How to Save Money on a Wedding, From a Future Bride

Posted by Amanda on March 9, 2010

Planning a wedding is one of the most fun, and financially stressful events of my life! I feel that I am constantly balancing traditions, ‘must-haves’, wants, and our budget.

I find that if I remember what the day is actually about—love, the union of two people, choosing to spend the rest of my life with someone—and that saying “I Do” is merely the beginning of a long and exciting journey, then it becomes much easier to prioritize spending and get past a lot of the wedding hype. After all, it only takes a bride, a groom, an officiant, a certificate, and some rings to get married. The rest is all extra!

Here are some ways I have found to save money without sacrificing quality to us. 

Unconventional Saves You Money

If you choose any month other than peak wedding season—typically the summer months—then you can save money. We are choosing to have our wedding in April of 2010, and were able to negotiate a 17% discount off of the reception and catering costs solely because this is a tougher month for the venue’s director to attract business. On top of having this discount for our reception and catering, we are also in a great negotiating position for our other vendors, such as a photographer and a florist due to lower demand for services.

You can rent purses, and rent textbooks now, why not rent your bridal gown? Sure, you won’t be the first spring chick to wear it, but the quality will still be impeccable, and there is normally an option to buy it at a discount from what you would pay if it were brand new. If you feel like buying new, I tried on probably around 20 fantastic and gorgeous gowns for under $500 at David’s Bridal.

If you do decide to purchase a gown, don’t forget you can donate the dress after the ceremony for a tax deduction.

Buy Hardware Online

There are many online sites with great reputations that sell engagement rings and wedding bands at severely discounted prices, like upwards of 50%! You can try different styles of rings on at jewelers, and have your ring finger measured. Then go online to sites such as Amazon and Sea of Diamonds. If you are squeamish about purchasing fine jewelry online, know that many sites give you 30-60 days to return the jewelry for a full refund (although customized jewelry may not be returnable), and you can use this time to get the metal and gem verified by a jeweler.

Hire Amateur Service Providers

What do Donald Trump, Sam Walton, and Stephen King all have in common? They all began as amateurs in their individual industries. It took people with faith to employ them, and purchase their products for them to develop their talent and evolve into the household names they are today. You can use amateurs in your wedding as well at a fraction of the cost you would pay normally. Check out trade schools in your area, and interview a few seniors in photography to use for your wedding day. Let them know what your photography budget is, and see if they are willing to accept a paid position for a few hours on a Saturday. You can find a florist this way as well.

One of my friends even used one of her friends who had an interest in photography. The form of payment? They bought their friend a nice camera for several hundred dollars in exchange for her taking all of their wedding photography. The pictures were stunning.

Potluck Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal dinners are a nice, informal way to show your bridesmaids and groomsmen how much you appreciate them, and also for everyone to get to know one another and enjoy themselves! Instead of footing a restaurant bill, ask your parents to host a potluck rehearsal dinner at their home. Having this at someone’s home will keep the spirit of the dinner light and joyful, as well as help to create relationships between the two families. If only one or two of your parents is footing most of the bill for the food, offer to pay them for the ingredients and other necessities, which should still save you over half the cost of taking everyone out to a restaurant.

Gift Card-Purchased Attendant and Parent Gifts

One of the best things that you can do to save several hundred dollars is to open up a credit card that earns you points for your purchases. Then, charge everything for the wedding to this card—being sure to pay off the balance each month—and use the points to buy you gift cards. It will take you several months to earn enough for substantial gift cards, so perhaps the best way to use them is to purchase gifts for your attendants and parents leading up to the wedding.

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Comments to How to Save Money on a Wedding, From a Future Bride

  1. The only caution I would have is the amateur photographer / videographer. While other things can be overcome on the day an amateur photographer or videographer can spoil your memory of the day forever. You only get ONE chance to get the video / photo’s of your wedding day and generally the photo time is a rush to get back to your guests (if you are doing location shots). Of all the areas that money is spent on at a wedding I believe this is one of the most important and memorable (along with the music and food).

    At minimum you should get have a pre-wedding photo shoot and for the videographer get some samples…AND shop around to some professionals and see if the difference it discernible and important to you.

    The difference between my sister’s videographer and mine was night and day and the final product was the same. Unfortunately for her I learnt from her mistake.

    Of course being a money blog there should be a caution that goes along with the credit card. You need to be very careful not to spend more than you can afford to pay-off. It is very very easy to overspend.


  2. I love the idea about donating my wedding dress. I’ve been trying to sell it on Craigslist for a few weeks and only get replies from spammers…I’ll look into the donation front. Thanks!

    Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

    • Hello Budgeting in the Fun Stuff: Glad to help. Good luck with the donation!

      Amanda L. Grossman

  3. JDW: Hello! Thank you for your comments. We have hired an amateur photographer, and I met up with him and looked through some of his past work. The great thing about him though is that he asked if he could bring a professional photographer with him for some help on our big day–so we are getting two photographers for less than the price of one, and he gets more experience and can add to his resume! Hopefully it will go well.

    Amanda L. Grossman

    • That sounds great Amanda. You definitely got a bargain there and it sounds like with a professional on hand just in case you are sure to get fantastic shots for your wedding. Good luck with the big day.


  4. If you have any skill, or know anyone with skill, buy your flowers on-line and do them yourself. Saved $100s this way.

    Also, if you are having alcohol, buy it yourself and pay for a bartender by the hour, but do not pay a “corking charge.” Again, saved $100s. Price it online and in the ABC/wine stores. I found a great deal on magnum bottles of the champagne my husband had requested (demanded) and a 25% coupon at the online store where I also ordered the bulk of my liquor from.

    I echo the point about the photographer. My cousin had an amateur photographer, even though my mom and I had a good friend who was a pro ( and would have given her a discount – her pictures from her amateur friend are TERRIBLE. Spending money on a photographer is worth it.


  5. Hello Noelle! Thank you for your comments and information. I had no idea there were coupons for alcohol for an online merchant–will definitely check it out (alcohol is one of those products that very rarely you see coupons for).

    Amanda L. Grossman

  6. When my future wife and I were planning on getting married, we decided to opt out in having a 200 person bash and instead just have close family and friends go down south to an all inclusive 7-day getaway in the sunshine. We knew exactly what we were paying as all our meals were taken care of.

    We did however plan a special dinner with the resort on the wedding day.

    Overall, we were exceptionally pleased with the experience and recommend it to any couple that has a bit of cash to spend but doesn’t want to come out in debt as soon as the wedding is over!

    Nice post

    The Rat

  7. Hello The Rat! Thanks for sharing your idea with us, and I am glad you enjoyed the post!

    Amanda L. Grossman

  8. The average cost of a wedding in the US is USD 28,000. That is around half of the annual income of an average US household.

    Forex Automatic

  9. You will not forget your wedding, even if the photographer nevers shows up. After we got our pictures back from the studio, 6 months, everyone wanted to see them. After that no one, not even my wife, has looked at those pictures, and everything is just fine with the world. My wife borrowed her dress from her cousin, I was hoping she would donate it, but that’s not happening. You should though, you might want to save it for your daughter some day, but ask yourself if you wanted to wear your mom’s wedding dress.


    • Hello Michael! Good question…I would definitely not want to wear my mother’s gown:).

      Amanda L. Grossman

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