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The Budget Bride: Ways to Save Money on a Wedding

Updated on June 8, 2012

Weddings can be very expensive, but they don’t have to be. There are many ways to save money on a wedding from start to finish, and it may be easier than you think. Below are a few of the most commonly purchased wedding necessities and ways to make these wedding necessities budget friendly. If you are truly a Budget Bride and looking for ways to save money on a wedding these tips will cut big costs.

Flowers/Bouquets

Most brides have flowers at their wedding. Flowers for themselves, the wedding party, family members, the venue, etc. and flowers can be downright expensive. If you’re a Budget Bride and you’ve already been pricing out flowers through florists or maybe you’ve looked online to prepare yourself, flowers for just your immediate wedding party can cost over a $1000 in the USA and often times MUCH, MUCH MORE, sometimes $5000 and up depending on how many flower arrangements/decorations you want.

So How Do You Save Money? The Budget Bride Solution:

The best way to save money on flowers is to make your own bouquets or buy premade bouquets from local chain grocery stories, such as Raley’s, Safeway, The Nugget, etc. You can pick up a huge bouquet of flowers from Raley’s for $10 bucks or less, so if you have 10 people in your wedding that equates to $100, which is much better than $1000 or more. Now, if you’re thinking, “But my wedding colors are pink and purple; I can’t risk going there that morning and just hoping they have my colors,” you are correct. The problem with grocery stores are selections will always vary. HOWEVER, you can actually call a grocery store or go in person to order flowers ahead of time--and it’s a fraction of the cost of a florist. There are so many options in grocery stores: from ordering corsages, boutonnieres to your fancy bridal bouquet, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance in the store because this is a huge way to save money on a wedding. After the ceremony, if you want to get extra crafty, reuse your bridesmaids’ bouquets for the reception as center pieces or any other décor or display.

Wedding Cakes

Wedding cakes are beautiful and if you think you can get one for under $500 from a real bakery, good luck! Unless you’re looking for a mini cake, most cakes with two or three tiers will cost at least $700, but generally, you are still looking to pay around $1000 or more. Fancy cakes are expensive!

So How Do You Save Money? The Budget Bride Solution:

Grocery stores! Yes, grocery stores sell actual wedding cakes, not just birthday cakes on display. Big chain stores like Ralph’s, Raley’s, SafeWay, etc. sell actual wedding cakes. Just approach the cake counter and check out their big book of options. The catch using them is, however, you cannot customize your cake. They are very affordable for a reason, so you have to actually pick from their book of options. You can always enhance your cake later with flowers, which will give it that elegant, romantic feel for a third of the price.

If your heart is still set on getting a fancy wedding cake from a big name bakery, consider ordering your wedding cake on a significantly smaller scale to cut costs and then buy sheet cakes at the grocery store that you can hide in the kitchen. This way your guests see a gorgeous little cake and have no idea you served them sheet cake; it’s a win-win.

If you’re not sold on anything coming from the grocery store, consider the new fad right now: Cupcakes! Cupcakes are huge right now and they are budget friendly when comparing them with actual wedding cakes. They are easy to get in custom colors and you can still assemble them on a platform to resemble tiers. If you want to cut even more costs, consider making them yourself with a few girlfriends a day or two before your wedding. The great thing with cupcakes is you don’t need fancy design skills to make them. If you want a couple really fancy ones for the topper, then buy those from the bakery and make the rest. Being a Budget Bride means you are all about the tricks of the trade and saving money on a wedding, and with this budget tip, you are sure to save some big bucks!

The Décor

Wedding décor is one of the most costly obstacles to overcome in a wedding, even something as simple as chair covers can run you hundreds of dollars, and don’t get me started on the costs of those pricy center pieces. It’s important for your wedding to reflect your dream ambiance and believe it or not, it’s possible to get it.

So How Do You Save Money? The Budget Bride Solution:

If your venue allows you to decorate (and most do), hit up your local dollar store. Yes, the dollar store! It’s one of the last places brides think to check and it can do wonders! For example, did you know the Dollar Tree sells river rocks? How beautiful would that look on your homemade center piece? The Dollar Store and 99 Cent Only stores sell vases, baskets, beads, flowers, seashells, mirrors, glitter, ribbon, etc. These truly are Budget Bride stores, but if you don’t live in the USA, you may not have these wonderful stores at your disposal. Check out any craft stores in your area and if you want to get real crafty, explore outside.

Nature is a wonderful way to collect ideas for decorations. For instance, if you’re getting married in the fall, how beautiful would your tables look with real maple leaves and small tree branches? If you don’t have any of your own trees, check out public locations for trees as well like parks. It shouldn’t be a problem to get your fall look there. Just keep in mind, you or someone in your party would need to collect these items no more than a few days in advance to avoid drying them out. If your theme is summer, check out the ocean and collect real shells and coral. The great thing about that is it’s an excuse to relax at the beach, and what bride doesn’t need that?

For fancy chair covers and bows, skip rentals, and check out a fabric store. Most fabric stores will sell you wholesale lace, ribbon, etc. and all your chairs need are big fancy bows on the back and you are in style. Even just renting bows can cost upwards of $500 and I bet you and your girlfriends can easily tie some bows on chairs. If you’re getting overwhelmed by doing everything yourself, ask for more help from family members and friends.

If none of these options work for you, there is still another solution: online shopping. Instead of just Googing for center pieces or décor, Google for WHOLESALE items: wholesale vases, wholesale lace, wholesale mirrors, etc. When you buy in wholesale, you buy in bulk, which means you are buying for a fraction of the cost, and since you’re a Budget Bride, you’ll likely need a lot of whatever you buy, so get it at a discounted rate!

Food, Beverages and Catering

Food and drinks is a HUGE wedding cost and some venues require you to use their services when it comes to food, beverages and catering. The cost of food and drinks alone can empty your piggy bank, but you may still be able to cut costs.

So How Do You Save Money? The Budget Bride Solution:

If you are required to use a service, don’t be afraid to price negotiate or ask to bring in outsiders. Service fees like corkage, cake cutting, utensils, etc. aren’t always set in stone, and if you ask politely, you may be surprised. For example, try saying something to your vendor, like:

“I just love this venue and I am so happy we were able to book with you! I’m just so excited! I love it here and I know you’ll make my wedding perfect! But, I am getting a little stressed too. I noticed in our contract I’ll be charged for having my cake cut and served, and for wine bottles to be opened. Is there any way we can wave or reduce those fees? In this economy, a little goes a long way and this would be big help to me and my family.”

Remember, the venue wants your business, so you have nothing to lose by asking. Using this tactic, I was able to bring in my own wine when previously told it was not allowed, get the corkage fees waved, get other service charges waved, and get a $10 reduction on the food per person for my rehearsal dinner. Now, if you’re demanding and rude, you probably won’t get anything, but if you show compassion and emotion, and remember to compliment the venue, you may be able to reduce some costs that seem set in stone.

If you are lucky enough to be with a venue that you can bring outside food and drinks, consider yourself lucky! This is a great way to save money! Besides looking for catering deals, also consider looking into restaurants. Sometimes restaurants are willing to cater for a fraction of the price to make extra money. For booze, consider ordering in bulk online or waiting it out for a great grocery story sale. Stores always have sales, so be patient and check those ads. You may also be able to score a killer deal if you go straight to a winery (the real source).

Photography

Getting photos on your big day is something most brides want, but photographers are so expensive, and although getting an amateur photographer is an option, it’s not worth the risk of having bad photos. You can cut corners in many ways, but photos last forever so they need to be great.

So How Do You Save Money? The Budget Bride Solution:

If you found a photographer you love, but they are out of your budget, keep in mind most photographers work by the hour. So how many hours do you really need? The most important part of the wedding is your ceremony, those fun group photos you take with your wedding party and pictures of you performing wedding rituals (cake cutting, throwing the bouquet, etc). Having a professional photographer take photos of you and the girls getting ready is cute, but it’s not necessary. Same thing with the reception. Get the formal photos taken, but you don’t need photos of the whole night when booze has taken over. A few photos are enough. Instead, designate a friend to take pictures of you getting ready and a second friend to snap a few photos during the reception after the formalities.

Another fun option is to include disposable cameras on all the tables so your guests can take photos of themselves and your wedding. Be sure to include a note on the table to use the flash. No flash = poor quality photo.

If you know you truly want a professional photographer from start to finish, try negotiating. If you are going to book several hours, try to get an hour for free or if you book a package, maybe instead getting every photo in print, ask for all the photos on a CD in high quality instead. This should significantly cut costs since no printing is involved, and you can get high quality photos by uploading the photos yourself to professional printing companies like Shutterfly.com or yorkphoto.com.

There are several ways to save money on weddings, so don’t be afraid to explore options outside the box in order to make your dream wedding a reality.

If you found these tips helpful, you may also like these arm toning exercises. After all, every bride wants to look her best on her big day! And if you find yourself more and more pressed for time, try this 3 minute breakfast meal:

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