7 Ways to Save Money on a Wedding

7 Ways to Save Money on a Wedding

“But it’s your special day.”

Ah yes, the siren song of wedding vendors and bridezilla wranglers everywhere, luring victims into dropping $60 per table centerpiece or $5000 on a dress that gets worn once.

This one phrase has been slowly morphing weddings, especially receptions, into the biggest waste of money out there.  The average American couple now spends over $25,000 on a wedding, according to first hit on Google www.costofwedding.com (seems legit).

I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.

When I got married in 2012, I ignored the rallying cry of the wedding vendors.  When a florist or a photographer would ask what the theme of my wedding was, I would say “cheap.”

“Do you want green silk napkins or white ruffled napkins?”

“I want the free ones.  The free normal white napkins you provide for normal events.”

I was able to have a traditional church wedding with a reception and 100 guests for under 5 figures, putting me way below the American average.

Below are my suggestions for how you too can save money on a wedding and put it towards, you know, your actual marriage:


This or a courthouse wedding is truly the best option if your family/cultural background/religion allows it.  Now for the rest of us:

2. Hold it in the off-season or mid-afternoon

This is probably the biggest way to cut down on reception costs.  Venues and services can get competitive in the spring and early summer months, so look into a less busy time of your to book your venue.

I had my own wedding in April which is still peak wedding season, but I was able to cut way down on costs by putting my reception at 2 in the afternoon between meal times.  Our caterer originally wanted us to have an $80 per head blowout with appetizers, dinner, dessert (in addition to the obligatory cake?), a random coffee bar and an open bar serving an average of 8 drinks per person. 

Yes, eight drinks per person, because the AVERAGE person (including kids and the elderly) was apparently going to get TRASHED.

By holding it in the afternoon, we were able to get away with just appetizers, finger foods, and the obligatory cake.  We did do an open bar, but kept it beer/wine/soft drinks only.  This also perpetuated an odd rumor that we were having a fully dry wedding, so our friends also showed up with their own drinks as well, conveniently keeping costs down.

3. Limit the guest list

Now that you’ve figured out a way to keep the cost per person down, keep down the number of people.

I come from a giant family, so we had to implement rules to keep the guest list down.  We did things like not doing plus ones except for the engaged/married.  We didn’t extend invitations out to second cousins and kept coworker invites to a minimum.

4. Use the “3 quote rule” for choosing vendors

My husband and I come from industrial science/engineering backgrounds, and typically when looking for a service or bidding out a contract, we are required to get at least 3 different quotes before picking a service provider.

We applied this same rule to our wedding.  We got quotes from 3 photographers, 3 florists, 3 caterers, 3 cake bakers, tried on dresses at 3 shops, etc.

Never just stop at one vendor.  Even if your first stop seems “perfect” something that is “more perfect” may be out there.

5. Get crafty

I am not a crafty person or someone who is gifted in any way in the visual arts.  If I put burlap around a mason jar, it will look like trash and not something fun and decorative.

I did manage to do a few DIY projects for the wedding.  I made our own favors (candy in a bag), and put together some $5 centerpieces by putting a floating candle in a vase on top of a mirror with fake rose petals.

Find your own way to work in some DIY projects for your wedding, but don’t overwhelm yourself.

6. Avoid the wrong “W” word

If you search for something to buy using the word “wedding” you will likely get an order of magnitude markup.  Search for a “white candle” and you will find one for $3. Search for a “wedding candle” and it will be $30.

Again, weddings are everyone’s “special day” that come along with a “special day” markup.  Whenever you can in the wedding planning process, substitute items not specifically designated for weddings for ones that are.

One of our friends actually saved money on their venue by getting quotes for events that weren’t weddings, then booking it for the wedding and using the venue’s previous quotes against them.

“So your parent’s golden anniversary party will be $XXX.”

“Little Joey’s bar mitzvah will be $XXX.”

“OOOH, a wedding, very special event.  Holding it here will cost $XXXX.”

7. Keep it in perspective

Overall while keeping costs down for a wedding it’s helpful to keep a reasonable mindset.  Will anyone notice what the cake cutter looks like?  Does anyone care about the color of the tablecloths?

And does anyone actually get excited about wedding food?  If you go the full dinner route, I doubt anyone will want to remember their overdone prime rib and boiled squash medley.

Don’t spend on the tiny details.  All those wedding mementos may look nice in photos, but realistically they will also be taking up room in your closet for the next 6 years.

Think about what really matters 5, 10, 20 years from now.  Yes, like your actual marriage, not the wedding day itself.

Readers, are you currently planning a wedding or are already married?  What steps did you take to save money?  Comment below!

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