When I started planning my wedding I quickly realized that the cost of everything I wanted and the money I had to spend did not match up. When this realization hit me I felt like I was going through the 7 stages of grief. I denied that we didn’t have the money for the Badgley Mishka shoes I wanted, cried over the venues we simply could not afford and got angry we didn’t have any more money to spend. Y’all the first few weeks of my wedding planning weren’t pretty…Trust Me. But after a few pep talks from the hubby, I got myself together and got my head back in the game. I was determined to make our budget work to produce our dream wedding. I became like a lion hunting for prey to find deals and ways to save. I am going to share with you the 10 ways I cut costs for my wedding that you can use in your wedding planning.
1. Reduce Guest Count
First and foremost, when you are looking to save money on your wedding cut the guest count. Weddings are all about scale, the more money you have to spend. When you are looking for items for your wedding most things are quoted in cost per guest. For example, $3 per guest for a cake is pretty good, but when you multiply that by 400 guests, that is $1200. Whoa! That escalated quickly, right?!?
For our wedding, our parents could have easily racked up the guest count to over 300 people, but once I saw what we were working with for our budget, I capped our guest count at 175. I know it can be hard to cut the guest count and may take a little negotiation between all involved, but if you are looking for a way to save a lot of money easily, this should be the first place.
2. Do Your Ceremony and Reception In One Place
Cut out transportation costs by doing the ceremony and reception all at one place. Forgo on the limo and find a venue that either has a space for a ceremony and reception. Our venue, The Moreland Mansion, had a garden that we used for the ceremony and then the reception took place on the first floor of the mansion. Do make sure when you are looking for a venue, that it also has great places to take pictures.
3. Choose a Venue that Has A lot Included
The venue is usually where almost 50% of the money is spent, so if you are going to spend a lot for it, make sure you are getting a lot out of it. When looking for venues be sure to ask what is included in their fees and if they have any items like table numbers, linens, or vases that you can use. Also look at the general decor of the venue. Are the walls already ornate or does it have a nice chandelier? These things make it so that you don’t have to pay more for things like uplighting to jazz up the place.
We really choose the Mansion it was gorgeous in itself so we didn’t need to buy many decorations, they had colored napkins to choose from and the garden already had flowers in it so we didn’t do any ceremony flowers. Make sure when you are looking for a venue that you are getting your monies worth and getting more than just a roof over your head.
4. Have a Limited Bar or Cash Bar
Looking at your bank account the day after a night out on the town bar hopping will tell you that alcohol is expensive, and that is for just ONE person. So if you scale that up to provide alcohol for all your guests, it can get real expensive, real quick. You don’t have to go all the way to a dry wedding to save money, you can cut cost by having a limited bar that only serves beer and wine or a signature drink. You can also have an open bar for a short part of your wedding reception, say 2 hours, then have a cash bar for the rest.
5. Choose Simple Bridesmaid’s Flowers
When looking for bouquets for your girls, you can save a few dollars by keeping them simple and using less inexpensive flowers. Some ideas could be a bouquet made of baby’s breath or sunflowers or just greenery. For our wedding, I had my girls carry a small bouquet of white carnations. The color really stood out against the girl’s purples dresses and the fullness of the flower created a nice round shape.
6. Use Flower Centerpieces for Every Other Table
If you want gorgeous centerpieces, but only the wedding budget is looking tight, try doing flower centerpieces on every other table. On the other tables create a romantic feel with an assortment of candles.
7. Make Ikea Your Friend
Speaking of candles…take a trip to your local Ikea for cheap candles. They have tons of pillar candles, tea lights, colored candles, and candle holders for super cheap. Ikea is also a great place to score cheap flower vases, frames you can use for table numbers, and tons of other items that you can get super creative with for wedding decoration. If you search Ikea weddings on Pinterest you can get lots of ideas. If you are in Ohio, there is an Ikea in Columbus and Cincinnati.
8. Skip the Favors
You do not have to do favors. Yep, I said it! In this day and age of Pinterest, ideas for favors can range from wine glasses at $15 per person, to smores kits for $5 per person. This doesn’t seem like much when you see it online, but again weddings are about scale. Those little favors can really add up. At my house, we have tons of favors that are cluttering up my junk drawer. So I decided early on we just weren’t doing them. Favors are nice, but if you really don’t have the money for favors, don’t max out your credit card getting customized nick nacks or waste your time wrapping Jordan Almonds. Just don’t do them…no one will notice.
9. DIY Wedding Programs
A simple DIY project for your wedding is making your own wedding ceremony programs. If you are a little computer savvy you can design a nice looking program on Powerpoint or find a downloadable design on Etsy. Then all you need to do is print and assemble. For our wedding, we made hand-fan programs. I design it myself looking at designs on google and got them printed and cut out at the local print shop. I attached the front and the back pages to a popsicle stick using double-sided tape and tied a ribbon to it. This saved us about $100 and only took up about 1 weekend of our time.
10. Look for the After Holiday Markdown
Usually, wedding planning takes anywhere from 6 months or more. In that time frame, it is likely a few holidays will pass by. Keep an eye out for sales after Christmas and Easter on decor items that you can use for our weddings like twinkle lights, candles, flower wreaths, or artificial flower arrangements. I found silver candles at Ikea for $5 each, I waited till after Christmas and they were on sale for a $1, score!
I hope these tips from my wedding help you with yours. If you have other suggestions on how to cut costs for your wedding, share the knowledge below in our comments.