My little sister just got married yesterday. Memories of my wedding keep coming back to me lately. Maybe it’s because we had several similarities to our ceremony and reception. My mom had kept an organized binder of budgets, receipts, plans, etc from my wedding and has been pulling it out many times to get ideas on how to make my sister’s wedding inexpensive as well.
Now, granted, weddings are more expensive they are today than they were in 2012 because of inflation. And, granted, Mormon weddings are less expensive because 1) we get married for free in an LDS Temple, 2) we don’t have cocktail hour or open bars because we don’t drink, and 3) we don’t have to pay a minister (they do it for free in the temples). But, we wanted to try to keep my wedding as frugal as possible for both my wedding and my sister’s wedding.
So, I have a few tips on how to help you have an inexpensive wedding as well! (All pictures are from my wedding as my sister’s wedding was just yesterday and we don’t have the professional pictures yet.)
Go to Bridal Fairs
When you finally get engaged, jump on this bandwagon! Seriously! Photographers, invitation makers, dress stores, caterers, etc will all be there! You can window shop, grab information from everyone, and most likely, they will have discounts or sales for those who see them at the bridal fair! My sister Madison got quite the discount on her wedding dress because she talked to the boutique at a bridal fair!
Have the reception in a backyard
I knew I wanted an outdoor reception, and we didn’t want pay much for a venue. Luckily, an old family that we had known growing up had retired close to my college (yes, I got married in college–Mormon!). They had a beautiful backyard and were more than willing to let us use it for our reception. Cost: $0. (They also joked that it was a good excuse for them to update the garden and paint the porch.) Madison’s reception was in our backyard, so again, no money was spent on the venue!
Go to discount bridal stores
My little sisters love watching Say Yes to the Dress. But, I just balk at the idea of spending sooooooooo much money on a wedding dress. Seriously? Do you need a $30k brand name dress that you are only going to wear less than 24 hours? In Utah, there are a ton of bridal stores. We went to all the ones having a sale. My dress was on discount, so we bought it. I also bought some ribbon with one of my wedding colors on it, and wanted some more lift in the skirt, so my mom and aunt sewed it up for me. Cost: $500. Madison went to a small boutique. They were just beginning, so she got a good discount and exactly what she dreamed about in a dress!
Do your own invitations
I spent hours trying to find a good company or business that would do my invitations, but it was always hundreds of dollars, and I wasn’t really in love with any of the designs. While at Michael’s, we found some adorable blank orange invitations. So, we formatted what we wanted it to say, then used my Uncle’s work printer to do a high quality job. We also printed an engagement photo at Costco to go along with it. Madison found someone who was trying to begin a wedding invitation business, so it cost close to nothing for her professionally designed invitations.
Use and abuse family talents
If you have family members who have talents that are wedding related, ask them to help you out for the wedding. Still pay them, but trust me, it’ll be much, much, much cheaper than getting professionals. My aunt was a wedding planner turned SAHM, so we “hired” her to decorate the reception for both me and my sister. We “hired” another uncle and aunt who love doing flowers for events and have a beautiful garden to do all the bouquets, boutonnieres, and table centers. My mother-in-law and her sister grew up in a catering family, so they took care of the family luncheon for me. Our bishop’s wife made Madison’s cake. I designed her bridal shower invitations and all other handouts at the shower.
Do your own primping and primming
Don’t go to a hair dresser and a nail salon. Find someone in your family who can primp and prim you well enough. Both Madison and I did our own makeup. Madison did my hair and she did her own. I did my own nails. It was less stress for both of us because it was one less appointment for us to worry about.
Don’t use a caterer
We just couldn’t believe how expensive catering was! Since my reception was in the evening, and had an outdoor English garden party theme to it, we wanted something light for refreshments. The family had already eaten at the luncheon. So, we bought Costco cheescake, fruit, lemonade, and “china-looking” plasticware. No one could tell the difference! We hired the daughter and friends of our family friends to be the waitresses and keep the tables clean and the food and drink stocked. Cost of food: $200, Cost of girls: $50 each. For Madison’s wedding, we did use a local bakery who gave us a bazillion cookies and eclairs. Many girls and women from our church congregation came and helped to keep the food stocked and clean up…all for free!
Don’t use a bakery for the cake
There are so many talented bakers that make cakes from their home. Bakeries and companies overprice their cakes. But, if you find an individual (which there are so many of in Utah), it’ll be cheaper. Our cake was everything I wanted–simple, with my colors, and the flavor was very summery (pink lemonade cake with strawberry jelly filling and lemon frosting). Cost: $200. Madison’s cake was done by our Bishop’s wife, for free!
Of course, Madison’s wedding was still more expensive than mine, but that’s because we got married 4 years apart, and over the years, everything is going to continue to cost more (especially in wedding concentrated Utah!). But, there are always ways to save money on your special day.
How did you save money on your wedding?