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Planning a Wedding on a Budget (continued)

Cost-cutting tips

  • Send electronic invitations or postcards instead of formal invitations.
  • Make your own cards. If you have a quality printer, you may be able to produce professional-looking cards at home. But if not, you can always go with a handmade, do-it-yourself look.
  • Don’t limit yourself to party/stationary stores. Places such as craft stores, office supply stores, and copiers can be a good source for reasonably-priced invitations. So can the internet – there are countless websites that sell discount invitations.
  • If you are having the invitations professionally done, forgo extras, such as bows, engraving, and lined envelopes.

Wedding dress

  • Skip the bridal stores, and go to the formal dress section in department stores. Wedding dresses commonly come with a bigger mark-up than other formal dresses. You may be able to get a big discount if you buy in late spring, when many stores have after-prom-season sales.
  • Buy a sample or “last season’s” dress.
  • Buy a used dress instead of new one. If you don’t have a friend or family member whose dress you can buy (or borrow), check listings on-line or visit local consignment stores.
  • Instead of buying a dress, rent one for the day. There are many wedding stores that offer this service.


  • Look for vases and other decorations in craft and thrift stores.
  • Only use flowers that are in season and readily available.
  • Grow your own flowers or get them from an on-line wholesaler or from a bulk or grocery store.
  • Hold the wedding in a garden or other venue that provides natural adornment.
  • Consider alternatives to flowers for centerpieces and other decorations. For example, you could use branches (available for free outside!), fruit, stones, books, candles or feathers.


  • Ask if you can get a discount if you hold the wedding at a less popular time, such as Friday or Sunday. (Saturday is typically the most popular day for weddings.)
  • Consider other options besides traditional weddings halls. Many places of workshop and parks allow use of their facilities for a small fee. Having it in your backyard or the backyard of a friend or a family member may be another option. (However, don’t forget to factor in the rental fees for such things as tables and chairs.) Holding it in a restaurant could also save you money.
  • If you are holding the reception in a hotel, see if they will give you discount if you also reserve a block of rooms for guests.


  • If it is allowed, provide your own food and/or wine. You may be lucky enough to have someone willing to cook for you, but if not, you may be able to get platters from the supermarket. Remember, wedding food does not need to be fancy.
  • If you are using a caterer, ask which menu options are the cheapest and if you can save money by doing a buffet instead of a served meal.
  • Serve just hors’ d'oeuvres or dessert. (It is easier to do this if the reception is in the afternoon.)
  • Instead of a traditional tiered wedding cake, have a sheet cake, cupcakes, or pie.


  • Typically, a DJ is cheaper than a live band. Using an MP3 or other music player is even cheaper, especially if you have or know someone that can provide speakers.
  • While you do not want to sacrifice quality, you may be able to save money by going with a band or DJ that is not yet established. High schools and colleges are often a good source for low-cost groups.


  • Contact photography clubs or schools in your area to see if there are any budding photographers interested in shooting a wedding. Like with music, you can typically save money by going with someone without years of experience.
  • Instead of having a photographer at the event, ask your guests to bring their digital cameras with them to take photos (or provide disposable cameras). If you want formal photographs (because, let’s be honest, Aunt Sally may not take the best pictures), visit a studio before or after the wedding. It is usually cheaper than having a photographer come to you.
  • Go with a digital photo album instead of a printed one. (You should still be able to get a few prints of favorite photos.) Or have the photos printed yourself – regular photo labs often charge less than photographers. (Although keep in mind that you may not be able to do this if your photographer holds the copyright to the images.)

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