How to have a cheap wedding

cheap wedding flowers

Courtesy of KimberlyNelsonPhotography.com


Here are 15 tips to help you with a fun, memorable, creative — but affordable — wedding.

1)Get friends to help. It takes a village to pull off a wedding.

There is so much that goes into a wedding that it’s nearly impossible to do it yourself. We had friends help prepare the food, open our reception hall, decorate the hall, arrange the flowers, transport gifts, clean up the hall and even got an uncle to preside over the ceremony! We were very thankful to have so many people all contributing their talents for our big day. Once we had arranged everyone’s job, the day of the wedding went smoothly because everyone was pitching in. With all of the emotions of your wedding, I’m glad I didn’t have to do many tasks on the actual day because it was stressful enough just to get married. Thanks to everyone for pitching in!

2) Find cheap flowers
The cheapest wedding bouquet I could find was $70, which seemed crazy for a handful of flowers to accompany me down the aisle. So we went to the farmer’s market in downtown Minneapolis and picked out 15 bunches of beautiful flowers. It was such a fun morning wandering all the stalls and hand selecting the flowers I liked best. My aunt formed some of them into a bouquet and the rest we used to decorate the chapel and reception hall.

3) Don’t tell vendors you’re planning a wedding.
As soon as we mentioned the word “wedding” it felt like the prices suddenly doubled. So we booked cakes, halls and everything else without ever mentioning it was for our big day.

4) Mates rates
Do you know professional caterers, florists or photographers? Odds are they’ll give you a deal if you’re friends. We were lucky to know a fabulous wedding photographer. Not only is she super talented, but it was nice to support a friend.

5) Consider alternative venues
We had our wedding at a historic church that was much more affordable than renting a church (if you’re not a member). And our reception was at an old train depot in a park. Because the venue was run by the St Paul parks department, it was a quarter of the price of the hotel and spilled out into a beautiful, lush garden. You can also consider hosting your reception at a family member’s home.

6) Always read the fine print
There were many fantastic venues that seemed like a good deal, but when you read more carefully they make you spend a minimum amount for food, drinks or service — all of which are quite expensive. Pricey catering doesn’t always mean good catering. Do you have to buy their catering? Can you bring your own cake? Do they charge extra if you use your own pastor?

7) Entertainment can be free
Everyone has one friend that knows about good dance music — just be sure they include the chicken dance! For our wedding dance, we spent a night throwing our favorite sons on an iPod and then danced the night away. During the reception, we asked relatives and close friends to give short speeches. They were all touching and very memorable for my husband and I. During the ceremony, include family and friends in the service. Have them sing your favorite songs or read meaningful passages.

8) Make videos and slide shows for the reception
My husband and I are from two different countries, so we prepared little videos from the other country so that both sides of the world could be included. We recorded short speeches from family members who couldn’t make it and slides shows about our lives in the other countries.

9) Consider making your own food.
Food is important to my husband and I. We wanted our guests to feel appreciated and we wanted a sense of abundance around our wedding. (There’s nothing worse than leaving a wedding hungry). So we did a big supermarket run to get loaves of bread, tons of fresh veggies, and nuts. Our family prepared a creative make-your-own cookie bar filled with different frostings and sprinkles. For our main dish, we ordered gourmet pizzas from one of the first restaurants we ever went to. We liked the gourmet pizza because it was still somewhat classy, but fun. Why not have a fun reception?

10) Find a cheap dress.
You don’t have to wear a wedding dress to a wedding. I found an elegant, white prom dress and a friend of mine wore a sweet sixteen dress. If you aren’t shopping in the wedding section, you can find dresses for under $200. Even though I was in a prom dress, I still felt like a princess — but that was because I was marrying the husband of my dreams. The dress was just the dress.

11) Vintage stores
Look at vintage stores for bridesmaids dresses and tuxedos. My husband got a vintage tuxedo that was half the price of renting one. Plus, now we have a tuxedo that he can wear whenever he wants. (Formal breakfast in bed?) It doesn’t save money — but don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes for the reception. Nobody wants blisters from their wedding.

12) Let your bridesmaids wear their own dresses
If you have ever been a bridesmaid before, you usually end up with a hideous, strange colored dress that never gets worn again. So why not let your bridesmaids choose their own dresses? Give them some color or style guidelines and let them run free. Our pictures look a bit more natural because everyone is comfortable and happy in their clothing.

13) Ask for your honeymoon suite as a gift
My sister wanted to get us something really nice for our wedding, so she offered to pay for our honeymoon suite. At the end of an exhausting day, we were grateful to have somewhere relaxing to crash. We would have never thought to get a hot tub in the room, but it was great on our tired feet.

14) Do what’s important to you
What is important for your dream wedding? A cake was important to my husband, so we spent extra time and money on the cake. Music was important to my sister in law, so they hired professional musicians for their ceremony. Focus your time and energy on what’s important to you… otherwise you’ll spend a lot for everything instead of just the things that need extra money.

15) Accept imperfection
The last tip doesn’t really save money, but it’s still important: Nothing is perfect. There will be some hitch in your wedding… but don’t let that flaw ruin your day. Being happy on your wedding day is more important than having the perfect wedding. After all, you’re finally marrying the man of your dreams!

About Natasha Hanson

Natasha Hanson is the author of On The Day I Got My Period. View her Profile.

One thought on “How to have a cheap wedding

  1. This is a great list, Natasha! I especially like #15, and hope many engaged couples take this to heart. Few things in life are ever perfect, and trying to plan a storybook wedding that is perfect in every way is an almost impossible task. And when I look back on the day my wife and I got married almost seven years ago, it’s the unplanned imperfections that stand out the most and really made the day special.

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