15 Tips to Save On Weddings – Cheap Wedding Ideas

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One of the most frequently asked questions we get, especially at this time of year is “Do you have any cheap wedding ideas to help me save money on my wedding?”
15 Tips to Save On Weddings - Cheap Wedding Ideas

Cheap Wedding Ideas To Make Your Special Day Memorable

When you talk about money, emotions run high and if you talk about weddings emotions get even higher. Put the two together and you’ve got an explosive situation. In spite of that I will be brave, jump in and try to answer your questions with some cheap wedding ideas that turned out great!

I think the best way to help you get ideas for a low cost wedding is to use my daughter’s wedding as an example of some do’s and don’ts that we learned. We paid about $1500 for a wedding with 100 guests and 2 attendants. She had the whole works; white gown, flowers, cake etc. In spite of spending so little, we managed to make it the wedding of any girl’s dreams and one that the guests really enjoyed too.

As you read about these cheap wedding ideas, I hope it becomes clear that your special day is not made special because of the money that you spend but rather the love that is shared, first of all between the bride and groom and second of all between the couple and the guests. That brings me to the first way you can save money on your wedding.


Low Cost Wedding Tips: The Guests

One important thing to consider when planning a cheap wedding is to be selective when making your guest list. Decide on a reasonable number of guests that you can afford and stick to it. Don’t invite every Tom, Dick and Harry (well unless Tom, Dick and Harry happen to be your brothers or your best friends!). I am continually shocked at how often couples invite people they hardly know to their wedding just to impress them or so they can get more gifts. If you do this, you have already started your wedding off on the wrong foot. A wedding is an intimate and special time. Most people don’t share their intimate times with total strangers.

The Pictures

Michael and Tawra's Cheap But Memorable Wedding

Decide which aspects of the wedding are most important to you and spend a little more on that area and less on some of the other less important areas. For example, my daughter’s main desire was to have really nice photos so we didn’t skimp on that. We hired the best photographer in town, but spent less on the cake by having my mom make it. That ended up being a mistake. Grandma’s cake that cost us nothing, turned out to be more beautiful than the pictures the expensive photographer took. Lesson learned: Just because something costs a lot doesn’t mean that it is the best or what you need or want.

If you want nice photos but flowers or a cake take higher priority, you might hire a professional to take just a few main pictures, like those of the bride and groom, family members and attendants and then ask someone else to take all the other general shots or videotape it. I found at both my wedding and my daughter’s wedding that the pictures I enjoyed the most were the ones family members had randomly taken with their own cameras and given me later.

In this day and age of computers, digital cameras, and other such things, you can get some really nice photos without the expense of a professional. And even though professional photos seem very important and you envision having lovely photos of that day displayed all over your home, the reality is that in a year or two most of them will be put in an album or tossed in a box to be replaced by pictures of baby #1.


“The Gown”

Though a girl’s wedding gown is probably the most important dress she will ever wear, you still don’t have to break the bank to have a beautiful and special dress. My mom is a great seamstress and she made both my dress and, years later, my daughter’s dress. They didn’t cost us an arm and leg and they have even more meaning to us because they were made by her. Her cheap wedding dress was much more valuable to her because grandma made it.

If you don’t know anyone who sews, don’t despair. Buy a used gown. There is nothing wrong with that. I have seen some of the most beautiful gowns in thrift shops. They were gowns that were worth hundreds of dollars selling for as little a $50. Don’t allow pride to keep you from having a beautiful, stress free (because you don’t have to worry about coming up with the money to pay for it) gown of your dreams.

Along with the gown is the veil. When Tawra (my daughter) got married we went to buy a veil. The least expensive one was $100 and it was “cheap” looking, so instead we bought some tulle, lace and a comb to make our own. We hot glued ribbons, strings of pearls and flowers to the comb. We spent $5 making her beautiful veil that looked richer and more expensive than anything we had seen at the bridal shop.

I used a very plain veil for my own wedding. My future mother-in-law gave me a string of pearls that she had worn at her wedding. Since I also had jewelry that my husband had given me to wear, I took the pearls and carefully sewed them to the head piece of my veil. It cost me nothing, had lots of meaning and looked very elegant.

Using the same thoughtfulness we used making the veil, we made other things. We took the left over scraps of fabric, lace, and pearls and made a ring bearer’s pillow. It turned out so cute that we started making and selling them to the bridal shop in town. There is nothing wrong with making a lot of these items yourself and just because you make them doesn’t mean that they have to look homemade or cheesy.


Other Cheap Wedding Ideas: The Bridesmaid’s Dresses and Other Essentials

I know that it is proper for the bridesmaids to pay for their own dresses, but I personally have never felt that is right. If possible, pay for your bridesmaids dresses or consider splitting the cost. Maybe you could buy the material and accessories and then have the bridesmaids find someone to make the dresses for them.

Don’t just hit bridal shops when looking for bridesmaid dresses for your cheap wedding. Dresses are often much more expensive at bridal shops. I was a matron of honor once and we went to a regular dress shop and found a gorgeous dress for me to wear. The nice part about it was that it was dressy enough for the wedding but not so dressy that I couldn’t wear it to church, so I was able to get lots of use out of it.

Be careful of those little hidden costs like manicures, pedicures, hair and other things. They’re small costs, but they add up. Most brides can do their own manicures and pedicures just fine and usually only have these things done to pamper themselves. It is fine to do that if you have the money but if you don’t, this is a good area to save by doing your own. You may do a lot of these little things to pamper yourself and to help you de-stress before the wedding but if you can’t afford it, you will find them coming back to haunt you a couple of weeks after the honeymoon in the form of exorbitant bills that will end up causing you 10 times more stress.

One way you can have these extras done and still save is to go to a beauty college. If you don’t want to chance having your hair done there that’s fine but you might consider having your nails and toes or a facial done there. They do all kinds of beauty treatments that you don’t always think about so check into them.

You could also have a girls night “in” before the wedding and let the bridesmaids give the bride a manicure or pedicure or everyone give each other one.

One important tip to remember: Don’t have your first facial the day or week before the wedding. If you aren’t doing them on a regular basis, they can cause your face to break out the first couple of times you do it.


Cheap Wedding Ideas Part 2 – Decorations, Boquets and More

How To Save Money On Wedding Food – Tips and Ideas

Reader Tips to Cut Wedding Costs

How To Have An AWESOME $1500 Wedding!



  1. Sandra Lee says

    Your tips on weddings are so on target. Month’s before the wedding we went to a wedding shop and had my daughter try on a variety of wedding gowns until we found the most flattering style for her and one that that she loved. I then began looking, I scoured thrift shops, yard sales, the local sale papers, and on line sources and low and behold in a local salvation Army store I found an almost identical gown for $14.95. I had it professionally cleaned and pressed and like you, we made her veil. She was a gorgeous bride. With all three of my girls we also chose to go with what was seasonal. One was married in December and we made arrangements with red and white candles and magnolia leaves, red/white poinsettas, and bows of white and gold tulle- The flowers cost less than $100.00 – another was married in the spring and we used pink and white dogwood branches entwined with pink and white tulle. We had a bakery make a plain white iced & decorated 6″, 10″. and 14″ layer cakes then bought the cake topper & pillar supports at the local Micheals and stacked the layers ourselves and trimmed with fresh rosebuds- You really can have a beautiful wedding inexpensively without it looking “cheap”

  2. Sandra Lee says

    Another frugal wedding tip – we contracted for only 14 professional wedding pictures,bride-groom-together-processional-entire party at front- exchange of rings-first kiss-receiving line-with brides parents-with grooms parents-entire party with grandparents/parents- leaving church-cutting cake-first dance This cut down on the time that the photographer had to be present plus the number of professional photos for the album. For the rest we had several friends with good cameras taking pictures and on each table we had disposable cameras and encouraged guests to take candid reception photos- some of our best shots actually came from those little throw away cameras

  3. Terrie says

    May I ask what year Tawra got married? I have a 19 year old daughter, so although there are no plans now, I’m beginning to pay attention and take notes. I help cater weddings at church sometimes, and the costs can really add up. I was horrified to hear a good friend say the other day that her daughter’s wedding that cost about $6,000 (including dress) was the least expensive one she knows of at our church in a long time. And they did the food themselves and did not use a caterer. This is scary! I think my parents may have spent more than $2,000 on my wedding in 1988, but there were some unnecessary purchases (cute little aprons for servers, bookmarks with our names on them, etc). Any guesses on an “average” (if there is such a thing) minimal amount for today’s costs? I love your ideas!

  4. Rene says

    Terrie, I don’t believe there is any true average for people like us that are not ridiculous. The national average is something like $28,000. But, I am 22 and have been trying to get an idea of how much one would cost me. I had originally had one planned for under $2,000 but that was with less than 100 guests and outside venue. Now I am looking at 150-175 guests and inside and 2 attendants and I am coming up with about $3,000 that is with us buying food for the rehersal dinner outright and setting it up ourselves and just finger foods and cake and drinks for the reception. Oh I am also looking at reusing my sisters dress and having my sister make my cake; we will also be doing our own flowers etc. Hope this helps somewhat. But before I decided on my sisters dress I looked on Ebay and found literally hundreds of dresses for less than $150 that were beautiful. They were mostly used but some where new but if they were used it is only for a few hours one day. Obviously they can be cleaned.

  5. Rebecca says

    Terrie, I just got married in 2010. I spent probably, 1,200 that’s including my $600 dress. I got my invitations at Micheal’s, had Office Max print them up, then I hand wrote the addresses. I got my cake from the supermarket, but our “wedding cake” was the little round cakes from Walmart. Punch was easy to do. I only had a small bouquet, and my friend offered to do pictures. We had the wedding at my husband’s dad’s boss’ house, right on the river, so that was free too. And his cousin rented some nice chairs for 2 hours.

  6. says

    Don’t bother getting an ice sculpture. My brother had one at his wedding that he had “rented” from the reception hall. They only brought it out for a very short time and then took it away before the reception really got started. My brother and his wife didn’t even get to see it. What a waste of money!

  7. Mary Jane says

    One of the best weddings that I attended as a guest, was that of a friend. They rented a local hall, and asked the guests (all close friends and family) to bring a pot luck dish per family. Someone told me that pot luck at a wedding was tacky, but I don’t see why that would be. The meal was amazing, relaxed, plentiful and delicious (better than catered affairs I have been to). This wedding was in the Fall, so the bride’s father had carved little pumpkins as centerpieces for all the tables. Some dried foliage was added and it was it was beautiful. Another wedding I heard about, the bride and her mother-in-law made small jars of jelly ahead of time, and sent them home as favors for the guests at the reception. The jars served as table decorations until the guests left. They received many compliments about this thoughtful gesture. When my son and his bride got married, they took pictures in the city park. It is an older historic park, with mature trees, a river front and well established flower beds. They had a Fall wedding, so the colours were gorgeous. Only family and friends took pictures. Don’t be afraid to break with a little tradition, and for goodness sake,s DO NOT read too many wedding magazines or watch too many of those wedding shows on T.V.

  8. Heidi says

    Our daughter was married Feb, 2014. We had approx 140 guests and spent about $3200 (that includes clothing for 7 family members). We had a full meal. Church friends helped us cook, we bought most of the food. She found her gorgeous gown at a consignment shop for $32, I found mine for $35 and most of the bridesmaids found theirs at the same shop, each for less than $30. Hers was a winter theme, so we used lots of free pinecones and greenery to decorate and make our own bouquets and boutonnieres. I wanted the reception to look fancier than the weekly church dinners we have, so I purchased 20 tablecloths on ebay. 20 “silver” trays for $1 each at the Dollar Tree were used to hold the center pieces of mason jar candles and greenery.I was able to sell the tablecloths afterwards for about 65% what I paid, along with many candles, and other decorations. We rented a local hall for the reception since our church fellowship hall was not big enough and it was too cold to have it outside. A friend did the photos very reasonably.

    • Hei says

      Also, see if your photographer will just put all the edited pics on a flash drive or cd. Then you can use Shutterfly or Snapfish for prints. they are always having special deals. The bridesmaids all wore the same color, but were able to choose their own dresses. This made selection easier and cheaper, and they could pick dresses they really liked and would wear again. They also wore matching shawls/wraps which pulled it all together.

  9. grizzly bear mom says

    my wealthy girlfriend feared that no one would come to her wedding because they couldn’t afford to purchase her a gift. Instead she invited everyone in the church to a pot luck at the local fire hall and asked everyone to bring the recipes so she could learn how to cook. This is how weddings used to be conducted. To me it seems ridiculous to spend lots of money unnecessarily. And yes I would wear a pre worn dress. They have lovely ones on line, especially if the bride is tiny.

  10. grizzly bear mom says

    another thing I would do would be to e-vite people. Why spend time and money hand lettering invitations?

    Where I would spend money is having my hair done better than I know how to do it!

  11. Ginger says

    If you want to have an awesome wedding you need to have money for it=) But I personally would like to have a little wedding with the closest to me ppl) I am so excited I have already found some ideas from this community Wedding Forward and I can’t wait for it=) Remember U are doing a wedding for yourself and not for others=)

  12. Ginger says

    Thanx for sharing. Great cheap ideas=) You know I am a future bride and you will not believe where I met my husband…on dating site=) And in 3 month I find my beloved. So girls remember who seeks always will find=)

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