20 UNIQUE WAYS TO PLAN A WEDDING ON A BUDGET
It’s no secret that weddings are expensive and since starting to plan my own wedding, I have had my eyes well and truly opened to the costs. I have been tirelessly searching for ways to reduce our expenses so that we can have the wedding of our dreams and have been delightfully surprised by the number of inexpensive solutions I have found just from the real brides that have graced these pages.
Here I have listed my top 20 unique tips for planning a wedding on a budget, some of these ideas were born out of budget restrictions and others were just because the couple wanted to get creative, which is fab because it proves just how doable these ideas really are!
So grab a pen and paper and get ready to start planning.
Image by Sarah Eubanks Photography
1. Rope in the skills of talented family and friends
Looking for a cost effective way to cut the costs of your wedding? We can’t think of anything better than working with family friends to create the wedding of your dreams!
“My mother made most of my clothing as a child and all of my prom dresses so it was only fitting that she made the most important dress I will ever wear.” bride, Terri told us.
“My dad, is a very talented welder and carpenter and handmade all the hanging decor, the cake stand and our custom bar, whilst the daughter of our friend designed a beautiful chalked bar sign, as well as crafting a geometric wall hanging to embellish the bar front.”
2. Get crafty
As a florist Terri had a very hands on approach herself, DIY’ing much of her wedding, including her own flowers, but she didn’t stop there.
“In keeping with our desire to have a wedding full of personal touches I spent the months leading up to our wedding designing and crafting almost every detail” Terri continued. “I crafted string art table numbers, a string art and hand lettered escort display and a string art frame that served as our guest book.”
Image by Sarah Eubanks Photography
3. Use decor items from your home
And instead of throwing everything away Terri used much of the decor in her own home afterwards.
“The tables were adorned with geometric gold candle holders, brightly colored buds, lots of candles, and pops of teal in the napkins and table numbers. Gold geometric shapes and geometric chandeliers embellished with florals hung above the tables creating a whimsical feel to the room. We created a hanging wire and flower installation over the head table to continue the string art and geometric theme. We now use a lot of the geometric décor throughout our home which reminds us of our wedding day every day!”
4. Don’t have a bridal party
Not one for tradition Terri also chose to not have a bridal party.
“To keep things intimate and focused on our union we opted to not have a bridal party. This allowed us to have a unique circular setting for the ceremony in the courtyard. It was so special to have our guests surrounding us and to be able to see their faces and reactions as we became man and wife. Many of the guests commented on how wonderful it was for them to experience our ceremony that way as well.” she added.
5. Recycle household items for decor
And it seems that Terri isn’t the only one recycling, newlywed Amy, along with the help of her family and friends spent months collecting old household items for use at their wedding.
“We collected jam jars to use for flowers, an old bike, tin baths & old suitcases to use as props” she told us.
Recycling is any old household items like jars and bottles are not only totally inexpensive but they work well for any wedding. We recently featured a DIY on 5 different ways to hand paint bottles to turn them into beautiful table decor and it has already been extremely popular on Pinterest.
6. Grow your own flowers
By choosing to recycle not only are you saving money but did you know you are also helping the environment? Another way to give mother nature a helping hand whilst saving yourself some dollar is to grow your own flowers.
“Our wonderful families took to their gardens, growing an unbelievable amount of flowers for decorating the hall. Amy continued.
Image by Carly Bevan Photography
7. Pick a venue that wouldn’t normally be used as a wedding venue
With the average wedding venue costing an average of £6,5000 it isn’t surprising that couples are turning to unconventional venues. Amy’s taste in adorable jars filled with handpicked flowers were the perfect touch to her quaint village hall wedding.
“We weren’t keen on blowing all of our savings on one day, as we were in the midst of renovating our house, so we decided to hold our ceremony in the church where we lived and where better to hold the reception than in the village hall next door.”
“We wanted a day spent with our nearest and dearest, at a venue we could have the freedom to make our own, so this seemed to be the perfect place!”
8. Have your friends DJ the reception
If you are anything like me, then you will just want your wedding to be one massive party with lots of singing and even more dancing, so you are going to want the best music at your wedding. If you can’t afford a band or DJ, don’t despair, why not let your friends DJ for you? All you need is an iphone with Itunes or a spotify account and your guests can easily download any song. If you are going to be in the middle of a field without Wifi then send out a notification to all you pals for the recommendations and make a wedding day playlist filled with all yours and your friends favourite songs.
That is exactly what bride shannon did!
“I can’t emphasize enough how important having our friends DJ the reception was to us. We wanted songs we could dance to with our friends–not wedding reception standards. Watching my friends have near spiritual experiences over “Back That Azz Up” is something I won’t soon forget” she laughed.
9. Opt for an alternative to a wedding cake
When you think of wedding cake most people picture an extravagant cake adorned in flowers, 3 tiers high. Well it probably comes as no surprise that these cakes can also come with an equally extravagant price tag and it’s not surprising with all the hours of work that go into them but when your budget is nearly non existent, how can you have your cake and eat it?
Beautiful beach bride Ali opted for donuts instead!
“We have a love of all things confectionary, so we feasted on powdered donuts and had a dance party under the full moon – we never wanted the magical night to end” she told us. (See the full wedding here)
10. Support small & local
Whilst we totally understand it might not always be possible to get everything you need for your wedding on your doorstep, it will certainly cut costs if you can keep as many of your wedding day essentials provided by a local supplier. As someone that lives in a very small town it is not unusual for the local baker to throw in a couple of extra cupcakes for living in the same village or for the local pub to offer you a discount when providing the catering for you and your guests, especially if you are regular.
“Since we met whilst giving back, we wanted to continue that theme throughout our wedding. We tried to support local small businesses and chose a Nature Center not only because it is beautiful, but also because it’s a worthwhile non-profit that makes an impact in the community” newlywed Kelli told us.
Shopping local is not just kinder on your wallet but is kinder on your community to, it boosts local economy, is more ethical and the best thing is you’re more likely to come across one of a kind and unique finds, perfect for bespoke brides.
11. Choose secondhand
Second hand doesn’t always mean second best! As bride Laura explains.
“We wanted a bright colour scheme based around Mexican Papel Picado as we visited Mexico a few years ago and absolutely loved it! My mum is really crafty and went decoration crazy, making our bright table runners by sourcing doilies through Freegle, dying them and sewing them all together.”
12. Host the wedding in your own backyard
We have already mentioned the idea of holding your wedding in an unlikely wedding venue but if you have little to no budget how about hosting the wedding in your backyard.
“We looked all over Seattle for a venue that would be as fun, casual, and easy, and while we found some great places, not one felt right.” explained Rebecca.
“In the end, we decided that we really loved the home we’d created together (I am an interior designer and Damian is a contractor and we had remodelled every last inch of our home two years earlier) and we wanted to share that space with our family. That meant that we’d need to level and re-landscape the whole backyard, but we figured why not spend that money on something we’d get to keep rather than a venue that was for one night only?”
Ok, so Rebecca’s story is a little more extreme than most, we aren’t expecting you to dive in and renovate your garden but if you have fairly decent sized backyard then why not?
13. Make homemade games to entertain your guests
If you are worried about providing entertainment but unsure as to whether your budget will cover it, why not make your own? With the help of family and friends Jennifer and Amanda hosted a whole handmade carnival wedding in their backyard.
“We made up backyard scrabble, homemade cornhole, checker boards, ring toss, burlap sacks and hoola hoops!”
And the fun didn’t stop there!
14. Set up cocktail stands for guests to help themselves
“The popcorn, Lemonade, and Candy stands were also hand made by Jennifer’s dad” added Amanda.
This idea totally inspired me to skip the traditional bar and set up my own cocktail stand where guests can help themselves to their choice of drinks. Simply make up a few of your favourite cocktails in some giant drink dispensers, garnish with fruit and ice and voila! Who needs bar service!
15. Have an intimate reception
Another more obvious way to substantially reduce costs is to cut numbers. Many venues will cost per head so now might be a good time to seriously reconsider inviting those distant cousins, twice removed on your aunt’s side.
“We wanted an intimate setting with close family and friends only, those that would be there to laugh, cry, and celebrate with us! It was perfect!!” Jenny told us.
16. Make your own food
And talking of catering,whilst it is a whole load less stressful to have someone else cater for you, it is also comes with a cost! When you take into account that caterers can charge anywhere up to £150 per head depending on where you live and your venue it’s not surprising some brides like Amber, are opting to make their own food.
“Before the ceremony we had a buffet. We made all of the food ourselves the day before, pasta salad, filled wraps and more. It was really fun to do all of these things ourselves, and everyone said things like “this is so you!”, so that was a nice touch. It was a lot of work but we really liked the end results, and it made us a little bit proud of ourselves ” she explained. (See the full wedding here)
17. Have a picnic
And if you really want to save money on both a venue and food go to your local park for a picnic! With a small group of family and friends Jenny wanted an intimate setting to match.
“Our favorite park was the perfect spot for an intimate yet gorgeous picnic style dinner. Our parents pulled together a meal of Smoked BBQ & Turkey with all the fixings and we used heirloom dishes, vintage vases and candle holders to give the picnic style an extremely cozy feel!”
18. Send E-invites
Informing your guests about your wedding day is obviously very important, but the cost of stationery can soon mount up when you start to add menus, RSVP,s, order of service, so why not cut it completely and send E-invites, not to mention how much the environment will love you yet again! Newlywed Kristen who is also a Blogger at Hopscotch the Globe explains her reasons for choosing to not use paper stationery.
“We invited our guests using E-invites instead of sending paper. We didn’t have menus or name cards on the tables, instead we invited our guests to sit where they pleased. Our wedding reception was in the name of mother nature. It only made sense for us to do everything we could to make our special day eco-friendly in as many aspects as we could.” (See the full wedding here)
19. Don’t buy a wedding dress
This might sound a little scary but here me out! Weddings are costly. Fact! Put wedding in front of anything and the price will most likely double and whilst I think this is totally called for, (wedding suppliers work extremely hard to make sure your wedding day is perfect!), there is a way for those of you on a budget to cut the costs, simply by omitting the word ‘wedding’ from your search. This means looking for a dress anywhere that isn’t a wedding boutique as bride Kirstin explains.
“I had moved across the country as my fiancé and I had started to plan our wedding. I was nervous about shopping for a wedding gown by myself so I made a trip back home to Chicago and tried on several dresses with my mom and sister. Nothing felt like the right dress. After that I spent hours scouring the Internet looking for the perfect wedding dress for me – something original and something that would stand out. I found so many amazing dresses that were simply not in my budget. After months of looking at so many white dresses I decided to expand my search to all gowns within my budget. The day I expanded my search was the day I found my dress. It is a colorful Alice + Olivia gown that reminds me of a Monet painting. When I first tried it on, I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to commit to that gown. I put it on hold and showed pictures to my friends and family. I must admit, I had to be convinced a little bit. When push came to shove, I was guided by my priority to have a dress that was memorable. In the end I love how the dress stood out against the evergreen backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. I love how it represents my bold and colorful nature.”
20. Wear flowers in your Hair
And finally skip the traditional veil and opt to wear fresh flowers in your hair, they really are all you need to wed in serious style and will cost fraction of the price for those of you on a budget. If you want to have a go at making your own inexpensive floral crown check out our latest video.
How will you be budgeting for your wedding? If you have any more money saving tips we want to hear from you, so share your thoughts below.