I, your humble blogger, get a lot of mail on the subject of weddings—stories of joy and tales of woe; great ideas, and even an occasional blooper. In nearly 32 years, I cannot recall a single time I’ve heard from a bride or groom who wished they’d spent more money on their wedding. The best wedding mail comes from brides who are so happy with their frugal choices they want to share their ideas with others.
Lean Guest List
Our first guest list included everyone we knew. As the list grew (and grew), we realized that would be a really bad idea. Without intending to do so, we got very close to inviting people who would then feel obligated to attend a wedding for people they didn’t really know that well. We decided to whittle that list, seeing our wedding as a more intimate event rather than a big everyone-we-know blowout.
From where we started, we cut the list by 75%. That was the best decision ever. Our wedding was manageable, affordable, and exactly what we wanted—an intimate celebration of joy. Debbie
When I worked in a bridal shop in Florida, we bought all of our jewelry, gloves, veils, and most headpieces wholesale from Accessory Wholesale in New Orleans. The company’s website is open to the public. For my own wedding, I bought all my bridesmaid’s jewelry sets, bracelets, my headpieces my gloves, and jewelry—all for about $100 including shipping. That site rocks! And I swear, this is the same stuff we bought, displayed in our lighted cases on black velvet, and sold for 5 to 8 times the wholesale price. All salons do this. Accessories offer their greatest profit margin. Be aware that because this is a wholesale company, there is a minimum order requirement of $75. Kelly
For a wedding reception that is out of the ordinary, have a bonfire rather than a sit-down meal. My husband and I did this, and people still talk about how much fun it was. We changed clothes after pictures and started a big fire at my grandmother’s house. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and had side dishes brought by family members. It was the best potluck ever because we requested our favorite family dishes. By shopping in bulk for hot dogs and buns, we spent only about $200 on food. Rochelle
Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties (Nope!)
We decided to get real about a perceived requirement to go all out on bachelorette and bachelor parties. We looked at it honestly and decided the whole idea has gotten way out of control. Weekends in Vegas, going to Mexico, and week-long vacation for everyone involved is becoming the norm. We boldly skipped the expensive parties (for everyone’s sake, and trust me, we got many looks of thanks and relief from those who would have been invited). We saved what we would have spent for our honeymoon instead. Riley
Frugal on Photos
I had my guests take pictures at the event, and we sprang for a professional portrait session before the wedding. Instead of spending $1,200 to $5,000 on a wedding photographer, it cost us $200 to go to a park to have professional portraits taken in our wedding attire. Diane
The local library has many wedding books, from making your own dress and accessories to wedding cakes, invitations and writing your own vows. Not only that, but libraries can make beautiful and inexpensive venues for a ceremony celebrating any literature-loving couple. Mary Clare
- READ: Even Small Households Can Save Big at Warehouse Club Stores
We saved a lot of money on wedding flowers by purchasing them in bulk at wholesale prices from Sam’s Club. They offer a wide variety of beautiful premade wedding flowers and bulk options at incredibly affordable prices. We went with the bulk option, then arranged the “growers bunch” flowers ourselves in country-style, rustic bouquets. They were so fresh, so beautiful! Plus, Sam’s will even deliver the flowers to you two days before your wedding! Sheila
Balloons Instead of Flowers
We skipped decorating with flowers at our wedding and decorated with balloons instead. This allowed me to get creative with shapes, sizes, and colors, saving us a bundle of cash. Kids had a ball with them at the reception. Jean
Simplify the Cake
I must have spent six months combing through bridal sites and Instagram to come up with ideas for the most beautiful wedding cake ever. And what I found was amazing. I set up an appointment with a local cake designer (an artist would be a better way to describe him), asking that he recreate a cake in the style of several of my favorite photos.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when he estimated several thousand dollars for what I thought I wanted. That meeting jerked me back to reality. In the end, we chose a simple, chic cake design from our local supermarket bakery. Not only was it beautiful and definitely designer quality, it was also delicious! Shelby
Borrow, Borrow, Borrow
Don’t be afraid of asking to borrow. If you know of someone who recently had a wedding, inquire about borrowing some of their stuff. And if you are on the other side of a wedding, offer to lend.
On a personal note, I borrowed my wedding dress from my best and still longest friend. We met in fifth grade in Spokane, Wash. We went through adolescence together, became college roommates in California. And, we married college roommates! Remarkably these days, we are both still married to our original husbands. How fun to look at our wedding photos now and to see the same dress in both. Thanks again, Judy.
My wedding dress was actually an ivory bridesmaid dress. It was a beautiful designer gown and only cost $250, including alterations. When I was shopping for it, I found a wider variety of choices for high-end bridesmaid dresses than wedding gowns, and they were all a fraction of the price. Elizabeth
Sure, it’s become customary to give gifts to the couple’s attendants. And that can get very pricey! Groomsmen and bridesmaids’ gifts are not mandatory. Consider handwritten, heartfelt thank-you notes. We did and have no regrets at all. Our attendants were tearfully grateful, too! Janis
We saved by holding our wedding ceremony and reception at lunchtime on a Friday. We rented out a small restaurant for 40 close friends and family. We arranged to bring in wine, and the restaurant made a batch of sangria to serve with the meal. The total cost of the wedding and reception was about $2,500, far less than it would have been during primetime on a Saturday night. Liz
Rather than fork out a large sum for professional musicians, consider the music department of a local university. Find out if the school has a student ensemble available to perform music for a wedding. We did this and had the most amazing group of young ladies on stringed instruments. We loved them and their music! They played during the entire reception, and it was awesome. While they didn’t come with a set fee, we tipped each member very generously and still saved a ton of money on our reception music. Jonette
Question: Do you have a frugal wedding tip to share? We would love for ou to do that in the comments below!