How to Have an Inexpensive Wedding

Having an inexpensive wedding is easier than you think!

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.

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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.)

Having an inexpensive wedding is easier than you think!

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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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How did you save money on your wedding?

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Um… Madison’s cake is beautiful! You are lucky there are so many independent businesses in the wedding industry in Utah. Great tips, as well. I think having the backyard venue really helped keep costs down and make the whole event come together intentionally and very beautiful! 🙂 Great job to both of you on not going crazy on wedding planning 😀

    • It is lucky there are so many businesses in Utah, but it’s a bit over-concentrated….everyone wants to be part of the wedding industry here, which is making it more and more expensive every year, sadly!

  • Ashley Ziegler

    And #9 is: CHOOSE A PROFRSSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER. Im always so hesitant to suggest using “family photogs” because the photos usually don’t turn out like the bride had hoped. Or they do it cheap or for free. Spending money on a professional photographer is probably the best investment to make in your wedding besides the dress.

    Haha 🙂 but seriously!! These are great tips!! I will Pin this for future brides!!

    • YES! The photographer and videographer is something that you should NEVER skimp on!

  • Really interesting that you don’t have to pay for the temple or person who marries you! We got married at my grandparents’ church and had to pay some church costs (mostly, just the janitorial fees), and pay the pastor for marrying us, too, but definitely worked to make it all on a budget. We made all the food at home and brought it and did final prep in the church kitchen (mostly my grandma, mother-in-law, and my grandma’s friends, not actually me). My MIL is a cosmetologist and did my hair (since I wasn’t a cosmetologist myself at the time, hahaha!). One of the biggest ways the wedding cost less was that my parents and 6 siblings weren’t there. Their airplane tickets alone would have cost many times more than the entire rest of the wedding!

    • It’s so nice to have family come together and help make the day more intimate and special. It’s super nice in our religion that we don’t have to pay for any of the actual service!

  • We did everything on this list. No joke. The one additional big money-saving thing we did was using fake flowers for almost everything, including my bouquet. Real flowers are soooooo expensive. To this day, I still have my wedding bouquet and use it to decorate in my home! (We made a separate mini-bouquet for me to toss.) There are some very realistic-looking fake flowers out there, too.

    • My sister had fake flowers for her decorations, then real flowers for the bouquet and corsages. For my wedding, all the flowers came from my aunt and uncle’s garden!

  • Our wedding budget is very very small as we are doing most things ourself. The only thing we splurged money on was the photographer. Just over a month to go! 🙂 X

    • I’m super excited for you! And, I’ve loved your style and theme that you’ve revealed so far! And, you don’t EVER want to skimp on a photographer…as a blogger/photographer yourself, you definitely understand that!

  • You both made such beautiful brides! And you weddings turned out so pretty.

  • Kari Koehler

    Great suggestions! I’d say if you aren’t comfortable or able to do your own invitations, use Vistaprint. Our Save the Dates and Invites won’t be costing more than $100 and look professional. My sister did fake flowers for her wedding and they looked beautiful, I’ve known many people to send someone to a local farmer’s market the day of the wedding to gather flowers for bouquets. Since my wedding is in November we’re not doing flowers per se- I’m doing origami flowers instead! Time consuming? Yes! But much cheaper. And our centerpieces will not have flowers.
    Also, I’m a big fan of second hand stores- there are many that are just for weddings! My dress was bought second hand and many decorations as well.

    • Vistaprint is a great option! Also, etsy—there are ton of editable templates! Going to the Farmer’s Market is a brilliant idea! Way to make it more localized!

  • We had a SUPER cheap wedding too and I think it was awesome! I would not do it any other way! <3

    • They can be just as good as those that are tens of thousands of dollars!