35 each!
To help cut costs at the reception, consider mixing floral centerpieces with non-floral decor, 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!
15. Pay cash for vendors to take advantage of the biggest discounts.
Almost all vendors will offer some sort of discount if you book early or by simply paying cash so it never hurts to ask! They may even offer a deal if you just saw them at a wedding show. You can also get bundle deals when you book multiple services with one vendor such as your DJ with lighting and a photobooth. I even saved 3% off my wedding dress by paying all at once in cash rather than putting it on a card.
16. Pay with a credit card that offers serious rewards before you pay your vendors.
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. This could include free flights and discounted hotel stays that you can use towards your honeymoon travel expenses! Win, win!
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: Bookmark our travel deals page to score the best deals on your honeymoon!
17. Send free wedding invitations and save the dates by sending them digitally or make cheap wedding invitations and stationery by making them yourself.
The cost of paper invitations and save the dates will really add up especially if you have a large guest list and also need to pay to mail them. The best way to avoid this cost is to do your invites digitally. You could even send your save the dates digitally or skip them altogether if you plan to send out your invitations earlier than usual. Zola and The Knot are the two most popular sites to use where you can set up your free wedding website, collect addresses from your guest list, and send out invitations (& save the dates) electronically.
You can also make your own invitations and other wedding stationary pretty affordably too…
Did you know that you can easily make your own professional-looking announcements, invitations, and other wedding stationary 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!
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.
- Sam’s Club – starting at $0.80 per invitation.
- Shutterfly – starting at $1.49 per invitation.
- The American Wedding – starting at $0.80 per invitation.
- Vistaprint – starting at $1.20 per invitation.
- Walgreens – starting at $0.85 per invitation.
- Zazzle – starting at $0.23 per piece of stationery
18. Be your own DJ (or ask a friend) to save a couple of thousand dollars.
You’ll definitely save money by hiring a single DJ as opposed to a band or asking a friend to do a favor and handle the jams at your wedding! However, if you’re on a super tight budget, see if your venue has a professional built-in sound system. This will allow you to create your own music playlist and put a friend or family member in charge of making sure the beats don’t stop.
More affordable options for wedding ideas on a budget would be to hire a graduate student musician to play at your ceremony or cocktail hour. They’ll likely have more availability and will cost much less than professional DJs.
Hip Tip: Amazon Prime members can score a FREE 4-Month Music Unlimited Subscription!
19. Score cheap wedding decorations on Facebook Marketplace.
Facebook Marketplace should not be overlooked when sourcing the perfect decorations for your day. Nowadays, tons of brides will use this third party to sell many of their items from their wedding once it’s over. Plus, you can almost always get a bundle deal if you’re scooping up more than one of their listed items. Even better, once you’re day is over you can turn around and do the same!
20. Recoup most of your money by investing in decorations and pieces that could easily be resold or rented after your day.
Opt to put “bride and groom” or “Mrs. and Mr.” when designing custom signs for your wedding as opposed to your actual names. This will allow you to resell signage that would have otherwise gone in the trash. As another idea, customize your signs with verbiage that can be removed like Cricut letters or chalk.
When buying items for your wedding, consider splurging on them upfront so you can resell them later and potentially recoup your entire investment. As an example, I paid $400 for TWO champagne walls I found on Facebook Marketplace. They were a bit up front, but I know I can resell them for that much if not more after my wedding! Plus, they’re a highly sought-after item these days so they could potentially be rented for around $200-$300 PER wedding if I have the means to make it work. The same goes for literally any other items brides and grooms are looking for such as table numbers, vases, arbors, and more!
21. Skip the rehearsal dinner altogether.
Traditionally, it’s the groom’s parents who pay for this dinner, but in many modern times brides and grooms are paying for the costs alone. If you’re stressed over the additional cost of a rehearsal dinner, don’t be afraid to skip it completely. There’s no harm in getting together for the rehearsal and seeing your party first thing in the AM to get ready. If you’re having FOMO by following through with these untraditional wedding ideas on a budget then consider inviting everyone out to your favorite bar afterwards. You could make it clear everyone is responsible for their drinks and it will still be much more affordable than dinner.
22. Consider a wedding planner to save on overall costs…and your sanity.
Wedding planners may not be the wedding ideas on a budget you had in mind. However, they’re well-connected and can likely arrange deals with their vendor friends to keep you on your budget. They may seem like quite the expense but it is a total trade-off. Our Hip sidekick, Emily, said one of her friends who has used one said they would have paid 3x as much as they did. Some may also quote you based on anticipated hours, but charge you only for the actual. Our insider friend ended up only paying half what she was originally quoted.
Above all else, a wedding planner’s main goal is for you and your spouse to be completely present on the day you’ve spent many hours planning! Even if you don’t save nearly as much as you hoped, it will be worth the cost alone to enjoy your day and have someone else be the brains.
Tying the knot soon? Congratulations!