Clever Ways to Cut Your Wedding Costs

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

Do Some Dress Digging
“Shhh! It’s a secret! I bought my dress off the rack. It had been tried on by other people, but it looked just like any other dress— and it only cost me $200!” —Amie

“Finding something more upscale in your price range is usually possible—it just takes some extra work. I saved money on my designer dress by purchasing it at a trunk show. Don’t be afraid to shop around!” —Jena, Philadelphia, PA

st pucchi wedding dresses
Photo courtesy of St. Pucchi

Time it Right
“Because we decided to hold our wedding on a Saturday at noon, the site fee was a real bargain. We served the meal buffet-style and had open seating. I think people enjoyed the relaxed feel of it because everyone really let loose!” —Beverly, Leonia, NJ

Entertain the Possibilities
“My brother is really into music, and he used an iPod to DJ at our reception. All we did was rent speakers. We came up with a playlist together, which was fun, and he was happy to handle the rest. We’re into indie music, so it was nice to be able to hear so many of our favorite songs, which are kind of offbeat, as well as some more popular stuff to keep our guests happy!” —Jennifer, Jersey City, NJ

Find a Creative Alternative
“I nixed a wedding video and used a small portion of what I would have spent on it to rent a photo booth—it was between $500 and $600. Guests had so much fun getting their pictures taken with props. We now have a really cute album with photos and messages from everyone!” —Emily

“We decided to skip the wedding cake. It’s a tradition in my family for relatives to bake homemade sweets to serve at a buffet at the reception. With all those amazing cookies, we didn’t really need a cake.” —Jeanette

Be Selective About the Extras
“Our site offered a convenient package deal that provided everything we needed for the kind of wedding we envisioned. If you wanted, you could choose to upgrade to matching colored napkins or add decorative chair covers, but we didn’t feel it was necessary. We were happy with what was offered, so that’s what we did. It was awesome!” —Jeanette

“There are a lot of things brides are convinced they need to buy. I kept seeing decorated card boxes to display at the reception, but in the end, I decided to make one myself. I bought a plain ivory satin box from a craft store, added pretty silk flowers in autumn hues that matched my bouquet and then topped it with a rhinestone monogram letter. All in all, I think it probably cost $30, and my mom and I both thought it looked much better than the pre-made ones!” —Emily

Ask for Special Treatment
“Some photographers don’t give you the copyright to your photos, but I negotiated to get all the high-resolution pictures to reproduce as we like. I was able to design my album using a photo-sharing website. I think I spent no more than $60 on the album, and it turned out just perfectly.” —Jennifer

“We saved a lot by choosing a sparsely decorated site. To spruce it up, I wanted to hang “puff balls” made of colorful tissue paper. You can buy a craft kit to make these decorations, but instead I found tissue paper in bulk and purchased floral wire from a craft store. Then I invited a few close friends over. We made dozens of decorations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help—if you need something assembled, just offer dinner or drinks!” —Lynda

“We printed our invitations at home from a kit that I found on clearance at a craft store for under $50. Luckily, I happened to love the ones on sale. If you’re going to go this route, though, I would recommend breaking up the project over a few evenings. Our printer overheated!” —Jeanette

Back to Nature
We kept costs down by holding our wedding at a public park—the same place where my parents had their wedding reception!—Brandie, La Mirada, CA