Budget wedding (ideas for saving costs)

posted 3 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
11300 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

As someone who is on a small budget and two weeks from the wedding: elope.

I’m not joking. I really wish we had.

Anyway. For 85 people (which includes us, the bridal party, the photographers, and our guests), we’re spending about $9500, which includes the dress/shoes, his tux, and our rings. It also includes our all-inclusive reception venue (but not alcohol, because we’re doing consumption service), and also a s’mores bar (which is totally frivolous).

Dress: actually, my FMIL paid for most of my dress, but it was a $700 Venus dress. Mori Lee has LOTS of dresses under $1000, David’s Bridal has some gorgeous dresses, as well, OR you can always go with a replica site. We used Dressilyme for our bridesmaids dresses and they turned out gorgeous.

Photography: booked a wonderful local photographer (without looking at anyone else/other prices) whose work is beautiful and prices are very low.

Flowers: purchased from FiftyFlowers.com (but check your local Costco/Sam’s Club, or even grocery stores!) for $220, FMIL’s friend is putting them together for us.

Favors: skip ’em. My grandma offered to do ours, so I let her, and she’s making edible chocolate suckers. 

Food: using the caterers that come with our reception venue–$24/pp buffet.

Music: using the DJ that comes with our venue. Ceremony music (all two songs) will be done on an iPod with borrowed speakers, run by my MOH’s fiance.

Decor: all DIY. Saved up wine bottles and painted them, bought cheap runners, lots of frames and votive holders from the Dollar Tree (for seating chart, table numbers, etc.), borrowed milk glass pieces, designed a lot of decor/table numbers/seating chart/menus/etc. myself and printed them off. Also, paint.

Invitations: envelopes from envelopemall.com (only because I was picky), designed all of the paper goods myself and printed through Vistaprint using Groupons. I believe our total for 80 each save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards, reception cards, and thank you cards came to around $70.

Cupcakes: done by a family member.

Officiant: we kind of splurged on this because we wanted someone who understood our vision, and this local officiant couple has been wonderful. If there’s someone you’d like to officiate for you, they can get ordained online for pretty cheap.

Ceremony venue: rented a local amphitheatre, which includes seating, for $140. We made a backdrop, and will be purchasing some planters to anchor it, and bought an old frame at Goodwill for $4, painted the glass with chalkboard paint, and will be writing out the program on that. 

IF you’d like to have a small ceremony, does anyone in your family have some nice property that they’d allow you to use? Our backdrop wasn’t hard or expensive to make (used wood). You could borrow tables and chairs from a church, if anyone’s a member. Purchasing your own linens can be cheaper than renting (plus you can resell). You can get catering from a local restaurant–so many of them will cater (and love to cater) events, at a much lower cost than a traditional reception venue.

Post # 4
1068 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

Would a Friday or a Sunday date work for your guest list?  My *personal* belief is that Sundays are as convenient as Saturdays for guests who are travelling more than 4 hours or so–they’re probably going to take Friday off for a Saturday wedding, so why not take a Saturday-Monday trip?

Post # 5
8847 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA

Dress – buy something on sale at David’s, something pre-owned, or do what I did and buy a white evening gown from a department store.  You can order online and try on a ton at your own house – send back whatever you don’t like.  I ended up with a perfect lace sheath from Macy’s for $120.  (This only works if you don’t want a super poofy or fit n flare type gown.)

Food and drink – have it somewhere that you can bring in your own caterer and alcohol.  Do a tasty buffet from a local restaurant.  Just serve beer and wine, that’s plenty.

Flowers – do you know people who like to garden?  Do DIY flowers from gardens.  Or order flowers wholesale or from your local grocery store and arrange them yourself.

Favors – really not necessary. 

Music – iPod mix is totally fine and just as fun.

Just be aware that a DIY-style wedding, like some of these tips above, is definitely more work and stress.

@jdhall89:  +1 on Sunday wedding if it’s cheaper than Saturday.

Post # 6
304 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Dress- I bought an off the rack sample for a very discounted rate.

Decor- All DIY

Photographer- I have a friend who does wedding photography for really cheap so we’re using her… But I have another friend who just asked a few friends with nice cameras to do their photos. She was really happy with the way they turned out even though they werent by professionals.

Food- Since our reception is at my school, my school can cater all our food. I had friends recently who got a sandwich platter from Costco and their friends made salads.

Flowers- We’re ordering bulk and arranging them ourselves. 

Music- We’ve asked two friends to emcee and are just doing an iPod mix.

For our rehearsal dinner, friend’s of my fiance’s parents have opened up their home and are making lasagnas. I’m just sharing that because you or your families may know someone who can open up their home or backyard for your reception. When my dad got remarried they did the ceremony and reception in a friend’s backyard and it was really beautiful.

Post # 7
606 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

We’re cutting back on a lot but our wedding is still expensive but it’s much less than the average for our are, which is a lot!

Dress – I bought a sample for $400.  If you we4ar a street size 4-10, I’d highly recommend looking in to sample sales. 

Photographer – Cut down on hours.  We’re not doing getting ready or sendoff shots. That cut a couple of hours from our package.

Flowers – we plan to DIY all of our flowers

Venue – we chose a venue that doesn’t have a rental fee, only food and beverage minimum

Food and drink – we’re having a Saturday lunch reception.  This is our biggest cost saver.  Apps and drinks will cost the same as for dinner but the entrees are about half the price at lunch at our venue. 

Transport – our wedding and reception are at the same place so we don’t have to worry about getting us, the wedding party or our guests to and from.

Invitations – I bought a deal on Giltcity.com for Wedding Paper Divas and used it to purchase all of my invites for half price.  In the past they’ve also had deals for Minted and I always see Living Social deals for Vista Print. 

Rehearsal – we’re not having a rehearsal dinner.  We’re just going to order sandwich platters and sides from my favorite lunch spot and set the food out at the venue where we’re rehearsing. 

Post # 8
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

@ontbride:  Being a budget bride takes some patience and extra research but I promise it’s worth it and just because it’s a budget wedding doesn’t mean it has to look cheap.  Figure out what things are essential to your wedding day, what you must have versus what you would like to have, and go from there.  For us, we wanted to entertain our closest friends and family but not break the bank so we splurged on renting a private beach house and then cut the budget in other areas.

Venue: this is where we splurged and spent half of our budget but we did get to rent the beach house for the week leading up to the wedding, giving us plenty of time to plan and decorate for the wedding, as well as a few days after the wedding so we have time to clean up; renting the beach house for the week cost only slightly more than renting any of the private halls for 6 hours so we get a mini-vacation for the cost of our wedding day; not to mention I get to lay on the beach and relax for the week leading up to our wedding; we’re getting married on the beach behind the house and then holding the reception in the backyard between the beach house the dunes of the beach

Photography: we got lucky on this by finding an up and coming photographer on Craigslist who had a great small portfolio on her personal website and was looking to build her business; we were able to book her for her 2012 prices which were $500 for 4 hours, an assistant photographer, and a disc with the images and full rights to print the images

Dress: I ordered my dress in a custom size (to avoid alterations) for $161 including shipping costs from Dressilyme; it comes in next week and I will post my review of it as soon as I have a chance to try it on; if you watch Dressilyme they run sales a few times a year; the dress that I liked at the bridal salon was $799 plus tax and it would need additional alterations to fit me properly so I would have spent around $1000 on it

Tux: FI is actually wearing a custom white linen suit which are ordering from Studiosuits.com for around $100 within the next few days; I will post a review once it comes in; bear in mind that if you order from them that many reviews note that custom items come in slightly small so it’s better to order slightly larger and have it altered if necessary (men’s alterations are pretty cheap in my experience with local tailors)

Flowers: DIYing roses from Sam’s Club at under $100 for 125 stems; I cut down on the amount of flowers we needed by cutting out bouts for the groomsmen/dads and corsages for the moms; we are only doing my bouquet, 3 bridesmaid bouquets, and 10 centerpieces; depending on how they look I may also get some filler from the local grocery store which sells bunches of flowers 3 for $12; floral tape, pins and ribbon to wrap the bouquets is costing me less than $20

Favours: Easy, None, we decided not to spend $50+ on knick nacks that would most likely get thrown away; plus we have been to lots of weddings where food favors are forgotten or intentionally left on the tables

Food: ordering trays of BBQ by the pound from a local BBQ restaurant; this is costing us less than half the price of having the same restaurant cater our reception ($600 vs $1300) and all we have to do is set up warming trays which I found at Party City for under $40; we also hired a friend to be the day of coordinator so he can set out the buffet and at $100 we are still saving money over the catering costs

Alcohol: we are saving here by purchasing booze on the local base through my stepdad who is retired from the military and setting up our own bar; there will be coolers of beer, soda, and water, as well as bottles of wine, vodka, rum, and whiskey along with standard mixers; this works at our site but you might want to check local liquor laws before committing to DIYing your bar to make sure you aren’t breaking any laws

Music: Spotify “DJ”; if you can afford a DJ awesome; if not, definitely consider setting up playlists using Spotify; it’s a free service with commercials (or $40 a month without commercials and you can cancel at any time); we created playlists for our ceremony music, cocktal music, and reception music; the only band that was missing from Spotify that disappointed us was AC/DC; we purchased speakers and a cordless microphone for our laptop from Amazon

Rentals: don’t forget rentals because they can break your budget if you’re not careful; we budgeted $200 and spent just a little over it just renting tables and chairs for the ceremony and reception because we also had to pay for delivery and pick up; calculate your rentals and then see if the company will throw in additional rentals for free or a discounted rate (this works best if you are getting married during the time of year when they are least busy); we cut down on rentals by using linen-like paper tablecloths which photograph great and cost less than $3 each (rentals were $10+ each), paper napkins, and plastic plates/utensils

Decor: I am DIYing our centerpieces which are being made with the flowers from Sam’s, buckets and tea lights I got from Ikea, and seashells & starfish I bought from an online seashell company; they are costing me less than $15 per centerpiece; I also ordered lanterns from Luna Bazaar but we haven’t decided what part of the reception they are going to decorate

Cake: we are ordering cupcakes and a small round cake to cut from the local grocery store (I love Publix cakes!!!) and since it’s not a “wedding” cake, we are spending less than $80

Going with a casual beach BBQ theme allowed us to cut down on the “fancy-ness” of the event and thereby save money.  We went into planning wanting to throw a backyard party that we just happen to get married at.

Post # 10
1 posts
  • Wedding: June 2010

A lunchtime reception will save alot on alcohol and we all know how much people drink at a wedding. This will keep it short and sweet and can have a small get together in the afternoon for your immediate family. Most friends and family are privelaged to be apart of the wedding so dont be shy asking your Aunty to bake, a cousin to assist with decorations and bridesmaids to help with the flowers which can be bought online at FabWeddingFlowers and are fairly cheap. Alot of theme decorations can be achieved with ribbons, cystals and keep your eyes open for bits n pieces that dont cost a fortune and will soon add up to create that special atmosphere. Shop around but dont go too budget on a photographer and 3-4 hours is usually enough to capture everything. An easy way to shave costs on catering is to serve 2 courses and have cupcakes with some mixed berries and cream for dessert… An option for summer is to serve white and red sangria that can be made with cheap wine but the key is to soak the wine with fruit overnight and then replace it with fresh fruit in the morning.. That way you get the rich flavor while also having some yummy fresh fruit.. All the best !!!




Post # 11
929 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

A morning wedding and daytime recception will always save you money, also do it int he “off wedding season”  November through March and you will get a huge savings as well as on Frida’s and Sundays or any other day of the week besides Saturday. 

Don’t be afraid of resale…. Our wedding bands were both second hand from an estate dealer and we saved thousands of dollars on those.


Also Etsy and Ebay are your friends and the things that you can DIY do that, you can save a ton of money.

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