Planning a Wedding on a Budget: 4 Tips for Saving Money

The first way save money on your wedding is the most important: you have to want to save money. I’ve noticed in the past few years that some things are worth paying for, and some things are not. But just because you don’t pay for something doesn’t mean you can’t get great results (and sometimes better results) by using your creativity. Here are a few simple tips if you are planning a wedding on a tight budget. They all involve creativity, so open your mind and get creative (or call you sister or friend or aunt in the room to help you out).

1. Do it yourself.

When Bob and I got married, we made our own invitations and mailed them ourselves. We printed out everyone’s names and addresses on the envelopes and just made it happen. Our wedding was a less formal (which we’ll talk about later) so making them in Word worked fine for us. But what are some things like this that you can do yourself? Flower arrangements? A friend of mine had all her bridesmaids over and they all made their own bouquet. My sister ordered candies and boxed them herself and gave them as favors.

2. Use the people you know to help you.

One thing I noticed when Bob and I got married is that there were so many people who wanted to help us. Some knew we were planning it with a tight budget and some didn’t, but it was almost overwhelming how many people wanted to help us. And it made me want to help anyone I can in the same way. I thought I shouldn’t take anyone up on their offer, but now that I’m on the other side of it, I see it differently. Let people help you!

For instance, if you have a friend who is a graphic designer (or even knows how to use design programs), see if they’ll help you with your invitations. Then, go print them on paper you pick out yourself and buy for a much lower cost. You can do this with anything: your band/DJ, photographer, centerpiece design, food, etc. And what’s wonderful about this is you get to let others in on your life, and that is so valuable!

One of the most beautiful weddings I’ve seen was one where everyone pitched in. Below are some pictures to show how beautiful they can be.

Wedding Example #1:

The ceremony was held indoors at a park clubhouse. As you can see, it was beautiful. My friends grandmother made her homemade canoli’s for dessert!

They had lot a bird theme and these were their favors – hand made.

The centerpieces were made from items found at thrift shops, the lace table cloths were found at vintage shops. Each table was different, unique, and so beautiful! There were also branches of a birch tree on each table, coming out of vintage vases. I’ve never seen centerpieces so beautiful!

Since they got married at a park, there were some amazing photo opportunities! Can you believe how beautiful this is!?

Wedding Example #2:

This backyard wedding has an amazing view, as you can see. They had friends and family participate in their ceremony by holding this beautiful lace above them. Easily removed to make more space for the guests after the ceremony was over, and it added such a personal touch!

She and her bridesmaids did their own hair (Here’s a simple tutorial for a low messy bun)! And these beautiful hair pieces were made by a friend.

Don’t you love the way the lit up the night? And check out these chandeliers they made:

They are mason jars hung from trees with candles in them. AMAZING!

3. Think about your location.

I used to work for my church, so we got a great deal when we got married there. But, not everyone has that luxury. A friend of my got married at a beautiful clubhouse in a park. Another friend got married at the entrance of her aunts house. There was a fountain and it was absolutely beautiful. And that was free!

I also knew someone who wanted to get married at a very expensive location. Upon further investigation, he found out that if he got married on a Sunday instead of a Saturday, the price dropped dramatically.

4. Redefine your idea of a wedding altogether.

Bob and I had a wonderful, tiny wedding. We invited our immediate family only, plus grandparents, and each had 1 friend. My brother, a wonderful musician, played piano as I walked down the aisle, my brother-in-law video taped, and Bob’s friend took the photos. It was an amazing day for us to spend with the closest people to us and there was no stress because it was so small. We wouldn’t have had it any other way. We went to lunch after and had a small reception a month later (which we made the invitations for) and it was absolutely perfect for us. I don’t recommend this for everyone, but I do recommend everyone think about how they can make their special day reflect them as much as possible. If that means having a big wedding, great! Hopefully some of my tips will help. 🙂 But I hope to at least inspire some of you to think of wonderful, original ideas to save some money and make your wedding a day you’ll never forget.

There are so many creative tips for planning a wedding on a budget, and I know everyone has learned at least a few, so please share them in the comments section below.

Photos by Gertrude Bell

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  1. kenyantykoon

    i guess you dont have to be a billionaire to have a beautiful wedding. this is very interesting, even for a guy!! c:)

  2. Gertie

    Hey Linda!! that was great!
    When talking about wedding planning you could go on forever…there is so much involved & it can be so easy for people to get stressed over it. Your peaceful presentation & encouragement should be a great thing for people planning weddings all over!
    it is so true that so many people feel like they have to conform to a specific way that wedding should be, & that’s just not the case…some of my favorite weddings to shoot are the ones that are outside the box & have unique flares to them.
    oh, i love the idea of the bridesmaids making their own bouquets!
    YAY! happy planning you fabulous brides & grooms!

  3. Adventure-Some Matthew

    My wife and I had a beautiful wedding, for very cheap! We chose a spot in a national park (just in front of a stream going under a natural stone arch and around the bend from a waterfall) for the ceremony. It involved a small hike to get there, which helped in paring down our invitation list (total of 19 people present).
    Nature decorated for us (our flower girl spread leaves), and we carried a boom box with cd for our music.
    The photos were absolutely beautiful (we have at least 3 sets, 1 pro who was a friend and two friends), and very economical.

    The important thing is the people and the meaning. Some friends told us that after the wedding you won’t remember many of the details that you worry so much about when planning. So focus on each other, and it will truly be a beautiful day!

  4. Cory

    I heard somewhere that your talented musician-brother is still waiting for payment. 😉

  5. Holly

    I really appreciate this article! I have been searching for ways to save money on weddings here at your blog for a while now….I would really love it if more was posted on this subject. I am getting married May 23rd of this year and my planning has just begun. I am in great need of finding inexpensive ways to have a wedding for about 100 guests and it is all coming out of our pocket. I’m sure anything will be helpful. Thanks for your blog!

  6. Holly, one thing that my wife and I did was to make our own cake. (We actually had two receptions, and a cake at each.) We had an “official” reception with a “real” cake, received as a wedding present from a family member, who was able to get a discount by knowing the baker. We had a more informal reception for all of the friends/family who didn’t make it to the wedding, a BBQ party. We made our own cake for that.
    We took a class on cake decorating, realized we liked it, and decided to make our own cake. Be sure to leave plenty of time, however, as you’ll be busy with many things as the time draws close.

  7. Kick debt off

    This is a great article Linda,
    Very true wedding can be as expensive as one want to make it, when we were planning our wedding two years ago, i kept reminding my wife to be then(now my wife) that the biggest investment we can make into our relationship is to build our marriage put time into theings that will last after the wedding ceremony is past and forgotten… wedding in my opinion is great but it’s for show … you invite friends and relative to come ‘see’/witness. While i truly believe nobody should miss this opportunity.. i also believe it should never drive anbody into debt.

  8. Linda

    Thanks, everyone, for your helpful comments. Keep ’em coming!

    I’m glad you found this helpful! There are so many things you can do to save money on your wedding! You’ve probably picked up a few already on your own! One of my friends used his uncle to get a live band together at their wedding. It was free to them and was a chance for those relatives to participate doing something they love! And the list goes on . . .

  9. bondChristian

    I’m not sure I would have believed all this without the wonderful pictures. They definitely gave this a spark.

    I love your first point about wanting to save for it. It reminds me of one of Ramit Sethi’s posts about the $28,000 question. The idea is that you can shoot for whatever kind of wedding you want, just be realistic about it. Don’t act like you don’t need to save if you’re planning to go all extravagant.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  10. Anna

    Great tips Linda! I’ll pass this on to my cousin. You can do so much and make your day the way you’ve dreamed of without spending so much money!

  11. Shirley

    I couldn’t agree more with everything in this article. When my husband and I got married a year and a half ago, we spent less than $500 on the entire wedding, including my dress and his suit. Our families helped, and because my dad is a pastor, we were able to use the small country church we loved without extra fees. Our mothers, both wonderful cooks pre-pared food that provided a gorgeous reception, and a talented friend made a beautiful cake for us.

    My mother and I and my husband and I still comment quite frequently that it was the most beautiful wedding we’d ever seen. Considering the amount of couples my dad has married, that is saying something!


    Note to readers, save your leftover decorations, invitations, bubble wands, for someone else. I used some decorations that my sister-in-law had saved when she married my eldest brother. We had similar tastes and it worked out beautifully!

  12. Linda

    That is so awesome Shirley! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Lillie

    June brides, pay attention. These are excellent tips to help produce a memorable event that is cost-effective. Since I am not planning on walking down the aisle anytime soon, I’ll certainly share. Great information.