This may not be everyone’s dream wedding, however here is a way to have a wedding and save a TON of money. I will break this down into different categories.
Consider the courthouse, eloping or a destination wedding: Destination weddings are often big money-savers. Eloping is often held at a venue that has elopement and wedding packages that can average at about $2,000 or less. You can also get married quickly and intimately at your local courthouse. This is an ideal option if you do not have many friends or family near where you live, since only 2 witnesses are required, and you can possibly invite up to 20 people (be sure to check with the county clerk first). If these two options are out of the question, read below.
Guest List: You probably heard this so often that it makes your head explode whenever you hear it, but it’s true; limit your guest list, because it will save you money. Don’t invite co-workers that you aren’t close to, or your second cousin twice removed, or your high school classmates that you haven’t talked to in over a year. You don’t want to look at your wedding photos and think to yourself, who are these people? when you see the majority of your guests.
Wedding Party: Who says you need to have bridesmaids or groomsmen? Also, if you want them, who says you need to buy their attire? It must feel pretty weird to be dressed the exact same way as a few others at a wedding. Have them pick out their own attire that they already own, like an old prom dress or a suit they wore to a baptism or a sibling’s wedding. If you insist on getting them attire, look at discount stores and places like the salvation army, walmart, target, or order them online on ebay or etsy. Also, don’t have an engagement party, rehersal dinner, or next-day brunch. Save your money for the actual big day.
Venue: If you are religious and regularly attend, you could ask your rabbi/priest/monk if you could use the church/temple/chapel/monastery/place of worship for your wedding, and possibly reception. It may be free, or they’ll charge you very little. If you are not religious and you own a house, you could have the wedding and reception in your back or front yard. No house, or your yard not big enough, or no yard at all? Ask a friend or relative if you can use their yard for your wedding and/or reception. There is also the possibility of contacting the city to obtain a temporary licence to have the wedding and reception at a local park. It usually costs no more than a few hundred dollars. Also, have your wedding in the off-season, which means after August and before May, most venues will have discounts since they aren’t making as much during the winter and colder seasons. If you insist on having a summer wedding, avoid having it on a saturday night, which is the most expensive day of the week to have a wedding.
Officiant: As mentioned above, if you attend a religious place of worship, you could ask your rabbi/priest/monk to marry you and your fiance(e). They won’t usually charge you, but a donation is recommended. If not, you could contact a local justice of the peace or clergy member to officiate if it’s a civil ceremony. Also, if you have someone in mind, you can get someone ordained temporarily through court or the city so they can officiate the ceremony. If you live in the USA and plan on getting married in the USA, you can have whoever you want to officiate your wedding, get ordained free online in a few minutes at http://www.themonastery.org/
Dress: If you want your wedding dress to be free, you can ask your mother if you can use her dress. Or, if you want a new dress, you can always order one online. Ebay has Chinese dress-makers who will make a custom dress for you for about $200. You can find them by looking up “wedding dress” and looking at the dress location. If it’s in China, contact the seller and ask if they can make you a custom dress. They will ask for your measurements, the color you want, the fabric, if you want beading, lace, satin, etc. Once they make the dress, it should ship to you in 3-4 weeks.
Decorations: A new trend is DIY (do it yourself) decorations. When it comes to centerpieces, simple candles and a flower can be very beautiful. What is also popular is a tall vase with glass beads or marbles at the bottom, weigh down a branch of fake flowers at the bottom, fill with water and add a floating candle on top. Use this as a centerpiece. You can also have a styrofoam ball and stick individual flowers by the stems inside, and put the ball on top of a candle holder or vase. You can tie a ribbon around the backs of chairs, and use dollar store table cloths. As for lighting, you can use candles, paper lanterns or white Christmas lights. Simple flower petals can be used for an “aisle-runner” decoration.
Tables and Chairs: If you’re not having many guests, you could borrow some from friends and/or family, or buy them at second-hand furniture shops. If not, you can rent them, but this might bring the price up, and a lot. So try having your wedding where there already is seating, like a place of worship or a park with picnic tables. If this is not an available option, shop around where you can rent tables and chairs, and take the one that offers the best price.
Flowers: A trick that I often see in blogs and articles is to not use the word “wedding” when you buy things for a wedding. You can buy fake flowers at a dollar store or at walmart for less than $1 per flower. Also, keep things simple, and don’t go for bulk. The slightest touch of decor and flowers can be very beautiful; less is more. AS for real flowers, you can go to a florist and if they ask what it’s for, tell them that it’s for a birthday party or anniversary. Ask them what flowers are in season, or on sale. Pick those flowers and incoorperate them into your centerpieces and/or your bouquet.
Food and Drink: The cheapest option for food and drink for a reception is to have a potluck wedding and a BYOB or a cash bar. A big money-saver, if you’re going to have food and/or drinks at your wedding yourself, is to limit or exclude alcohol altogether. You can easily make a home-made punch with soda and fruit juice and have it in a punch bowl with slices of oranges, lemons and limes inside. As for food, you can ask a family restaurant to cook for your reception and bring the food to your venue; family restaurants usually charges less. You can also have a reception at a restaurant that you regularly attend, they shouldn’t mind unless you have your reception during a time where they have the most customers. See about either renting a private area, or the whole restaurant. If you don’t have many guests, you could make the food yourself if you’re a good cook. Another option is to hire cooking students, who will charge a lot less than professional cooks and jump at the chance to add to their portfolios. Consider a carnival theme or a barbecue to make your own food, or hire a hot-dog stand for a carnival-themed wedding.
Catering: You could always ask close friends and family, or hire students in the customer service or restaurant business. Or, you could have a buffet-style meal so you don’t need catering at all!
Cake: The cheapest way to have a great wedding cake is to either make it yourself, or have someone you know who is good at baking and possibly cake decorating, to make it for you. Also, as mentioned above, you could ask baking students to make one for you. If you really want to go to the bakery and order one there, do not mention it’s for a wedding and the price won’t triple automatically. Also, pick a cake that has enough servings for each of your guests, and no more. You don’t need a 3-tier cake for 30 guests. As for a cake topper, you can order one on ebay, or at a second-hand store.
Photography: Great photos can be taken by photography students, your family, friends, or even friends of friends. Avoid getting a disposable camera for everyone at the reception; everyone has a camera on their phone nowadays. You can have them download an app that allows them to take photos and upload them for every one of your guests to see. An app you can download for this is WeddingParty, and there are many others.
Music: The cheapest way to have good music without breaking the bank, is to make a playlist on your iPod, hook them up to borrowed speakers and put it on shuffle. Cheap and easy!
Favors and Guestbook: DIY favors are very popular. You can make your own lip balm, soap, soy candles, and treats. If you’re good at crafts, get creative! You can knit everyone a mug holder, scarf, slippers, coasters….whatever you want! Also, you can make your own guestbook, or buy a scrapbook to make it more personal, and add in snapshots of your wedding later.
Invitations: Design your own invitations on Microsoft Powerpoint. You can find different templates on google, paste them on powerpoint, choose your font and type the information, and print them out.
Rings: Order them on etsy, http://www.bluesteel.com, ebay, or hell, even at walmart. If it’s possible, ask to see if you can use a relative’s ring. If you have a great-grandmother who passed away, you could ask to use her wedding ring. It will bring meaning to it instantly.
Honeymoon: Consider a road trip and staying at a bed and breakfast. If you want to travel, go to a low-cost destination, such as Mexico, Cuba or Jamaica. You can ask for travel coupons as a wedding gift.
I hope these tips helped! Comment below if they helped you out at all, or if you have any additional suggestions.