Planning a Thrifty Wedding

Posted on January 19th, 2012 by Discount Debbie

Just yesterday a friend of mine emailed me about saving money on her wedding. She and her groom are paying for it themselves and they are on a budget. Being a wedding photographer by day and Thrifty Diva blogger by night, I was happy to help her. These are just my personal opinions taken from personal experience.

Before I get to the “how to” save money on your wedding, let me give you some advice on what to never skimp on.

1. The photography. I am not just saying this because I am a wedding photographer. In 50 years the only thing left of your wedding other than your spouse will be your pictures. The greatest regret I hear from brides is that they had a “friend” do their pictures. Unless your friend is a photographer, go pro and save yourself the heartache.

2. The flowers. This is another area where you need to leave it to the pros. There is so much to know and understand about flowers and not just how to make them look pretty. Almost every wedding I’ve done that the bride has make her own floral arrangements ended up a flower disaster by the end of the day. Not to say it doesn’t happen when professionals do it, but it’s been rare in my experience. If you are one of those people who did do your own and they turned out great, please share with us in the comments about how you did it. There are brides that do still want to attempt to do flowers themselves and could use the tips!

Ok, so just two things you shouldn’t skimp on. Now onto saving money! Here are some ideas on how you can save money on the most important day of your life.

1. Buy your cake from a local grocery store. We did this for our wedding and our cake was amazing! We paid about a 1/4th of what a local specialty bakery charged and we did taste testing, ours was just as good. I was also able to take a picture in from a bridal magazine and the decorator did it exactly like the photo. My cake looked like a million bucks and it was super inexpensive. If you really want to cut corners, you can always have a cake made from styrofoam from bakeries and then serve sheet cakes. I’ve had MANY brides do this and you couldn’t even tell!

 2. Have your wedding outdoors. When comparing your choices, outdoor venues tend to be less expensive.

3. Rent your tables and chairs from local churches or other organizations. Before you book through your local party store, call around. A lot of churches rent their stuff out for a fraction of the cost of party stores to make a little money on the side.

4. Make your own food. Now when I say you, I am not talking to the bride and groom. You enjoy your day and leave the cooking to friends and family if they are up for the challenge. It’s hard work, but will save you a ton of money. You will need to check with your venue though because some places won’t allow you to bring in outside food unless it’s the cake.

5. Opt for a buffet instead of a sit down meal. If the venue you’ve chosen doesn’t allow outside food, usually buffets are the way to go to save money.

6. Schedule your wedding for a weekday. I know most people get married on a Saturday, but if you want to save as much as half off your venue and even other services, book your wedding for an off day. Even switching it to a Sunday can save you a bundle. For example, one venue that I commonly photograph at cuts their fee more than in half for a weekday wedding.

7. Have a dessert only reception. Food is easily one of the top expenses of a wedding. Have a dessert only reception in the afternoon and you don’t have to worry about feeding your guests, but make sure your wedding isn’t at a meal time or you’ll have hungry and grumpy guests.

8. Make your own decorations. If you are a bride or groom and haven’t discovered Pinterest, I urge you to! Search DIY wedding decorations and be prepared to be amazed!

9. Cash only bar. I’ll admit that some people think this is tacky, but to each their own right? My husband and I had a very nice high end wedding, but I did everything I could to save money. This was a huge money saver. We aren’t big drinkers so I was hesitant to pay for everyone else to drink, especially when we had over 200 guests. However, I didn’t want to take away from other people celebrating so we had a cash bar. Out of curiosity we asked how much the bar tab was that night and it was over $4,000. I was able to see first hand how much money we saved and we never had one complaint!

10. Make your own favors or skip them all together. Favors can be super expensive, but they are so easy to do yourself. One idea that I saw at a wedding that was cute, inexpensive, and fun was a candy bar with little to-go baggies. The bride and groom put their favorite candies in jars with little notes about who loved what and guests make their own goodie bags. They saved a bundle just buying bulk candy.

Are you planning a wedding? What are some ways you’re saving money?



1 Comment

  1. Barbara January 19, 2012

    These are great ideas! We have a part-time wedding planning/decorating business that also has wedding/party rentals. I love to read other people’s suggestions. Any suggestions for you! I have prepared the food for about 10 weddings in our town, and have found that having a meal (buffet style) is alot less expensive than finger food type buffet. I love the candy bar “to go bags” for favors.

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