Planning a wedding on a budget is stressful as many of the costs can be so high, which is why I’m here to give the best tips on planning a frugal wedding (on the cheap) for all my brides and grooms on a budget.
Each section of this blog will have an overall area of the wedding planning (i.e. the venue & the catering) and under that heading will be several different ideas to help you achieve your budget-friendly wedding.
Finding the perfect wedding venue that fits your budget.
- Have your wedding on any day but Saturday.
- Consider places that aren’t actually wedding venues. Some places like local gardens will accept donations for using the property.
- Go to a small town rather than a big city (these venues are generally much prettier anyway) for budget-friendly venues.
- Find the venue who will allow you to BYOB, talk about weddings on the cheap!
- Try to stick to the actual amount of space that you need. If you only have 50 guests, don’t plan for enough space for 200.
- Shorten the reception & amount of time needed at the venue. The costs of a wedding can be increased quickly when more time is spent at the venue.
- Why not get married in your back yard? Skip the cost of a wedding venue altogether!
- If you decide to shorten the reception, you can always have a party later! This way the cost isn’t on you.
- If you’re comfortable with it and able to do so, ask your venue if you can pay in full for a discount on the cost.
- If you find a new venue, or someone looking to start a venue, chances are their costs will be lower as they enter the market. Do your digging, find that cheap venue!
- Finding an all-inclusive space to host your reception can save you some big bucks, as well.
- Get married in the off-season. If you’re somewhere warm, chances are the summer is the busiest for weddings. With more competition, you have less bargaining power. Whereas in the off-season, you have more ability to shop around.
- Tell the venue manager that you’d like to rent the location for a PARTY. Not a wedding. Telling them that it’s for a wedding will immediately jack up the price.
Catering, drinks & dessert.
- Ask your favourite local restaurant or food truck about catering! Bonus points if they don’t already offer catering, you may just get the price knocked down even more.
- Consider alternatives to a wedding cake, they can be pricey. Donut wall? Cupcake mansion? Your options are endless.
- Ixnay the champagne service, or ask your guests to bring their own.
- Offer only 2-4 types of drinks – perhaps two beer and two liquors or a wine and a cider and a beer or whatever you would like! Having a large selection open bar gets quite costly.
- Have you thought about ordering pizzas? Talk about a crowd-pleaser!
- Consider a brunch wedding service. Breakfast items are much less expensive to provide for a lot of people.
- Don’t serve wine with dinner. Wine’s expensive.
- Order take-out! Just like the pizza as mentioned above, ordering take-out for your wedding reception can be a great cost-effective option for feeding your guests on a budget.
- Stick to minimal entree options. Perhaps only two. Guests can’t be choosey with free food!
- Serve family-style meals. Don’t want a buffet or the extra cost of service? Serve communal dishes placed on the table. I.e. Lasagna, casseroles, fajitas, etc.
- Do a basic buffet or a potluck dinner!
- “Build your own…” stations are so much fun, easier, and inexpensive! Build your own tacos? Yes, please!!
- You could skip dinner entirely. Hold on! Don’t shoot the messenger, all I mean is you can keep the appies coming! Appetizers are cheaper than entrees, and usually more fun to eat, anyway.
- Don’t choose a venue that requires in-house catering. It’ll be much cheaper to bring your own.
- Ask your guests for help! See if anyone would like to contribute.
- Have a wedding party potluck.
- Consider off-the-shelf appetizers like those found at Costco for a budget-friendly catering plan.
Wedding dress shopping for the thrifty bride.
- Check out consignment stores first.
- These websites buy and sell secondhand dresses:
OnceWed, Still White, Tradesy, Nearly Newlywed
- Check out the sample dresses! They’re hardly been worn, only to try on, and they likely won’t have any damage but will be much cheaper.
- Boutique prices > retail wedding line prices. Retail wedding lines often have a much lower cost than boutiques.
- Why not rent a dress? I’m honestly shocked that more brides don’t do this.
- Don’t shop during the busy season! Shopping during off-season will greatly lower your cost. The off-season depends on where you’re located.
- You could always borrow a dress?
- Simplicity: minimalistic wedding gowns are much less expensive than gowns with appliques and jewels and bedazzled tops.
- Check Facebook! There are likely pages dedicated to wedding shopping & swapping in your area, likely full of brides looking to sell their gown.
- Wear whatever the heck you want. You don’t need a big extravagant wedding gown just because it’s the norm. You can wear a white denim skirt if you really wanted, it’s your big day after all.
- If you’re in the Okanagan, here is a list of the Bridal Shops in the area.
Decorating your wedding venue on a budget.
- You and your wedding party can collect natural items like pinecones, moss, baby’s breath and other flowers for your decor. These are absolutely beautiful and cost nothing.
- Repurpose the bouquets used in the wedding ceremony as table centerpieces during the reception.
- Check out Facebook for used decorations! There are likely buy/sell wedding groups local to your area or a town nearby, and there will be others selling their used wedding decorations who understand there are others looking to plan their wedding on a budget.
- See if you can purchase someone’s entire wedding decor soon after their big day!
- White Christmas lights (something your wedding party can pool together) are always already on hand. Ask around, label the lights, and return them after your wedding day.
- See what other brides who have already had their wedding day are ready to give up! Perhaps you can make a classifieds post in the wedding section.
- Pick a naturally beautiful setting that doesn’t need much work. Planning a wedding on a budget is easy with venues like botanical gardens (which usually only charge a donation) or a mountain-top view.
- Buy lots of tulle. You can use it everywhere and it’s gorgeous.
- Get potted plants! Or, ask your wedding party for potted plants as gifts (if you like them) and ask them to bring them as decoration!
- Use candles instead of flowers, or simply replace some of the flowers with candles. Flowers are expensive!
- Check out this guide by The Knot for decoration ideas that are inexpensive but elegant.
Other frugal wedding hacks.
- Don’t send physical invitations – go digital! Make a fun video and send it via email or messenger. Printing paper & buying ribbon gets pretty costly!
- DIY your photo booth. Click here for some ideas.
- Ask for help instead of gifts – maybe your guests would prefer to help with food or decorations or the cost of the venue rather than buy you another gift.
- Ask around at local schools for student photographers, videographers, stylists, or even musicians & DJs.
- Hire new vendors who are just getting started in the industry. These folks are stoked to expand their portfolio and will likely be inexpensive.
- Rent suits. Don’t buy.
- Buy a used ring or choose cheaper materials for your wedding bands.
- Your honeymoon doesn’t need to be insane! Try to keep it local & simple.
- Combine the escort cards with the wedding favors rather than buying both separately.
- Design and print your own programs, menus & signs at your local print shop.
- Make your own favors in bulk – these could be cookies, jam, etc.
- Borrow accessories from friends and family.
- Use your own car. You don’t need that limo.
- Ask a friend to be your officiant!
- Standing ceremonies will save you BIG time – chair rentals are nuts.
- Keep your tables simple, don’t worry about big extravagant plating & decoration.
- WAIT FOR SALES!!!! Planning a wedding on a budget is all about patience.
- I offer reasonable pricing on wedding photography, as well as much lower Monday – Friday pricing. Check out my packages here.
Ciao for now!