What is the easiest wedding expense to reduce when a bride is on a budget and how is it done?

Sharon Ives
ScrapFree Photobooks

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If you want to save money on your wedding officiant or minister, look for ones who offer discounts. I offer a discounted price for weekday wedding ceremonies (Monday -Thursday, between the hours of 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM). And I offer a liberal discount to those in the military who are being deployed and want to wed before their partner deploys. Last of all, any of my couples who take 3 or more sessions of Marriage Preparation with me will receive $100 off the wedding ceremony package of their choice! http://www.weddingsonwheels.org/special_offer
Hi Sharon,

I emphatically agree with many of the recommendations listed here, but not giving your guests a favor which is a token of your wedding day is not recommended. If you want to ensure that your favors will be appreciated and not discarded which is definitely a waste of your money, give them a favor that is chocolate or candy or both and they won't be left behind. Let your favor do double duty by being used as an edible chocolate placecard or a personalized chocolate frame with the bride & groom's picture. There are so many affordable options for brides today. Just don't forget to make it a fun expense, not a burden!

1. Cut the guest list - if possible. Sometimes it's not possible due to family situations etc. This is the number 1 way of cutting costs.
2. Freelance photographer - I know a bunch of great (sometimes better than "wedding") photographers who might fit the bill. Often, the wedding is looked through a fresh and creative lens.
3. Custom made dress as opposed to buying a gown at a bridal salon. I had a bride who loved a $3,500.00 dress. We got a dress made out of "real" silk satin, a cathedral veil which was lined in the same fabric, and a bolero jacket - all for $2,000.00. If that’s not cost savings, I don't know what is.
4. Trunk shows and sample sales are great!
5. Opting for a smaller "show" cake and offering sheet cakes in the back.
6. Cutting the alcohol out of your bar (they will survive one night, I promise). Nobody is saying that you have to offer, but if you offer it - you should pay for it.
7. Choosing a venue that has table, chairs, glassware, silver, etc. Covering the chairs is not as expensive as renting ones (if you find an economic rental solution. Don’t rent through the venue).
8. Choosing a venue you are happy with - decor wise. choosing a venue that you do not like because it’s inexpensive, and then paying twice the rental fee in decor - is not a good plan.
9. Cutting out favors, or combining favors and place cards into one offering.
10. Make every aspect of your wedding matter. Don’t just do it because you think you “need’ to do it. Do it because it has a significance to you, your fiancé, your families (collectively) and your guests. Make the significance known.
11. Downsize your wedding party (or no wedding party at all).
12. Ceremony and reception in one place - no need to transport yourselves or your guests.
13. Renting instead of buying. Check prices. You will only use this stuff once, and renting will eliminate the need to sell stuff afterwards.
14. Getting married during the “off” season. Many vendors would love to work early December, January and February - when things are typically quiet. They might even offer you a terrific deal if you give them your wedding!
15. Create a realistic budget and prioritize. Be honest to yourself and your vendors about how much you can and/or want to spend on your big day.
16. Hire a planner who has a strong network of vendors that they always use. This will save you time and money.
I read very carefully all the post, were very interesting indeed, and I agree with the most of you. I would like to add this. Why not destination or beach wedding; where the costs are greatly reduced and in addition the couple will have the honeymoon;
My husband, then fiance put it, just give up what you think you won't regret. Think about how you will feel after the wedding and what's really important to you to have there. Then budget certain things you can do without. The logic actually worked really well. I also thought of certain things that I could do craftifly or things that I knew a friend would be willing to do to cut down on costs. We had a simple wedding, but that way we didn't have to cut down on people and our wedding was gorgeous.
The top 3 tips we give for staying under budget are:

1. Change the day of the week. Anything other than a Saturday night will usually have a lower rate
2. Reduce the guest list. Aside from the cost per plate all the other little costs that goes into each guest program, favor, etc can add up quickly
3. DIY. It's a balance between cost savings and time savings but depending on the project you could save a lot.
Well speaking from our own experience, we had a really cheap wedding, but there are a few things you HAVE to pay for. We fortunately go our venue for free, but usually that should be the biggest expense for a bride. Rentals aren't much, and sometimes you can get linens for cheaper than you can rent them. We did our own decorations, which was a savings. I also searched high and low for a dress that was a reasonable budget and didn't compromise on what I wanted for the dress. I did however, see the sash I wanted that was 200 dollars and had a good friend make it for me for 20. Little things like that can save big time. Instead of food you could have appetizers and dessert. Instead of a full bar, you could limit to wine, and champagne. Little savers like that go a long way.

Sometimes too the venues offer a package deal and you can save there too.

As regards photography, you are going to want to pay the money for the one you want. The one that will capture all the wonderful memories of your day and it will really be the thing you keep forever.

One other thing we did was hire a planner, she kept us within our budget. She had ideas for pretty things that were inexpensive and would help us. Vendors will sometimes work with budgets if they are within range.

I hope this helped.
Sweet T Studios
Double up by using your escort cards as your favors, i.e. Place the escort card in a beautiful frame that folks can keep. Another idea - if your theme allows: mini wine bottles with the label specifying the name and table number. Or for edible favors - package 2 truffles in a box and ribbon from your wedding colors - label the box with the name and table number.
As others obviously said, the guest list is a big one.

But please, please don't have your aunt Sue who takes some good landscape shots photograph your wedding! Photography is the only thing that lasts and you should not forgo quality to save. You will get what you pay for and regret it later (just had a friend who had a friend of the family do it and was so upset with the results she hired a photographer to take some redo portraits, you don't want to go through that!) You want a photographer with experience and who's work you love!

I think a big way to save is the timing/food. Who says you have to serve your guests a big dinner? Have an afternoon wedding and just serve some light hour d'oeuvres and cake! No one will miss your chicken or beef options. I think sweet afternoon weddings are some of the most romantic and intimate. It's about showcasing you as a couple, not showcasing how much money you spent!

When we married 3 daughters in 3 1/2 months we made many of the items and had fun doing it. One way to save was to make the cake stand instead of renting it. Plus we did not have to return it the day after! It turned out so well we are making them as way of helping brides save some money and time. Sounds like a small thing but a little here and a little there adds up.

Food/Beverage costs are usually #1 and the easiest way to reduce the cost is to reduce the size of the guest list. This allows you to pick a smaller venue, less invitations, less decor costs, and less food/beverage costs. If reducing the guest list is not an option - brides can either pick a more affordable meal option (chicken instead of lobster for example) or have a less formal reception that does not include a full meal. This only works if your wedding is planned so it does not go over a regular meal time. For example - if you had a 2pm wedding followed by a 3pm champagne/cake reception that was done before supper hour. This can be a wonderful, intimate and informal style wedding - but it's not for everyone.
Having been a bride very recently trying to cut costs, the best advice I can give about reducing wedding expenses is:
Don't read bridal magazines, don't listen to what the wedding industry thinks (I make wedding invitations) is important or necessary to spend money on. Define what is important to you, and everyone is different!
Make a list of 3-5 most important things you want in your wedding and think creatively and out of the box.

Yes, reducing the guest list might go the longest way in cutting costs, but if you want a big party of 200 guests, why not? Work around that, have it at a park, or someone's backyard, have a local barbecue place cater.

Want a beautiful wedding dress? A friend of mine bought a vintage 1950's Christian Dior wedding dress at Brides for Breast Cancer for $500 and had it altered to fit. I LOVED my own wedding dress and it was $300, custom made online. My sister in law got hers for pennies, a lovely silk vintage dress at a thrift store. Another bride I know traded assistant work for her dream dress.

Decorations, party favors, etc? Make your own, scour flea markets, vintage stores, crafty friends and relatives. Hit farmers' markets late in the day and buy up their flowers and plants.

The thing is to identify what is most important to you and put yourself in a creative frame of mind. Think unconventional, don't listen to others. Do what you want. Its your wedding.

I narrowed mine down to my guests, an awesome hilltop location and a great atmosphere. I designed my budget around that, and cut out everything else that wasn't necessary.

I think great weddings on a shoestring budget are SO VERY POSSIBLE, just google budget wedding blogs, there are some weddings so simple and breathtakingly beautiful for such low budgets.

Good luck!


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