Getting engaged is amazing, but the thrill of the engagement can
last just a few hours before conversations turn toward the next
step: wedding planning.
You might be overjoyed while still feeling a rising gnawing in
your stomach. You’re going to plan a wedding, and weddings are
expensive: In 2018, the average
wedding cost more than $33,900.
I can think of a handful of other worthy investments for such an
amount. A down payment on a house. A brand-new car. A hearty
portion of a college degree (or student loan). All of those options
seem more worthy of this kind of cash than a one-day
After celebrating the nuptials of many friends and family
members, I know there is no “perfect” wedding, and the
celebration can be enjoyed on any budget. But managing your wedding
budget can be stressful. Do-it-yourself projects offer savings, but
require time, some level of skill and patience.
But there are ways to lighten your financial load without having
to exert a huge effort on the Pinterest front. You want your
wedding celebration to be simple and fun — not complicated and
stressful. So here are my tips for cutting wedding costs without
How to Save Money on a Wedding With 4 Simple Tricks
1. Seek Alternative Venues
When it comes to setting a date and picking a place, some tips
are well-known: Some months are priced at a premium; Saturday
weddings are usually the most expensive; dinner will cost more than
brunch or lunch. One easy tip: Think outside the hotel
Consider art galleries, performance spaces, church halls and
grounds, parks and other “nontraditional” venues for your
ceremony and reception. Locations that don’t host weddings around
the clock are likely to have more amenable price tags.
But many of the beautiful venues you’ll see online are merely
shells when you write the deposit check. It takes decorations, a
caterer, linens, china and sometimes even table and chair rental to
turn a beautiful spot into a reception site. Those costs add up.
So consider a venue that already has what you need for your big
day: a restaurant. It may seem prohibitive to rent out an entire
eatery, but check out spaces that have separate sections for
private or semi-private events. Rental fees for these areas (before
food, drinks, fees and gratuity) is often the same as you would pay
to host a bridal or baby shower luncheon.
And restaurants usually come with place settings, tablecloths
and other items you’ll need. If you’re happy with the
restaurant’s decor, your job is so much easier.
2. Arrange Your Own Flowers
Speaking of decor, let’s discuss floral arrangements. The
cost of wedding flowers in 2017 was nearly $2,400, according to
a study by The Knot.
Only a few lucky couples will have a neighbor with beautiful
flower gardens who offers to contribute bouquets. Instead, turn to
a more practical option: a flower wholesaler. Simply search
“flower wholesale + [your city or region]” to find one in your
If you’re not set on having identical centerpieces, search for
vases at your local thrift store. You’ll pay a lot less for vases
you’ll likely only use once, and the variety may be
Wholesale warehouses are often open to the public, and staff can
advise you on what’s in season or what you could mix and match.
By doing a bit of arranging yourself (or with help from friends and
family), you can have beautiful bouquets for a fraction of the
3. Cut the Cake
If you enjoy baking reality shows as much as I do, you know that
wedding cakes can be extremely expensive. But when’s the last
time you thought about a cake you ate at a wedding?
Consider skipping a tiered cake with globs of icing in favor of
treats like cookies, doughnuts or maybe even pie. Think about your
favorite dessert options, and decide what’s most meaningful for
Crafty types who aren’t afraid to DIY can skip a custom cake
altogether and doctor up a grocery store cake.
A Practical Wedding shared a few tasty-looking tutorials.
If you’re set on having a cake but want to stick to a
Bridal Guide curated a dessert directory with tricks and tips
from professional bakers. Some of my favorite ways to cut costs
before you cut the cake: Choose buttercream frosting over fondant;
display a small cake while offering unstacked slices from the same
recipe to your guests; and choose in-season fruits for garnishes or
4. Say Yes to a Different Dress
I know, brides, I know — your dress is a big deal. It’s hard
to compromise on this item. But wedding gowns can run the price
gamut, and if you fall in love with a dress with an unexpectedly
high price tag, it could singlehandedly wreck your budget.
Instead, consider doing a bit of research and embracing the idea
of wearing “something old.” Beyond eBay, sites like Once Wed, Tradesy, Nearly Newlywed, Wore it Once and Pre-Owned Wedding
Dresses have page after page filled with beautiful dresses that
have typically already been cleaned after their first big day. If
you have a favorite designer in mind, spending a bit of time
searching these sites can help you get a great deal. Just remember
to also research tailors near you who can make any alterations you
Willing to wear something even older? Many vintage shops sell
wedding dresses from yesteryear that could use a little bit of love
— a bit of stain removal or seam repair — for as low as $100.
If you love the thrill of the hunt, you may find the dress of your
Don’t forget to check the formalwear racks as well. Just
because a dress wasn’t designed for a wedding doesn’t mean it
can’t make you shine on your big day.
But consider that you can skip buying a dress altogether. In
try renting your wedding dress instead. If you can’t find a
local shop in your area, check out
Rent the Runway, an online platform that caters to brides
across the country. Other platforms, like Happily Ever Borrowed
and Adorn have you covered when
it comes to accessories.
Want more tips on saving on your big day? Check out
this list of 90 (yes 90!) ways to do just that.
Lisa Rowan is a former senior writer at The Penny
This was originally published on
The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide
earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal
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Planning Your Wedding? Here Are 4 Ways to Cut Costs Without Compromising