How to Plan a Cheap Wedding on a Small Budget - Inexpensive Wedding Planning Tips

Traditional Wedding Photo

Lovely old wedding photo
Lovely old wedding photo | Source

Cheap Wedding, Anyone?

Most weddings (nearly 2/3rds at present) end in divorce, so why spend so much on something that might not last? Okay, nobody wants to hear that. But at least now I have your attention.

Forget the statistics. Nobody gets married expecting for the relationship to sour, so the bride and groom should expect to last forever. But that forever will be much more pleasant if the couple has some money in the budget to get that new life started.

I'm a realist. For even the strongest marriage ever, why spend so much money on a wedding rather than investing it in life after the big event? Especially when there are so many ways to save and have just as beautiful a wedding.

Here are some ideas on how to have a beautiful, yet inexpensive wedding.

Vintage Wedding Dress

Vintage Wedding Dress bought at Thrift Store for $35
Vintage Wedding Dress bought at Thrift Store for $35 | Source

Vintage Wedding Veil

Matching veil to go with Vintage wedding gown
Matching veil to go with Vintage wedding gown | Source

Save on the Wedding Dress

It's easy to save money on the wedding dress. So many brides spend several hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a wedding dress they will wear only once. Why? Why be like every other bride who does the same thing, spending tons of money on something that will end up in a box or closet to attract moths?

Instead, brides can be unique and save a ton of money. It's possible to find a dress in a style that fits a bride's uniqueness without paying half a year's salary. Brides may even be able to wear their mothers' or grandmothers' dresses. The vintage style is popular right now, so buying a used dress is really in vogue. Many romantic, gorgeous, gently used dresses can be found in resale shops and thrift stores.

See my picture of a beautiful vintage dress that I found at a resale shop for $35. I got it years ago, thinking that, if I ever got married, I would want something old and romantic like that dress and veil. If I never use it, at least it's a beautiful decoration, hanging in my sewing/craft room.

Save on Wedding Decor

It really shouldn't cost much to decorate for a wedding. Depending on the time of year, there are different wildflowers or garden flowers that can be picked to decorate the church or other wedding venue. Daisies, daffodils, and roses are a beautiful decor for any event locale. Ribbons can be wrapped around the ends of pews or benches. It doesn't take much in the way of decor to dress up a place.

Hand-picked flowers can also be tied together with ribbons and used for the bride's and attendants' bouquets.

Homemade Wedding Cake

Homemade wedding cake with flowers
Homemade wedding cake with flowers | Source

Save on Wedding Cake and Food

Why anyone would spend hundred of dollars on a cake I don't know. Many grocery stores make beautiful cakes for a fraction of the cost charged by bakeries. Perhaps there is even someone in the family--or a friend--who has a knack for baking and decorating cakes.

Couples should not feel compelled to feed everyone dinner, either. That could cost thousands of dollars. Instead, light appetizers can be served when the wedding is at a time of day that doesn't require a meal, such as the afternoon. Heavier appetizers can be served for evening weddings.

A number of tasty appetizers can be made by family and friends. Here are some easy and inexpensive appetizers that I use for many occasions.

Party Favors and Gifts

Gifts, too, don't have to be expensive. Consider unique dollar store items for wedding party gifts and party favors. There are great deals online for cheap party favors and wedding gifts, too!

Save on Wedding Photography

Thousands of dollars are often spent on photographers for photos that will be put in a wedding album and rarely looked at. How much further that money could go on other wedding expenses or for the life after the wedding. Even the honeymoon!

Why not get a friend, or even an amateur photographer who needs experience, who is sure to take some really awesome photos? With digital cameras, it's easy to see if the pictures are turning out well or not.

It seems like such a waste to spend a lot of money on pictures that could be made for next to nothing. Looking at cheaper options for the photos alone could save thousands on a wedding.

Save on Bridesmaids Dresses

Have you been to weddings before where the bridesmaids choose their own dresses? I have, and it looks really cool. I don't agree with asking the wedding party to pay for their own attire If they must, it should be something affordable that they can wear again.

Whatever the color theme is, bridesmaids can be asked to wear a dress of that color, choosing a style that fits their own body type. Gone is the day of matching pastel ball gowns that will never be worn again. If the gals have dresses in their own closets that will work,why not wear them? If they don't have anything suitable, buying them inexpensive dresses that fit the theme is an option.

The same goes with the groomsmen. When did a suit become not good enough? Why rent a tux when a suit will do just fine? Dress the groom and groomsmen up with a tie that matches the wedding's color scheme, and that should do.

Shopping online is always an option for saving money. You can find some steals of a deal on wedding dresses and attire for the whole bridal party at online stores.

Cheers! | Source

Save on the Wedding Reception

Okay, so the wedding is over. Now what to do for the reception? If I were the bride, I would spend the most on the reception, as it can be a super fun party that the bride and groom, along with the guests, will remember for a long time to come.

As I mentioned before, it's not necessary to have a sit-down meal, but heavy appetizers would be appropriate. When opting for alcoholic beverages, a cash bar where guests pay for their own drinks is totally acceptable.

Some inexpensive champagne to pass out in plastic glasses for the first toast to the happy couple is another nice touch.

Of course, it might be important to some to spend money on certain things, such as food or even photos. For me, a simple--yet attractive--wedding with a nice reception and an awesome DJ who joins everyone in a fun after-party sounds pretty perfect.

Save on the Honeymoon

Finally, it's even possible to save on the honeymoon. Check out these deals on lingerie, luggage, and other clothing appropriate for the honeymoon trip.

Before that trip is booked, it's worth the time to look around for the best deals. Expedia and other travel agencies offer some weekend and other packages on romantic destinations, whether looking for a sandy beach or a cozy cabin.

A wedding can be simple yet wonderful at a low cost. Brides (and grooms) can have an inexpensive but beautiful wedding while staying within a small budget.

© 2014 Vicki L Hodges

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Comments 44 comments

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

So useful Vicky! I loved the vintage dress--so beautiful!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi Vicky, yes it can be done, and done beautifully too. I remember my wedding talk about a shoe string budget! lol! I wore a dress of the peg so to speak, it was white, but quite short, our reception was between the house and the pub! and my mum made sausage rolls and cakes! and it was brilliant! lol! my honeymoon was spent in Somerset England, and the view was amazing, it cost nothing as we stayed with his friends!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Thanks, Audrey! I love that dress, too!

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

My daughter just asked me to help plan her wedding. The budget is tight and a lot of the tips you share here are some of the things she is doing. The cake is going to be really light on the budget; she's having a "cupcake" cake. My husband (who use to be a videographer) is going to be her photographer. She's buying her gown at a discount store. All in all, she's saving money and she's still happy with the results. Great tips on this hub, for sure.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Nell--That sounds wonderful! And cheap! :-)

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I LOVE the vintage wedding dress and veil. These are great, sensible tips to have a pretty wedding without breaking the bank!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

MarleneB - A cupcake cake is a great idea! Very fun, too! I think it would be fun to see how much money one could save and still have a fabulous wedding!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Rebecca-I agree . . . obviously! Thanks for your comments, as always!

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Great hub, Victoria! Wow, you have been publishing away here! Way back when, I only paid $600.00 total for my wedding and it was so sweet and lovely. I would not go back and change a thing even if I had all of the money in the world.

Great tips as to how to save money on a wedding for sure.

Up and more and sharing.


Faith Reaper

VVanNess profile image

VVanNess 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

Great ideas! I owned a wedding planning company for about 5 years there and my sole focus was teaching brides how to make the most for their money while planning. I myself only paid $900 for our dream wedding. Great ideas!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Yes, Faith Reaper, I've been in a hubbing mood this week. I was hoping to get lucky and win some cash from the HubPot, but I doubt I will. Still, it's good to get some new content up. That's amazing that you spent only $600 on your wedding. How cool!! Thanks for reading yet another of my hubs this week!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

VVanNess - That sounds like a neat job! And way to go on spending only $900!

MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago

Vickie, your dress is beautiful. I hope I get to use it someday. Years ago, in the days of Kodak flim, for a short time I was a wedding photographer. My first husband and I worked out an inexpensive package where we would photograph the wedding using a 36 shot roll of best quality film. We would give the roll to the bride, and she could take it where ever she wanted to get her pictures. Of course, we hoped she would bring it to our studio and get professional quality developing and printing. We offered the usual studio portraits, too, but some economy-minded brides opted for the economy package without them. Others were so pleased that they came back and had portraits made from the candid shots we took. Just a thought. That would be so easy to do in today’s digital world. You’ve given me an idea to do one on economical second weddings. My friends and I are “experts” on those.

Very well researched and constructed hub with good ideas and lovely photos. Voted up++

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I like the idea of letting the bridesmaids choose their own dresses. I have worn frumpy, ugly, silly, little girly, and very 70s bridesmaids dresses that I of course had to pay for. I wore them once then ditched them.

MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago

First sentence, meant to say I hope YOU get to use it someday.

janetwrites profile image

janetwrites 2 years ago from Georgia country

With our wedding my husband and I didn't spend much money and we still had much fun and joy and the guests were all happy. A very great hub and nice ideas.

Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 2 years ago from Hawaii

I know from looking at stats that most weddings where I currently live (and am planning to get married in July) cost about as much as my 5 semesters of graduate school student loan debt. We are using a professional photographer for an hour because we feel strongly about having high-quality photos (and no nearby friends or relations have photography skills!), but we're 'self-catinering' and I'm even making the cake! We're also making our own decorations and not really having any attendants other than my sister.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

MizB That's neat that you did that for couples! I'll look for your hubs on second weddings if you decide to write it. Hey by the way, didn't you win a prize in the HubPot challenge? Congratulations on that!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Me, too, FlourishAnyway! I have a couple of them in my closet for sentimental reasons. I probably should get rid of them. I haven't seen them in years! LOL

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

MizB - LOL! I wondered about that! I was all ready to loan the dress to you! :-)

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

That's awesome janetwrites! Thanks for sharing that.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Natashalh--Wow, 5 semesters of grad school for a wedding would be outrageous! Like you, many opt for a professional photographer. It sounds like you'll save bunches in other ways, though.

MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago

Vickie, if I won a Hub pot challenge, I don't know about it. I've been laid up with a broken leg and haven't followed HP for a couple of months. I looked it up and didn't see my name mentioned. Do you have me confused with Donna? How would I go about finding out?

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

MizB The names are on the HP blog, each day's winners. I looked back over it and now I don't know why I thought you had won. I just looked over them quickly and must have made your name out of some other names. LOL. Sorry! How's that leg? Much better, I hope!

Wedding Reviews profile image

Wedding Reviews 2 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

This is sound advice that every bride should read.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Thanks, Wedding Reviews, that means a lot coming from you! :-)

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

You've touched on a lot of great ideas here. Even saving on one or two aspects of a wedding can mean the difference of thousands of dollars. It's important to prioritize and be honest about what is really important and then not spend as much on the less important components.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

I agree, Rose. Some components are more important than others to different people. Saving in one area can allow folks to spend in the areas that DO matter to them. Thanks for your input!

Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

I just got engaged recently, so I need some low-budget tips. Thanks for sharing! So far, we are thinking Vegas since we won't have to plan the wedding itself, and the entire trip and wedding is actually cheaper than any venue I've found around here. I will definitely check out the thrift store, but I am thinking even that might be too fancy for the type of wedding I want. I did find a dress for $15 on the Walmart website... I am seriously considering it. Hehe. Thanks for sharing all these great suggestions!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Vee....I'm not putting a wedding together any time soon.....but I had to stop by and tell you the 2 Vintage gowns here are so totally awesome....I love them.

I have tenants who live on my property who are a young couple being married in July. I received a note from them yesterday, telling me that they're having a small, intimate wedding with about 30 people. They asked me if they could hold their reception in the yard! I felt so honored.....of course I said, "Yes!" Now I'm all excited to make the yard look beautiful by July!......UP+++

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Jeannie--A Vegas package sounds great! Yeah, that can be a cheap trip for sure. Why not get that dress for $15 bucks if it fits the style AND the budget? I'm all about a bargain! Congrats on your engagement, by the way. :-)

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Effer--Glad you like the vintage gowns. Me, too! That's neat about your tenants. Sounds like you have a good relationship with them. That's awesome!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Actually Vee......They're a cute young couple.....and I'm fairly "maternal" with them.....I'm always giving unsolicited advice that they probably want to tell me to shove somewhere, but they're too respectful!!!! LOL

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

That's cool, Effer. They probably really appreciate you!

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

Victoria, I think that the huge expense of today's weddings is just awful. We went to one friend's wedding where a knowledgeable guest said the whole affair probably cost close to $40,000! I could not believe it. That's a good down payment on a house. Starting off on a new life is best done with thrift. I wore my own mother's wedding dress and could not have found one more beautiful. The dress was all lace worn over a satin slip.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Dolores--$40,000!?? Wow! I can not imagine. That could go so far in buying a house, as you say. Seems like such a waste, especially when people can be thrifty and still have beautiful weddings. Older wedding dresses are vintage and beautiful, anyway. So much more interesting than new dresses. Thanks for your input!

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 2 years ago from United States

Great ideas VictoriaLynn--I did my own wedding on a budget and had one that many people still talk about 20 years later. We had the reception in my parent's garden and for photos hired a person who worked at a newspaper. We bought the film (now it would be digital--you could hand them an SD card) and he took pictures and gave them back--we printed what we wanted. Now you could certainly just have guests take lots of pictures and videos on cards you provided. I got my dress (my mom had rented hers) at an outlet for $50--Goodwill and other resale stores have lots of dresses inexpensively. I made the bridesmaid dresses--maybe you have a friend who sews? My oldest is 18, so I'm gearing up to make my girl's weddings!

heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

I am definitely anti-wedding. Married my second husband in my blue jeans. We spent the bucks on real estate and I never regretted not having a huge expensive affair. But if I had to do it again and wanted a more festive gig, I would definitely use many of these money-saving strategies. Voted up, useful and sharing!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

That's awesome, VirginiaLynne! And you sew, too! So talented! Thanks for reading. :-)

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

heidithorne--I think weddings can be festive without breaking the bank! thanks for your input!

CherylsArt profile image

CherylsArt 2 years ago from West Virginia

I love your ideas; they're awesome and very worthy. My husband and I opted for a less expensive wedding and used many of the ideas that you mentioned here. We got married outdoors on my uncle's farm and had a picnic afterwards. Family and friends took photos, and they turned out much more natural.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

CherylArt--and I'm sure you had just as good a time! With money to spare! thanks for your comments. A wedding on a farm sounds lovely!

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada

Vicki, I love that dress! So pretty, it looks like something from the forties. My wedding was super-cheap, too, as you know, and it was still really nice. I don't get the whole "spend twenty thousand dollars," thing. Either the couple starts out in major debt, or they force their parents to be broke. Either way, it seems like wasted money. Great hub!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Prairieprincess/Sharilee--I remember reading about your wedding! I love simple, which can still be beautiful and elegant. Spending tons of money on what lasts a few hours seems ridiculous to me. So impractical! Thanks for commenting!

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