Lower Your Wedding Budget!

David Tutera offers advice on getting the most bridal bang for your buck.


  • Let your florals work double time -- ask your florist if the altar decor can be moved into your reception. Two large pieces can be used to flank the band or DJ, or group four arrangements together and place them at either corner of your dance floor. Also, any cocktail florals can be refrigerated, sprayed with a flower sealant and reused the next day at your brunch.
  • Opt for a low arrangement instead of a tall one.
  • Choose florals that are in season.
  • Consider choosing flowers that take up more space per stem such a hydrangea, certain orchids, lilies and open roses.


  • Don’t think your favors need to cost a fortune. Some of the most memorable favors I've seen were less expensive and more creative. For example, slip a penny into a fancy miniature envelope and hand write a note on the front that says, “We got our wish. Here’s one for you.”
  • Consider employing your mother or grandmother to bake one of the treats you grew up enjoying as a child, or even a piece of fruit that symbolizes the venue of your destination (think citrus for a tropical locale, an apple for Manhattan). Box them individually with a gorgeous bow and give one to each guest.

Printed Materials

  • Let your printed materials work triple duty. Turn your favors into escort cards by printing the guests' names and table numbers on the favors themselves or attach mini tags. Mini potted herbs, small bottles of maple syrup or mugs filled with hot cocoa mix work perfectly for the holidays. Arrange your favors on the entrance table to your party. The abundance of little favors will erase the need for an expensive escort piece and the need for duplicate favor tags.
  • An escort board or seating chart can be hand made ahead of time and designed to match the theme or feel of your wedding. A giant framed canvas with painted names would work perfectly for an artsy couple, while a lucite box painted with names and filled with flower petals or fake show would take on a beautifully modern look.
  • Think you can’t afford formal menu cards? Consider only printing one for each table instead of one for each guest. Place it in a beautiful frame on the table where everyone can see it. Choose a frame that matches your decor and it will add another beautiful element to your table.


  • Save money on custom linens by borrowing linens from your venue or caterer. These are usually included in your fees anyway, and there is often a selection of colors to choose from. Pick a shade that compliments your decor but does not draw attention. The linens should become a backdrop to your decor.
  • If fancy napkin rings are not in your budget, consider a great napkin fold. Even the most basic napkins can look stunning when shaped into a rose or folded lengthwise with the end of the napkin draped over the edge of the table or folded to hold the flatware or menu card.

Food & Drink

  • Instead of an expensive, over-the-top wedding cake, choose a dessert that is more meaningful to you as a couple or reflective of your theme or venue. For a destination wedding, serve Key Lime pie. Or for a fall harvest wedding, offer a selection of homemade cobblers. These can be beautifully displayed on the cake table with assorted cake stands and some simple floral accents.
  • Another affordable option is to either get a smaller wedding cake or one with mostly fake layers, then serve sheet cake from behind the scenes. This will save your cake designer time and ingredients and will save your caterer the time it takes to cut an elaborate cake. Your guests will never know the difference!
  • Creating a signature cocktail for your wedding gives you an opportunity to share a favorite recipe with your guests. It's also a huge money saver since it cuts out the need for a fully stocked bar. Consider the season and ambiance of your wedding, and your personality as a couple, when choosing a recipe. A mulled cider would be perfect for a winter wedding, a flavored martini is perfect for a vintage wedding and a champagne-and-rose-petal-infused cocktail would be perfect at a romantic reception.
  • Speak to your caterer about more affordable options for the menu -- like serving only passed hors d’ouvres for the cocktail hour or offering a gourmet buffet menu.


  • Have an afternoon wedding, especially in an outdoor setting. This hour of the day can be truly beautiful. Bonus: The sunset makes for incredible pictures!
  • Host a more intimate wedding with only the people you truly care about. This will set the tone for a much more meaningful wedding and more comfortable socializing.