Louisa Shafia

How To Save Money on Your Wedding

I got married a couple of weeks ago. We had a beautiful, rockin’ wedding in Austin, Texas. The wedding wasn’t cheap, but we did find lots of creative ways to cut costs. Here are ten tips for anyone planning a wedding on a budget. I hope you find these helpful!

  • Order flowers from a wholesaler, and have friends arrange them

Most cities have somewhere to buy flowers wholesale. Even if you can’t get them at the industry rate, buying your own flowers costs much less than hiring a florist. Ask your friends to arrange the flowers; chances are there’s someone in your group with an artistic touch.

  • Find a friend to videotape the event

Having your ceremony videotaped seems essential these days, because the technology’s out there, and it’s so easy. Hiring a professional for the job can cost thousands of dollars. Instead, ask a tech-savvy family member or friend. It means they will be working during the ceremony, so give them a special thanks.

  • Purchase your own alcohol

Instead of having a caterer provide your alcohol at a mark-up, do a little research and figure out how much alcohol you’ll need for your event, then order it yourself. Most wine stores will give you a discount if you buy by the case, and will deliver to your venue for a small fee.

  • Get crafty

Make a few things yourself, such as crowns for the flower girls, gifts for your bridesmaids (I made granola and packaged it in decorated coffee bags), welcome bags for your guests’ hotel rooms, etc. Get friends together and offer them dinner in exchange for their help with some of the more time-consuming tasks.

  • Keep wedding favors simple

Ask any wedding planner; guests leave behind most wedding favors. Instead of spending money on something expensive that most people will forget, give them something they can eat! I put a cup of locally grown strawberries tied with red ribbon at each place setting, and they were devoured. You could use cherry tomatoes, blackberries, or something else that’s in season.

  • Send electronic invites instead of paper ones

Wedding stationary and postage cost a lot. You can be environmentally friendly and time efficient using invites sent by email, and you’ll get responses a lot faster. Do a search for online invitations and you’ll find plenty of sites that offer this service.

  • Buy a vintage or used dress

Vintage clothing is in fashion these days, with the cultural shift away from disposables and toward all things eco-friendly and sustainable, and a used dress can cost a fraction of a new dress. Visit vintage stores and consignment shops to find a unique treasure that fits your style. Take a vintage dress to a tailor and have it sized to fit you.

  • Make your own thank you notes

Instead of buying expensive thank you cards, we bought nice envelopes and used our paper cutter to cut sheets of cardstock down to card size. Once the paper was cut, we decorated it with a pretty rubber stamp of a pink peacock. Combined with my hubby’s beautiful handwriting – mine isn’t exactly picturesque – the cards looked elegant and unique.

  • Hire an event planner to do what you can’t do, and do the rest yourself

We hired a “day of” planner who made sure that everything on our special day went smoothly. In order to keep her hourly charge low, we only asked her to do certain tasks. Things you can do yourself include hiring vendors (such as caterers and photographers), having your wedding programs printed, and dropping off welcome bags at guests’ hotels. Let the planner make a day-of timeline, hand checks to vendors, and trouble-shoot.

  • Ask for help

It may be a cliché, but it’s more fun for everyone when the event is a group effort. I asked friends and family to make our bouquets and boutonnieres, shoot video, pick up supplies, do make-up, fold programs, assemble the table centerpieces, etc. Everyone who helped felt a personal connection to the event, and was able to proudly show off their area of expertise.

Louisa Shafia is a cook with a passion for healthy eating. She recently penned Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, a collection of seasonal recipes and eco-friendly advice on food. To watch her cooking videos, see her recipes, and find out about her cooking classes, go to lucidfood.com.


11 Responses to “How To Save Money on Your Wedding”

  1. Great tips, however, the best way to save money on a wedding is to book an intimate cabin wedding in the wedding capital of the south…Gatlinburg, TN. Enjoy the beauty of the mountains after experiencing the intimacy of a Smoky Mountain wedding.

  2. Celia Hernandez says:

    Love it! These are some great tips! I’ll probably do these at my wedding! At my sister’s wedding she also put disposable cameras at each table setting so she didn’t have to hire a photographer and mail out pictures! I thought it was a great idea because everyone could take their own pictures that THEY like! Not just what a photographer likes.

  3. Of all the tips here that I may agree or disagree with the one I disagree with the most is the suggestion to hire a friend to take video of your wedding. Wedding and special event videography is a specialized field requiring training in many aspects, but in particular lighting. Uncle Joe or BFF Frannie may take cute little on the spot videos. BUT I guarantee you that you will not like a video which is washed out, which does not capture the entire processional or recessional or important ceremony moments because the person doing it does not know how to manage timing, is off eating dinner or going to the bathroom etc., Whatever you do, if you cannot afford a videographer spend the money on a professional photographer so you have quality mementos of your special day. Regarding electroninc invitations, consider people in your family that don’t use the internet, or that like the formality of a paper invitation. There are many many ways to send paper invitations without spending a fortune. The tip I agree with the most is to hire a professional for your day of. There is an allusion in this tip that you will face hourly charges. Not every planner charges hourly, in fact most charge a flat fee. Additionally, planner packages for day of include more than distributing timelines and handing out final payments. Most include going over your plans with you at least a month a head of time, and managing the arrival, set up and tear down of your ceremony and reception sites, to say nothing of managing your vendors and holding them to the terms of your contracts and agreements. As you pick and choose which of these money saving tips to use, please keep in mind the tips I have presented here. They will save you more than money!! Good luck to you.

  4. I am a vintage button-seller and I have got a really decorative and fun tips from a byer, who needed a lot of clear coloured buttons. For table decorations. Fun and a quite cheap idea for decorate a beautiful table!

  5. kierra says:

    hay rachel i love oyur cooking wow this is my 1st time on your website

  6. kierra says:

    it’s amaziqnh to meet on the computer

  7. Lisa Vogel says:

    Very cute…

    Where did you get the containers for the strawberries?

    Congratulations and best wishes,
    Lisa

  8. Sheryl Anne says:

    Our wedding was very simple, and casual, also a second for us both. I had a few friends take snapshots, and the pictures were fun to look at. But they were not even close in quality to the ones my son, who is a professional photographer, also took, saying, you need good photographs to mark this special day. There was no comparison,his were clear, timely, at beautiful angles, some at a distance, some closeup, and comprehensive.
    My suggestion: If you want excellent quality photos of your wedding, hire the professional. Some will take the photos, do the editing, and hand you the burned CD so you can print the ones you want where you want. all at a discount from a full service, more expensive option, to the finished album.
    The pro is worth it.

  9. Louisa says:

    Hi Lisa,

    The container for the strawberries were biodagradable, i.e. you could compost them after eating the strawberries. I purchased them at: http://www.worldcentric.org/.

  10. Sue says:

    I agree with many of your ideas but please, please, please don’t send an e-vite to a wedding. That’s just tacky especially if you’re going to all the work of puttng on a real wedding and not just a trip to Vegas and you’re invitng friends to meet you at the chapel the next day. Invitations can be done cheaper by printing your own on your computer at home (a single page of information is all that’s really needed) and using postcards for RSVP’s will all save on postage.

    As far as photographers – yes a pro is best but make sure you like their finished product before booking them. With two weddings I was involved in, I took all kinds of pictures and made up a photo album that was ready for the happy couple when they got back from their honeymoon. I am not a pro but I try for decent pictures and sometimes I luck out and get a really good picture. One couple has only looked some of the pro’s pictures on the CD and printed none because they liked mine so well and they were already printed and told the story from engagement to the morning after the wedding. The other wedding got a “deal” from a “pro” friend who was starting out and those pictures were full of weird angles, special effects and bad lighting with very few good pictures. Those pictures were posted on a website they couple had to download to print, which they haven’t. They also liked my picture album because they were normal and ready to look at. Both couple were so impressed, pleased and touched that I would take so many pictures and make a gift of an album to them. It also took the pressure off them to get prints made from the bad pros. As far as the cameras on the tables, it’s a good idea that rarely works out. People don’t use the flash so you end up developing roll after roll of wasted film or the guests take pictures of body parts and bad behavior which is just rude and disrespectful of the couple and the occasion. So many people think high tech and digital is the way to go but I think looking at and lingering over a photo album just seems more personal, permanent than popping in a CD/DVD and passing around a computer or trying to squeeze together so you can see the screen or watching it flicker by on the TV. But then I’m old-fashioned and low tech.

    I totally agree with having artsy friends help with the flowers, bows and table decorations. Making your own thank you notes is a great money savor or buy them at closeout stores. I know a bride who bought 500 of them off a clearance rack much cheaper than I could get the paper for and they even had a picture that tied into the wedding theme. Shop for favors in catalogs that sell knick-knacks in bulk. Also, have a BFF, or two, help with lists, schedules, shopping, scouting, calls, assembly and behind the scene things. You don’t need to hire a pro to get things done if you have a great friend.

    Hopefully some of this will help someone.

  11. Rebecca says:

    One of the biggest things to save on for me was definately thank you notes. If you have a dollar store in your area you can buy packages of 25 thank you notes for 1 dollar. Which even with 200 guests you are under 10 bucks! Buying a stamp and stamp pad works well as well. For return addresses I sprung and bought a fancy stamp of our address and a stamp pad in one of the wedding colors. The whole thing cost about 25 bucks and will last me a lot longer then a roll of labels.

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