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.
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.
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.
I am currently planning a wedding for 200 people.
I wanted to share a great way that I am saving
money but getting exactly what I want for the
I really want a sit down dinner because I don’t
like buffet lines. We are having both our
ceremony and reception at a large church. We will
be using the church’s food ministry team for
catering. While most caterers charge over $2 more
per plate for a sit down versus buffet style
dinner, the church only charges $35 per extra
server needed. I chose to have the food served
family style so I wouldn’t need many more
servers. Plus all the servers are teens church
members who are working to save money for
Also, the lowest price per head I have found from
local caterers starts at $15 a person not
including tax and gratuity. The church’s menu
starts at $8 a person, but no tax or gratuity is
I highly recommend people look for a great church
caterer in their area. They will save tons and
feel good knowing the money they do spend is
going to a good place. I will end up having a
great family style dinner for $10 a person, and
the food is better than most expensive caterers I
This is a great idea if you are in a situation where you have to have a sit down dinner but for those of you who couldn’t afford even $10 a plate don’t panic and think your wedding will be any less nice if you have to serve just a buffet with finger foods or I have even been to weddings where only cake and punch were served that I really had fun.
When we had Tawra’s wedding we only had finger foods; another bride had a wedding with a sit down dinner at the same time where many of the same people attended and for ages afterwards they commented on how much they enjoyed Tawra’s because it was more intimate and warm even though the other wedding was nice.
Both types have their pros and cons and one thing we found on the pro side for a finger food wedding was everyone got to move around and visit with each other. So many people who hadn’t seen each other for years were able to visit plus it was easier to visit and get to know the new bride or groom’s family better. Often when you have a sit down dinner you have to stay at one table with with 6-7 other people and they are all you get to really see.
One thing too by being able to move around more, instead of just being stuck at the head table with their attendants, the bride and groom could visit with everyone and visa versa so people felt even closer too and more a part of the big day with them. So don’t worry if you can’t afford a sit down dinner. You can have just as nice a wedding. Both ways have good points.
I found the frugal wedding tips to bring back
memories of my wedding almost nine years ago.
Although we spent next to nothing, many guests
told us it was the best wedding they had
attended. It was certainly unconventional
though. We were married at my husband’s family’s
farm in the woods in a dry creek bed. I walked
down the creek with my parents by my side. My
three best friends stood close by and my young
stepson stood with us.
My sister in law sang. I
told my friends to wear whatever they wanted. I
did spend about $60 on my dress which is a great
expense for me but I figured it was a special
ocassion! My dress was a simple white lacy one.
I never was interested in the puffy wedding
gowns. I didn’t send out invitations, but a
friend volunteered to call people for me. I
didn’t want a wedding cake, but my mother in law
got one for us anyway. I don’t know what she
paid for it. My mom brought fruits, veggies, and
other finger foods. She also got those
I didn’t want any but I
guess she did! I don’t think she paid very much
for the food as there wasn’t any meats. Those
were gifts from our parents though to help feed
our guests. Friends brought instruments and
played afterwards. We gave our pastor $50 and my
mom gave him $50. We spent the next week at the
old farmhouse, then spent a few days camping
elsewhere. We only ate out maybe once on our
honeymoon at a mexican place. My husband did buy
a new shirt and pants for the wedding, but spent
much less than I did on my dress. My sister in
law suprised me and my friends with flowers for
our hair and someone gave me flowers for a
boquet. It helped that I was just not interested
in many of the things people do for weddings. It
could have been just us and our pastor and that
would have been fine with me. I can’t believe
how much $ some folks pay for a one day event.
It seems many people put far more thought into
their wedding than their marriage. I’m a massage
therapist and I traded some massages for
photography services, and a family member
videotaped everything. I would have been happy
with snapshots from family, but the photographer
offered to barter and the pictures turned out
nice. I would advise people to think about what
is really important to them. You don’t have to
do things just because “everyone else does it
that way.” Our wedding was totally different
from the typical one, but people loved it. Not
that I was doing it for anyone else, but people
love to see two people in love getting married.
Do only what you want, not what you think is
expected. Your guests care about you, not your
fancy invitations, flowers, decorations, and
table favors. Focus on your marriage, keep the
wedding simple and genuine and I bet you can find
loads of extra expenses to eliminate. Take the $
you save and spend it on something that actually
lasts. Put it towards a house or in an emergency
fund or pay off debt. Start your marriage smart
and thrifty from the start!
While I don’t have an order or question, I would
like to offer one of my ideas for
your “Inexpensive Weddings” section. I don’t see
a place on your site for me to write in, and, I
don’t know anything about “blogging”. But,
here’s my suggestion anyway:
For the “Inexpensive Weddings” section, I would
like to suggest to the readers that they can use
those square, plastic, see-through boxes that the
Roma Tomatoes come in as boxes for the groom’s
boutinierre or bride’s maids wristlets. That
idea came to me as I was trying to make space in
my fridge by putting the last two tomatoes in the
container that was full. Hope your loyal readers
(and I am DEFINITELY one of them!) can use this
bit of frugality from my own archives! Thanks!
Hello! I saw on Oprah, years ago, a great way to save on a wedding cake is to decorate styrofoam pieces and have just the couples cake real (the one they cut) and then in the back kitchen have pre-cut pieces of cake from a local bakery or grocery store.
For our wedding we asked for our cake to be a gift instead of getting money, etc. My grandparents were very happy with that idea and that was there gift to us.
We also asked for Home Depot cards. We’re not into the frilly things like crystal, china, gravy boats, etc. All the cards we received helped us redecorate our living room from dark panelled 70s blah into what we call a Moose Lodge (hardwood floors and matching panelling…all of which was installed by my hubby). I married TIM THE TOOL MAN TAYLOR….lol
I enjoyed reading about Weddings on a Dime, and
wanted to share money-savings from my own
* I bought my Scott McClintock dress from an
outlet for $16.32! Interestingly enough, I just
recently sold it on a used wedding dress site,
so the dress continues to be a blessing.
www.woreitonce.com are good sites.
* I had my bridesmaids wear the little black
dresses that were already in their closet (well,
one person had to borrow a dress), so no expense
to them for dress or shoes.
* We had a cake-and-punch reception, featuring a
coffee cart the church already had on-site.
* The wedding cake was from the local grocery
store – inexpensive and delicious – even a year
* A friend prepared all of the flowers to
decorate the church and reception.
* Other friends created beautiful floral
arrangements for the church, using flowers and
plants that were growing in their gardens.
* A pastor friend married us and declined the
* Another friend is a wedding coordinator and
helped with the ceremony proceedings.
* We wanted to marry in a church, but wouldn’t
pay the $1,200 fee usually charged to non-
members (our own church had no facility for
weddings). We finally found a beautiful church
that only charged $150, which included the
wedding coordinator, pianist, and a video! I
didn’t even know about the church until I drove
by it, and in my desperate hunt, was leaving no
stone unturned. So I called, with great results!
* We used a wholesale flower warehouse to
prepare the bouquets & boutonnieres. The
bridesmaids carried only about three flowers
I did actually have a “catered” rehearsal dinner
(trays from the local Chinese take-out) as well
as a “luncheon” for family and close friends
following the reception, at a restaurant. But I
picked a restaurant with very reasonable banquet
prices. My photographer was well under the
going rate. I did lots and lots of shopping
around so that I received maximum impact and
service for the best price. The wedding cost
more than $1500, but I am proud of what we
Name: Joy Bice
EMail: [email protected]
Question: Tawra & Jill,
Thanks for the wedding tips. I don’t know if you
are still taking more tips from readers but I have
My daughters are teenagers and we have attended
many weddings in their lifetime. I began when
they were younger pointing out the simple and less
inexpensive ideas from other weddings. I have
been coaching them now for years on the beauty of
a simple wedding. I’m hoping that when the time
comes for them to get married they will already be
conditioned to think that way.
One idea we heard was to have an evening wedding.
A candlelight wedding could be very romantic and
the reception would just be deserts.
Another idea I have seen done is to have each
bridesmaid choose their own dress. For example,
the last wedding we attended had the bridesmaids
in black dresses. They were told what length to
choose but beyond that they were free to buy what
they would like and could wear after the wedding.
It not only looked beautiful but it was neat to
see the individual styles pulled together by
jewelery and flowers. The men in this wedding wore
black suits, and were given matching ties. They
were free to either buy a suit or borrow one or
use one they already owned.
Fireyourweddingplanner.com is a FABULOUS site to help brides save money as well! My wedding was cancelled (it’s okay, it was a good thing) but I was already at a savings of $2500! Just to let the other brides to be know!
Wedding photos are important and can be terribly expensive. Make sure you spend your money well. Interview several wedding photographers. Look at complete wedding books of their wedding photographs, not individual photographs as everyone gets an excellent photograph now and again.
Find out first if the person you interview is the one who will actually shoot your wedding. Sometimes you are paying for a “name” and the “name” won’t be there.
Ask for a dozen references (or more) and call every single one. Ask what they liked and what they didn’t like? Did they get what they thought they were paying for, etc.
Be aware that digital photographs can be manipulated in many ways to make blemish free, artistic, whatever photographs, but digital photographs eventually fade-in the album, on the wall, on the disk. They fade more than the old fashioned ones do and there are no negatives to have another print made from. The digital images will fade off the disk sooner or later, so ask your photographer how often you should make a disc copy to retain your photographic images.
Do ask fiends that enjoy taking photographs to bring their camera along if they would like. Do not let them take the photographs the person you are paying is taking. talk to your photographer about their policy. Some walk out if another person “steals” their photographic scene.
I couldn’t agree more! This very thing happened at our wedding. The person we interviewed and set up to take the pictures was not the one who took them.
We only got a few references and should have got more.
The other thing is I had very specific pictures I wanted taken. I didn’t want money wasted on pictures that I didn’t care about. Even though I had a list of pictures I wanted taken, he ignored my instructions and took a LOT of extra pictures I didn’t want or ask for.
This was the worst part about our wedding was bad pictures! I would make sure that friends and family can take pictures also or you may not have any good at all. Tawra