Small Steps, Big Savings

You don't have to slash and burn your wedding budget to get costs under control. Here's how to tame your expenses without going overboard.

  • Extra ceremony décor. Skip altar flowers, pew decorations, swags of fabric and a custom-designed aisle runner. The site is probably lovely as is.
  • Vanity reception décor. Do you really need to splurge on having your names spelled out in roses on the lawn? Do you need silk table runners, imprinted with your names and wedding date? No. Some couples have their custom-designed monogram projected on the sides of the tent and on the dance floor. If you don’t want to allot the money for lighting equipment, then don’t. Instead, create a glowing ambience with clusters of candles and votives on your tables.
  • An ornately decorated cake. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on sugarpaste flowers, butterflies, piped-on pearls or a replica of the lace pattern on your dress. The amount of labor the cake requires will determine its cost, so keep the design simple and sweet.
  • Fancy-schmancy invitations. Check out a discount site like for 40 percent off, or use software and paper from to make your own printed items for much less.
  • High-end transportation. It’s expensive to rent limousines—especially white limos— classic cars and party buses, and overtime charges can pile up. Instead, decorate your own or your friends’ cars, convertibles or even minivans, for fun rides to the ceremony and reception. Or just hire one limo for the two of you and and one for your parents.
  • Spectacular entertainment. Do you need the most expensive chamber group in town? Of course not. DJs are less expensive than bands, but if you do want a live band, look for one with three musicians who can play different instruments. Or program your iPod with your favorites—just make sure the venue is equipped with good speakers.
  • Frivolous favors. Treat your guests to edibles, like cookies or chocolates, with DIY labels. Or try $2 packets of flower seeds from Home Depot or Lowe’s. Making charitable donations in guests’ names is a tasteful and cost-effective solution to what to give.

Photo Credit: Red Loft Studios, Festivities Events