Budget Wedding Ideas

Engagements and wedding plans have been something of a feature on a lot of the blogs I love of late and a few weeks ago I got talking to some lovely ladies about the cost of weddings over on twitter. Considering it is only one day they are pretty damn expensive and you can easily land yourself in a lot debt planning your big day. Worry not, you can get married on a budget. We here at A Thrifty Mrs believe a wedding is one day and a marriage is forever, going forward into your marriage saddled with debt because of one day seems very alien to us.
Mr Thrifty and I planned two weddings. The first a large wedding in a city centre but because we had a devastating loss we decided it was inappropriate to celebrate in such a manner. We scaled back and had a small wedding in a tiny place with very close friends and family only. So we’ve had experience of planning both sides of the wedding spectrum. Both styles of wedding can be achieved without bankrupting yourself, really, I promise – they can! Here are some of my tried and tested budget wedding ideas.

Use what you already have to decorate your venue. China, tablecloths, teapots as vases.
High street dresses as bridesmaids dresses
At the best wedding I’ve been to the bridesmaids wore black high street dresses (actually from the sale) teamed them with shoes from New Look (the same shoes in different pastel colours). The total for three dresses and three pairs of shoes was under £100.
Homemade invitations
We made our invitations (plus place cards, order or service, directions leaflets and thank you cards) ourselves. We messed about with old photos and vintage images and used Vistaprint to print out super cheap but great looking invitations. Do you have a video camera? Could you make a funny video or photo montage and burn it to DVD to send out? Use your imagination.
Bunting – Ask friends and family to donate old clothes or scraps of fabric and sew bunting to decorate your venue.
Make it classic – Table confetti, bows on chairs, anything too fussy will date, fast.
Candles – Consider decorating your table with candles rather than expensive floral displays. We bought large multi-wick candles from Ikea, placed them on large thrifted plates and strung pearls around them. They came to around £10 per table rather than the £55 per table a florist quoted for a floral display.
Pearls – They look fantastic and really twinkly. After Christmas you can pick up huge chains of pearl garland from shops for next to nothing. No one but you need know that they’re Christmas decorations.
Jam jars – Save up jam jars and fill them either with tea lights or tiny posies of seasonal flowers. Group them in clusters or in a long line down a long village hall style table.
I love tulips and wanted something VERY simple. Infact Mr Thrifty made my bouquet for me and had it delivered to the hotel by his mother. He bought two bunches of pink tulips from Marks and Spencer, removed extra leaves, secured with an elastic band and wrapped beautifully around the elastic band with thick pink ribbon. Bridesmaids each carried a single pink tulip. Total cost including ribbon – £9.
tealights as decorations
Lounge suits 
Mr Thrifty wore a vintage lounge suit that he picked up for £20 in a vintage shop. It was new to him and he could get plenty of wear out of it for future events. Much cheaper than hiring a mundane suit.
The bride arrives last, no one really sees her arrive. Do you really need to spend the best part of £1000 on a car to drive you to your venue?
The Dress
Can you make your wedding dress? Can you buy a second hand or vintage wedding dress and customise? Can you wear your mother or grandmother’s dress?
Did you know it is good luck to wear an old veil? The more brides that have worn the veil the more luck. So if you believe in that kind of thing ask around your old married friends and family to see if you can borrow a veil for the day.
Our cake was a basic (but delicious) white cake from Waitrose (I don’t know if they still do them but they certainly still do other wedding cakes and I know M&S do the plain cakes too). They do celebration cakes that you can decorate yourself. We stacked three on top of each other at an angle and decorated with pearls. We also had small cookies in the shape of a bow for people to take away at the end of the night.
Most people (especially) men will leave them on the table. No seriously, they will.
If you want to do something do it on the cheap. We gave our guests thrifted teacups (which added to the decoration) that contained a tiny envelope (made by us from wrapping paper) with hot chocolate in it and home made heart shaped marshmallows. We tied a parcel tag to the handle and wrote ‘please take me home’ and 95% were. Total cost – £65
Take inspiration from your home
We made our own in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. There are numerous places you can do this and they cost a fraction of the price of those that you’d find in an expensive jeweller or high street store.
What is it worth spending money on?
This obviously depends from person to person but mine are –  
The food – People have come a long way and probably spent a lot of money to celebrate your day. Give them good quality food. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it does have to tasty and great quality. People will judge your day on the food.
Photographer – Our photographer was rubbish as he came as part of a package deal with the venue. I really regret not having a good photographer.(I don’t look at ours but then, I wouldn’t look at them if they were good either.)
Shoes – You’ll be on your feet all day and way into the night. Make sure they’re comfortable.
Make up artist – I was far too wobbly to do my own make up with out botching it.
But most importantly, remember the day is about making an amazing commitment to someone you love. It isn’t really about the dress, the venue, the weather, the favours, the cars. I’ve been married for four years and whilst I still love my dress, my shoes, the venue etc. the things I remember are saying those words to a man I love, is crying when he said them back to me and laughing like a drain at the speeches. It was a blimmin’ great day but it wasn’t the best day of my life, I have a long and happy marriage ahead of me as great as it now (fetch a sick bucket) the best is yet to come.
My number one tip?
Unless it is absolutely necessary do NOT mention the word ‘wedding’ when booking anything.

P.S. Do you have any frugal wedding tips?

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  1. I so agree that it is only one day of your life. I was definitely more interested in getting married than in the wedding. I just couldn’t have taken the stress that it has to be THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE. We had only 9 guests and my dress was a vintage 50s day dress which cost £18 as it had a hole in it (I got it perfectly mended for £10!)

  2. My whole wedding cost £2,500 including a dress and sit down 3 course meal for £65. Ok it was 13 years ago, but it can be done!

  3. Great post. My friends who have married over the last few years got so stressed inviting random people because “we have to make everyone happy” It annoyed me because it was like they didn’t get what it was all about anymore. It ridiculous how much people will charge when you say wedding. I’ve always said to my other half when we do start planning ours properly, just say party when booking ha ha.
    I want to head abroad as its much cheaper. Alredy found a high street chain with great dresses and looking at high street for bridesmaids too.
    You’ve given me some gret ideas. Thankyou xxx

  4. Wonderful post. Lots of things to think about

    Do you have any photos of your day? The table decorations sound great

  5. I got married 15 years ago, register office(immediate family), reception(everyone else) outfits(made my skirt) shoes in a sale, 12.99, car (white from local hire place) flowers, rings(from Argos), honeymoon(first night in hotel, the rest of the week, short breaks at haven and butlins!) invites(bought glossy flowered paper and cut out flower shapes and made our own and stuck the flowers to DL envelopes,people though we’d had them made!) photo’s and albums etc etc, all on a budget and the final cost was less than £1,000.
    hubby’s cousin had a big fancy wedding, her marriage only lasted two years!

    Josie x

  6. So many wonderful ideas. I’ve only been to a few weddings before but my favourite was definitely the low-key wedding. They’d thought of all the little touches themselves, and they were quirky and full of their personalities, rather than being thought up by someone else. The bride and groom were also relaxed and focused on having a good time, which they definitely did!
    I’m always shocked to hear people making statements like ‘You can’t have a wedding for under £20,000.”As you’ve shown, it’s all about making the right choices and thinking about what you want rather than ‘what people have at weddings’.

    Emily x

  7. I love these ideas. I’m planning mine at the moment and can’t believe how expensive everything is! I’m going for the highstreet bridesmaid dresses as well…and home made invitations!

    Another nice idea that a friend of mine did – she asked everyone to bring along a cupcake, any colour/style etc, these were all put together on a huge cupcake stand to form the wedding cake…it looked amazing and had such a shabby chic vibe, as they were all different but beautiful! x

    • Wow, I love this cupcake idea. Because its more affordable and everyone contributes. More people need to break this myth of the perfect day involving £££’s.

  8. Think the last tip may be the most valuable of all wedding tips ever!!

    Amazed at comments saying they had 9 guests etc. Coming from a large family, 9 people wouldn’t cover my sisters & their partners…I recently wrote a ‘draft’ list of family & closest friends (ignoring any family I hate) and ti was over 100 people. Not including Alex’s friends that I don’t really know. I think I need less friends.

  9. I have made my own garter! You can check it out here http://wp.me/p1cGXx-kx. Another frugal idea is to buy flowers in bulk from Costco or Sam’s Club (whole sale stores). Or if you have a green thumb and are getting married in the summer, grow them in your own garden :)

    • Deb Howard says:

      Agree beingzhenya, am currently growing daisies for the centrepieces of my wedding reception tables. plan to do my own wedding bouquet, already have purchased the florist wire, tape and ribbons of the wedding theme online. already have dress which purchased in Australian chain store, very difficult to find just the right look for older brides like me. loving reading all the comments, love deb

  10. I have made my own garter! You can check it out here http://wp.me/p1cGXx-kx. Another frugal idea is to buy flowers in bulk from Costco or Sam’s Club (whole sale stores). Or if you have a green thumb and are getting married in the summer, grow them in your own garden :)

  11. Our wedding was expensive but this was due to the venue {we had exclusive use and amazing food!} and photographer and lavish honeymoon.
    We did make alot of it ourselves- we printed our own invites/orders of service/menu and thank you cards. I collected pine cones throughout the year which served as name settings {sprayed gold}, our ushers wore £50 suits from M&S, we made the wedding cake {I did a tier, my mum made two and my mother-in-law made one} and I made my own headdresses {I wore three throughout the day} my bridesmaids headdress and my mums hat!!
    Also we decorated the venue with pine cones and tealights in thrifted whiskey glasses and old family wedding photos in frames.
    I totally agree about favours – the men care not a jot for them and really what is the point?!! Although I love your idea!
    We had a non kid wedding and so I gave out chocolate reindeer for all the parents to take home to the kids.
    One tip would definitely be to take out wedding insurance – our gift list was with Wrapit who went into administration leaving us with only a few gifts. It was a very traumatic time having to tell guests we didn’t have their gifts but M&S wedding insurance payed out for everything! They were brilliant! Phew!

  12. We were married 14 years ago and it really was ‘the best day ever’. We got so many friends and relatives onboard to help it really got the costs down. A friend of mine made my dress (which we copied from a shop one!), I had an auntie who was a professional flower arranger, my father-in-law-to-be already had a fabulous old open-top car used in weddings previously. We got another friend to take all the photos (fab candids) and my inlaws had another friend that professionally makes cakes, her husband made us a video. I designed all our invitations with a simple black & white calligraphic design that was cheap to print. On the evening invitations I drew a caracature of the two of us.

    So my best tip to save money is work out who you know that can possibly help out. Ours loved getting involved and making our day that extra bit special.

  13. Our wedding last august incorporated many of your tips. We wanted a medium wedding on a budget and spent about 3k. We put this on an interest free credit card and are paying it off. The theme was shabby chic/vintage/handmade. It was an amazing day, and almost everything was either done by us or my mum…i made my dress and the boys waistcoats, i made 60 meters of bunting, we used beautiful thrifted mismatched teacups and plates, my mum did all the catering – an amazing tea party with cakes and scones. The biggest expense was the photographer. We had a photojournalistic photographer who was amazing, cost us nearly half the budget but was worth every penny. I have blogged our wedding, and you can see the amazing photos here plus more info: http://vintagejelly.blogspot.com/2011/01/our-wedding.html

  14. some great ideas there.. i have to admit i had planned my wedding since i was about 12 so when i met the hubby he just basically filled in the part that the groom played!!..
    if i was to re-organise my day again it would be quite different. id still have the venue because i loved it. id have a less fussy dress( although it was everything i ever wanted at the time!) and i wouldnt invite any of the hubbys extended family as they are all rude and arrogant and didnt even speak to me on my own wedding day even though i was paying for them to have a beautiful dinner!!..

    thanks for the idea for my dresser.. it funny as i had toyed with the idea of yellow.. great minds ey!

    hope the move is going well !


  15. Great advice (of course)! Our thrifty wedding experiences:

    A friend who was training as a florist made my bouquet and wreath as her wedding gift.

    My husband, who’s a great baker, made wedding cakes as gifts for our best friends and for my sister.

    So, if you’re going to a wedding, think of your skills and talents and ask if you could give one of them as your gift to the happy couple.

    Also, my dress came from a high street sale and had be to altered professionally to fit, but this was way cheaper than buying your average wedding dress. My sister did the same 19 years later…

    My sister and her husband had peacock feathers instead of flowers at each table. Some would be worried about the luck but none of us were and it was relatively cheaper and a lot of fun.

  16. Our weddng cost us £800 and what I found it that a good way to help to save money is to get friends and family involved, in my experience, people want to help. Its also about deciding what is important – the venue, honeymoon, food etc and spend accordingly. I saved more money by not wearing a traditional wedding dress – I wore a Per una dress bought in the sale x

  17. I am currently planning our wedding (infact, we booked the venue/date just yesterday!).

    We are extremely lucky in that our families are contributing a great deal of the cost, and so although I do try to get the best deal on everything, its perhaps not my priority.

    I am however, very much into DIY and crafts, and so I am designing and printing my own Save The Dates and Invites and I have already bought stands for centrepeices off ebay which I intend to customise. I’m also not doing favours, but a candy bar instead which can be done fairly cheaply and I know it will at least be used, and my bridesmaids will all be in highstreet unmatching dresses. I am also saving money on the evening buffet by just have bacon barms instead of a full buffet for a fraction of the price.

    I do agree however on photography. Coming from a photography/art background it is my second priority after the venue, and just ‘any’ photographer will not cut it I’m afraid – I only intend to do this the once and photo’s can’t be taken again another day!

  18. I am helping plan a wedding at the mo. The bride has come up with a fab answer to favours. She has bought a load of sweets from Bookers and is putting them in lovely large jars with scoops and is giving each guest a little bag to help themselves to their faves. That way, those who don’t want them won’t waste them and it’s a fun nostalgic thing for most people!

  19. I agree with your tips- we had a BIG wedding on a small budget. My tips would be:
    -Respectable end of high street (Monsoon, Coast, Phase 8, LK Bennett) all do evening-dress-style-wedding dresses at about £200-400, many of which look vintagesque. Find a clever friend to tailor it just to you! I had actually saved for a big fancy dress, but loved one I saw in Monsoon and saved over £500. I got my bridesmaid dresses from Bicester Village (designer outlet mall) – LK Bennett, but more affordable.
    -Plan ahead and make: skilled friends will often be able to do the cake, flowers etc’ instead of a gift and LOVE to.
    -Make-your-own. So many tutorials out there: teacups-with-flowers centrepieces? Candle arrangements instead of flowers (v romantic and key people can keep them as gifts) etc’. Top shops for materials are ‘The Range’, ‘Tiger’ and ‘Dunelm Mill’ and even poundland for plain tealights etc’… Hobbycraft has tutorials online but is quite pricy.

    Errr, blimy, I could write a post of my own.

    One thing to find (by recommendation of someone you trust) is the photographer. Ours was great, indeed we made it onto a wedding blog (whimsical wonderland weddings) – which has some great budget tips too!

  20. It absolutely horrifies me how much people spend on weddings. One of my relatives will be spending the first two years of their married life paying off a 10 grand wedding – surely it’s far better to spend that sort of money on your actual married life together?

  21. Me and the Mr have been together since university, have 2 great kids and engaged for 3 years. When we eventually get married, necessity demands that we keep costs to a minimum and I also love the idea of making as many things as possible to give it a personal touch.
    Love your ideas and will be referring back to this post when the time comes.
    I know you are a very busy lady, but would love for you to pop over to my new-ish blog and give me your thoughts.
    Hope your move goes smoothly. X

  22. THANK YOU!

    We are trying to figure out how to make this as cheap as we can but it is already hard. We know our budget but keep finding out about things you are epxected to pay for like the bridal party stuff (I did not even know what the bridal party was!)

    We know we want to spend money on good food and ensure our friends and family who have travelled far (some really far) have a good day.

    And to be honest we do need to keep some family members happy or they will make life hell for people we care about which means numbers are higher than we expected.

    But yes, THANK YOU! I am going to start hitting charity shops once we have an idea of the theme/colour scheme and try to find stuff to make it nice and ours and thrifty!

  23. I read your post with interest and have to say i agree.
    I’m actually celebrating my 4th wedding anniversary today ( have just posted some of my wedding photos up on my blog).
    We had a friend who made our delicious white chocolate cake and another friend who made my bouquet using flowers from her garden.
    We also had our rings made at the jewellery quarter in Birmingham.

  24. This is all so true, I put lots of this into practice at my wedding. I really hope this helps some brides-to-be out there to save some money and relax a little!

    (love your blog by the way!)

  25. The best favour I had at a wedding was a handmade tiny envelope with the name of a wedding/love related flower on(mine was cupids arrow) and inside were some seeds for the plant. I still have the plant in my garden 10 years later and love it.

    • WOW!!!
      This is one thing I’ve never thought about!! We plan on growing flowers in small pots to decorate the tables, that guests will be able to take with them when they leave..but seeds? Same concept, different approach.. love it, thanks! (adds note to notebook..)

  26. I got married on a California cliff-top at sunset, with only my brother-in-law and his wife there as witnesses / best man / photographers.

    We always knew that whichever country we got married in, there would always be one side of the church with more people than the other, so we decided to just get married without all of that. I have no regrets (although my mother-in-law wasn’t happy).

  27. Anonymous says:

    You can see all about our environmentally friendly wedding day here: http://www.concrete2jungle.co.uk/?p=3445

  28. Bookmarked this post! I am engaged, goodness knows when we will be able to afford to get married. We are all for a budget wedding, for us it’s about our family and friends having a good time and us all having a jolly good knees up!

    Some great tips in there!

    Rebecca xx (ohpanda.blogspot.com)

  29. thank you for the awesome tips, we do plan on making/thrifting/roping in other people as much as we can for our wedding, it’ll hopefully save us pennies and make it a much more special day, but i totally agree with spending money on the food and photos!

    as well as jam jars with candles in we’re planning on having tin cans with holes punched in, and fishbowls filled with those battery powered led fairylights, lots of twinkly light sources for our evening art gallery wedding.

    Cate, x

  30. Coming a little late to this post, only just discovered you Mrs Thrifty.
    Have a look at this link to paper heart bunting we make by the yardful for celebrations, no tutorial but you just need lining paper, brown paper, a ruler, a stapler, some string and a punch (our one is Martha Stewart) and a few hours with friends punching and stapling should do the trick.

  31. Yes, we got married, second time round for both of us, on a very limited budget.

    Bridesmaids dresses – From a High St retailer, can’t remember which one.
    Invitations – From a stall in a covered market.
    Decorations – Only what the club put out, baloons etc.
    Flowers – Artificial, made up by groom with pretty ribbons from market haberdashery stall. we’ve still got the brides ina vasr in the bathroom, looks so pretty.
    Suit – Light grey, bought new from Tesco, sale.
    Dress – High Street store.
    Cake – Sainsburys celebration cakes, 3 sizes, club stewardess provided stand. Pottery bride & groom ornament, it’s on our corner unit now.
    Favours – Made by groom, material and ribbon from market haberdashery, mints by Asda.
    Rings – Beleive it or not, pawnbroker, high quality but about a quarter of new price.
    Food – Our local club, the srewardess is famous for her buffets, really good, set the room out very nicely.
    Drink – Bottles of decent pink sparking wine, a trip to France provided that at about a tenth of the English price.
    Disco – Local dj.
    Photographs – We gave every couple a throw-away camera, asked them to take pics and give us the camera back when they’d used all the pics. A guest whose hobby was photography took a load of pics and had them put on a disc for us.
    Taxi – Guest with a nice Merc, just a ribbon on the front.

    Total cost was about £800.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2012

  33. Be wise. If you have a family house , you may use it if it has a huge garden. An alternative choice is a village hall which can be rented for a low rate.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Love the comments on here. My wedding was very low budget too. The reception was in a village hall, and all the guests brought a tray of food for the buffet. The bridesmaids dresses were borrowed, a friend did my hair and makeup, and my dress came from Monsoon. Another friend made the cake, and I sold some second hand furniture to pay for the flowers. You don’t need a lot of money to have a wonderful day.

  35. Anonymous says:

    We moved into an old mobile home on over an acre. Instead of an expensive venue, I spent money sodding grass & landscaping to make a wedding and reception venue in the back yard. I have drapes on the front porch covering ugly poles, pastel quilts over the banister and a daybed on the front porch for a shabby chic welcome. I have shabby chic signs made to note the wedding. The backyard is the main focus. I painted furniture & wicker rockers to use as buffets and cozy conversation centers. Seating will be hay bales with tablecloths tied with baby’s breath and the hay will later be fed to the horses! I will be hanging large painter’s tarps over one view to hide. I have large paper flowers and picture frames to put intermittently on the canvass painted the same satin finish white. I work on fabric flowers nightly. I have spray paint in my wedding colors and will have a mismatch of vases and pots all painted in pastels to match for a coordinated eclectic look. I also have things friends have given me from their weddings. I have tons of white Christmas twinkle lights. I have very old doors to use as a back drop for the ceremony. I have a local band booked. The men will wear black jeans and solid shirts. I am printing the invitations on a picture taken of wedding decor to keep with the theme. I have a friend performing the ceremony. I have asked people to help serve the buffet as part of the wedding party. I have a very talented friend who is a professional photographer. I am trading babysitting for the pictures. Unfortunately we don’t have a High Street in California!

  36. Just found this post while browsing Google for affordable wedding tips, I made my own rings too! We had a cake competition which also covered desert, I made my own dress and bought bridesmaids dresses on ebay. I think over the past couple of years this sort of wedding has made a huge resurgence and there is a bit of a backlash now to a lot of the overpriced, over the top an over pushy wedding industry. I do agree on the things you said it was worth spending some money on; photography & food in particular but I’d also add music & booze in there too (atmosphere is everything) I’ve recently started a new blog http://www.prettythrifty.co.uk all about affordable weddings. I’ve loved reading your blog for a long time and finally got down to starting my own!

    • Kathryn jenn says:

      I know you posted this a while ago but I love the sound of making our own wedding rings-it would make them mean so much more. Where did you do that please? Such a great idea thank you x

      • A Thrifty Mrs says:

        It seems the place we went to is now out of business.
        Are you in a specific area of the UK?

        • Kathryn jenn says:

          Thankyou for getting back to me! We live in liverpool, we have family in london and Birmingham and we don’t mind travelling anywhere.makinf own rings sounds like such a nice idea and even better if it will be cheaper.x

          • A Thrifty Mrs says:

            There is a lady in the craft centre of the NQ in Manchester who does it, my friend looked into it this year.

      • A Thrifty Mrs says:

        It seems the place we went to is now out of business.
        Are you in a specific area of the UK?

  37. We saved money by combining our cake cost with our table decoration cost. Instead of doing a big elaborate cake we did a bunch of mini cakes and had those in the center of each table. The guests didn’t have to wait in a long line for a piece of cake, and we were able to do multiple flavors that way. We didn’t do any other table decoration (other than table cloths). The price of all the little cakes was the same as one big elaborate cake would have been, and we didn’t have to buy table decor! Win win!

  38. Alee Gee says:

    Totally agree on the “w” word when ordering!! ( Final tip) my daughters cake at a wedding bakery was 400+ dollars for 100 people. We called a place and asked for a stacked cake for a party of 100. It was only $175. Simple ruffled frosting, Bavarian cream between layers and we bought a cute cake topper and placed it ourselves. PS we did purchase a cupcake first to make sure it would be delicious!

  39. I loved reading this post. I’m currently planning my wedding and have been so shocked to learn prices as soon as he ‘w’ word is used! Will definitely be making my own invites and bunting etc, I think it makes it more special doing things yourself. xx

  40. Roxanne says:

    We had a very small, intimate wedding! And didn’t spend more than $1,000.

    Military base chapel: less than $50.
    Wedding dress: SaboSkirt $60
    Veil and shoes: $80 David’s Bridal
    Groom’s suit: already had it.
    Groom’s shirt: J.Crew clearance $12
    Bouquet, floral arrangement and boutonnière: $100
    Cake: we did a cupcake 3tier and the top tier was a small cake for just the groom and I. Probably spent $100.
    Hair: $30 local hairdresser
    Makeup: free at sephora!
    Photographer: $250
    Tulle for the guest seats: $5-10
    Unity candles $20
    Favors $30

    That’s about $700 total! :)

  41. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good quality meal for your wedding guests, you just have to rethink what kind of meal is wedding appropriate. I served a Qdoba buffet at my wedding. Everyone loves Qdoba (especially in the south west US), and it works for meat eaters, vegetarians, and those who are gluten free. And it all cost $10 a head. Afterwards, everyone told me how awesome it was, and what a genius we were for thinking of it.
    Wedding meals should be delicious, but they don’t have to be fancy. It’s not like it’s your last chance to have a fancy meal, why buy one for a hundred friends and family? Just get something simple that everyone likes, day to day. :-)

  42. I found a website called Little Borrowed Dress for my bridesmaids to rent their gown for the day. Instead of renting a super pricey venue, (since our wedding guest list was short) we rented a house for the weekend instead and brought in a caterer. We ordered our wedding cake from Walmart :) &I found my dress on eBay for $40 !

  43. Elizabeth Richins says:

    I too had a very cheap wedding that ended up being BEAUTIFUL. The key is doing it all yourself. I made my own wedding cake, party favors, my husband made our invites. We only spent about $450 dollars for everything including the Dress, my husbands suit, the groomsmens ties, the bridesmaids necklaces, the party favors, the cake, the food, the decorations, the bouquet and the boutineers. We did it all ourselves. It was super easy and it made it more meaningful for us. :)

  44. i got married on under £1,000.. we used our own cars to get to the register office …my dress was a short cream one from a high street store, veil 2nd hand .shoes in sale husband bought new suit he could then use for work..we bought flowers from the local market , printed invites from computer , used own garden for reception and it was not a big garden …Guests arranged a football match on local field in afternoon ..and mate did disco and we used an old oil drum bbq to feed Guests in evening most brought a bottle was still going at 1am …day to remember oh yes ..mostly cleaning up next day …But no big bill plenty of laughs and everyone had a good time and was still talking about it years later

  45. Miss Debs says:

    I love some of the ideas on this – I have often thought that I will also do my own flowers and I love the idea of using vases from home etc instead of buying lots of stuff in. Ikea is amazing too! And the candles and pearls, and cakes and pearls are such a simple and classy idea. So nifty! Love the vintage suit thing too, what pros! I’ve toyed also with making bunting/decor from old books so have started keeping the ones I’d normally charity shop. Thanks for the ideas, and I hope you won’t be offended if I say I’m also sorry for your loss. Thanks again!

  46. Hi! Great tips here, thank you. We’re having family make cakes and have a BYOF buffet! I saw this a few months ago with friends and was afraid of how people would respond. I loved making nice dishes for the guests and of course the couple myself. When I saw the buffet it was…amazing! There was so much love there! And great and varied food too!
    We’re also trading talents/favors with some people, like the videographers. My sister will take pictures, she’s really good but doesn’t see it herself. So it’s a great way of having extra special memories, pic’s made by her, besutiful pic’s and supporting her, showing her we believe in her.
    I love doing arts and crafts with friends, guess in what theme these are the past months…? I’ve bought part of my wedding attire at a wedding stock sale. Start looking for one in time and be early. :)

    And never forget, it’s about you as a couple and the things you do and share, not about the stuff most people spend most money on…

  47. I can’t believe how much people spend on weddings. I have a few friends who either recently got married or are planning their weddings, and blimey the amount of moany, bitchy posts that were up on Facebook about how stressful and how expensive it was. One of them posted about how she won £5000 on a scratchcard. Someone commented saying “Ooh, that’ll help with the wedding!” and she replied saying “lol I wish, it doesn’t even touch the cost of my wedding!” LIKE WHAT

    My partner and I have decided: registry office. I’m not even wearing white (do people realise you’re only supposed to wear white if you’re a virgin? lol) so no getting fleeced for an expensive dress I’ll only wear once. Book a social club for the reception, one near me has a nice function hall. DJ, no band. And I’m not forking out for caterers and all the guests have to choose their meals 6 years in advance and wait 4 hours for it to be their table’s turn to be served their food (as that’s how it seemed at my cousin’s wedding a few years ago!) There shall be a buffet. A nice M&S buffet, I’ll grant that, and I’ll also probably make a lot of food myself in advance. If people don’t like it, or think it’s cheap or tacky, they can stuff it. It’s my bloody wedding, not theirs xD The only thing that actually matters to me is the getting married part, and whether you spend 30k on a “fairytale” wedding or £40 on the cheapo registry office deal where you just have your two witnesses and that’s it, the result is the same. And I seriously cannot believe some people do spend tens of thousands of pounds on a wedding… YOU CAN PUT A DEPOSIT DOWN ON A HOUSE FOR THAT OMG
    Probably two houses, with the amounts some people spend.

    Oh and rings? Saw one I like for £30 online. I’ll be happy with that. Besides, a lot of my friends with expensive engagement rings NEVER EVEN WEAR THEM because of how much they cost. They buy a cheap dupe ring to wear and keep the real thing locked in a jewellery box

    I’ve always thought – if the most important thing to you about your wedding is how expensive your dress is or how big the diamond in your ring is… you shouldn’t be getting married.

  48. Great tips on here.
    To me the marriage is more important than the wedding and I intend making all the decorations myself. I’d rather have a small intimate wedding than a whole bunch of guests bitching how awful the bride looks 😀

  49. Heather says:

    I bought my dress for $50 at a thrift store it was gorgeous my venue was my mothers back yard my friend made my cake my husband made the invitations my mother and I made the bouquets my brother did the pictures plus i had my guests take pictures
    with their phones I spent the most on
    Food and a dj

  50. I brought a jumpsuit from the Internet to show to my dressmaker but it fits like a glove. .. wedding outfit for £30! My maid of honour is wearing the jumpsuit she wore to her prom as she loves it. My sisters (bridesmaids) have both found dresses they love for £50. There are some beautiful high street dresses out there and January sales are are great time to buy decorations arena fairy lights at a cut price. We’ve got loads of stuff already in the spare room collecting dust already from the sales

  51. Jodie Richardson says:

    Don’t register anywhere! You’re more likely to get money if you don’t! Then you can spend it on what you really need!

  52. We found a venue that costs a lot less because it’s actually a country club and they only have a few weddings a year just to pay their bills and taxes and the cook and coordinator are both volunteers. I am doing a lot of DIY but I also did alot
    Of research and started early researching smaller companies I could negotiate with. I also found my dress at a bridal salon that was going
    Out of business, but you can also find one at a second hand store (not
    Necessarily worn) I also went to some smaller bridal shows and found some great deals with vendors near my venue. If you know a graphic designer or hairdresser or makeup artist you can get a better deal, or perhaps they’ll give it to you as a wedding gift!

  53. Our wedding isn’t until September but here are some things we’re doing to cut costs:
    1. We have about 2.5 hours between the ceremony and reception. We’re including a list of our favorite local restaurants and encouraging guests to find dinner before the reception. We will not be providing dinner.
    2. We will have fancy appetizers (bacon wrapped dates, Thai chicken skewers, etc.). A friend of mine owns a restaurants and is giving me a discount on already decently priced, high quality food.
    3. We’re having a small cake for cutting. We’re getting a sheet cake from the grocery store for the guests.
    4. Our Save the Dates and Invitations are digital images purchased from Etsy and we are using the images for everything. We custom made everything using Vistaprint. Those fancy pocket envelopes are the most expensive thing we purchased as far as mailing items, and really, the cost wasn’t bad after shopping around. Our invitation is a postcard glued to the middle section of the pocket envelope. Inside the pocket is information (RSVP [pre-stamped postcard], registry, hotel block, rehearsal dinner info for people going to that, etc.). We are not putting the pocket envelopes inside another envelope. Vistaprint also lets you make envelope seals and stickers, and we made some with our names and wedding date on them. We’ll seal the envelopes and address and stamp those, rather than wasting paper and extra money on additional envelopes large enough to fit the inner envelope. Our save the date was a postcard. Cheap to print, easy to mail, and half the postage cost.
    5. We will not have a DJ. We have plenty of friends with speakers for our outdoor ceremony and our venue has speakers for us to use at the reception. We’ll have playlists made by the time the big day comes and we’ll just let that go and have a friend in charge of pausing music to make announcements.
    6. Hair and Makeup is being done by my friend’s stylist who gave me a pretty nice discount. I’m wearing my hair mostly down, which saves me the cost of a fancy up-do.
    7. No tuxedos. We have an idea of how we want the guys to dress so they match, but we’re not really the formal type. Bridesmaids are choosing their own dresses and I just asked them to find something chocolate brown.
    8. I’m wearing my mother’s wedding dress. I have loved it since I was small. The biggest cost to this is having panels added into the back, as my mother was a lot smaller than I am when she wore it. I cannot stress enough the importance of finding a good seamstress. Do not skimp on this cost. I found someone that specializes in altering vintage wedding gowns. Fortunately, my mother’s dress is in amazing condition, and hasn’t yellowed at all, so I don’t need to pay to have it cleaned. I will need to have it pressed, though.
    9. Our venue is a city park with a recreation building. Renting the location for 10 hours is 1/3 of the cost of every “normal” venue we looked at charged for 3-4 hours. We want our ceremony outdoors, however it’s in Wisconsin in September and anything can happen, so it’s really nice to have the recreation building as an option if we need it. The venue includes tables, chairs, and bathrooms, so we don’t need to rent seating or port-a-pottys (portaloos).
    10. Our registry is Honeyfund.com. We need absolutely no material gifts at all. But something that would be appreciated is contributions to our honeymoon.
    11. We have friends and family who are more than happy to do anything they can (seriously, the text messages never stop) to help us out before the big day. So we’re letting them. My maid of honor is making paper flowers from pages of books we love for my bouquet, bridesmaids bouquets, and table decorations. We have no florist. My future sister in law is happy to put together all of the favors. Spouses of the wedding party are being tasked with setting up chairs, picking up cake, directing the caterer, decorating tables, etc.
    12. The flower girl dress was on clearance at a children’s formal wear shop. I found it by accident. My mom was showing me something else and my niece was with us and said “Auntie Sarah is this the right color?” and then I died from the perfection of it all.
    13. Our rings are from a discount jeweler who buys all their products from estate sales.
    14. My shoes are from a thrift store – already broken in!
    15. Wedding favors: Amazon sells small paper hearts embedded with seeds in bulk in a variety of colors. Add a few of those to bulk-purchased treat bags, sealed with a Vistaprint sticker that says “Watch our love grow” (gross), and you’ve got yourself a cheesy, cute wedding favor. Because those treat bags come in ridiculously large numbers, you will have enough left over to also fill with coffee beans (purchased in bulk) and sealed with stickers that say “Love is Brewing” or “The perfect blend”, haven’t decided yet.
    16. Disposable everything! Plates, forks, napkins, cups. Guess how many people are going to remember eating off of cheap, white paper plates. Zero. Zero people will remember. They will remember that the bride and groom were amazing and the reception was fun. We’re not dropping a ton of cash on dinnerware that goes in the trash. And we’re also using plastic, disposable table covers.
    17. Our photographer was recommended to us by recently married friends. Photography is not cheap. Our photographer is definitely 1/3 of our projected wedding cost. But she does amazing work. She’ll be with us for getting ready, for the ceremony, during the time between the ceremony and reception for formal shots, and for the first part of the reception (first dance, cake cutting, and bouquet toss are all being taken care of early on in the reception).
    18. Kegs of beer are cheaper than a bartender. Our venue doesn’t allow liquor other than beer and wine so there goes that potential cost. Aside from the caterer’s fancy appetizers, we’ll also have a couple vegetable trays from the grocery store, bottles of water, and cans of soda. Also a giant bowl of Goldfish crackers because why not?
    19. Our toasting glasses are from a thrift store. They are beer steins that say “Bride” and “Groom” and they are perfect. Our cake cutting set is the cake cutting set my grandma and grandpa used for their wedding. The ring bearer will carry a tiny box from a thrift store. I made the flower girl basket, which will be filled with leaves from outside.

  54. I am having so much trouble trying to bring the wedding in on a reasonable budget. In total I have managed to save about £7000 from the original budget. I managed to do this by hunting around for the best deals. I really wanted a barn wedding, but to save money, we have opted for a celebrant to do the ceremony in a barn that we have hired for a couple of hours. After this, we are going to a pub for the meal for £12.50 a head; much better than the £80+ I had been quoted elsewhere. My dress is end of season, so I saved over £500. It is my dream dress and something I have always imagined. Goes to show you don’t need to spend a fortune to find ‘THE DRESS’. I have decided not to do favours, although I am always looking for clever ideas, in reality, they never get used, and it doesn’t matter what they are, eventually they will end up in the bin and there will always be someone that doesn’t like it. I have arranged for all 8 of my bridesmaids to pay for their own things, including dresses, makeup, hair ect (they are all sisters, couldn’t have one without the other). Friends are not invited until the evening so it will only be close family, even this is a lot of people, but they are all very important to me. We are only having a vey good quality photographer for the ceremony and an hour photo shoot straight after to save money. Although we have made so many cut backs, we just can’t seem to get the costs down further. At the moment I am happy to have saved the amount I have, and we haven’t lost the atmosphere, which is important. At the end of the day its about two families becoming one and celebrating. It isn’t about pleasing anybody and I have to constantly remind myself of this. I will finally be taking my partners name, and my daughters surname too. exiting!! :-) :-)

  55. We were married 37 years ago. Back then most of the weddings we attended had just a cake and punch reception. Sometimes there were appetizer trays too but usually just wedding cake, grooms cake, punch, coffee, mints and nuts. I’ve noticed recently a slight trend toward this again with more and more couples realizing it’s about the long term marriage and not the one day wedding. They want to avoid debt.

    I saved on flowers by getting multi colored daisies. These were recommended by the florist when I explained my budget saving plan. The flowers I actually wanted were not in season so would’ve been too expensive. I compromised and got the cut daisies loose from the florist (now could use Costco etc.), bought ribbon from the craft store and made bows with floral wire. A friend and I made all the bouquets ourselves. I cleared out the lower shelves from my fridge and put the flower stems in a bucket of water into the fridge to keep fresh. I put the bows on later. The florist was right- they held up very well and stayed fresh.

    We decorated with a lot of English ivy. I had a friend with it growing on the side of her house and she was more than happy for me to cut it and or remove it from the house.I cut long pieces and put them in a bucket of water. No need to refrigerate them. When we later put the bouquets together, ivy was included. We had a church wedding (often, if you are a member of the church, there is only a janitorial cleaning cost for the use of the church and reception area) so we decorated the ends of several pews with large white bows tied around several stems of ivy- very pretty hanging down.

    I had a 3 tired cake made by a bakery, but cut the cost by having it simply frosted and used the cut daisies to decorate around and on each tier.

    The grooms cake was made by my maid of honor who was known for her”Tunnel of Fudge” Bundt cakes. She made several of them ahead and froze them. Again we decorated it with a small bouquet of the multi colored daisies placed in the hole in the middle of the Bundt cake. When one was finished she put another cake out and replaced the flowers.

    For a centerpiece on the serving tables, I brought large vases from home and the bridal bouquet (again a budget compromise- a beautiful sheaf of white carnations and Ivy tied with a white bow) and the bridesmaid’s bouquets did double duty as table decorations.

    Recently I saw some small champaign flutes imprinted with the year. They were on clearance left over from New Year’s merchandise. They were marked to 3/ $1.00! I thought they could be used for weddings in that year for votive candle holders for table decorations, or fill with candy and use for favors.

    One of my coworkers was in college and got a discount there for the use of a lovely, outside, garden gazebo area (no need for extra flowers) for the wedding and beautiful campus ballroom for her wedding reception. She was able to use the beautiful winding staircase for photos.One downside was, other than the cake, they would not let another caterer but their food service provide food. They were too expensive for her budget. She did find they would let her bring what she prepared herself so she ordered a few appetizer trays from them then bought bulk fresh fruit and cut veggies and punch ingredients from Costco or Sam’s and did the rest herself.

    Happy wedding planning!

  56. A couple other suggestions:

    Cake: We’re actually going to be having donuts on display like a cake at our wedding! I love donuts and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. I am going to be pumping frosting shaped like flowers around the display. Another thing that can be done is baking your own cupcakes or, like my sister did for her wedding, ordering several bakery cakes from grocery store bakeries. Because the moment we call it a “wedding cake,” it automatically becomes $4.50 a slice.

    Food: You do not HAVE to have a catering business. If you know you have friends or family who can cook, have them do it. Buy your meat in bulk from a butcher. You will need food warmers though, very important! This is cutting the price of our dinner by about 60%-70% if not more. Make sure you choose one person to be the head of the kitchen and have other family and friends under them to take orders. You don’t want there to be a conflict of who is in charge.

    Dress: I ordered my dress from a website in China for $200. I am so very happy with it and would love to share the link to my review for it here: https://youtu.be/lZS4UnKGJq4?t=3m58s
    And if that does not interest you, there are plenty of pre-owned wedding gown websites where people sell their lightly used gown for much cheaper! Just do a Google search. 😉

    Venue: Call me an old-fashioned Christian, but I am still crazy about the idea of two people proclaiming their love in the church. Not only is it traditional, but it saves a lot of money. The church I’m getting married in isn’t even charging us for the use of the building at all. Mind you, I’m a member there, but still. Churches are very generous when it comes to weddings. You will usually have many extra helping hands on board and I’m guessing that more than half the time they are just volunteers and you don’t need to pay them. The church loves to give. :)

    Photography: If you have a friend or a friend of a friend who takes professional photos and has had some experience with wedding photography, hire them. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on photography. Trust me. I’m not saying to find the friend with 3MP camera. No. Find the friend with a nice, professional camera with not only knowledge but experience with photography. This will save you so much money and I guarantee you will find some sort of connection with someone who would be more than willing to give you a reasonable quote.

    Flowers: Go to a floral shop, choose the flowers you like, buy them, arrange them with the help of friends and family. Simple. Very simple. I am not much of a florist in any way, but trust me, it is so basic and it is so cheap. Focus more on greenery than too many varieties and colors of flowers. This will give the floral look to your wedding a much more natural feel. (Remember to look ahead to see which flowers are actually in season at the time of your wedding.

    Rings: Go to a thrift store. You will find rings that are unlike any other. Remember, if you find one you like, you can always replace the diamonds, stretch or shrink the band. You don’t have to find the perfect fit with the perfect diamond. That kind of thing can be rearranged. :)

    It’s important to remember that this is your wedding day, not anyone else’s. If you are comfortable with the way things look, taste, and feel, that is what matters. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard brides and grooms speak about how their special day was uncomfortable half the time because they played by the rules of others. Play by your own rules on your wedding day. Not everyone is going to have the same ideas as you. That is the beauty of it.

    “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Suess

  57. I’m still planning the wedding, but saved a ton of money by getting my dress from a bridal consignment shop!


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