How to Save Big on Everything for Your Wedding

By Beth Braverman on 6 June 2017 0 comments

For most people, their wedding is one of the most important days of their lives. In many cases, it's also one of the most expensive. With a little planning, though, you can still have everything you want for your special day, affordably. Here are over 25 ways to save big for your big day.

The general stuff

Cutting costs starts with the basics.

1. Get the right credit card

One of the best tools to use for paying for and saving on your wedding is credit cards. No, not to borrow more than you can afford and end up paying thousands in interest charges. But to use them to save money and get rewards. There are three main strategies for using credit cards to pay for your wedding: Getting big bonuses and earning rewards for cash or travel, getting a zero interest loan in the form of 0% APR on purchases for a limited time, and paying off purchases with a 0% interest balance transfer card. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Travel Rewards)

In order for any of these strategies to work, you must commit to paying off your balance each month (for the rewards to actually be worthwhile), or make a plan to pay off the balance within the intro period to save on interest. Otherwise, you'll end up paying much more for your wedding than you anticipated due to the high interest charges.

2. Be flexible on timing

September, October, and June are the most popular months to get married, according to The Knot, so avoid those months for better prices. You can cut your costs further by staying away from Saturday night dates and evening weddings in general.

3. Pare the guest list

The easiest way to shave expenses across the board is to invite fewer people to your party. A smaller guest list means you'll be able to book a smaller venue, buy less food and alcohol, and hire less help. Start by eliminating anyone you haven't spoken to in more than six months, and be firm about not inviting "plus-ones" that you don't know.

4. Eliminate the bridal party

One of the latest wedding trends, according to Pinterest's 2017 Wedding Report, is doing without wedding attendants. Getting rid of (or shrinking) your bridal party means the focus is solely on you and your beloved. What's more, you don't have to pay for flowers, gifts, or other expenses for them.

5. Tap your network

Have a friend that does calligraphy or an uncle who's an amateur photographer? Ask them whether they'd offer their services for your wedding at cost or in lieu of a gift.

The venue

You don't have to break the bank to find a nice place to say "I do."

6. Consider nontraditional locations

Choosing a venue other than a banquet hall or hotel can add personality to your party, and cut costs at the same time. Research low-key outdoor locations such as a state or national park or renting out your favorite restaurant for the night.

7. Combine the wedding and reception

Having both the ceremony and the party at the same place will cut out one of your rental fees as well as the cost of transportation from one place to the next. Plus, it's easier and less stressful for everyone.

8. Compare apples to apples

When shopping around for a venue, be sure to ask exactly what's included in the rental fee, and if there are any extra costs, such as extra fees for cake-cutting or corkage if you're bringing your own wine. Knowing what's covered will help you make an informed decision about which venue offers the best value.

9. Consider a destination

While destination weddings typically cost more for guests to attend, they can be fairly cost-effective for the couple. Many all-inclusive resorts offer relatively low-cost wedding packages in which most of the planning is already done for you. Given the cost and commitment of attending the wedding, fewer guests will attend, keeping your costs down even further.

The music

It's not a wedding without awkward dancing.

10. Get a smaller band

The cost of a live band varies depending on the type of music and where you live, but no matter what, you'll pay more for a bigger band. Cutting down the size of your band from 10 pieces to six or eight will significantly reduce the price, and your guests probably won't notice the difference.

11. Opt for a DJ

A good DJ will be just as great at getting people onto the dance floor as a band, and you'll only have to pay one person. They'll also likely be able to play every song on your list and take requests, no matter how obscure.

12. Go the playlist route

Creating your own playlist for the wedding lets you eliminate the cost of a DJ entirely, and gives you total control over the music that's played. Ask a guest to handle the emcee duties, such as introducing you and announcing the cake-cutting. Ask someone else to hit "play" and "pause" at the appropriate times, and let the playlist handle the tunes. Just makes sure to scope out the sound system ahead of time to make sure you're able to hook into the available speakers.

Food and drink

Your guests will expect something to eat — but they won't expect it to be Michelin star.

13. Skip the sit-down dinner

Serving food buffet-style reduces the cost of the meal, since you need to hire fewer servers. Plus, buffets give guests more menu options, as well as a chance to mingle at the food stations with people who aren't sitting at their table.

14. Count the kids

If you're having children at your wedding, ask the caterer whether they offer a kids' meal. Most will provide something like chicken or pizza at a per-plate cost that's significantly lower than what they're charging for adult food.

15. Truck it in

Hiring a few local food trucks can be a fun and easy way to feed guests at a more casual, outdoor wedding. You'll want to bring in a few trucks in order to offer variety and ensure that guests aren't spending too much time standing in line.

16. Serve a sheet cake

Rather than splurging on a fancy tiered cake, purchase a small, decorated round cake for you and your spouse to use for the cake-cutting ceremony. Keep a cheaper supermarket sheet cake in the kitchen to serve to the guests. The quality and taste will be the same, and most will never know the difference.

Photography

Memorialize the occasion with affordable photos — not big credit card balances.

17. Set time limits

Cut the costs of your videographer and photographer by limiting the time that they're actually on-site and shooting. Skip the pre-wedding formal photos, and let the photographer or videographer finish up after the cake cutting. You'll have candid photos that capture the essence of the ceremony and reception.

18. Forget the photo booth

Eight in 10 couples who got married last year installed a photo booth for guests to take keepsake photos. Go old school instead and put a few disposable cameras on your tables for guests to use for snapping pictures.

Decor

Bright, cheery, and cheap should be your strategy with wedding decor.

19. Go with large, seasonal flowers and lots of greens

Local, seasonal flowers will cost less since there will be no shipping charge for your florist. Using large flowers (like hydrangeas or peonies) accented with greens allows you to get a bigger look while purchasing fewer blooms.

20. Dry it out

Dried flowers cost considerably less (and last considerably longer) than their fresh cousins. They make great bouquets or centerpieces for a wedding with a vintage feel.

21. DIY

Avoid the florist altogether and make your own centerpieces (get inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram). The dollar store is a great, low-cost resource to stock up on vases, votive candles, and other accessories for your tables.

Clothing and accessories

Why spend a ton on something you'll only wear once?

22. Rent your dress (or accessories)

Grooms have been renting their tuxes for years. Now, thanks to websites such as RentTheRunway, brides can also avoid forking over a fortune for an outfit they're only going to wear one time. Renting your dress allows you pay a fraction of the garment's cost while wearing real designer clothes on your wedding day.

23. Look for a non-bridal dress

Hit up your favorite dress store to see whether there are any off-the-rack white dresses that could serve as a wedding dress without the monster price tag. Or forget about white altogether and simply look for a dress you love that you might be able to wear again.

24. Something old, something new-to-you

Most people only wear their wedding dress once, so it's possible to find secondhand gowns that are in great condition. In addition to Craigslist and eBay, check out PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, where you can find designer dresses for up to 75 percent off. (It's also a good site to keep in mind after your wedding, since you may be able to sell your gown for some extra cash.)

Invitations

You'll need to send more than a bunch of text messages to invite your guests — but not much more.

25. Skip save-the-date cards

Your biggest VIP guests probably already have your wedding date committed to memory. Use a site like Evite to send online save-the-date notifications to everyone else, or simply send out an email blast. You'll avoid the expense of printing and shopping for an additional set of cards on top of your invitations.

26. Think minimal

The bells and whistles of formal wedding invitations (letterpress printing, envelope lining, response cards, tissue paper) add up quickly. Skip the extras and select a simple design that can fit on a single card. If there's additional information you want to convey, direct guests to your website.

27. Design them online

Use a site like TinyPrints to select from dozens of templates, rather than paying someone to design the invitation for you. Then, you can order hard copies of the invitations and mail them out, or cut your costs even further by sending them digitally to your guests.

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