8 Ways to Cut Costs on Your Wedding

By: Lauren Tankle


I recently got married in October and I’m totally blown away by the costs that go into weddings. Our goal was to stay under $10,000 which is the lower end of the spectrum of wedding expenses considering the average cost of a wedding in the US is $27,000. Our parents helped us by paying for our flowers, photographer and our DJ so we were only $1000 of our money over budget; but the whole thing in total, with a guest count of 130 people, ended up costing $15,990! Thanks to the budgeter app on the Knot, I was able to track all expenses made on the big day.


Below are ways you can help save on some of those costs!

8 ways to cut costs on your wedding:

1. Choose a non-plated food option

To cut costs on food, go with a buffet or passed hors d’oeuvres. Choosing a passedhors d’oeuvres option brought our costs of food down $20 per person and with 130 people, that comes to a savings of $2,600. I was worried there wouldn’t be enough food, but I didn’t hear anyone say they were hungry at the end. Everyone I talked to after the fact seemed to have enjoyed the food. We are definitely the more casual type so it worked well for us.

I yardsaled from NY to MA all summer with my MIL looking for objects to create center pieces. These were candles holders with plates hot glue gunned together and spray painted so the two pieces matched to create this awesome stand. My MIL thought of using pumpkins for our fall wedding along with these awesome lanterns she found and spray painted to match.

2. Flowerless centerpieces

Flower centerpieces can end up costing a pretty penny. Opt for mason jars with string lights in them or a candle arrangement of some sort to save yourself some money. People are going to remember how much fun they had, not what you had as your centerpiece.centerpiece2






3. Cut out the cake

I found this tic tac toe game and holder at a yard sale. The coloring supplies and the small isle ended up costing me about $10 because I bought the supplies during a back to school sale. I’m pretty sure the glow sticks were from the dollar store and my MIL brought the Oreos.

Make your own cookies or cupcakes for your guests to indulge in. I like those options better anyway for mobility reasons. I would feel way less awkward bringing a cupcake out to the dance floor or snacking on a cookie while waiting for my drink at the bar rather than walking around with a piece of cake and utensils. Cake confines people to sitting. Some venues require all food comes from a vendor of their choosing or will not allow home baked goods of any kind; but if the option is available, go for it! A wedding cake can end up costing you around $500 or more.


4. Buy a white dress from a clothing store instead of a bridal boutique

I almost died when I saw the prices of wedding dresses while shopping with my friend. THOUSANDS of dollars for an outfit for ONE night and that wasn’t including alterations. I am fortunate enough to have had my dress made for me by my super talented friend, but I have been seeing a lot of amazing more casual wedding dresses from Free People or Anthropology and I’M OBSESSED. The dress will cost you $200 instead of $2000 and you’ll be looking super trendy.


5. Get your ring from a pawn shop

My ring was one of our biggest expenses. I’m not a huge jewelry person, but I had an odd shaped engagement ring that wouldn’t be able to be worn with another normal shaped wedding band so I had a band custom formed to my ring. I wasn’t really thinking about the wedding band aspect when pinning my ideas for engagement rings so take that as food for thought!


6. Skip the limo.

My venue was a 7 minute drive from my hotel, and I couldn’t stomach the cost of a limo for such a short ride. Also, we are living in the age of uber and have rides available to us at all times. I found out after the fact that by telling limo companies that you need the limo for a wedding the price goes up. If you really want a limo, leave that little tiny detail out and see if the price changes.


7. No open bar

Don’t get me wrong, I love open bar. BUT we put $1000 dollars towards our cocktail hour, and it was gone in the blink of an eye. I’m not fully confident it lasted the entire hour. I’m not sure what the average cost of an open bar is; but when I googled it, it’s anywhere from $16-$90 so that doesn’t really narrow it down. All I know is that it would have cost us thousands of dollars to supply everyone with alcohol all night and guests are more inclined to get real messy at open bars.

I created this make shift altar by using two shepherds hooks in the ground and draping some curtains I got off Amazon for $20. I used a branch from the woods in the back yard to support the curtains and I got the rug on clearance at Marshalls. This whole set up ended up costing me about $40.


8. Photo booths

WARNING: Unpopular opinion: Photo Booths are overrated.

Everyone selfies anyway.


9. Make your own décor

I found so many frames and chalkboard and amazing accessories at yard sales during the summer leading up to the wedding.

Chalk Board I got on the side of the road along with some fake flowers and a “C “on sale from Michaels. The venue provided the isle so this whole little display ended up costing me less than $10.

It’ll require more of your time–which is scarce during the time you are planning a wedding–so weigh what is most important to you. Ask yourself what is worth more to you, time or money?

Adding string lights to any event can make the dullest of décor magical. You can get string lights at Primark for $2.50 or check out any pharmacies and Walmart. Wait till right after Christmas because there might be a sale.

guest book.jpg
My guest book was this Jenga game from Target’s dollar spot. It was $5! Not bad. My sister purchased those letters for my shower and we reused them again at the wedding because they were super cute!



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