After we got engaged (read the story here), one of the first things I did was sit down and make a wedding budget. Then I started working on ways I could cut down on that budget. Because when you start listing out how much everything is going to cost, it can be a little terrifying! Here are my 10 ways to cut your wedding budget, based on my own experiences.
Ask about a clearance/discontinued rack when shopping for your dress.
My dress was brand new and originally around $1,500, but I was able to get it for $592 (including tax…I actually bought it in CA, not in OR!) because it was a discontinued style. Other options are to check out bridal consignment shops in your area. One local shop (that both my sister and sister-in-law found their dresses at) that I love is The Shabby Chic Bride in Salem, Oregon, but I know there are plenty of other good ones as well. Approx. amount saved: $908
Check into being married on a family or friend’s property.
We saved money in a HUGE way by getting married on my parent’s neighbor’s property…and they didn’t charge us anything. If you’ve been looking at venues, you know what a huge savings this is!! Check around with family and friends to see if they, or anyone they know, have a location that would work for the wedding. The type of connections people have may surprise you! Approx. amount saved: $2,000-$5,000
Have a friend do your hair and makeup…or do it yourself!
Multiple people asked if I was going to do my own hair for my wedding, because it’s something I’m pretty good at. But I decided I didn’t want that pressure the morning of my wedding. So I asked a friend if she would be willing to do it in exchange for a photo session. I’m absolutely not good at makeup at all, but my friend/bridesmaid, Beka, is a wizard with a makeup brush. So I asked her to be my makeup artist and I paid her in a big hug and “thank you” and a Dutch Bros gift card. Approx. amount saved: $300+
10 ways to cut your wedding budget quick tip #1
Brainstorm sendoff alternatives. We used flower petals that I collected and dried over the summer, which only cost me some time.
DIY your veil.
Veils can be ridiculously expensive…one veil that I tried on while dress shopping was upwards of $175. YIKES. I bought a very simple veil off of Amazon (linked here), and then got lace from an Etsy shop (linked here) that was similar to the lace on my dress and tacked it all around the edge of the veil. That Etsy shop also sends you samples for a very low fee, which is super helpful when trying to match things up. Approx. amount saved: $140
Watch for sales/deals.
If you’re purchasing (or having your bridal party purchase) the bridal party clothes vs. renting them, I’d highly encourage watching for sales. All of the guys wore slacks from Kohl’s, and while I’m not actually sure if everybody got them on sale, we were able to save 45% on Nathan’s slacks by hitting a sale at the beginning of May. Watching for sales isn’t limited to just clothing though…I got the flower girl baskets on sale at Walmart near Easter, got a package deal on the guys suspenders from Amazon, and bought my boots off of the clearance rack at Coastal Farm. Approx. amount saved: $220+
Opt for an alternative to a full dinner.
As much as having a full meal would have been lovely, it just wasn’t something that was important enough to either of us to make fit in the budget. I’ve seen a lot of fantastic ideas for full meal alternatives, such as popcorn bars, meat + cheese + fruit bars, and donut walls. A quick search on Pinterest shows a whole load of other ideas as well. We went with a cookie bar, and asked about 20 different ladies to make 2-3 dozen cookies. I emailed a list of the types of cookies we were looking for, and then each lady responded with what type they’d make…that way we didn’t have too many duplicates. It turned out beautifully, and as far as I know, we had more than enough. Approx. amount saved: easily $750+
If possible, borrow…don’t rent or buy.
I was able to borrow quite a few things that a bride normally might have had to rent. All of the tables we used were borrowed, as was the cross, the wooden rounds and wooden boxes, most of the jars/vases used as centerpieces, and a few table clothes. I did have to rent the chairs, but I was able to get them for about $0.75 per chair cheaper through a local church than I would’ve been able to through a rental company. Approx. amount saved: $200+
10 ways to cut your wedding budget quick tip #2
Nix the save the dates. If you really want to send out save the dates, opt for digital ones.
If you do buy, check out Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
I found some beautiful white pitchers on Facebook Marketplace (I spent around $30 for 5 of them) that I used to hold bouquets of flowers on the reception tables. Our guestbook board came from Facebook Marketplace (it was labelled as “blank wood sign boards”) for only $25, which we then coated and my aunt (who did all our lettering and signage) wrote our names on. There is a similar guestbook board on Etsy for around $75 for the same size.
I got two wooden wine barrels (which we used at the end of the aisle and as the cake table) off of Craigslist for $50 each, which actually wasn’t a savings because I could have rented them for $25 each. But, I turned around and rented them out for $15 each in the months leading up to our wedding, and I made back more than what I spent on them. Approx. amount saved: $50+
Accept help, and ask for it when needed.
More than likely, you’ve got some talented family and friends. And more than likely, they’re going to be super willing to help with wedding things! Don’t let that willingness go to waste. As I mentioned above, one of my aunts did alllll our lettering and signage. It was a huge job, but one that she did joyfully! One of my uncles ran the sound equipment for us, my brother-in-law shot video for us, my mom’s cousin made our cake in exchange for a photo session, and countless family and friends pitched in with set up, decorating, parking, clean up afterwards, and so much more. The outpouring of help that we received truly blessed us. Approx. amount saved: $1,000+
Let it go.
No, not as in the Frozen song, as in, let it go because it’s probably not *that* important. I’m serious! Nobody is going to care that all your bridesmaids aren’t in matching robes for the getting ready photos. Nobody is going to know that you got your boots on clearance because they were $60ish vs the $200 boots that you saw online that you really wanted. (Well, unless you tell everybody in a blog post…then they’ll know.)
Nobody is going to care (or think your wedding less-than) because you put helium heart balloons at the road. Nobody is going to care if you have black and white chairs vs all white chairs. No-one is going to notice that the cheesecloth you ordered is a touch more sky-blue than it is dusty-gray-blue. Nobody is going to know or care that the chairs didn’t get arranged the exact way you were imagining them in your head. And nobody is going to care that you awkwardly scrambled into the getaway pickup bed instead of dainty stepping up into it.
Y’all, everything I just typed are things I thought about/struggled with/worked through before and during our wedding. But ya know what? Not one of those things really mattered. What mattered was that we left that evening and we were finally married. That’s it! No ifs, ands, or buts. Approx. amount saved: a lot of stress
So there you have it! 10 ways to cut your wedding budget! I am by no means an expert, and I definitely didn’t do everything right in regards to the budget. But, we were able to save somewhere around $5,500 by doing the things I listed above.
Next week, I’m going to be talking about the things I was *not* willing to skimp on. Stay tuned!