33 Money-Saving Secrets from Wedding Pros

We're busting the wedding industry wide open in order to save you a bundle. Only the pros knew of these brilliant cost-cutting strategies—until now!

Site Fees

  • When you're shopping around for a reception venue, look closely at places that specialize in weddings. Often, they offer great package deals that include all the basic wedding costs, like flowers, food, decorations and a cake. You may even be able to use the services of an on-staff event planner, who can help you with creative and logistical details, says Diane Warner, author of How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget (Betterway Books).
  • Many traditional wedding venues, like banquet halls and hotels, charge a fee just for the use of their space, above and beyond the cost of catering. So, seek out less common, though no less lovely, locations you can rent for minimal money, such as bed-and-breakfast inns, historic buildings or wineries (some of them stock tables, chairs, linens and tableware, which means you'll be spared rental costs for these items). And if you're marrying in a house of worship, find out if there's an attached or affiliated hall you can use for a reasonable price.
  • Have a destination wedding—but do it close to home. For instance, if you live in the Boston area, hold your event on Cape Cod. You'll still enjoy the ambience of a beach wedding, but you and your guests won't have to shell out cash for airfare to, say, Hawai'i or the Caribbean, or for hotel accommodations for more than a night or two.
  • Join a professional organization or club that offers members a discount on the use of its public space. "One bride told me she joined an arboretum in her town when she got engaged, and this allowed her to knock 60% off the site fee for her event," says wedding expert Sharon Naylor.

Centerpieces and Bouquets

  • Here's a tip that could save you 50% or more on the cost of your centerpieces and bouquets: Choose blooms that are locally available, rather than ones that must be shipped in from afar. Go to the website of the California Cut Flower Commission, ccfc.org, to determine what flowers will be in season during the month of your wedding, suggests Leah Ingram, author of Plan Your Wedding In No Time (Que Publishing). Or, just ask your florist for help choosing blooms.
  • Approximately half of your florist's bill will be for labor. So, select bouquets that are hand-tied—that is, wrapped at the base with a ribbon, perhaps one that matches the color of your bridesmaid dresses or the color accents on your gown. Elaborate, cascading bouquets cost significantly more because they take more time to make.
  • Likewise, when only one type of flower is used in your bouquet, you will save on labor costs, because the florist won't have to spend as much time arranging these blooms as he or she would on a bouquet incorporating flowers of many sizes, shapes and colors. Calla lilies work well, because they're impressive, luscious-looking blossoms.