Finances & Debt

13 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

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With the price of weddings in the U.S. continuing to rise these days, it’s no wonder that many couples are looking for ways to make their wedding a little cheaper, keeping every price tag in mind. After all, not everyone has a spare $30,000 – the average cost of a wedding and reception – lying around the house. For frugally minded couples who still want to put on a great party, here is a wedding planning guide to help you save money and avoid going into debt!

1. Be flexible on your date.

One easy way to save money on your wedding right off the bat is to swear off Saturday. It’s the most expensive day of the week to get married, and you can hang on to a huge chunk of change simply by scheduling your wedding for Friday, Sunday – or pretty much any other day of the week. Time of year also impacts the cost of a wedding – venues don’t book up quite as fast for weddings in the middle of winter in most areas. Some locations may give you a discount for scheduling something for this time of year.

2. Cut the cake (on expenses).

​​​​​One item that you definitely need for your wedding reception is a gorgeous wedding cake. With the cost of a wedding cake averaging averaging $500, this should be one of the first wedding money-saving challenges that you tackle. There are a few tricks to lower the cost of your cake: first, consider having the bakery do a small display cake everyone will see, but use sheet cake for the cake you actually serve your guests. Also keep in mind that the more ornate the cake is, the more time it will take the bakery to make it – and time equals money! Going for something simple, yet elegant, can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. Get more tips on budgeting.

3. Consider using Pinterest® as your cheap wedding planning guide.

Now that we have Pinterest, every bride and groom looking for cheap wedding ideas has unencumbered, free access to some of the best DIY wedding planning tools available. Start building your Pinterest wedding board — which you can keep totally private if you’d prefer — and discover an endless array of ideas.

4. Get creative on centerpieces.

​​​Fire up your Pinterest wedding board and take a look at some exquisite centerpieces. Whatever your budget may be, you can definitely create something amazing – and more personal – for a fraction of the normal centerpiece price. If you have crafty friends or family, now is the time to put them to work on your own wedding centerpiece ideas. It doesn’t matter whether your theme is rustic or classic; once you find some online inspiration you’ll be able to craft perfect pieces that match your wedding.

5. Consider alternate locations.

Reception venues can be very expensive. Think outside the box to try and cut down your costs. What outdoor spaces are available to you? Depending on your location and the time of year you get married, you could take advantage of some cheap wedding ideas for summer like a beach, a barn or even a backyard. Recruit friends and family to help you brainstorm – outdoor wedding ideas can help to cut down your costs exponentially.

6. Score some affordable wedding flowers.

For most couples, the flowers are an integral part of the wedding. It’s hard to imagine the bride walking down the aisle without a flower bouquet. To cut down on floral costs, try to stick to in-season flowers only (a florist will be able to help you determine what those are). If you (or someone you know) are gifted in the floral arranging department, you might also wanting to consider buying your flowers wholesale and creating the bouquets yourself.

7. Cut out the cocktails.

Hard alcohol can run up a wedding bill. By sticking to beer and wine, couples can slash their bar bills exponentially. Another idea for cutting down on alcohol costs is to limit the “open bar” period of your reception to, say, only the first hour or two – and then after that time is up, switch to a cash bar.

8. Rethink the plated dinner.

Food is a major portion of the wedding budget, but don’t feel like you have to stick with a plated dinner. If you’re trying to save money on your wedding, consider a buffet or hors d’oeuvres stations. If you’re flexible on the time of day, you can also save by having a brunch or lunch receptions – brunch buffets can be incredibly economical.

9. Hire only one photographer.

A professional photographer might try to convince you that you’ll want more than one photographer there to get multiple shots from various angles throughout the day, but there’s no need to have an entire staff taking shots of your wedding. Think of how many of your guests will be taking photos. You could set up a hashtag on social media or create a website where guests can share their pictures with you during and after the event.

10. Include Mother Nature.

Looking for cheap wedding ideas for fall? Nature is full of raw materials for decorations or centerpieces, such as pinecones, brilliantly colored leaves or stones. Take a long walk with your fiancé and see what you can find – consider incorporating items from your favorite outdoor spaces, no matter the season.

11. Look for wedding favors online.

These days, brides and grooms are no longer limited to what local stores have available for trinkets and takeaway gifts for guests. The sky is the limit now thanks to online shopping! Finding cheap wedding favors is easy online, as many online stores will even offer discounts for buying items in bulk. And just about anything can be personalized with your names and the wedding date. If you do go the online route, just make sure to plan far enough ahead of time that if you aren’t happy with the way they look, you have time to return them or find something else.

12. Shop smart for your invitations.

​​​​​​​Invitations are another area where online stores are your friend. Websites like provide unique invitations from a wide variety of designers – and often have discounts and sales. is another site where you can find invitations – or templates you can purchase and then customize and print on your own.

13. Consider all your music options.

Live bands are great at wedding receptions, but can be very expensive. If you do have your heart set on live music, look around for local, up-and-coming groups – maybe through a local university or bar. You don’t want a group that has zero experience playing wedding receptions, but slightly less experienced groups will be cheaper than established “wedding bands.” Of course, a DJ is generally much cheaper than a live band, especially if you book one without all the bells and whistles (some will try to get you to rent strobe or colored lights to really “set the mood”). Want to save even more money? Create your own wedding reception playlist on your phone or laptop and designate a friend or family member to be in charge of making sure it plays all night – instaDJ!

Does all this talk about wedding expenses have you feeling a bit stressed? One of the best ways to make sure you’re saving as much money as you can – and spending it the way you want to – on your wedding is to create a budget and stick to it.


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