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Since wedding season is here, I’ve seen tons of advertisements about elegant events that cost a fortune. As I’m also planning my special day, it’s scary to think about how pricey weddings can be. According to an article from CreditDonkey.com, the average wedding cost a whopping $29,858! The same article also states that:
- The average cost of flowers is around $2,000.
- The average cost of wedding invitations is $443.
- The average cost of hiring a wedding planner is $1,874.
- The average cost of a wedding cake is $546.
Before you get overwhelmed or think about calling off your nuptials, take a deep breath. Yes, the average wedding costs this much. But that doesn’t mean yours has to, and you don’t have to make tons of sacrifices. In this post, I’ll cover 10 ways to save money while planning your wedding. Take a look and see what your options are.
1. Consider Budget-Friendly Cuisine Options
ValuePenguin.com states that the average cost per plate at a wedding is $30 for a wedding with 140 guests. More expensive dining options can cost more than $100 per plate. For many people, this cost is simply unrealistic. I’ve considered a few of the following options, and I found additional tips online. Here are some frugal cuisine ideas:
- Go DIY with the desserts, appetizers, and other finger foods. I found tons of amazing recipes on Pinterest that are surprisingly easy to make. Searching “wedding dessert ideas” and “wedding dessert DIY” on Pinterest brings up thousands of dessert options. You can swap out the word ‘dessert’ with ‘food’, ‘appetizers’, ‘drinks’, and so on.
- Consider having a buffet-style meal versus a traditional sit-down dinner. Buffet style meals typically offer a much cheaper price per plate. You can choose to have your event catered or set up a buffet of your own. Either way, you’ll save money while still being able to pick delicious foods you love.
- Think about having a daytime wedding; you can do brunch or lunch for the meal. As you can imagine, the foods needed for a brunch or lunch aren’t as costly. These meals typically consist of less food. And if you combine this idea with the ones above, you’ll save even more cash.
If catering is a must-have for you, consider local ‘mom and pop’ businesses. When you add the word ‘wedding’ to anything – flowers, caterers, cakes, etc. – the price skyrockets. Contact local eateries about their catering services. Compare the prices to the prices of local wedding catering business. Chances are you’ll discover local restaurants are considerably cheaper.
2. Explore Cost Effective Dates and Times
According to TheKnot.com, the most popular time to get married is June through October. During wedding season, the prices for wedding items are inevitably higher. For example, the cost of a venue in my area is significantly higher during those specific months. By getting married in the “off season”, we could cut down the cost by about 30%. That’s a huge difference!
A post from BrideBox.com notes that Saturday is the most popular day of the week to get married. Because of this, most venues cost more to rent on Saturdays than they do on Sundays or weekdays. Additionally, the time of day that you rent a venue often makes a huge difference. Afternoon or early evening weddings are typically less expensive.
I looked up the cost of a local community center that has rooms that can be rented for receptions. For weekdays and Sundays, the venue is $60 per hour before 8 PM. On Saturday, the venue is $65/per hour before 8 PM. After 8 PM on any day, the price is a whopping $120/hour.
An informative article by BridalGuide.com suggests that the ideal time for a ceremony is 30 minutes and that the ideal time for a reception is six hours. This does not include the time you’ll be using the venue or venues for preparation, taking down decorations, photographs, and so on. As you can see, the cost per hour will quickly add up.
3. Have Fun And Save Money With DIY Decorations and Gifts
Pre-made wedding decorations are a huge budget-breaker. StatisticBrain.com shows that flowers and decorations cost an average of $1,800. Additionally, gifts and favors cost $800 on average. Some examples of these startlingly high averages include:
- reception decorations – $287
- reception flower arrangements – $348
- reception centerpieces – $366
- ceremony decorations – $235
- ceremony flower arrangements – $298
- wedding favors – $262
- gifts for attendants – $196
Just reading that list is overwhelming! Fortunately, DIY decorations and wedding favors are a huge trend right now. These items make weddings a little more personable, and they can save you tons of money. Here are some resources and articles to help you navigate the world of DIY:
- Search “DIY wedding decorations” on Pinterest
- Look for “DIY wedding decorations for reception” on Pinterest
- Search “DIY wedding backdrops” on Pinterest
- In general, search for anything beginning with “DIY wedding” on Pinterest. Those first three examples were personally the most beneficial for me. However, there are tons of resources on the unique pinning site.
- 7 DIY Wedding Decorations | Real Simple
- 23 DIY Wedding Centerpieces We Love | Martha Stewart Weddings
- DIY Weddings – DIY Wedding Ideas – The Knot
It’s pretty easy to see that there are easily accessible resources to help you create gorgeous DIY decorations. In Tip Number 7, I’ll discuss how you can save money on the supplies you will need.
4. Use The Internet To Share Your Wedding Details
There are so many excellent websites you can use for wedding announcements, wedding registries, engagement photos, sharing specific details, and so much more. I’ve compiled a list of websites that are free to use, though some do have paid features and options.
- TheKnot.com (free)
- Minted (free)
- Joy.com (free)
- JustRSVP.me (free to $49.99)
- WeddingDonkey (free, $10 per month, or $15 per month)
- Wedding Window (free, $14.95 per month, or $79 per year)
- Say I Do (free)
- eWedding (free)
- ZankYou (free)
- MyWedding (free)
You also have the option of using a free website platform like WordPress, Wix, or SquareSpace. You don’t need to be too tech savvy to operate these sites, and there are tons of tips, tricks, and tutorials available.
If you take advantage of one of these options, you can save yourself money, time, and stress. Everyone who needs information about your wedding can find it all with one click. It certainly doesn’t get simpler than that!
5. Hire A Photography Student Or Amateur Photographer
In the introduction, I mentioned an article that breaks down the cost of weddings. That article states that it costs an average of $2,440 to hire a wedding photographer. Yikes! Fortunately, using a professional wedding photographer is not your only option. Here are two alternatives to going the traditional – and expensive – route:
- Hire a new amateur photographer. New photographers frequently offer free or discounted services. They do this in order to build their portfolios. You can often find amateur photographers on Craigslist just by searching “photographer”. Make sure to be honest about your budget. If you can’t afford what they’re offering, that’s okay! Keep on looking. Turn to Facebook and use word of mouth to reach out to local photographers.
- Look for photography students at local universities and community colleges. This option is somewhat similar to the idea above. You can post “seeking a photography student for a wedding ad” on Craigslist, Facebook, and similar platforms. If you can afford to pay the student(s), make sure to state your rates in your ad.
As an added courtesy, offer to give the photographer you hire some extra exposure. Share their Facebook pages, portfolio, and business cards. If you’re very satisfied with your wedding photos, recommend the photographer to a friend! This may seem like a small gesture, but it can mean a lot.
6. Buy Or Rent Gently Used Wedding Items
I’ll be totally honest here. When I first read about buying or renting secondhand wedding items, I was a little put off by the idea. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how practical it is. Why pay for accent furniture or light draping at full price? I can get it when it’s only been used once, and the price is much lower. Here are some resources for getting secondhand wedding items:
You can also use Facebook to find local wedding buy, sell, and trade groups. I tried the following keywords to find these types of groups in my area:
- Wedding resale (state name)
- Wedding dresses for sale
- Wedding swap shop
- Wedding connection
- Wedding items for sale
Try these keywords and follow them with the name of your county, city, or state. My local groups are very active, and new items are posted every day. You may be surprised to find how many beautiful and affordable wedding items are available.
7. Don’t Shy Away From Coupons And Digital Discounts
Couponing and weddings don’t really seem to go hand in hand. However, you may be surprised to find out how many special wedding and bridal discounts are out there! Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these great deals. From venue discounts to coupons for physical items, there’s a bit of everything. Here are some sites I’ve found or used along with what they offer:
- Groupon.com – (search “Wedding” in your city) – Groupon is very diverse when it comes to the special wedding deals they offer. Some examples of current offers include 64% off ballroom dance lessons, up to 71% off personalized photo cards, and up to 50% off wedding officiant services. There are over 2,000 local results, so that’s a significant amount of savings.
- RetailMeNot.com – Wedding Coupons – RetailMeNot is an “all in one” coupon site that combines coupons from across the web. Some of their current wedding coupons include 25% off at WeddingPaperDivas.com and 40% off select personalized dinnerware at TheKnot.com.
- Coupons.com – Wedding Coupons – Coupons.com is another site that combines coupons from across the web. Some of their current wedding coupons include 10% off ornaments at WeddingDepot.com and 25% off everything plus $2.99 shipping at ExclusivelyWeddings.com.
- Offers.com – Wedding Supplies Deals & Coupons – Offers.com is similar to Coupons.com; they offer coupons and discounts from all across the web. Right now they show offers such as a low price guarantee for FavorStudios.com. Another example is an offer for personalized groomsmen’s gift as low as $7 from MyWeddingFavors.com.
- Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store Coupons – Craft store coupons are excellent for DIY wedding decorations. Jo-Ann Fabric always has great deals to offer. For example, just a few of their current coupons include 50% one cut of fabric, $10 off your purchase of $50 or more, and 40% off one regular priced item.
- Michaels Stores Coupons – Michaels is another great resource if you plan to make any of your own wedding decorations or party favors. They consistently have good coupons to choose from. Right now, they offer 40% off one regular priced item.
This list alone offers coupons and discounts that can save you hundreds of dollars. Make sure to explore these options and your other favorite coupon resources. You may be surprised to find what wedding-related offers you find! Additionally, make sure to get free cash back with (NAME).
8. Find Affordable Retailers For Wedding Party Attire
When it comes to your wedding party, you want them to look their absolute best. Unfortunately, the cost of attire can be quite high. This seems to be particularly true for bridesmaid dresses. Dessy.com states that bridesmaids dresses cost an average of $200 plus $30 to $40 for alterations.
I did some research to see what retailers offer dresses for lower price points. Most of these retailers have dresses under $100; the most expensive dress is $159. Overall, the costs vary from 91.05% to 20.5% less than the $200 average cost per dress. Here’s where you can get dresses for much less:
- Bridesmaid Dresses Sale & Under $100 Dresses | David’s Bridal – $19.99 to $100
- BRIDESMAID DRESSES & GOWNS | Azazie.com – $89 to $159
- Forever 21 Bridesmaid Dresses – $17.90 to $138
- UWDress.com Cheap Bridesmaid Dresses – $59.99 to $99.99
- LightInTheBox Bridesmaid Dresses Under $100 – $20 to $100
A friend also tipped me off about the possibility of renting bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen tuxedos. This is certainly a cost-effective option worth exploring. To learn about your rental options, call bridal shops and formalwear shops in your area.
9. Use A “Yes, No, Maybe” System When Planning
Making lists is one of my favorite things to do. It keeps me super organized, and it often helps me save money. I like to weigh out my purchases and buying options. Doing so ensures I only spend money on the things I truly need or want. That’s why I like the idea of making three wedding lists – a ‘yes’ list, a ‘no’ list, and a ‘maybe’ list.
For example, essentials like shoes and jewelry would likely go on your ‘yes’ list. If you don’t want to hire live music, that would go on your ‘no’ list. And for your ‘maybe’ list, don’t hesitate to make it long. This is the gray area list where you can put all of your uncertainties. Over time, most of the items will end up on your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ list.
Additionally, there are pre-made wedding planning checklists online. They’re not quite the same as the system described above, but they can be quite helpful. I’ve found that the following lists are useful:
- The (Less) Stress Complete Wedding Checklist – A Practical Wedding
- Here Comes The Guide’s Wedding Checklist
- 11 Free Checklists for Your Wedding Timeline
And once again, Pinterest is an amazing resource for these lists. I’ve pinned at least a dozen of them. They’re pretty diverse, so they make it easy to cover all of your bases.
10. Crowdsource Media For Making Memories
Thanks to social media, you can get tons of free photos and videos on your wedding day. Of course, you may not want people to take photos during the actual ceremony. But during other moments, this is a great opportunity to get fun, candid shots from tons of different angles. Here are a few related tips that I’ve come across:
- Request that guests use a hashtag solely for your big day. For example, you may pick #JaneAndJimWedding2017 and ask people to tag Instagram and Facebook photos. This makes it incredibly easy to find the snapshots, and you can see them all in one place.
- Set up a photo scavenger hunt for your reception. This is an idea that I saw on Pinterest, and I think it’s really great. Use a checklist like this one and leave it on reception tables. You and your other half will enjoy laughing and smiling over the fun memories that people capture.
These are just two ideas, but they cover the topic fairly well. Use them as inspiration; you may want to create your own unique options for crowdsourced photos and videos. No matter what you choose, you can save money while getting 100% unique media from your wedding.
Wed Without Worries Using The Tips And Tricks Above
Now that you’ve read this post, you can see that there are tons of ways to save money when wedding planning. These 10 ideas alone will make a huge difference and drastically reduce your expenses. The best part is that you’ll still have a beautiful and memorable wedding, and the memories will last forever.
Frugal For Less has lots of posts about saving money. If this wedding post piqued your interest, I think you’ll also enjoy these related ones:
- 16 Great Skin Care Deals For $10 Or Less
- 7 Makeup Websites With Price Points Of $10 Or Less
- 9 Tips For Saving Money On Airfares And Hotels When Traveling
I hope you find these posts useful and informative as you enjoy planning your very special! Thanks for reading and happy frugaling.