By: K.H. Smith
We just got married last year! It was a beautiful day celebrating with family and friends. And importantly, we did not go into debt to pay for it. We live in an expensive area and weddings typically run $25k or more. We just didn’t want to spend that much money on one day, even as special as it was. I want to share with you some ways we cut expenses, so you won’t go broke and still have a beautiful wedding.
Here are some of the ways I was able to cut expenses in my budget and save thousands of dollars…
- Guest list. The size of your guest list will dictate a lot. Bigger venue, more food, more tables (that need centerpieces and table cloths), etc. Be realistic with your guest list. Obviously, you need to decide how many family and friends you want to invite, but smaller is definitely cheaper. We both have big families, so we had 86 guests.
- Bridal Party – the larger the bridal party the more flowers you need, gifts to buy, etc. We opted for no bridesmaids or groomsmen. Just us and my son. We did get corsages for the moms, and boutonnieres for the dads.
- Venue – there are tons of options for venues. Don’t forget about parks and county facilities. They tend to be more reasonable. BUT, consider what is provided and what needs to be bought/rented. If you need to rent tables, linens, a dance floor, and a tent you probably are not saving any money. Same thing applies for backyards as venues. We rented a historic town hall property. It included tables, chairs, and linens.
- Flowers – I took a gamble with flowers and hired a florist off Craigslist. I saved about 50% and she was great! See my bouquet below. I didn’t have a ton of flowers but it was worth it. I did check her references, but it was still a little risky.
- Caterers – Look around, ask around! We opted for a small business that was newer to the wedding scene. The owner had been reviewed on The Knot and had been doing weddings for a few years, but not long enough to be expensive. She also included many extras for no charge, like napkins, and display trays for the appetizers. She was not as polished as some of the other caterers we interviewed, but she was significantly less expensive.
- Bridal gown – I bought my gown new but on clearance. It was less than $500. Also, it fit me perfectly, so I didn’t have to pay for alterations, only a bustle. Check out used wedding gown websites, Ebay, and Craigslist. You can save a ton, but more importantly is that it is as close to fitting you to save on alterations.
- Decorations – We made most of our decorations from aisle runners to centerpieces to napkin rings. Using Craigslist and The Dollar Store to keep costs down. I was able to buy many things and then turn around and sell them for what I paid or even more! I also asked friends/coworkers to help put them together. Bottom line, look at your needs, write them out if you want, and see what can you borrow, buy and resell, or make yourself.
- DJ/Band – obviously a DJ is cheaper for most people, unless you know a band. I hired a DJ off of Craigslist who did a friend’s party. He was ok. I just needed music playing. I gave him suggestions and he played them just fine. He also played the ceremony music. He was bare bones as far as announcements etc. but it worked for us. You could also do an iPod and speakers depending on your venue. You would need someone to man it and also someone to be the MC to make sure people know it’s the first dance, etc.
- Photographer – we opted to have a family member take our photos. His hobby is photography and they turned out pretty darn good!
Overall, I was pleased with how things turned out. I married my best friend, had a great time, made wonderful memories with my friends and family, and I didn’t go into debt to do it! If you have other suggestions for saving money with frugal wedding ideas leave me a comment!