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!


  • Adorning your ceremony and reception sites with festive decorations can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Eliminate the expense entirely by holding your wedding near a holiday, like Christmas or Easter, when these places will likely already be festooned with greenery, lights, bows or other festive embellishments.
  • Love nature? Pick a wedding site rich with lush flora, such as a botanical garden, country or golf club, or park. You probably won't need to enhance this "natural décor" with any extra flowers, centerpieces or greenery.
  • Don't bother buying pricey flower arrangements or greenery to jazz up your buffet or cake tables. Instead, add visual appeal simply by choosing a colorful tablecloth and contrasting china, such as deep-blue serving platters on top of a baby-blue tablecloth. Mixing different tones of a single color creates depth and interest, explains Naylor.
  • Ask your site manager to light fires in the venue's fireplaces, and to turn on the lights in a pool or fountain on the property (this may not be done automatically). Featured lighting like this helps create a warm, romantic ambience, and it won't cost you a thing.

Food and Drinks

  • Have a cocktail "half-hour." It's time most guests won't miss anyway, say experts, and it'll allow you to cut your catering and alcohol bills for that portion of the evening in half.
  • Opt for an ethnic menu, a popular food trend that can save you a bundle. For example, taco and fajita stations will cost a lot less than a fancy raw bar at the cocktail hour; a variety of pasta dishes can be passed around, family-style, during a casual sit-down dinner reception.
  • Forgo an extra dessert course—a generous slice of wedding cake will satisfy most guests. You'll no doubt have to feed the band members, photographer and videographer. But multiply the number of pros you're hiring and your per-plate cost, and you'll see how this could easily add several hundred dollars to your catering bill. A budget-savvy solution: Serve them a paired-down version of your wedding meal. If your guests are feasting on chicken Française, for instance, ask the chef to serve your pros a simple grilled chicken and vegetables dish. This may cut the price of those meals in half.