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How to Have a Cheap Wedding

Updated on March 26, 2015
Beautiful wedding dress
Beautiful wedding dress | Source

Wedding Planning During These Tough Economic Times

© 2011-2014 Katina Davenport

Have a small wedding and a big life. These are words of wisdom to live by courtesy of my loving husband. In 2013, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. hit a record high of $30,000, according to CNN Money. It's been nearly four years of marital bliss for my husband and I since our wedding in October 2010; and wedding costs are still high.

My husband and I didn't stress out about post wedding debt after our nuptials. There were no post wedding blues, only post wedded bliss as we enjoyed each other during our honeymoon staycation. How were we able to avoid the pitfalls some couples run into after the wedding day? Here is how I planned a beautiful cheap wedding.

My wedding dress from eBay
My wedding dress from eBay | Source

Finding a Cheap Wedding Gown

Usually the first thing that the bride does when planning her wedding is to look for her wedding dress. With the average wedding dress price ranging from $900 to $1280, that price is a little steep for brides on a budget. I managed to bypass the expensive wedding gowns to find a new designer wedding dress for little of nothing. The absolute best place to find a new affordable wedding dress is on eBay. There are some retailers on eBay that sell brand new designer wedding dresses for cheap due to a missing button or misaligned applique on the dress. Since I already knew my correct wedding dress size I was able to make the purchase for $150 without trying it on first. I discovered my wedding dress size by going to a wedding gown retailer and trying on dresses. I was a perfect size 14W in wedding wear. Once the dress arrived from eBay I tried it on and it fit perfectly. No alterations were needed.

If you choose to buy a wedding gown from eBay know your correct measurements. Should you need alterations find a seamstress that you can trust who may be willing to give you a discount. It beats paying several hundred or even several thousands of dollars on a dress you will only wear once.

Here is another tip. After you have worn the dress, get it cleaned and resale it. I should have done that with my wedding dress. I would have at least gotten some of my money back. I did; however, sale the petticoat that went underneath the dress.

Other Suggestions for Finding an Affordable Wedding Dress

  • Local consignment shops
  • Resale Shops
  • Wear a family heirloom dress
  • Buy a white dress and add your own touch to make it look like a wedding dress from off the rack
  • has very inexpensive dresses online

Wedding flowers
Wedding flowers | Source

The Bridal Party

Having an affordable wedding sometimes means having a small wedding party. My wedding party consisted of one maid of honor, one best man, one flower girl, and two ring bearers, besides the bride and the groom. Each person in the bridal party bought their own dress or wore a suit that was already in their closet that matched the theme of the wedding.

The maid of honor purchased a $100 dress from a local boutique that looked to be several hundred dollars. Hair, jewelry, and shoes added to the $175 cost for the complete look.

The groom rented his tuxedo and shoes for $100. The best man and ring bearers wore suits that were in their wardrobes already. The flower girl, my then 2-year-old daughter, wore a $35 dress from a mom and pop children's store. The flower girl already had accessories to match.

You can find great deals on new and used bridesmaid, maid of honor, and flower girl dresses at consignment shops if other options are not available. Some tuxedo rental chains offer package deals on their attire if all the grooms' men rent from the same place at the same time. A lot of these chains offer coupons as well as the local newspaper. It pays to check around for the best deals, even if you choose to have a large wedding.

The Wedding Venue

Finding the most affordable venue for the wedding ceremony is rather tricky, but it can be done. Search for places where you can have the wedding ceremony and reception in the same space. I recall going to my uncle's wedding, where the ceremony and the reception was in the sae space. Everything worked out. I am sure it was a lot cheaper for their budget.

Sometimes churches have banquet halls that can be used for the wedding reception just be prepared to have your own decorations and food in place.

If you are a part of a church ask to use the sanctuary for free or at a discounted price. We were able to enlist the help of a Pastor who donated her church to us as a gift. We used part of the church for the ceremony and the other part for the light reception.

Major Cost Cutting Ideas

You can cut major cost from a wedding by enlisting the help of family and friends. My then soon to be aunt-in-law donated her wedding planning skills to us as a gift. She handled decorating the church and making the cake and punch. Other relatives were assigned to make the hors d'oeuvres. If someone in your family or if you have friends with these skills ask them to either give you a discounted price or donate their services. I was even able to have a co-worker make me a veil for free. Here are some other suggestions:

  • Have a potluck buffet instead of a sit down dinner at a nice community center hall. Ask family and friends to make your favorite elegant dishes that everyone would love.
  • Drive your own car if it's nice or ask a friend with an elegant vehicle to drive to the ceremony instead of renting a limo.
  • Ask a photographer for all the rights to the pictures and have him put it on a disk for you. You can print, post, and create your own memory book at your leisure. is a great service to use for printing and creating a memory book.

These were some of the things I did to have a beautiful yet affordable wedding that you or anyone can use.


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Watch the video below to see an example of an inexpensive wedding reception and decorations that do not look cheap.