(Closed) Where to cut costs? Experience from other bees wanted.

posted 4 years ago in Money
Post # 16
2802 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - St Peter\'s Church, East Maitland, and Bella Vista, Newcastle

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kuvzooheej :  When you add on the costs of developing, it won’t be much cheaper and the quality is awful.  Much better to use something like WedPics where your guests can upload their photos which will be free and way better quality.

Post # 17
653 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

I did a lot of things to save money, but also in retrospect wish I didn’t waste money on certain things. 

Things worth the splurge: 

-used books as part of our centerpieces because we got to keep them after the wedding

-photobooth, because our guests were not huge on dancing so it was a fun thing to do 

-candy bar, for the same reason above along with paper bags for guests to put their candy in

-our Etsy made guestbook (a tree with leaves that guests signed) because it’s now part of our home

-husband bought his suit because now he has a nice suit! 

-the buffet option for guests because they all loved the food

Things not worth the splurge: 

-Etsy wedding signs…..like why did I buy those??? Never gonna use them ever again! 

-my veil because I forgot it at home

-my high heels that I decided not to wear

-personalized wedding favors (pen and pencil with our names on it and wedding date) only because we bought way too many and now have a ton extra

Things I did to save: 

-no chair rentals needed 

-bought my wedding dress online from Modcloth for ~200

-bought bridesmaid dresses from Asos for ~40 each 

-mom’s friend did alterations

-mom arranged flowers (former florist) and bought them from Costco, grocery stores

-table flowers were potted rose plants that we gave to friends who helped with the set up of the wedding so they didn’t go to waste

-did not hire transport; no limo needed

-photographer was a family friend 

-venue allowed outside alcohol and guests only paid if they wanted a special drink other than the alcohol we had (we paid a bottle fee I believe though)

-cupcakes and a cake only for the top tier instead of a wedding cake

-bridesmaids did own make up

-no DJ — playlist with some live music (again, family friends) 

-sound for ceremony was a family friend who used our playlist for the music 

-no hotel room for wedding night — my parents dropped us off at home….we were exhausted anyhow and left for the honeymoon the next morning

-ceremony site was free with the venue as were chairs so there was no need to travel from ceremony to venue

Post # 18
238 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2019

We are trying to cut costs as much as possible, so we are not having any extras like photobooths, favors, gifts to each other, garter, programs, menus, etc. We don’t need transportation, our ceremony and reception are in the same venue, it’s in a city, plenty of options for people to get there themselves. I most likely will not be using a florist, just using flowers from my mom’s garden and supplementing with Costco. We are having non floral centerpieces. No wedding cake at all (I personally think the tradition of cutting a cake is stupid). We are doing the BYOB option at our venue to save money on our open bar. 

Things I will spend money on: food, music, venue, photographer. 

Post # 19
1168 posts
Bumble bee

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victoriad :  Whoa!  That sounds like it’s going to be the most memorable dinner ever.  I would love to see that!

Post # 20
41 posts

I think it also depends on what your total budget is, and how you are spending it. How much room is there left for all those extras?

Post # 21
786 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2018 - Farm

We are diying our ceremony and reception decorations. We aren’t using real flowers. I purchased a lot of decor from michaels and hobby lobby as well as other craft stores during their sales. I purchased the cake cutter set from hobby lobby during their 50% of wedding sale events. I purchased silk flowers from hobby lobby during their clearance sale for 50% off.  Ipurchased candles from hobby lobby using 40% off coupons on their website. 

We found an event planner that offers catering, servers, bartenders, cake, photography for a good price and she’s giving us 10% off. 

We found our officiant from thumbtack.

Make up artist – found on facebook wedding group (she does amazing work)

I paid for our bridemaids dress from Davids bridal during a clearance sale got them for $39.99 each.  They can pick their own shoes, do their own makeup and hair how they would like.

Wedding party gifts. I purchased bath and body works, victorias secret perfumes during both their semi-annual sales and used coupons on top of it.

Save the dates – purchased from vista print during a 50% off sale will do the same with the invitations.

Videographer – Found on a wedding group on facebook for a good deal.

We are providing beer and wine and will purchase in bulk from a local wholesale supplier.

Grooms attire – they will purchase suits also something they can wear again

My fiance’ purchased my wedding band with the engagement ring. I purchased his band and just put it on layaway and made payments. 

I did a lot of research and made purchased online for a lot of things.

We are not doing programs or menu cards.


Post # 22
393 posts
Helper bee

I think you can have your cake and eat it lol.  Using silk flowers – I rather doubt tehy were silk isn’t necessary usually. Think and plan smart.


1.  i take index cards and write down all the categories or expenses for a wedding from wedding dress, groom outfit to food, venue, dj, invites, cake, flowers, decor ceremony costs, transport, photography, etc.  Prioritize in order the importance of them.  This will give you some guidelines.

2.  I admit some areas where you can save big time include food, venue by carefully choosing ie some Bees will tell you picking certain dates can lower costs, bringing in your own alcohol –  and things like on a recent wedding I am working on we convinced the 4 star caterer to let us bring in appetizers which greatly reduced costs – a shrimp platter from costco verrsus their shrimp platter was like 3 or4 times the price difference.

3.  The dress – I know this is a big deal but smart choices can save tonnes and give the desired effect.  Besides truth be known a lot of brides pick dresses which we assume they like but do very little for themselves or their wedding theme.  Most Bridal stores have clearance dresses and many are wonderful dresses that might need some work or not but if you factor in dry cleaning or alterations can be a steal..  David’s Bridal always has some dressees for 99dollars and most other retailers do the same or something like that.  I know I saw at one place dresses for $150 to $300 regularl up to $2000.  Be open minded and see potential a plain dress with a vintage $10 rhinestone belt or that $150 dress with a 100 applique can still be a deal – just watch things don’t add up too much. 


If a second or third dress is necessary, really?? lol, try Lulu’s or places like TJ Maxx, Winnters which may have on eoffs.  New year’s sales after the holiday season might be a great evening gown to switchu up.  Better yet skip the dress change – really more changes means more time away from the party.


Flowers and decor – some people it is not a huge thing but play it smart.  You don’t need  to have fake flowers.  For drama try having the bridesmaids carry a single blow with a nice ribbon tied to it  – DIY ie a rose, garden rose, peony, hydrangea – make sure  you carefully prep this bloom to l ast, , DIY some or all of your flowers.  4 hydrangeas perhaps with 3 to 5 stems of dendrobian orchids from Costco will cost under $20 with dollarstore ribbon for a bouquet.  Or utilize those $15 to $20 premade bouquets from costco for bouquets or centerpieces – throw in a $2 Ikea vase.  If tat is too much a dollar store square vase and a hydrangea is cheap.   Re use flowers from the Ceremony to the REception ie small floral tributes used for pew markets throw them into a vase or two or cut the heads off and sprinkle on the head table or cake table – or take those  petals and do your decorative magic.


Lights and tea lights are cheap or often  borrowed.  Think bling so dollarstore mirrors or glass holders add to the lue fator  Lights aroudn posts, existing plants, on the ceiling or as a back  drop or around even topiaries are a great way to decorate – just gather christmas li ghts – label discreeetly and keep tabs so you can return.  [


transport decorate your own car and have a friend or family member drive


Photography – figure out if you need two photographers and if you can limiit the time

Cake – wedding cakes really add up can you do a small cake for cutting and cupcakes which are pretty and don’t have to be cut – saving lots as a lot of venue have cake cutting costs/charges.  Or instead of a tiered cake can you have separate cakes or a big cake – considerably cheaper.  Consider decorating the cake with fresh flowers – fondant is pricey.

Groom wear – Most rental companies will have some kind of discount where  you rent 5 outfits one (groom) will be free.  If you look carefully most will also discount the groomsmen rentals by $30 to 40 dollars as well and still get a free outfit for groom.


alot of make up stores will do you make up for a minimum charge or sometimes free if you buy their products – which can add up


Do your own photobooth for $20 worth of suppliles people can snap away on their phones or you can have an easy to use digital camera.



Skip the favors and do a personalized note for each guest of how and why they are special to  ou.  Leave that on their table setting


Alcohol – consider a dry wedding – not possible  Consider limiting the choices, a dollar/looniebar, limiting serving time ie closed during speeches or whatever,   Is it cheaper to bring in your own liquor?  Check the return policies of unused liquor.  Use sparkling wine instead of champagne for toasts.  

Go back to nature – look at what is free and cheap.   Pine cones perhaps spray painted in gold or silver sp rinkled on tables?  Leaves – write in a gold or silver pen names for seating plans or name place card.  Bare tree branches /trees with lights are gorgeous,  a vase of just greens can satisfay a lot of bees wedding decor.


Food / venue -everyone knows the date of the wedding can effect price as well as the day.  See what freebies or add ons you can have added ie appetizers or an extra dessert.  use your wedding cake and add ice cream to make it a dessert.  Choose wisely your main course  Chicken breast with brie cheese and cranberries sounds exotic but as we found out the guests would have preferred chicken breast with mozzarella and brocoli better.  Limit the choices and think  some fancy braised beef may be cheaper than a striploin and just as delish.


Post # 23
2475 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

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cbryns :  Hi fellow September Bride :)!

Ways we are cutting:

Floral budget is only about $1500…which is a lot but could be worse. 

I made our invitations myself. I will be cutting them and putting them together. Only spent about $150 on all the cardstock, belly bands, and envelopes. 

I did use minted for out STD’s, but I got a crazy deal and they ended up only being about $100. 

We aren’t doing floral centerpieces. Actually, we kind of aren’t doing centerpieces at all. We will have a menu on each table, a table number, and a champagne bucket. Maybe a couple votives with small candles. 

My dress was only $700, which was under my original budget. 

We are using theblacktux for suit rentals which is cheaper than mens warehouse or buying a suit. 

We booked an airb&B instead of a hotel room for getting ready (we booked it from Friday morning until Monday morning). It was cheaper. 

We will be hosting the rehearsal dinner at the home we rented on air b and b. This will save us a ton, instead of going to a restaurant. 

We found a venue where we can BYOB, and hired bartenders. This will save us thousands on an open bar. 

We aren’t doing favors

We are doing programs but I am printing myself on the leftover cardstock from which I made our invites

Catering – we aren’t skimping in the slightest but I feel like our caterer is VERY reasonably priced, as well as delicious!

Wedding bands – my Fiance picked a very reasonable band, and I will be cutting down on my budget for mine as well. 



Post # 24
159 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2016

skip favors. 

instead of photobooths, do a polaroid guestbook, guests can take polarioids home if they want. pay for an snapchat filter for the event (you can have someone design somehting cute) and save those?

for flowers — try to pick flowers that can be repurposed for your reception. alternatively, instead of fresh flowers, you could do candle/lanterns with dried flowers or other props (depending on your theme/time of year). aisle/pew flowers can be done with just bundles of babys breath you buy at your local bulk store. you could also consider doing your own flowers / centerpieces. get a couple of these bricks (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GO4W2S4/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1ERQSVX6D1O7Y&colid=1Q81QRXMIHM4H) and go to town the day before and refridgerate the flowers. also, either skip the bouquet toss (no one i know likes participating..)  or create a DIY bouquet for the toss, don’t have your florist do it. 

i disagree about not hiring a videographer if you were intending to – my husband and i both thought our video would be a useless expense but it turns out ive watched the video LOADS of times since we got married, as have our family members. if you don’t like your voice, you can always opt not to have your voices played in the final video (we did this because we also didn’t like to hear our voices) but we also got the raw footage from the day in case we wanted to do anything with it later on. 

stationery – vistaprint DIY

for transport – get a school bus (cheaper) and stock with alcohol and water / strobe lights and a friend’s soundsystem. it’ll be so much fun they won’t realize they’re not in some quiet lux-y tour bus. 

bridesmaid dress – go for cheaper dress,  you don’t need fancy stuff, as long as they have your color and will hold up for the day.

officiant – have a friend get ordained, don’t pay a professional officiant – your ceremony will feel more intimate (IMO) and you can just give them a thoughtful gift after the fact when your finances fall back to normal. 

AGREE with the sheetcake thing – the cost differential is in a completely different ball park. alternatively, you could do a cupcake tower and save your small wedding cake for your pics and your first anniversary. (ppl freeze the top layer of their wedding cake adn eat it on their first anni) 


Post # 25
94 posts
Worker bee

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cbryns :  So, not sure how you found your vendors but we made sure we cross referenced vendors on the WeddingWire and The Knot based on reviews and the $$$$ category. There were *PLENTY* of vendors in the $$ or $$$ range that got 50+ 5 star reviews, so we went with them. I know sometimes it’s tempting to just go with vendors you know, or are local or someone else used but it felt irresponsible to not search for affordable vendors. If you’re the type of bride who the experience of buying a designer dress, choosing cakes at a highend bakery and flowers from a fancy floral shop, then you might just have to adjust your budget…but if you are willing to go with small vendors, you should be in luck!

Our venue provided mirror tiles and votive candles so that helped provide decor, they also provided draping and the ballroom was pretty gorgeous alone with the Chivari chairs and cream linens. Honestly, we got lucky b/c it required little to not decor or DIY on my part. 


DRESS I went in with a budget of $1,500 and stuck to it. I had a short timeline so I really didn’t have an option to get the $5k custom dress b/c my timeline. I went to a bridal shop that I had friends who told me they were nice and accepting of short timelines andthey worked within budgets. They were amazing and at no point did I feel pressured or ignored b/c I wasn’t spending more. I probably spend 4-5 hours total between initial visit, follow up visit to buy dress and final fitting. They were great, at one point opening the store and bringing in their seamstress on a Sunday morning b/c I had a flight to catch! 

FLOWERS We felt OK skimping on flowers because I don’t like them and DH couldn’t care less. Our vendor got great reviews but she didn’t have a fancy floral shop, she worked out of her basement so no overhead. We went with small centerpieces and they looked good. The bouquets were nice and luckily really affordable, I went with all white and we did a first look – after so many pics with the bouquet, they got kinda beat up so I’m glad I didn’t go over $150 for mine. If you’re paying more than $8-10 for bouts, your vendor is overpriced, IMO.


CAKE Again, this was something we didn’t think we’d care about (not really cake people) so we were OK going with a vendor that was affordable but well reviewed. Again, this vendor met us at a Panera for the tasting so she had no overhead since I assume she works out of her house. She was the sweetest lady and honestly, even if the cake wasn’t amazing (it was seriously amazing), I would have given her the business b/c she was a doll and I like to support local female business owners when I can. We didn’t need any crazy design or flowers or colors on our cake so it was very simple and easy. I think we paid $4 a slice and had an entire tier leftover and she gave us our “1 year” tier seperately 🙂

DJ/MUSIC we definitely nailed pricewise. I don’t think this is a vendor you need to spend a ton on, because as long as they work regularly (just check reviews and dates), they’ll know how to run a wedding. Ours actually is a DJ on Firday nights at a huge club a few cities away and does weddings on Saturdays. He was fkn great – especially the ceremony music – and required NO micromanaging, I think we had 2 calls with him the entire process, lol. I was tempted to do a string quartet but glad I didn’t because we wanted several different types of ceremony songs (piano, trumpet, instrumental) so DJ was the way to go. I think we spend $900 and that included $100 add on for some uplighting.

PHOTOGRAPHER We got a bomb photographer BUT we got her very last minute (she had a huge wedding reschedule on her 6 weeks out) AND we chose to waive the engagement photos/bridal portrait (we were 7 weeks out, so no time) and album. We instead put a $500 deposit on an album that we’ll choose ourselves, we felt that was better than whatever option her standard package includes. At the end of the day we spent $4k so not exactly cheap but we opted for a less extensive package with a much higher quality vendor.

Post # 26
3478 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

We chose to splurge on our venue and photography but cut costs in other ways!

My mother and I DIYed all our flowers (bulk from Costco), our cake, our decor, invitations and save the dates (Staples). And I got so many compliments on all of them, people were shocked that they were DIY! My cousin was our DJ/MC (he just used spotify, we rented pro equipment for like $130, and again none of our guests who didn’t know him could even tell he wasn’t a professional). I didn’t buy any bridal accessories except for my shoes and veil (saving money through Etsy). I bought my dress from Etsy also for a very reasonable price and found a local seamstress who worked from home to do alterations, just sticking with hemming (could have had the bodice taken in but I didn’t really care enough to pay extra). Skipped the limo/fancy transportation, photobooth, favours, videographer, elaborate decor/centrepieces etc. And a small(ish) guest list of 65 🙂 

Post # 27
940 posts
Busy bee

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cbryns :  venue, photographer and dress were important to us too so we didn’t cut on those.

I haven’t had my wedding yet but I’m thinking of cutting down the decor. I have an expensive bouquet so I’m thinking of having baby breaths for all the centerpieces, floral decor and bridesmaids/groomsmen corsages/boutounnieres. They’re super cheap and goes well with whatever I can think of. 

We don’t have any favors. We’re having a small, no-frills white icing butter cake with a floral topper that feeds enough people (about 100) and will serve this along with dessert. We don’t have any transportation as our guests are all near, we ordered invites from China (SO cheap and came printed with our info), but you can do a square postcard type of invite to save on that instead of a normal folded card invite to save. The essentials can be there and all extra info goes onto a wedding website. We have no save-the-dates, we ask people to call or text RSVPs (because half of them won’t even mail RSVPs anyway nowadays), and we have no thank-you cards or other extra cards that add to the expenses. 

We DIY the table cards, I briefly considered DIY all the decorations but ultimately felt like it would be too much stress since there aren’t enough people to help.

We have no menus on tables as we’re having a buffet so we just have a menu board by the buffet tables. I really like a ceremony arch so we have that pretty expensive but if you don’t mind having a simple one, I think you can save on that too. I spent minimal on the band because all we need really is soft nice background music instead of something really wow (for dinner the venue actually has a jazz band that could play for free since they’re hired on contract every Saturday night, but we went with lunch so had to get one ourselves) 

We do have a photobooth since it’s something where our theme can really show, plus my parents have been to a couple of weddings with instant print photobooths and they really love it (they’re like 60+) so I think a lot of our guests would enjoy a photobooth as well. 

Post # 28
1199 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2018

-Spent $40 on 8 fake flower bouquets

-We have a local wedding so no hotel for wedding night.

-No limos

-No favors (venue is providing late night snack to be taken away at the end)

-No videographer

Post # 29
568 posts
Busy bee

things i saved/skipped on (75 guests, $15-20K)

no guestbook 

nothing personalized (cocktail napkins, cups, etc.)

used minted for STD and invitations, but used Etsy and printers for menu and programs, and bought generic thank you cards.

married on garden patio, skipped the arch, and sister offered to do aisle decore otherwise I would’ve skipped it entirely.

got a cake, skipped dessert bar

double duty favor/name place card

no videographer/photo booth

no liquor; beer, wine, champagne only

decent chairs; no rental chair cover

no transportaion

I wasted a lot of money trying “DIY Projects” rather than throwing cash at the problem.


Post # 30
5780 posts
Bee Keeper

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cbryns :  We cut from the floral budget. And skipped the videographer. No wedding planner but yes to day of coordination. No programs and I bought decorative signs on Amazon. Open bar BUT no to premium booze. Everyone still had enough to drink for free to them. (Wine, beer and mixed drinks)

Let’s see. I’ll post again if I think of more. 

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