BIG List of Tips for a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget!

BIG List of Tips for a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget - at TheFrugalGirls.com

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Planning a wedding?  Or do you know someone who is??  Check out this BIG List of Tips for a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget in the comments below!



I received the following question from frugal friend Loretta…

“I am getting married on April 17th, and am looking for ways to save on the wedding, and ways to save on reception decorations {i.e. tissue paper flowers, ribbon, etc.}.  I am looking to save as much money as I can.  Any suggestions??”

Got a fun Wedding budget tip, ways to cut costs at the reception, or thrifty decorating tips??

Leave a comment and share!

See Also:
BIG List of DIY Wedding Ideas from TheFrugalGirls.com

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174 Responses to BIG List of Tips for a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget!

  1. Tabby says:

    I did individual cakes on each table and used it as the center piece..it saved a lot of money!!

    • Kelly says:

      Thank you SO much for this idea. After we number crunched – YOU saved us over $700 :)

    • ksbride says:

      This is such an awesome idea! you can bake all your own cakes a day or two before and now you cut the price of everything down

      • Naomi says:

        As a cake decorator, I can tell you that undecorated cakes freeze REALLY well! Just bake, place on a cardboard piece, wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze! Defrost fully before you frost the cake and voila!

        • Ashley says:

          I’m assuming this freezing undecorated will work for cupcakes too? How long frozen do they stay good for?

          • Mary says:

            Typically the shelf life of a frozen undecorated cake or cupcake is 30 days but I wouldn’t freeze them for any longer than 2 weeks to prevent possible freezer burn.

  2. Heidi says:

    E-bay for lots of extras. Sales there have been down the last few years so sellers are hungry. U can get good deals from sellers on shipping if you buy multiple things from them. So, I suggest going there for tissue paper, ribbons, etc… (and PS I DO NOT sell on E-bay at all).

  3. Linzie says:

    Elope….

  4. Amanda says:

    I searched Craigslist for decorations for both the church and the reception hall. I also googled Oriental Trader and bought A LOT of things from there at a very reasonable price. I used my bridesmaids flowers and mine on the head table (just put out empty vases and drop in there when you get there)

    • Sara E says:

      That is a GREAT idea. I hadn’t thought of that but will CERTAINLY be doing this at my wedding now.

    • Roxanne says:

      I found Iparty sells alot of oriental Trading items… Was able to get them a little cheaper with a coupon I found for Iparty and didn’t have to pay for shipping. Was nice to see the product first hand too.

  5. Sarah Schmitt says:

    skip the tissue paper! It’s outta style, and expensive! For the same money you can buy yards of tulle at a discount fabric store (or even walmart). If you want thinner strips, cut it into them. Also, talk to everyone you know, ask them to ask others, you’ll be surprised how many people may just have such stuff “just in case” and you may be able to borrow it. Also, use things that go with your colors, etc, but also are easy to find in your area…a wedding near a beach area? use sand & shells in large glass holders w/ pillar candles for centerpieces (my cousin’s daughter just did that and it looked incredible). Biggest advice is just to think outside the box! If you want to use strands of pearls, look for clearance priced jewelry or trims at a fabric/craft shop. Just keep an open mind.

  6. martine says:

    -not sure where you live, but we saved a bunch getting flowers at a flower market/district and then haveing a local florist (who came recommended) out them together for centerpieces (you could do yourself too)
    -printing your own invitations
    -wedding favors: buy cds in bulk, burm your own songs and print out labels for them. you can buy jeweled cases for cheap or sleeves you can decorate.
    -get a bunch of tea lights (differing heights) and use for the tables, along with stones, flower petals, or anything/nothing.
    -you can get cheap glass bowls and have floating flowers or candles as centerpieces.
    -pick flowers that are in season.
    depending where you live, you really can save a lot by getting ribbon, fabric, flowers, etc yourself. ask around and don’t be afraid to negotiate better rates.
    good luck and best wishes

    • nancy says:

      Be careful about buying cheap bowls that aren’t meant for candles, went to a wedding a couple years ago where the bowls all cracked before the bride even arrived–MAJOR MESS! Get bowls that are meant for floating candles or lots of paper towels for clean up.

      • sarah says:

        if you have cheap bowls use snap stick lights in the water/ gels to make them glow no heat so no worry of cracking

  7. Adie B says:

    Now, I can’t really say I have any advice… our “wedding” was borrowing two of our coworkers, driving 1 1/2 hours to the justice of the peace at the county office, dinner at some Applebees kind of place, then staying overnight in a hotel with both of us at work in the morning.

    But I do want to celebrate our 5th anniversary this summer with a delayed reception, so I am very interested in any and all tips! So thanks in advance ladies!

    Only real tips I can give is… I think it’s a lot cheaper if you can have it in your own backyard in the spring/summer/even fall, or borrow the yard of a friend or family member. If they like to garden even better, as you don’t have to pay anything for flowers and less costs to decorate… just remind the guests to be respectful. (Going to have it in our back yard this summer — we have roses and other flowers everywhere! And will be growing a big veg garden and have chickens… so possibly will be providing quiches and fritattas along with whatever potluck dishes our friends/family bring)

    Maybe ask friends and family – in lieu of presents – for help with wedding preps (baking your cake, providing food, etc) or just asking for cash/gift cards instead of the presents?

    Good luck, and hope it goes smoothly for you!

    • Kathleen Saladino says:

      The cost of renting tables, chairs, and a tent can be high. Some VFW and American Legion halls are extremely reasonable and save the worry over inclement weather. We paid only $300, and they provide all the tables and chairs! Best wishes!

      • Mary Jo says:

        I only paid $75 for our local VFW

      • J says:

        Thank you for making that point. Often people think that the backyard is the way out. If you are looking for elegance in the backyard you will have to pay and very likely at the same rate of a venue of close to. To eliminate the cost you must be open to a backyard bbq literally. Renting or paying for tables, linens, silverware, food, chafing dishes, dance floor, chairs, lights, decor, possible tents heat, and port-a-potty add up quickly.

  8. Holly says:

    I saved TONS of money on everything by doing it myself. I used fake flowers, had a friend put them together to look great for me and my maid of honor. I used potted plants as center pieces and put those little card holder pitchforks in them to put pictures of me and my hubby on them. I wore black patten leather shoes instead of spending a fortune on white ones that would have looked like crap after I walked down the aisle since my wedding was outdoors. I had my cousin take pictures because she has a professional camera, and she put the pictures on discs for me to pick what I wanted and print myself (she even made me a wedding album!) My one cousin made some cookies, another cousin and some of my mom’s older friends helped with the food. Granted, my wedding only had 50 people at it, but there is a ton of stuff you can have people do for you, and they will be glad to be a part of your big day. I just asked people and either it cost me way less, or they made it their gift to me.

    Look online for buying ribbon in bulk. Craft stores sell things at a really high rate because they have to make up for loss, because they sell a lot of it by yard and they lose lots of leftovers. Make your own favors. I went to a local candy store and bought shoelace licorice and chocolate candy hearts, and we used the shoelace licorice like tissue paper in little boxes and put the two hearts on top. Everyone loved them. Then, we put my colors in ribbon on the box and I had some friends come over and help me put them together. You pay out the nose for anything you get already made.

  9. AnneMarie Stone says:

    Sign up at theknot.com. They have all kinds of great tips and their own “store” — I bought so many things online when they were on sale. Save a TON of $$$! Also, sign up at David’s Bridal even if you aren’t getting dresses there. Both David’s and theknot give out lots of free stuff AFTER the wedding — it’s great!

  10. Erin says:

    When researching photographers, they will charge you an arm and a leg for minimal amounts of prints. So what my husband and I did was we found a photographer, that provided no prints at all and instead gave us a proof book and digital copies (WITH the copyright release) of every picture taken. So we are able to go through on our own time and choose exactly which photos we want to have prints of, and then either print them at home or take them to a professional printing place and pay a fraction of what the photography studio would have charged.

    • Angel says:

      You can also Check out any local schools that offer photography, they usually have a list of recently graduates and their work on file and they usually are pretty cheap and need the experience, also Check out Craigslist for any available photographers looking for work, and just be sure to request a portfolio of their work,I have a friend of mine who does local photography and he is charging me 150 dollars for my wedding,including prints,and digital copies of every photo

  11. Alicia says:

    go to aliexpress.com they have a ‘wedding channel’ tab, LOADED with SUPER discounted items (made in China, shipped from China..) you can even get custom made wedding dress for UNDER $200. Make sure to check the reviews though to make sure you got a legite service. It will also take some extra time for shipping, so order NOW for deliver by Feb/March. Also LOTS of stores like Michael’s/Wal-mart/Hobby Lobby still have clearance wedding stuff from last year that is marked down to get out before the new stuff comes in. :o)

    • Kirsten says:

      I actually got my wedding dress from here, and it was AWESOME!! It comes pre-alterd, and it was less then 2 weeks after I orderd it that I got it, and the lady that I was emailing with helped me out a lot :)

      This is also where I’m getting my bridesmaids dresses at!! Deffinitly suggest this place!!

      • lexie says:

        hi. i would like to ask if you still remember the name of the seller from ali express where you got your wedding dress? thanks a lot!

  12. Laura says:

    EBAY! That and holiday clearance sales. Best deal I ever got was my $1500 real Maggie Sottero dress for $90 on Ebay(don’t ever get a chinese knock off), add in $100 in alterations since I’m short and didn’t fill out the top and it was still a steal. My best friend got all the lights and candles for her reception a few yrs ago after Christmas and got some good deals. Good luck!

  13. Sarah McDuffie says:

    I have ideas for days! I saved a lot on my wedding. I had my ye on a Maggie Sottero dress but it was $1400 at the bridal store. I ended up buying it online for $500 brand new authentic. I was on the knot.com daily when planning my wedding and they have amazing ideas! Pearls Place is where I got it from but they were in New Orleans so Im not sure after Katrina if there still there. It was a bridal store but they would do online orders for way less (the mark-up is crazy on wedding dresses you paying for the experience at the bridal salon).

    I bought a lot of stuff on ebay. I custom veil that a gal made for me with crystals all over was less then $30 shipped!

    Wedding shoes I got on clearance victoris secrets they had jewels all over looked very expensive $29 bucks on clearance down from over $100.

    Rose petals can bring color to tables aisle you walk down. Instead of getting them from a florist get them from Sam’s. Pull them off the night before store them in plastic bags in fridge.

    Invites I had a girl just starting her graphic design business make for me. Again custom! $50 bucks and they looked really expensive. Try etsy.com for gals who do this.

    I seriously can go on and on

  14. Laura says:

    I got my flowers wholesale and paid very little for them. I think each of my Gerber daisies were $1-$1.50 a piece. Also, see what your reception site has to offer for free. Mine had mirrors for the centerpieces that I could use and tableclothes in many colors. The cake is the single most expensive thing, usually $4-5/guest. Either do something small for your presentation cake and have sheet cakes to hand out the guests or do your own thing with your cake. I actually had to very delicious and pretty sheet cakes and then had a dessert table to supplement and add to the cake. My whole wedding was under $5000!

  15. Maria says:

    I am a wedding photographer, and from what I have observed (and personal opionion, of course) this is what I would recommend:

    * Don’t worry about expensive food. People want good food, yes, but it doesn’t have to be steak.
    * Get many friends to bring their Flip or other video cameras. I doubt you’ll ever look at all the video taken anyway.
    * If you are trying to go cheap, get referrals.
    * Don’t worry about chair covers and such.
    * If you hire a photographer, don’t worry about having them at preparations. Just ceremony and reception.
    * Don’t worry about a fancy venue. Someone’s nice home or large yard (with tent) can be just as lovely.
    * Don’t pay a fortune for a veil. Wedding places charge $300 for netting. Someone who sews can go to a fabric store, by some netting and a tiara-like headband and make one for you for $50 bucks.
    * Don’t go crazy over table settings. Elegant is usually better. Loading them up with glitter, plastic flowers, etc is just a mess.
    * Don’t worry about favors. I’ve seen plenty of weddings without them.
    * Unless you have always dreamed of a certain cake, you can skip the “Amazing Cakes” type cake. I’ve seen a lot of non-traditional ones, and everyone was happy. It is mainly about cutting it and feeding it to each other anyway.
    * When you buy stuff (such as tablecloths, candles, etc) use a guideline of “will I use this in my house afterwards?” That is what I did, and it helped me feel like I wasn’t spending a fortune for a 5 hour party. Also helps keep you focused.

    WHERE TO SPEND MONEY:
    * The bouquet. No way around it, a plastic bouquet looks tacky.
    * A nice dress. You will look at it forever in pictures.
    * If you are not good with your makeup, a makeup person. Again, you’ll look at it forever in pictures, and this is your day to feel amazing.
    * Ditto the hair… but I think a hairdresser is usually a good idea.
    * Unless you have a friend who takes good photos (and can take good ones indoors, too). A photographer for the minimum amount they will allow (for example, I won’t do less than 4 hours). You want to have good after-the-ceremony couple pictures (at least), and some bridal portraits.

    I hope this helps.

    • Jean Bates says:

      As a professional caterer, event planner, and wedding coordinator for longer than I care to think about, I would like to say I agree with your suggestions. And add one thing, as long as you are marrying some one you love and the two of you are happy–it’s all good.

    • Natalie says:

      Very, very good tips! I like what you said especially about the photography. It’s very important to me to have the best pictures, and you’re exactly right about the most important shots being at the ceremony and afterwards. Thank you! :]

    • Jenessa says:

      Great tips, Maria – thanks much! That’s quite perfect, because I already felt the same way about a dress I liked, a good photographer, make-up and hair – and then my fiance said to be sure to get the bridal bouquet I want because it’s the “most important” and we’ll figure out unique alternatives if needed on the other flowers and decor. Love your tips from experience – thanks again!

    • Carla says:

      Great tips. Thanks.

  16. Sadie says:

    I’m getting married March 19 and have had to be on a STRICT budget the entire time as well.

    Some of my tips include…

    Order a small, but pretty cake to cut at the reception and have sheet cakes in the back to be cut up and served. Nobody will know the difference and you will save lots of money.

    Keep the reception decor simple. I have been using Oriental Trading Co, found frosted votives and rose petals. Found some very thick, linen like table cloths at Costco as well.

    Photography wise, we’re just paying for the photographer’s time and the CD rather than purchasing a big wedding package.

    We’re skipping wedding favors, since most people don’t take them anyways.

    We ordered Save the Dates and Invitations on Vista Print and saved a TON of money.

    Low lighting, rose petals and candles are a cheap, elegant way to spice up a wedding that is on a tight budget.

    Best of luck to you and Congratulations!

    • Sarah says:

      Congrats that’s my Bday always a great time of year to celebrate something special!!

    • Rebecca Dupuy says:

      I purchased invitations at Party City and printed them myself. I put a clip art at the top to match the theme. 200 invitatins cost around $40.00

      • Megan Lehmann says:

        Thank you so much for that info! I’m planning a VERY budgeted wedding and was concerned invitations wouldn’t be an area I could DIY to save money without it looking cheap. I had no idea that party city had a wedding section, and just went on their site to check out invitations after I read your comment. I also love the idea of a photo magnet save the date and they have kits to make them 30 for $12, which is awesome!

    • Sabrina Truxal says:

      Also, once you sign up with Vista Print, they send coupons. I got my invites and R.S.V.P. Cards for half off!

      • Brianna says:

        I was able to get 100 save the date postcards (front and back colored) for $18 and some change! They had a 50% off coupon from their site that I used. Don’t forget that postage can cost you just as much (if not more) than the invitation. The less bulky, the less it will be to send.

  17. Erynn says:

    I had the wedding at my own home on a few acres outdoors during an already decorative season (autumn), so no flowers or decorations were needed. I handmade the bouquets and boutenniers (sp?). I glued fall leaves and silk flowers to terra cotta pots from the dollar store to make center pieces and put a bottle of sparkling wine in each. Hollowed out tiny pumpkins to make tealight holders for each table. Put up a canopy in the yard and trimmed it with Christmas lights. I bought my dress on ebay for $25 (very elaborate princessy dress with a lot of beadwork). I stacked cupcakes for the cake, and topped the tier with a 6″ round cake for us to save for the anniversary. For food, we had a pasta bar. Four different kinds of pasta, 5 sauces, and a few sides, buffet style. Served 55 people for $72.

  18. Andrea says:

    BE ORGANIZED!!!! Keep a binder with your budget printed out and the “essentials” for your wedding(to help you stay on track). Ask for help…ask around to see if anyone knows someone trying to start their own business or is savvy at something…ie photography, cooking, seamstress etc. Print your own wedding invitations Office suppy companys and craft stores have lots of invitations. Plan ahead as much as possible…doing as much as possible early will help you avoid spending extra at the last minute

  19. Deborah says:

    My husband likes cheesecake more than regular cake, so instead of the usual cake we got Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes from Sam’s Club, who sells them at an amazing deal in both plain and multi-flavor versions (we got some of each). We went to Gordon Food Service for some of the reception decorations, and watched for prices and sales at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby for the rest. For centerpieces, we were in the season for potted gerberas, and ordered cut versions for bouquets and such from http://www.flowersandfreshness.com/. I also got my wedding dress at lilywedding.com for an amazing deal–I had to get a seamstress to measure me properly to make sure I sent them the right measurements, but they made it to my size and I even got to choose the length of my train (I had tried on some dresses elsewhere before deciding on this route, and I recommend this, as it helped me figure out dress weight, train length, etc.). And it arrived within 2 weeks, as they had promised. (BTW, I don’t work for any of these organizations.)

  20. Liz carnley says:

    I am a personal trai er and I offer discounted boot camps and personal training sessions to brides ti be in my area. Check with local gyms in your area for similar discounts. I know this isn’t a frugal tip for flowers or decorations, but looking fabulous on your big day is just as important!! Best wishes to you!!

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