Wedding vows
Credit: Katherine McAdoo on Flickr/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

Weddings today can easily run into costing tens of thousands of dollars. Some statistics point towards an average of $25,000. While many of these weddings are beautifully planned down to each perfected detail, the potential extravagance isn't what necessitates a "great" wedding. In fact, most people do not spend the $25,000. Cost of Wedding, a website dedicated to wedding expenses says:

"The average wedding cost in the United States is $25,200. Couples typically spend between $18,900 and $31,500 but, most couples spend less than $10,000. This does not include cost for a honeymoon." 1

Even so, $10,000 is a lot of money. A great wedding is more about enjoying your day and creating a reception your guests will enjoy. The love between you and your intended should be the focal point of the day and the niceties which surround this theme should cater to your guests. Excellence does not necessarily equate to lavishness in spending.

People are what create memorable times are what truly makes a great wedding. You can design a perfectly wonderful wedding on a low budget. It may not seem easy at first, but once you get the idea of how to be thrifty as you plan your wedding, you'll be amazed at how many areas you can scale back costs and still have a beautiful day.

A few ideas for where you can look to if you are trying to keep the greatness without the high costs include:

Reception and Catering

The location for the reception of your wedding is important. You and your intended should have a conversation about what kind of location you want to hold your wedding. Do you want it to be a fancy catering hall or in a rented hall you decorate and cater yourself? Do you want an indoor wedding at a facility or an outdoor wedding in the backyard?

An outdoor wedding can be lower in costs depending on the location, but you also run the risk of rain, so this may end up being more costly with extra tents. If you rent a local hall, this can be significantly cheaper because you'll be doing most of the work yourself. A benefit to this is you typically have more latitude in how you want your reception to look.

The time of year you choose to get married can also help reduce costs. If you choose a May or June wedding, which is pretty popular, the catering halls are likely to charge more money for your reception. If you want to reduce expenses, consider choosing a wedding date that is off-season.

If you rent a hall yourself you can bring your own caterer and likely get a break on the price than if you were to book a formal reception and are required to use their in-house catering service. Another thought to consider is recruiting family and friends to pitch in and provide some or all of the foods.

Wedding Gown and Accessories

This may not be for all brides, but if costs are really an issue and you need to find ways to scale back, you might want to consider looking on eBay, Craigslist or other classified ads to find a wedding dress. Often a used dress comes up for sale, or a purchased dress never worn. Some brides don't feel comfortable about purchasing a pre-owned dress, so this is a personal decision, but it is an effective way to cut costs if you're willing to go this route.

Other ways you can try to save is to look on the clearance racks at various bridal shops or even department stores which carry prom dresses. Some may carry a "wedding style" dress that matches the look you're seeking.  Often there are some beautiful dresses stashed in between those racks.

Wedding dresses on the rack at store
Credit: Leigh Goessl

Buying a dress off the rack is a lot cheaper than ordering one. You may need alterations, but this will still save you money.

The best way to save money on your wedding gown is to consider wearing your mother, grandmother or other close family member's wedding dress. Not only is it less expensive this way, it holds sentimental value and you can start a family tradition.

For accessories you can make your own veil or borrow one from someone else, rather than pay a couple of hundred dollars at the bridal store. No one is really going to see your shoes, so if you don't want to pay the high price of the shoes you'd find in a bridal store, try going with a basic shoe from a department or shoe store.

Wedding Cake

The bakery you choose will likely dictate how much you pay. Some bakeries charge an obscene amount of money and the cake doesn't taste all that good because they price based on their brand name. Other less-known bakeries may make a much better cake and charge less.

The best way to find your wedding cake for less than a premium price is to shop around, get taste samples from different bakeries and compare prices. Chances are there is a local baker who will do a beautiful job for you. Even better is if one of your family members or friends knows how to bake. Some of the best wedding cakes are homemade. Also, don't forget the options in cake toppers.

Wedding cake
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved


Wedding invitations are another area in wedding planning where you can save significant amounts of money. For instance, you can design and print your wedding invitations yourself.  You can do this either by purchasing pre-designed cards and doing the printing or do it all from scratch. If you're not into design, it might be easier to purchase a kit.  However, if you do like the idea of designing the invites yourself, there are many software programs that you can purchase which walk you through designing beautiful cards. You can even print your own envelope labels and save a bundle of time too.

Wilton Pressed Floral Wedding Invitation Kit
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You can go the expensive route and order your flowers through a florist, but this is likely to run into thousands of dollars. A less expensive route is to use flowers from your own, or someone you know, garden. Not only will you have beautiful flowers, it will be more personal.

If you aren't a gardener and don't know anyone who is, you might want to consider getting your flowers at the grocery store or other floral street vendor. You can make your own table centerpieces this way. All you need to do is go to a dollar store or a craft store and pick up some inexpensive vases.

The flowers you and your bridesmaids carry can be a little trickier. You typically can't buy these at the grocery store or from a street vendor, but you can try making your own; this would cut costs down significantly and you can custom design your own bouquets. 

Consider asking a family member who may have flair and an eye for color and design who may be able to create your bouquets from flowers you purchase. Another consideration is to use silk flowers. Not only can these be cheaper if you make the arrangements yourself, or have them made at the craft store, you'll have your flowers as keepsake memories forever. All you need is a glue gun, the silk flowers and a base to arrange them on so you can carry them.

Wedding flowers
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved


The best way to reduce costs for the wedding gifts for your guests is to make them yourself. By creating your own wedding favors, you can cut costs and have a great time making them.  Another advantage is you can plan something really personalized and custom designed for your wedding, which will make this keepsake truly unique.


Hiring a professional photographer is always a nice idea, but this will easily cost you thousands of dollars, especially if you want a video made too. With today's high resolution tech gadgets on the market, you can ask a trusted friend or family member to take your photos and get good quality photos through the magic of digital cameras.

One note of importance is to make sure the person(s) you choose is willing to dedicate themselves to this time consuming task and won't get distracted. Once special moments are over, you can't retrieve them and you want to make sure you don't lose out of photos of your special memories.

Other Ways to Save

Other areas you can consider looking for ways to save are music, decorations, and even tuxedos. For music, DJs are typically less money than hiring a band and your guests will still have a great time. Decorations can be simplified too, you can easily have an elegant wedding without spending a lot on decor. Tuxes can be borrowed or rented.  You'll also want to choose your rings - this is very personal so weigh this decision out carefully. There are many ways you can save on these items without losing quality or elegance.

Weddings can get pretty expensive once you get down to the details involved, but if you look for ways to cut costs on the various aspects of your wedding and do some of the work yourself, you can easily shave hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your wedding. Be your own wedding planner.