Bridezilla, be gone—it’s the age of the budget bride. Rather than plan the most extravagant wedding day possible, budget brides crunch numbers and cut corners wherever they can. Fortunately, cut corners don’t have to show on the actual day of the wedding if you’re making smart snips to your big-day plans. Below, you’ll find 19 of the best ways to ensure that your wedding will be equally beautiful and budget-conscious.
1. Decorate on a Dime
When selecting flowers for bouquets, choose those that are in-season to cut costs. Then after the ceremony, place the bouquets on the guests’ dining tables as part of the centerpieces, which can get pricey. Of course, you can also cut flowers from your budget altogether and decorate instead with cheaper candles, luminary bags and paper lanterns, for example.
2. Borrow Things, Too
Turns out the cliché about “something borrowed” can save you some money, too. You should ask around for items and reuse them. The staff at your venue probably has plenty of basic decor items lying around, such as romantic string lights or candleholders. You can also ask friends who have recently had weddings or big parties if they have anything available. Even if you have to pay a small price, it’ll be a lot less than buying everything new.
3. Plan in Advance
You can also get your decorations at a steal if you buy them during the off-season. Craft stores like Michael’s will have discounts on wedding decor during the winter, so hit them up well in advance of your big day. You can also check out Craigslist, yard sales and other secondhand shopping opportunities to purchase used centerpieces if you have enough time on your hands.
4. Say Yes to a Few Guests
Your wedding will be one of the most special days of your life, so why do you want to share it with your parents’ work associates? It’s true that many wedding invites are sent to appease family members or social norms, but it’s your day. Invite only who you want to witness your union to your partner; it’s an intimate pledge, after all. The fewer people that are invited, the lower your total cost will be, and the more time you can spend sharing your moments with the ones you love most.
5. Seek Discounted Dresses
If you’re a bride to be, then you probably have a vision of your dream dress. There’s no shame in this vision, but you shouldn’t let it break the bank, either. You can find plenty of gorgeous designer gowns that have been gently used on sites like eBay; perhaps you can find your wedding-day look at a steal without sacrificing style. You could also try on white bridesmaid’s dresses if you really want to save and don’t mind going a bit unconventional.
The accessories can also cost an arm and a leg if you buy a premade veil. Instead, buy the fabric on your own and have it sewn up at a fraction of the cost.
6. Make Your Own Food
Is your fiancé’s family known for their delicious home cooking? If so, enlist the best chefs to help you cater the wedding. Preparing your own food will slash a huge expense.
Not everyone has the luxury of a culinarily gifted family, though. In that case, try to hire a local family-owned restaurant to cater your big day. They’re typically more conscious of your budget and will do what it takes to make your foodie visions come true.
7. Stick to One Location
Many wedding planners schedule one location for the ceremony and another for the reception, but that extra coordination comes at a cost. Slash your budget by finding a space that’s suitable to host both parts of your wedding. If you want to get married in a church, check out the facilities to see if there’s an on-site banquet hall that would work for the reception as well. Your guests will be happy to stay in one place, too.
8. Give a Shout Out
You’re probably not a celebrity, but you can still have a few wedding sponsors. Many merchants will give you a discount on their services if you advertise them to your guests. Place a vendor card at each place setting so that guests know where they can find the same service in the future. It’s discrete, and often enough to appease business owners.
9. Flower Power
We previously mentioned to pick in-season flowers to cut costs. You can further your budgetary bliss by enlisting the help of your bridal party to build the bouquets. Don’t be intimidated to do it, either; you can’t mess up a single bouquet made of one or two flower varieties.
10. Invites on You
Today’s technology makes it possible to create high-quality wedding invitations in the comfort of your own home. Buy beautifully printed paper or pick up an invitation-making kit from a craft store. Type all of the information – and edit it a few times for accuracy – in a font that’s not too frilly. Then, print, stamp and mail: Recipients will be none the wiser.
11. Class-y Music
Many brides want live music to accompany them as they float down the aisle, but professional musicians can charge a pretty penny for their art. Call a local university’s music department to see if there are any students who are able to play or sing at your ceremony. They’re in school for music, so they’ve clearly got the skills; you’ll also be helping them out with resume credentials. That’s a win-win! On a similar note (pun intended), you can also ask friends or family members who are musically inclined if they can be part of your big day.
12. iPod Power
Your DJ doesn’t have to be more than a few inches tall. Save hundreds of dollars by creating your own wedding playlist on an iPod or other device, plug it in and voila. You get to hear everything that you want on your special day (which is great if you want to plan every detail of your wedding) and you and your partner will have fun creating the list, too. Your guests won’t complain about not having to do the funky chicken or the electric slide at your reception, trust me.
13. Speaker Up
In a similar vein, you can find your wedding sound equipment at a steal. If you’re lucky enough to have a stereo system at home, bring it to the venue; or you can ask a close family member or friend to borrow theirs for the day. You might also be lucky enough to find a venue that has speakers for you to use that are included in the price. Either way, you can turn up the volume without turning up the price.
14. Think Outside of the Banquet Hall
Image source: Intimate Weddings
Not all weddings have to be held in spaces designed specifically to host weddings. In fact, if you find a place that’s not likely to host big parties regularly – think museums, parks, libraries, etc. – you could book it at a much smaller price than a place that’s jam-packed with weddings all season long. As an added bonus, your wedding photos will be unique.
15. Check Your Calendar
Most parties take place on Saturdays. Plan your wedding for a Friday or Sunday instead, and you’ll save big bucks on the location because it’s not in high demand. The same goes for the time of day that your wedding takes place. Dinner catering costs much more than, say, a brunch, appetizer hour or even a nice lunch. Having an early wedding might also prevent you from having to pay extra lodging costs before leaving for your honeymoon, as is often the case with late weddings. Pick the day and time that fits best with your budget.
16. Save Bucks on a Tux
Women’s fashion isn’t the only place to cut corners. Grooms and groomsmen probably don’t need to buy brand-new tuxes for your wedding day. Renting them is extremely cost-effective, especially if all of the guys do so at the same outfitter. If tuxedos are too formal, have all of them wear black suits for a uniform look that they probably already have in their closets. One extra-frugal idea is to wear nice dress shirts and just ensure that the party wears matching ties. That can take the cost from $100 or more per person all the way down to around $20.
17. Don’t Say Wedding
Telling merchants that you’re planning your wedding can mean that they hike up the prices of their services. Be vague when asking the price of, say, a catered meal for 100 people or a cake for a formal occasion. Once you have your price estimates, you’ll have a ballpark range for the service’s face value. Sure, it might cost a touch more once you admit that it’s for a wedding and the merchant knows that it’ll be a bit more work, but at least you’ll be able to save on exorbitantly overpriced services.
18. Ask for Help
Your family and friends will surround you on your wedding day. Don’t forget that these are the people you love most, and vice versa. They’ll be willing to help you as you plan your wedding, and they’ll certainly be around to pitch in on the big day. If you have qualms with asking for them to do so, replace your wedding-gift list with a favors list. They’ll provide the assistance you need, and you will save big.
19. Read All of the Fine Print
Don’t let yourself get distracted when you see green. The cheapest venue, for example, might not come with what you need to make it wedding-ready. If it’s not stocked with linens, flatware, plates, chairs, lighting, etc., you might be better off in the long run if you spring for a place that’s a little bit costlier but more inclusive. By reading the fine print and asking all of the questions you need to ask, you’ll walk down the aisle stress-free, as you should.
Expenses Don’t Stop on the Wedding Day
We hope that these tips help make your big day memorable in all the right ways–not a lingering expense that plagues you for months or years to come. But even if you pull off a classy budget wedding (and we know you will), keep in mind that this is only the beginning. Finances can be challenging early on, and if you need help with your credit, student loans or housing situation, remember that we are here.