Wedding Rings
Credit: MorgueFile

Weddings can get expensive quickly. However, there are ways to save money and still have a wonderful ceremony. My friends and I threw a wedding recently and it all cost well under $1,000.00. Read on to find out how we did it and get tips on how you can do the same.

1. Borrow a dress. Most people only wear their wedding dress once, but hold onto is as a keepsake. For the wedding we planned, the bride had four used dresses to choose from and all of them were beautiful. She borrowed one for the day and it did not cost her a dime. 

 If you do not have a dress to borrow you can buy a used dress from craigslist or a Facebook selling site. Dress stores also have sample sales where you can get dresses at a drastically discounted price. Another option is to go down a less traditional route and buy a simple dress off the store rack. A white sundress could be perfect for a simple, outdoor, summer wedding.

Guys are easy in this area. For example, khakis with a white shirt and light colored tie-or no tie at all- would work for a summer wedding. Black slacks, a white shirt, vest and tie that match the color scheme could work for any other time of the year. In most cases, there is no need to rent a tuxedo unless the ceremony is very formal.

2. Use a free venue or location.  At my own wedding, I was able to use the church for free because my mother was a member. Most churches charge, but it is worth asking around. There may also be a discount for members at certain churches.

Another option is to have the ceremony at someone’s home. The wedding we recently planned was in the front yard of a friend’s house. The house was in a quiet and beautiful area, and the yard had plenty of space for the ceremony and the reception. I have also been to a wedding where the ceremony was in the front yard and the reception was in the back yard.

If you cannot find a free location, another strategy is to get married during an ‘off’ day or ‘off’ season. For example, it is often less expensive to rent a wedding venue on a Friday or Sunday night rather than a Saturday. Also, during a busy wedding month like June, venues are in high demand and often cost more than they would at slower times of the year, such as November.


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3. Skip the flowers-except for the bouquet. Flowers can take up a large portion of the budget. If you are having an outdoor ceremony, allow the natural setting to take the place of the flowers and save the money for something else.  

For the bouquet, you can make it yourself by keeping things simple. For example, three calla lilies tied together with sheer ribbon make a beautiful and simple bouquet.


Calla Lily Bouquet
Credit: Engaged Studios

This is a picture of a calla lily bouquet we made for my wedding. We used five calla lilies, babies breath, and sheer green ribbon to tie the flowers together. It was simple to make, but I think it turned out beautifully.

4. Do not feed people, or make it yourself. If a full meal is not in your budget, have the ceremony during a time when people will not expect to be fed. For example, a two o’ clock wedding is well past the lunch hour and can easily end before dinnertime.

If you want to feed everyone, try making the food yourself. At the wedding we planned, we served pulled pork with tortillas, rice and beans. Everything was made in slow cookers so there was not a lot of cooking that had to be done close to wedding time.

5. Replace the cake with cupcakes. There are some people who are talented in all things crafty. If you are one of those people, you can probably figure out how to make your own cake and do it well. If you are not one of those people, and do not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a cake, cupcakes can be a less expensive option. Make the cupcakes yourself, decorate them simply, and buy or build a cupcake stand to display them.

 6. Identify your talented friends and family. This is the most important tip I have to offer. Between the six women who worked on the wedding, two are photographers, one is a dress designer who is wonderful at planning and decorating events, one makes cakes on the side, and the two others were willing to help in any way possible. Our friends got thousands of dollars’ worth of wedding services for close to free because of who they know. You may not personally know professionals in all these areas, but you may know someone who makes cakes on the side or another person who is learning photography.

 The six of us also had left over decorations and supplies from our own weddings. We chose the items that worked with the theme we were going for and used those in the ceremony. We also used items from our own homes. For example, we used a beautiful farm house table to display the cake. I had mason jars from previous canning attempts and we used the smaller ones as drinking glasses and the larger ones for centerpieces. One of the ladies still had candles from her wedding and we used those for the centerpieces as well.

Weddings are happy and exciting events, and people are usually willing to help plan and execute the ceremony. If you have a small budget, but want to have a nice wedding, ask for help. You will likely find people you know with hidden talents and experiences that can help make your wedding beautiful. Even if you do not know anyone with wedding planning experience, you most likely know people who are willing to work and help.

This list is a few of the ideas that I have used in my own wedding and in the wedding of a friend. It is not an exhaustive list, but it can be a great place to start. Besides your talented friends and family, another great resource is websites such as Pinterest where you can find every do-it-yourself idea imaginable. Decide what is most important to you, take care of that with the money and/or resources you have available and then do the rest yourself.