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photographcrash's avatar

Tips for a wedding on a budget?

Asked by photographcrash (801points) August 19th, 2009

One of my best friends is getting married next year. She is not a big planner or someone who is really into the whole wedding thing.. so she has enlisted me to help plan it. I’ve been preparing by reading lots of bridal mags and doing research online. She has already selected the venue but nothing else has been decided.

So, my question is, do you have any tips for wedding planning?
Is there anything you wish you had known before you planned yours?
Something special you saw at yours or someone else’s wedding that you thought was unique/creative?
Tips for budgeting? Ways to DIY something rather than pay someone else?
Online or otherwise resources?

Any ideas are certainly appreciated by the bride and myself!

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15 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I am an HGTV addict. Their show Design on a Dime does wedding specials that have a lot of DIY projects and creative ideas that save money. Check the shows out. you can watch all of them online.

gailcalled's avatar

This may not be helpful, but I wish that I had chosen a different groom.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Keep the number of attendants to a minimum.
Borrow a wedding dress, shop a good second hand store or e-bay. You’re only going to wear the thing once.
Get married in the morning and serve brunch, with champagne and mimosas.
Go with classic invitations—plain works really well.

The most beautiful wedding I attended was on a Sunday. The bride put it together in two weeks, and bought two wedding dresses—one from J Crew, the other from the sale rack at Macy’s. The groom bought a new suit from Brooks Brothers. The wedding was at 4 pm at a 4 star restaurant. There were 50 guests, flowers, a gorgeous wedding cake, sit down dinner, open bar, a professional photographer, and a string quartet from the university music school. The whole thing cost $4,000. They had a best man and a maid of honor. He bought a new suit too, and the maid of honor wore a dress from another wedding she’d been in.

torch81's avatar

The two biggest expenses in my wedding were the food for the reception and the dress. Serving alcohol will double the cost of the reception. The earlier in the day you have it, the cheaper it will be. Also, keeping the guest list down will help curb expenses. As to the dress, that is all about the bride’s taste. If she’s willing to be flexible you can get the dress for next to nothing.

chyna's avatar

Mine was an afternoon wedding and friends and family pitched in and did it all. One friend made all my flower arrangements with flowers from the flea market and Michaels. She made all the bows for the chairs and the arrangements for the tables. We made all the food, and since it was an afternoon wedding, it was only finger food. No alcohol at the reception. For the back drop behind the preacher, I had baloons in my colors that they sent off as we left the reception. Price for entire wedding including dress and tux: $1,000.

theabk's avatar

In general, it helps to sort out what things guests really enjoy and appreciate and are therefore worth spending money on (for example, tasty (not necessarily fancy) food, fun music) and what things nobody really cares about or even notices and shouldn’t be a big spending priority (for example, elegant placecards, coordinated color scheme). Also, it’s crucial not to get sucked in by everyone trying to sell you things by saying “but this is your/your friend’s special day – don’t you want the very best?” When this happens, keep in mind the idea about what will really make the day enjoyable. Seriously, neither the guests nor the couple is going to be reminiscing about the tablecloths ten years down the road.

Here are a few specifics:
-Playlist on iPod or computer instead of live band (saves a ton of $$ and you can pick exactly what you want to listen to)
-Pick a more casual venue
-Have the wedding at a less popular time of year, time of day, or day of the week
-Make invitations instead of getting them printed (I got plain card stock, printed the invitations on my home printer, and then used rubber stamps to decorate them.)
-Get a dress that is not officially a wedding dress
-If you’re getting flowers, caterer, etc., start by telling people you are having a celebration or party rather than wedding – people really like to charge a lot for weddings
-Online wholesale flower sellers are cheaper than retail, although I’ve heard of people having mixed results.

Good luck!

EDIT: As people have said, not serving alcohol saves money, but if you want to split the difference you can do just wine and beer (no mixed drinks) and pick a few types; you can also tell the people who will be serving it not to go around filling up people’s glasses unless they ask for more.

gailcalled's avatar

We had my son’s wedding (60 people) here at my house. We paid for flowers, a tent, tables and chairs, food and champagne. The dog wore a pink satin ribbon and was not happy.

Groom wore his suit (his only one), bride wore a pretty off-white suit also, my then-husband played the piano, the local justice of the peace performed the ceremony in our living room.

We had a reception line on our deck and a beautiful lunch under tent on the lawn.

(Ben was very young, in a leg cast and primarily interested in the cake.) Afterwards everyone changed into shorts and played frisbee. $5000. (My mother paid for the flowers.)

AstroChuck's avatar

Tell your friend to elope. That’s what my wife and I did. It was very romantic, and cheap. Two months later we did have a large church wedding however.

augustlan's avatar

Have an afternoon wedding and reception, serving only hors d’oeuvres rather than a meal. Make the bouquets… I ordered fresh flowers online and made my own, but order more than you need as a certain number of them will be unusable. Buy a beautiful but non-wedding dress. Make your own invitations and place cards.

JLeslie's avatar

If she wants a traditional wedding dress try Mori-Lee they are very reasonable for very nice dresses.

Actually, it would be helpful to know roughly what kind of wedding we are talking about? Less than 50 people? Bride definitely wants an evening reception with dancing? I mean there are so many possibilities?

Supacase's avatar

If she isn’t into the whole wedding thing, elope!

Otherwise, the biggest money saver I can recommend is to get married in the morning or at least sometime other than Friday or Saturday evening. That will save more than you might think.

Also, unless the couple is really set on it, skip the alcohol and DJ. People won’t die without drinking and it is a waste of the couple’s money. You can do something more unique and less expensive than a DJ – ask the pianist who does the wedding music to play in the background during the reception or hire a classical guitarist for both (which is what I did.)

avvooooooo's avatar

eBay for the dress for sure. People have plenty of brand new gowns that you can get for very, very good prices.

Invitations and such can be bought at an office supply store and printed at home on a computer. They can also be bought blank from a wide variety of online stores and printed at home. Same idea for favors. You can do a number of things yourself that look good, but don’t cost much.

The rest really depends on what she wants, when she wants, and so on.

sakura's avatar

My bridemaid dresses where bought from a high street shop as non of my bridesmaids were really into wearing dresses (£30) each and I made my own table decorations my hubby & daughter made our weddign cake and my mum decorated it, we had a friend travelling to France so he brought us back wine duty free :)

We had our wedding late (4:00pm) So we had an evening meal and then straight into an evening disco affair! This way we didn’t have to feed our guests all day, it worked and everyone had a great time.

Try goggling wedding planning below are 2 I found that look quite useful

Good Luck

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Recommend she have a daytime wedding rather than evening if she’s looking to save money. The food expectations will not be nearly as high… she can serve appetizers and save the $ she’d otherwise spend on a heavy meal for each and every guest. Also, people usually don’t expect an open bar at a daytime wedding.

But, I had an evening wedding, served various heavy dishes, paid the price for it, and don’t regret it! It was great! So, first find out if she is going more for budget-friendly or not.

JLeslie's avatar

We need to know about what the bride wants, and then we can give tips to save money and still acheive her vision.

I would consider using my own IPOD for music at the reception instead of a DJ. We cared a lot about the music, we had a band and people danced all night, even the band leader came to me afterwards and said she had never seen a group that danced so much.

My bridesmaids wore whatever they wanted, they wound up wearing black, but I didn’t tell them to do that. So I had no stress planning, picking, fitting bridesmaid dresses, etc. Under the chuppah it was just my sister, grandma and parents on my side and my husband’s parents, brother, sister, and sister’s husband. None of this which friends to pick and figure out a dress that they have to wear—my husband thought it was ridiculous to require someone to spend money on a dress that they probably will never wear again. My wedding was very elegant, although not black tie, it was formal at the Doral on Miami Beach.

I would skimp on the flowers for the tables, I used less expensive flowers that were still very dramatic in tall vases. To line the aisle for the ceremony they used Roman stand like things with tuelle and lights, because we had a dimly lit room, which was less expensive than flowers and the photos are awesome, I especially love the ones without a flash.

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