This One Wedding Trick Will Save You Thousands


Your wedding day should be one of the greatest days of your life. It's a time to celebrate love with your friends and family, a time to create memories that will be shared for many years with you and your loved ones, and — for many — a time to rack up debt to pay on long after the honeymoon is over.

The words "frugal wedding" may conjure up images of guests crammed into a dank basement beneath a church, sipping orange punch, and swaying to a radio. However, frugal doesn't have to mean that you give up on all the wonderful things that make weddings fun. A frugal wedding can be had with as much pomp as an expensive one. (See also: Alternative Wedding Ideas for Big Savings)

And while it's possible to have a wonderful, frugal wedding any time of year, it's easiest in the winter. So consider these options when planning your wedding; maybe a winter one is right for you!

The Venue

The economics of weddings are like that of any business; when there is more demand, the price goes up. In the winter months, when there are fewer weddings, many venues will reduce the cost to rent the space.

Call around multiple places and get quotes comparing January and June dates, you may find a winter wedding is the perfect way to have the wedding in a location you could not otherwise afford. (Note: It's important that you don't confuse "off season" with "high season," especially when it comes to tropical destinations. Spots like Hawaii are actually more expensive during the winter, because that's where everyone goes to flee their cold climates.)

You can also do a search for destination weddings that offer discounts on their website. Many resorts offer their specials online for everyone to see; don't assume, however, that just because you don't see it, they don't offer one. Perks that can also be thrown in during the wintertime include free parking for guests, extra appetizers, or a free suite for the bride and groom. If you don't see the exact perk you want listed as a "freebie" for booking during the winter, ask the reservation manager if they can work you a deal.

The colder the climate, the more likely you are to get a bigger deal. Don't believe me? This bride was able to rent out an entire town for less than the cost of an average wedding.

The Decorations

Consider a non-traditional wedding venue like a lodge at a state park or a large bed and breakfast. These places may have a large window over-looking a beautiful location. Views of a countryside covered in white, a frozen lake sparkling at night, or a rolling hillside could save you money by reducing the amount of decorating you need to do to a location. The views are all the decoration you need, while inside something simple (and inexpensive) could compliment what mother nature has given us for free.

The winter holidays offer further opportunities for you to save money on decorating for your wedding. Many churches (and some venues) decorate for the holidays with evergreens, poinsettias, trees, white lights, and much more. This is a great opportunity for you to have a gorgeous setting for your vows without spending a dime to make it that way. Some are aware of this perk and will go out of their way to decorate in white and neutral tones, to give you a chance to customize by adding your own "accent colors" on the big day.

When you are looking for locations for your big day, ask the pastor, manager, or wedding planner for pictures of how they decorate during the holidays and when those decorations go up and come down. If the decor lines up with your wedding date, you can save hundreds or even thousands on the expense of this complimentary special lighting, garland, and "extras" that aren't available any other time of year.

The Flowers

While weddings usually conjure up images of elaborate floral bouquets, big centerpieces, and maybe even the bride and groom standing under a flower covered chuppah, flowers can be an expensive, budget-busting expenditure. Winter weddings could easily blow any modest budget as most flowers are not in abundance during the cold months. However, the well-planned couple can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars by adapting their image of perfect for their winter wedding.

Rather than using expensive roses, consider items like evergreens, holly, mums poinsettias, and other foliage that is available during the colder months. If the bride is set on red roses in her bouquet just before Valentine's Day, when roses are at a premium, consider using a few but mixing the bouquet with ferns and other green plants.

You can also choose to arrange your own and save even more money. By using elements from nature (pinecones, twigs, twine) combined with seasonal or living plants, you can be assured that your arrangements will last for up to a week, and you can skip the cost of fresh cut flowers set up by a professional. Compare a poinsettia from a local store for $9.99 with a dozen rose bouquet for $20-40, and you can see how the savings can really add up!

The Food

Everyone is less busy in the winter months. Our schedules just naturally slow down when outdoor activities decrease. Kids are on a break from sports, vacations are on hold until the temperature climbs again, and weekends outdoors are limited. This means that you may be able to call on loved ones to help with parts of the wedding that you may not have been able to do during the summer.

When planning for your reception, consider asking your aunt with the great kale salad recipe to make a batch as a gift to you. Your uncle who owns a smoker might be willing to take care of the meat for your entree, and your friends might be willing to make 200 cupcakes for you to use instead of a cake. Many people will be willing to help out to help you save money. They may even feel honored that you asked for that one great recipe they make perfectly and you love so much, you want to have it at your wedding.

If you must go with catering, consider a mid-afternoon "light" luncheon of hot soups and and breads. The cozy, warm-you-up offerings will be perfect on a chilly day, and these types of foods generally cost less and go further.


Don't forget that your guests have to get there, as well. Luckily, the past few years show a strong trend toward airfare being cheaper during the off-season — with the exception of the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Remember that inclement weather can really put a damper on guests trying to get to the wedding on time. Consider having everyone arrive a day early to give them a chance to get there safely, and rest assured that the lower airfare will help offset the investment.

Did you have a winter wedding? Tell us about it in comments!

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