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Three Ideas For Saving Money on Your Wedding

Weddings haven’t halted with the economic slowdown, but couples have been reconsidering the budgets for their big day. Old tricks like hiring local music students to perform as an orchestra, opting for seasonal floral arrangements, and pouring wine but nixing the bar are becoming more common. The New York Times interviewed some budget-conscious brides and grooms that have a few other tricks up their sleeves.

  1. One couple posted an ad on Craigslist for a photographer and offered a flat $200 fee. In just a few hours they received 70 responses and chose one that was trying to build a career as a wedding photographer. They gave her $40 extra to buy a better lens to shoot their wedding — $240 total for a photographer is inexpensive and avoids having to ask family members to be responsible for taking pictures.
  2. A planner suggests that if the wedding needs to be indoors, consider a restaurant. Event spaces usually charge a venue fee but restaurants typically do not.
  3. If you need to rent tables and chairs through a rental company, do your research. Some companies require higher minimums than others.


Join The Conversation
ladydanaj ladydanaj 8 years
I actually publish a blog on saving money for weddings. The craziest idea I've heard in awhile-rent a wedding cake. The guests have no idea and you serve them sheet cake.
Haethre Haethre 8 years
I'm getting married in 7 months and this is GREAT advice!! thanks especially to lickety split. My fiance has a huge family and I'm trying not to get stressed but rather focus on living with the love of my life for years to come! here are a few more tips I am using: -hire a newspaper photographer (photojournalist) for more natural, inexpensive yet professional photos. -don't do favors. people eat/throw away/shove them in a drawer. -borrow someone's car, get it washed and decorated. you don't need a limo. -search preownedweddingdresses and ebay! -make your veil. it's a piece of tulle -get a caterer that can cover everything -do cupcakes instead of cake -stick to wine/champagne rather than liquor -I'm having my bridesmaids wear black cocktail (knee-length) cocktail dresses so I don't have to cover their costs and they are happy and will wear them again -use Sam's club for everything from flowers to cuff links things I am not skimping on: -dress. I want high-quality fabric but will be still only shop sample sales and ebay -food and wine. we found an all-inclusive caterer who is making our cupcakes too (no wedding cake) -the honeymoon---we are staying in the States probably, but it is going to be LONG. after 4 years long-distance, we've earned it! :)
Nightwind Nightwind 8 years
I totally agree with "Hoaxerz" $40 for a new lens is wrong. Even the cheapest lens you can get is at least $100. Most average $300. Well, my wedding photographer came with the Vegas package deal. She was fantastic! I wasnt that into wedding photos until I saw ours that she took. Composition, focus, exposures all perfect. You can budget down on the photographer, but dont cheep out.
estella241 estella241 8 years
We kept our wedding under $3000 with the following methods: -Keep the guest list as small as possible -Have a lunch time reception instead of evening -Have the reception at an all inclusive place, such as a restaurant, where you won't have to rent chairs, linens, or tableware, and where you won't have to hire a separate waitstaff -Also with the reception location, choose a place that has enough decoration and ambiance where you won't have to spend a fortune decorating it. Our reception was at a 18th century tavern that was still in operation as a restaurant. No expensive arrangements needed! -Keep your bridal party small. This results in fewer bouquets, boutonnieres, attendant gifts, hotel rooms, place settings at the rehearsal dinner, etc. -Purchase your wedding dress at a no frills place, such as a large bridal warehouse or at David's Bridal. My wedding dress was $195 from a place called Bridal Mart in NC. -Don't spend a fortune on favors. We didn't do them and no one noticed. -Make your own programs rather than having them professionally printed. -Have your friends take pictures at the wedding, then ask them to send everything to you where you can pick and choose from the best of them. Sometimes your friends catch moments that are priceless! -If you keep the wedding small, it's a lot easier to get through the prep work without hiring a wedding planner. Things that we didn't skimp on that I am not sorry about: -Professionally printed invitations. I think invitations set the tone for a wedding and they were very important to me. -The groom's suit. I didn't want my groom to feel left out of the big day (after all, we ladies get to have a fabulous dress to only use for one day!) so we made sure to get him a new suit and all the accessories that he could use for years to come. It was a great investment. -Gifts for our attendants. The fact that they came to support us during our big day meant a lot, so we made sure to get them presents we thought they would find meaningful.
Ladytron7000 Ladytron7000 8 years
Save on flowers by ordering them wholesale online and making bouquets and arrangements yourself (with the help of mothers who need something to keep them occupied and bridesmaids). Do not do the iPod thing. That was my biggest regret because frankly, my friend wasn't a great crowd-mover, and my selections were over the heads of my relatives. I thought The Street's "Can't Con an Honest Man" was a hilarious dollar dance song. Huge flop.
kathrynliz kathrynliz 8 years
off-peak, off-peak, off-peak. and don't leave hotel venues out of your search. i talk to so many brides that want a non-hotel venue, but simply don't understand all of the different vendor sourcing you must do for it- even if you're only looking at 50ppl. a (good) hotel salesperson will tell you that tables, linen, service, dance floor, clean up, etc, are included- and we'll usually throw in a discount guestroom rate and a free bridal suite + amenity. plus, you get a catering person in charge that has a good understanding of your day and what you want.
jimpolandy jimpolandy 8 years
My husband does wedding photography on the side because he loves to take pictures. Suddenly, everyone thinks that they can do the pictures now with digital camera. So many people are willing to skimp on their pictures. What if Uncle Bob's camera is set with the wrong white balance or he accidentally switches from auto focus to manual, but doesn't realize it. Then you would be without any pictures. Professionals use more than one camera, more than one lense, and know how to set up the shots with the correct settings. It's called experience. My husband will work with any bride and their budget. You just have to ask.
Hoaxerz Hoaxerz 8 years
Getting a photographer who is trying to break into wedding photography is a great way to save money (if they're good), but $200 base pay is ridiculous for ANY photographer...and $40 for a new lens? Was it a Playskool lens sold at Walmart? Good photographers are worth several thousand dollars, because you are not only paying for their talent, and time at the wedding, but their assistants, second shooters, equipment, and processing.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
We had a pretty low-budget wedding...the whole thing cost a little less than $5K. We spent quite a bit on the photography because my mom really wanted good pictures. The photographer we went with had done the senior pictures for me and all my siblings and he also did my sister's wedding pics. So we KNEW he was good and my mom willingly paid the bill. Here's what we did to save quite a bit of money on the bill: -I got my dress at David's Bridal on's a dress you wear ONCE, why pay thousands for it? -Get a cake iced with buttercream instead of fondant; fondant cakes almost always cost a LOT more. -Transport the flowers used at the ceremony to the reception site so they can do double-duty. -Instead of buying superexpensive favors for your guests, go online and order custom made M&Ms in your wedding colors with your names and the date on them. Buy tulle circles and put some candy in each circle and tie it up with pretty ribbon. Classy and cheap. -Keep it's almost always the biggest expense at a wedding, so if you have fewer mouths to feed, you have a smaller bill. -I know lots of wedding "experts" say it's tacky, but have a cash bar at your reception, not an open bar. Guests almost always take advantage of the open bar and you'll get stuck with a bill that could easily be over $20K. Sorry, but I wasn't about to shell out that much money so my guests could get soused. We bought two kegs of beer and figured if people didn't want free beer, they could pay for whatever drink they DID want.
codewhiz codewhiz 8 years
Hey that's great kristyy that you made your own CDs to play during dinner. That's what I did too! And I can still play those CDs whenever I want. As far as having the ceremony on any other day besides Saturday, sure it costs a lot less, but it's a real compromise because your guests will have to take a vacation day to go to your wedding which is making them go out of their way. So I think that's something that's worth not skimping on.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
this is really some good information. my wedding is in 6 months and we're trying to figure out where to cut costs without losing the integrity of the day and still getting what we want.
kristyy kristyy 8 years
We paid a 20-something-year old to be our photographer. He worked for a well-known photographer (whose price we couldn't afford) and was trying to build his portfolio. We asked him to show us his portfolio and some samples, and when we met with him, he took some candid photos of us on the spot and showed us the results on his camera (with no Photoshop work). Although it was slightly more than $240, the results were awesome! So you have to understand what a person's skill levels are. Even if they have been a professional photographer for 20 years, it doesn't mean they're good. Other stuff we saved on: -Rented a basic 5-disc CD player (connected to the house speakers) and microphone for a cost of about $100. We made our own CDs to play in the background during dinner (no DJ and no dancing). Our MC was a family member. -Had a musician play for one hour during the ceremony. Cheaper than renting a DJ for the entire event. -Cake was delivered as a plain white cake with no decorations. We decorated with leftover fresh flowers and it still looked stunning. -Keep it small! Less people = less mouths to feed = less money to spend. (Making it a destination wedding or a long drive often times will deter people that don't really care about you from coming. Yet you still fill your "obligation" of inviting them.) -Check out sites like eBay and Craigslist for leftover materials from other brides who bought too much stuff or have things slightly used. (Does anyone really care if the vases have been used?) I found that a number of brides would buy a dress and then find something else they liked better. You can buy dress #1 from them as a brand new dress at a huge discount. -Incorporating bright colors into your decoration would require less usage of materials, as you wouldn't need as much stuff to make things stand out. Little would go a long way.
javsmav javsmav 8 years
I'm trying to convince my boyfriend just to get married at city hall. A wedding is a big waste of money, imo.
bchicgrl bchicgrl 8 years
The craigslist thing is a great idea because there are so many photographers it's hard for the up and coming ones to start out (what better way). My idea I've been thinking a lot about lately is having the ceremony at city hall with immediate family and then having separate receptions for each coast. This way the only people that have to travel is me and my fiance and my mom and moh.
teperry3 teperry3 8 years
I think that the craigslist search is a good idea. For those of you saying that they are not professional.. from all of the responses set up back to back times to meet and LOOK AT THIER LOOK BOOK - that way you have an idea of what thier photography is like.
valancyjane valancyjane 8 years
My 2 cents on photographers: We had a very small wedding - just us, parents and siblings, with dinner afterward. I couldn't find a photographer who would work for just the 30-minute ceremony - they all wanted me to reserve the full afternoon and that just wasn't worth it. So I asked my dad to take a few photos of the ceremony. He's kind of a shutterbug, but not a pro - and you can tell from the photos. Now I wish I had pushed a little harder to find someone - the photos might have been a bit better and my dad wouldn't have had to be "on duty." Though I never like myself in photographs, so at least I didn't have to pay for pics I didn't like! I think when it comes to planning a wedding, you start with the basics and work up - rather than starting with the full enchilada and take things off. Everyone's priorities are different, and there's no reason to stretch the budget to keep things that you "have to" have if you don't want them. Start with the officiant and you, and go from there.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 8 years
Yea...I don't even want a wedding! I want to go somewhere nice and warm with close frends and family :)
supercoolnat supercoolnat 8 years
Some of my "secrets" (not quite as good as a $240 photographer!): -Lunch reception rather than dinner -Only a champagne toast with no other alcohol - only works if you have the right kind of crowd, and it helped that it was lunch time -Non-floral centerpieces, or minimal flowers I think the main thing is prioritizing. Decide what is most important to you, and save money on everything else.
lawchick lawchick 8 years
our photographer was $600. she did some wedding and event photography but wasn't "a professional photographer." I knew that our pictures would not look like they were taken by a professional photographer, but would still be nice and we would end up with a few that were frame-worthy. Of course it's nice to have all the fancy lighting to make you look extra pretty, but it wasn't in our budget and it's not something I regret having missed out on. it's all about priorities, and everyone's are different and that's fine! my priority was making the reception awesome for my guests, so we spent almost all of our money on the venue, food, alcohol and band -- and skimped on my dress and the pictures.
foxie foxie 8 years
I think that's a good idea on saving money for a photographer. I'm sorry, but taking pictures is not something that only "professionals" can do well. I'm sure it marginally helps to have loads of experience and all, but MANY people are perfectly capable of taking beautiful wedding photos. I can't stand when photographers act like they have some innate gift. It's picture taking... it shouldn't cost thousands of dollars.
gemsera gemsera 8 years
a struggling family member was lucky - they went to church the other day (where they plan to get married), met the couple marrying the day before, who agreed to leave the flowers there for their wedding! so they dont pay a cent! pretty good stuff :)
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
here is my money saving tip to you; you are just as married no matter what the ceremony/reception costs. we paid a professional photographer about $3k nearly 12 years ago. we have 1 picture of that day up in our home and the rest in a box or a photo album. guess what; the marriage is what you look at, the way the other person responded when you needed them, not the snap shot that captured the instant you said "cheese" and had professional hair and make-up on. wedding day; not important. marriage day-in-day-out; important.
HeidiMD HeidiMD 8 years
We are getting married at a restaurant, but I'll admit the cost was the last thing on my mind, especially since it our dinner is still pricey. We aren't having a traditional DJ'd dance reception, just a four-course dinner for our guests at our favorite (very nice) restaurant, and then those who want to continue the party are welcome to do so with us around the city.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
I think the photographs are the most important part of the wedding (except for the whole starting a marriage part ;) haha) and think anyone that cheaps out on it is just asking for trouble. I don't care if my photographer costs thousands, I'm getting the best and I'll take from dress, cake, and everything-else budgets, so long as the captured memories are flawless!
death-by-chocolat death-by-chocolat 8 years
Yay, cheap weddings! I second Jmartens iPod suggestion, it definitely worked for us! Also, make everything by hand. (Seriously, I made nearly everything- my veil, favors, decor, invites, placecards, guestbook, even homemade chocolates!) And don't you say you don't have time, because I did all my wedding planning in just two months. :-P We had ours in a restaurant that specializes in private events, which meant excellent food, plus all the tables, linens, glassware and candles our hearts could desire, for way less than it would cost to separately rent a venue and all the fixins, AND hire a caterer.
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