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!

The Cake

  • Make sure you're not paying twice for wedding cake. "Some catering sites include a basic dessert cake in their fee and won't automatically cut that cost from your bill if you decide to bring in a cake yourself," says Naylor. So, check your estimate—and bill—carefully.
  • Love a DIY project? Make an elegant, but inexpensive, cascading cake in minutes. All you need to do is purchase a wedding-cake cascade kit from a discount craft store (expect to spend around $25), and place several nicely decorated cakes from your local bakery on the tiers. "My niece put hers together in 10 minutes," says Warner. "The kit included a strip of white satin to decorate the base, as well as artificial ivy to wrap around the support columns between each tier. The total cost for 120 people was $110."
  • Borrow a decoy cake—for display only, of course. Ask your baker if he or she has a decorative cardboard cake (it could even be topped with real frosting, so no one will be able to tell it's fake) that you can place on the cake table. Or, consider a small, two- or three-tier cake for display rather than a seven-tier extravaganza. Guests can feast on a much less expensive sheet cake that's prepared, stored and sliced in the kitchen.
  • Hire your baker to make a plain, frosted, three-tier cake, and decorate it yourself using fresh flowers. It's simple (really!), and you'll save a bundle on the cost of labor alone. Place flower heads—red roses look dramatic against a white cake, for instance—around the bottom of each tier; sprinkle edible petals (like hibiscus, nasturtiums or sunflowers) from a gourmet-food store on top of each tier. It'll look amazing, and no one will know you've done it yourself.
  • Some cake ingredients are more expensive than others. For instance, you'll save money if your baker uses a "box mix" instead of creating your cake from scratch—in part because a pre-made batter requires less time to prepare. And consult with your baker about filling options: Raspberry or strawberry jam, for example, costs less than chocolate mousse.


  • Because many brides and grooms these days hire a band and a DJ, many DJs are now offering package deals that include both. For instance, your DJ might bring along a pianist, guitarist or flute player to perform during dinner, then spin CDs himself for the dancing portion of the evening. Of course, this means you'll save the cost of hiring a band—a potentially major expense—but you'll still have the ambience that live music brings to a party.
  • Some DJs charge extra for an assistant who will cover his or her breaks. This is unnecessary- just direct your DJ to play a CD during those times.
  • If you simply must have live music, find a band through a local music school or check out groups that perform in bars and coffee houses. They're almost always significantly less expensive than your average wedding band. One caveat: Make sure the group has performed at two or three weddings and is familiar with the pacing and routine.