With the average wedding cost topping over $35,000, I’m sure you’re wondering how to save money on wedding expenses. Who wouldn’t?
Although your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, it can also be the most expensive.
Imagine spending the amount that you’d pay in a 4-year college education in one day! Yikes!
The reality is that weddings don’t have to be expensive.
With a little effort and creativity, you can find ways to save on wedding expenses while not taking away from your big day or getting into debt.
I’ve attempted to make things a little easier for you by compiling the ultimate list of ways to save money on wedding expenses. If you apply even some of these tips, you’ll be well on your way to planning your dream day with a smaller price tag!
Here’s how to save money on wedding costs!
20+ Creative Ways to Save Money On Your Wedding
1. Go flowerless
Who says you need flowers for it to be a wedding? Flowers alone can cost you thousands of dollars. Save your allergies an opt for cute accessories instead. You can have your bridesmaids carry clutches, while you carry a brooch bouquet. Nix the floral centerpieces in favor of these unique non-floral wedding centerpiece ideas.
You can also do like Jamie of Mr. Jamie Griffin and his bride. They combined household decorations like flower vases, decorative jars, wood carvings, globes, and pictures of themselves to adorn their table. Meanwhile, Jon from Compounding Pennies and his bride nixed centerpieces altogether. Trust me, unique is the new traditional.
2. Buy flowers wholesale or in bulk
Still want flowers? Stores like Sam’s Club offer bulk floral purchases that you can use to create your own arrangements.
Amy of Daily Successful Living purchased flowers for her daughter’s wedding through Costco and had the bridesmaids and family arrange them for the centerpieces and bouquets. They were able to do it in less than an hour and save over $500 dollars! Not only that, they were able to bond and have fun as a wedding party.
3. Barter services
Depending on your career field or line of business, Leslie Tayne, Esq. of Tayne Law Group suggests bartering services. This simply means trading your services with someone else in a way that’s beneficial for both parties.
Jackie Beck of JackieBeck.com leveraged this idea as a photographer and was able to barter services with her wedding baker. She got a gorgeous cake out of the deal, while the newer baker had images to use on her website for marketing. That’s a “sweet” deal!
According to Jackie, great services to trade could include web design, photography, marketing, social media management, and appointment setting.
4. Get sponsorships
Do you have a large social media following or sphere of influence? Consider reaching out to brands to have them sponsor aspects of your wedding in exchange for some social media posts and a mentions throughout your big day.
Catherine Alford of CatherineAlford.com shares that a modest, but engaged following could get you free or reduced flowers, cake, and more. You just have to ask and be professional about what you’ll offer in return.
Brands sponsor conferences and partner with influencers all the time, so why not for your wedding?
5. Nix the paper and go digital
Everyone is already on their phone anyway, so why not send digital invites? Sure, you may need to send your elderly family members snail mail, but for everyone else—go digital!
Sites like Paperless Post is revolutionizing the way weddings are done with their online invitations. Bethany McCamish of His and Her Fi only paid $30 for each set of 50+ invitations using Paperless Post. She mentioned that they could have been free, but she opted to upgrade for the design that she wanted.
The invite goes straight to your guests’ inbox and they can RSVP immediately (because you know how that goes). While you’re at it, nix the save the date and wedding day program too.
6. Have a morning wedding + breakfast reception
Who says that you have to get married in the afternoon or evening with a sit down dinner reception? No one!
Switch it up and get married in the morning instead. For the reception, have some waffles and bacon—a much cheaper option than steak. Have your family chip in to bring waffle makers and have your guests make their breakfast, hotel style.
7. Rent your dress (and your bridesmaids’ too)
Celebrities rent gowns all the time, so why can’t you? Let’s be honest… You’ll probably never wear your wedding gown again.
Instead, you’ll watch it collect dust in the back of your closet like the rest of us. So, why not rent your gown for the day? Men do this all the time for weddings and I’m all for equality.
8. Have a fake wedding cake
I love a good wedding cake, but the price can be outrageous. Instead of wasting hundreds (or thousands) on your wedding cake, have your baker create your cake with styrofoam layers and only one small layer of actual cake for your cutting ceremony.
According Logan Allec of Money Done Right, you can then bring out pre-cut slices from a sheet cake to feed your guests. In the wedding world, it’s known as a “kitchen cake” and it’ll save you hundreds of dollars!
Not into styrofoam? He also recommends purchasing a small decorative wedding cake for less than $100 from a local bakery or grocery store and using it in combination with the sheet cake.
9. Have a weekday wedding
Getting married on a Saturday is so last year! That’s why Mike Pearson from Credit Take Off suggests that you schedule your nuptials for a Friday. He did and saved several thousand dollars on his wedding reception.
Yes, it may be a little annoying for your guests to have to take a day off of work to attend your wedding, but Friday wedding receptions are generally much cheaper than on Saturday.
10. Get married on a holiday
Your guests will be off work anyway, so why not have your wedding? Andrew from Wealthy Nickel was able to pay half the price for his wedding venue when he got married on Memorial Day. Venues aren’t usually booked for events and wouldn’t mind taking your business at a lower price.
11. Have your guests take pictures
Lance Cothern over at Money Manifesto not only had a morning wedding, but he only hired his photography to shoot photos for the ceremony and a few shots immediately after. Limiting the photographers time saved him and his wife a whopping $2,200!
Still want those reception photos? Invest in a few Polaroid cameras per table and sit them out with instructions for the guests to take photos with them. After the reception is over, collect the cameras in a basket and have them developed!
12. Have your guests capture video
Videographers can be expensive, so why not leverage your guests? Have your guests send you video snippets that they captured from the wedding to put into a free online video maker & editor. There are tons of free templates that you can leverage to compile your clips into one grand wedding video.
13. Create an iTunes playlist in lieu of a DJ
Don’t have funds for a DJ? Create an iTunes playlist with your favorite songs to play throughout the reception.
All you need is a laptop, some speakers (from the venue perhaps), and someone from your bridal party to hit pause or play when necessary. You could even have your guest submit song requests ahead of time so that it can be included in your playlist.
14. Stick to one venue
Tara from Midwest Miser was able to save a few dollars by keeping her ceremony and reception at the same location. By doing so, she didn’t have to pay for two venues or the transportation costs in between.
According to Riley Adams of Young and the Invested, you should choose a venue that includes everything that you need and nothing extra. He and his wife chose a package deal that best suited their needs, saving them lots of time and money.
15. Let nature be your decor
Instead of doing a traditional indoor wedding, Jarek from Time in the Market recommends that you use the outdoors to your advantage.
By getting married outside in the fall, they were able to use the fall foliage as decoration. Also, instead of the traditional flower bouquet, his bride had one made of sola wood—a beautiful alternative to flowers that can also be a keepsake.
16. Design & print your own stationary
If you don’t go paperless, at least use the free resources available to design and print your own stationery. Instead of paying $500-$1,000 for a graphic designer, DJ Vann of Pennies to Wealth and his wife designed their own invitations and programs.
There are a plethora of free tools, like Canva, that have templates already designed for you! Just drop in your photos, change the colors, and viola! You’ve now become a graphic designer.
You can have them printed through the site or download the file and it to your local print shop.
17. Keep it small
When Robert Gale of Real Money Robert and his wife got married, it was just the two of them. You may not go as small as he did, but try having an intimate wedding with just your immediate family and closest friends.
There’s no need in wasting money on people that you haven’t talked to in months or years and probably won’t talk to later. Save the coins and keep it small and intimate.
18. Save the reception for later
You will quickly discover that the bulk of your wedding expenses will be incurred from your reception. With the cost of food, drinks, decor, favors and everything in between, it can become quite pricey.
Save the reception for later! It doesn’t have to be a grand affair. Just a nice gathering with friends and family without the price tag of a wedding.
Award-winning personal finance journalist Cameron Huddleston and her husband did this 19 years ago and it still works today! A few months after having a small beach ceremony, they had a low-key (yet fun) reception at a family friend’s home. Not only did it save them money, but it kept them from getting into debt for their wedding.
19. Make it a destination wedding
Jamaica anyone? Melissa Blevins of MelissaBlevins.com and her husband decided to exchange vows in Montego Bay, Jamaica. With the guests paying for their own travel and stay, they were able to only spend $5,000 for their big day–including Melissa’s gown, airfare, and accommodations.
There are tons of all inclusive destination wedding packages available for a fraction of traditional wedding costs. These weddings tend to be smaller due to the nature of guests having to pay for their own way. Nonetheless, they can turn it into a nice vacation. That’s a win in my book!
20. Get married out of town
Dr. Adebayo Fasanya of Dr. Breath Easy Finance suggests that you be open to traveling a short distance to a smaller town or the outskirts of a larger city for your wedding. He and his bride opted to get married in a smaller town, which brought down their costs considerably.
Out of town weddings may also deter guests from attending due to the traveling. This could ultimately reduce your guest size, therefore cutting the cost of food and other items.
21. Bake your own cake
For his wedding, Brando Renfro from BrandonRenfro.com, went with a homemade blackberry cobbler instead of a groom’s cake. The blackberries were wild, so it only cost a few dollars for the other ingredients and the time to make it.
Why not purchase the ingredients for your cake and have a friend or family member bake a delicious cake for you?
22. Have a dessert and coffee reception
Several years ago, I attended a wedding that had a dessert and coffee reception. The reception space was filled with beautifully decorated treats, drinks, and coffee.
It didn’t take away from the fun nor the elegance of the wedding! Just let your guests know ahead of time and let them plan to have a group dinner elsewhere!
23. Go virtual
Virtual everything has become commonplace these days. Weddings haven’t been exempt.
Consider having a virtual extravaganza and save on all of the traditional wedding related costs.
Final thoughts on how to save money on wedding costs
Weddings don’t have to be costly! There are many creative ways that you can leverage to save money on wedding expenses. You simply have to be ok with being creative and non-traditional.
Lastly, don’t forget to negotiate. Attorney Leslie Tayne notes that you may be able to negotiate for a lower price, especially if you are using one provider for multiple aspects of your wedding. Everything is negotiable.
Even if some vendors may not budge on pricing, they will be more than willing to work with you to keep your business. Let them know what your needs are and work together to create a plan that benefits both parties.