With the average cost of a wedding rising it’s not uncommon for brides to look for ways to trim the budget without having to sacrifice the important things, such as hosting a great party, having fun, and enjoying some amazing food.
Want to have the special day you’ve always dreamed of and not go broke?
Here are 17 tips and tricks to save you money on your special day.
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
All the photos in this post were taken by my wonderful, kind, talented photographer Sara Shearer see her work at Sara Shearer Photography and all of my gorgeous flowers were put together by my amazing and talented florist Melissa from Table Top Etc.
1. Get Married in a Backyard
Do you have a friend or family member with some land or a house big enough to host a wedding? Ask! Seriously, this one question could save you thousands and the worst that could happen is for them to say no.
Having our wedding in our friend’s parent’s backyard saved us an unbelievable amount of money. After getting engaged I quickly took to the internet to start searching for venues in our area to quickly realize the cheapest thing I could find was around $5,000 dollars and that only got us the venue not the lights, tables, chairs, linens, etc.
To say the least we are truly blessed to have such amazing friends in our life to open up their home to us on the most important day of the beginning of our lives together. We are beyond grateful for such generosity.
If you don’t have any friends or family with a large enough space try researching your local parks or campgrounds.
2. Use Food Trucks for Catering
When you get married in someone’s backyard you aren’t stuck with a set list of catering options that you have to choose from with a limit menu of options. Instead, we chose to go with 2 different food trucks. Our wedding guests raved about how amazing the food was and that some of them went to both trucks because they just couldn’t choose one.
Each food truck was responsible for feeding just over half of our guests (allowing for some to try both trucks). They arrived early and had the food hot and ready to go at our set dinner time. The food trucks were used to having the lunch and dinner rushes so they were great at handling the large numbers all at once. We also got to have a taste test with both food trucks and handcraft our menus.
If you live in or around the Portland, Or area I would highly recommend them both!
3. Make Your Own Wedding Invitations
You don’t have to spend a fortune to have beautifully elegant wedding invitations that impress your guests. Read my post about how I created our wedding invitations online for less than a $1.00 per invitation using picmonkey.
4. Make Your Centerpieces
Save money by crafting together your centerpieces. Whether your centerpieces are colorful linens, bright candles, or table numbers think about making them yourself. I left the flowers to the professionals!
For our centerpieces, I made beige linen napkins with our initials and wedding date printed on to them and placed them in the center of the table on top of a white table linen. I added a stained wood table number for some rustic charm. We then added the flowers for a fun pop of colors.
5. Use Plastic Plates & Silverware
Having our wedding in a backyard meant we had to rent tables, chairs, plates, silverware, and napkins. I didn’t want to have to rent all of those items because rentals can quickly add up. That’s when I started researching and found some plastic plates that were made to look like real plates. I went with the plates with a silver trim and found silver colored silverware to match. I then found super thick napkins that would be the next best thing to real linen napkins.
6. Don’t Use a Coordinator
Have you looked up what a coordinator costs yet? I found out it would cost me $3,000 for a coordinator and $1,000 for a day-of-event coordinator. However, I couldn’t justify spending that much money on something that I could do myself. I started by purchasing myself the Erin Condren wedding planner to help keep me on track. One of my favorite features of the planner is that it told me when I should have things completed by. It made things feel much more manageable.
Since I was going to be the main coordinator for our wedding day my number one goal was to be as organized as possible to make things run as smoothly. I knew I couldn’t be everywhere at once so I wanted to be able to hand over my plans and directions to others to follow through with. I wanted to start by creating a floor plan of how everything was to be set up and where things were going to be placed. That’s when I discovered the amazing website allseated. This website is seriously amazing for planning a wedding or event. I was able to put in our exact size of the tent and arrange our 10 person tables to fit under the tent along with the exact size of our dance floor.
I also divided the tasks at the end up between friends and family to help me knowing again that I couldn’t be everywhere at once. It’s better to have more help so if people offer just say yes and you will surely have something for them to do once it gets closer to the big day!
7. Pick up Flowers from Florist
I had a friend pick up my flowers from my florist and put them on the tables, put the rose petals on the grass, and place the shepherd’s hooks along the aisle. Having my friend do this saved me 10% off of my total bill from my florist. My friend was more than happy to help and didn’t feel any pressure because the flowers were being done professionally.
8. Make or Borrow a Dance Floor
My dad’s best friend made a dance floor out of plywood for his daughters’ outdoor weddings and said we could borrow it from him. It worked out perfectly and saved us money!
9. Invite Fewer People
This can be difficult. I know, but it can truly save you SO much money. Each person you invite means more food, more drinks, more silverware, more tables, and chairs, etc. We decided to only invite family and really close friendships. Neither of us invited any coworkers or friends that we haven’t kept in touch with over the years. We were able to keep our wedding down to 150 people, which is still fairly large for a backyard wedding in my opinion.
Remember your wedding is just one day of your lives together and your wedding will be over in a blink of an eye. Invite the people you truly want to spend a day in your life that has so much meaning and will fly by.
10. Buy a Used Dress
Wedding dresses can be expensive. Your wedding day is something you’ve most likely dreamed of since you were a little girl and you’ve envisioned yourself in a beautiful wedding dress. I too wanted a beautiful wedding dress but was feeling guilty about the prices. After some researching, I came across Brides for a Cause where they sell used wedding dresses that are donated to them for a 50% discount that the original owner paid for the dress. They then take the proceeds from each sale and donate the money to a charity. This made me feel much better knowing that I was getting an amazing dress for half the price and that the money I was paying them would be donated to a charity.
11. Borrow from Recently Wed Family & Friends
Ask around your recently married family and friends if they have anything that you could borrow from them. One of my co-workers and two chalkboard easels that she let me borrow from her recent wedding.
My dad’s friend let us borrow his homemade dance floor and chandelier.
12. Buy your Wine from Costco
Go to your local Costco and visit their customer service and ask them if they will return unopened bottles of wine. Our Costco said they would so we purchased 5 cases of red wine and 3 cases of white wine. It ended up being a hot day so after the wedding, we only had 6 bottles of white wine left and 3 cases of red left. We saved our receipt and returned all the unopened bottles and got back a little over $200.00 back.
13. Know Anyone with a Talent?
Do you know anyone with a talent such as a florist, DJ, baker, photographer? They don’t even have to professionally claim that profession as their day job but maybe it’s something they are really good at and enjoy doing. -florist
Our sister-in-law is an amazing cook and truly enjoys cooking. So I asked her if she would be interested in baking our cake and cupcakes. She said yes!
I also have a co-worker who DJ’s on the side in the summer and he gave me an amazing friend discount.
We had a friend perform our wedding ceremony. Instead of having to pay a professional. It saved us money and was very heartfelt and memorable since it was a close friend.
14. Have Your Party Favor Serve a Purpose
Choose a party favor that could also serve a purpose at the wedding. I love this idea of getting two uses out of one idea! For our wedding favor, I made mason jar glasses and added a chalkboard sticker for people to write their names. After doing some research and some math the cheapest mason jars I was able to find was at Walmart.
Each case of 12 jars cost $9.83. I bought 12 cases for a total of 144 jars for $117.96 making each jar $0.82 and shipping was free for any purchase over $35.00. I did find other retailers that sold the jars for less money, but then they would get you on shipping. So once I added shipping and the jars together and then divided that number by 144 jars it was always more than what I found at Walmart.
15. Buy Lights at Costco
For an outdoor wedding, it’s important to add lights. Not only are they an amazing decor piece, but they keep your venue you lit allowing your party to go well until midnight! I purchased our lights from Costco. They often put their outdoor lights on sale so either wait to buy them until there is a sale or simply save your receipt and return them.
I bought 8 boxes of them at full price $29.99 and then one of my aunts saw them on sale for half the price $15.99 and texted me. I ran down the next day and returned them and purchased 8 new boxes for half the price.
16. Make a Flower Wall for Decorations
A fun and cheap decoration that adds a ton of beauty to an area is a flower wall. I purchased a combination of white and light pink carnations and roses. I then tied the ribbon to the limbs of a tree where our cake table display was going to be. Next, I tied the flower stem to the other end of the ribbon to have them hanging upside down. It turned out beautifully.
17. Ask a Vineyard for Old Wine Barrels
Wine barrels are a great touch to any outdoor wedding. We are wine members at a vineyard near our house and we visited them one day and asked them if they ever sold their old wine barrels and they said let me ask the owner. The manager was able to get us two wine barrels for free. Being members of the winery I’m sure helped but it doesn’t hurt to ask you never know. I’ve even heard of vineyards giving them away for a cheap price.
Before asking a vineyard I looked on Craigslist and found some but the cheapest I could find was still $80.00 per wine barrels and from the pictures online, they looked very beat up.
We used our wine barrels along with two old pieces of wood that we found in my husband’s 1st house that the previous owner had left behind for our wedding cake and cupcake display table.
Saving Money on Your Summer Wedding
Weddings are exorbitantly expensive.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a wedding when the most important thing is to make it personal.
Handling wedding tasks yourself can be a great way to personalize your event and save money.