Clever Ways to Cut Your Wedding Costs

From invitations to wedding cakes to everything in between, brides share smart ways to save money.

wedding place card table
Photo Credit: Muriel Silva Photography

Reuse & Recycle
“Go online and look at ‘for sale’ items on local boards. I found someone selling used votive holders and got a deal on a box of them. I had to remove the ribbons she had on hers, because they didn’t match my decorations, but that bit of extra work was worth it.”—Lynda, Sterling, VA

Shop in Unexpected Places
“I thought I’d find our favors in a craft store or at a wedding website, but I spotted some really pretty scented candles at a discount department store for under $2 each. We asked the store to order them in bulk for us. We added personalized matchbooks and put them in white boxes with a monogrammed sticker. I think they came in at about $3.50 apiece total. It was so much fun to do these things ourselves.” —Melissa, Greenville, NC

Compare Renting and Owning
“We rented our centerpieces from the reception venue for a low fee. They were wrought-iron hurricane lamps with pillar candles inside—perfect for our nautical-style reception!” —Leah, Dorchester, MA

“Before you assume that renting will be more affordable, do a little research. My florist wanted me to spend $5 a pop to rent her vases. Instead, I bought mine from a wholesale supplier for about $2 apiece. —Emily, Pittsburgh, PA

Set the Stage
“We had our wedding in my small hometown, rather than in New York City, not for sentimental reasons but because we quickly found out it costs about half as much to rent event space there! The added bonus was that my family was very happy.” —Diana, New York City

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Work Your Contacts
“My friend’s sister is starting a business designing invitations, so she made ours for free. All she asked was that she could keep some to show future clients. They looked so beautiful, we had one framed.”—Amie, Moon, PA

“My friend, who is a florist’s assistant, designed bouquets for my bridesmaids and for me. It not only saved cash, but the fact that she created the bouquets for us made them feel very special.” —Jeanette

“Through an acquaintance from college, I found a photographer whose career was just getting off the ground. She was reasonably priced.” —Lynda

"I always admired a good friend’s handwriting, so I asked her to address my wedding invitations. She was honored to pitch in."—Janet, Hancock, VT

Personalize, Affordably
“There are lots of ways to personalize your wedding, but not all of them cost a great deal. I had cocktail napkins printed with our names and wedding date. It cost less than $30 for a huge number, and that one little touch made me really happy.” —Jeanette, Reston, VA

Be Charitable
At the end of the night, most wedding favors get left behind or thrown away! So we decided to make a donation to our town’s Salvation Army. It felt great to help a local charity, and it probably cost a bit less than conventional favors since we didn’t have to buy fancy packaging or pay shipping costs.” —Emily

Next: How to Save on Your Dress, Vendors, and More ►