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How to Have a Dream Wedding on a Budget

Wedding on a Budget

The average cost of a wedding today is enough to send you running to the courthouse to elope. But don’t fret — you can still plan a dream wedding on a budget without sacrificing your unique vision. In the end, it all comes down to understanding where all that money goes and how to adjust your own wedding budget to make it work.

Luckily, countless couples, wedding planners, and event designers have already done the research of throwing a wedding on a small budget. For example, books like The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner provide worksheets, timelines, and suggestions for keeping your budget under control.

To kick things off, building a wedding budget from day one is the biggest secret to keeping wedding costs low. Be sure to work out your cash flow and set goals for your major purchases—venue, catering, dress, etc.—before you fall in love with any high price-tag favorites.

You can also get started with our wedding budget guide below. Plan a wedding for $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000, and learn ways to shop around for the best prices, cut unnecessary corners, and even save up a little extra wedding money on the side.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to save on major decisions as well as all the small details that make your day unique. For example, your venue location and number of guests affect your bottom line more than any other factor. When you choose a unique town, a simple venue, and keep your guest list short, your largest expenses drop dramatically. Peruse more tips and tricks below for planning your dream wedding on a practical budget.

General Tips and Advice for Wedding on a Budget

  • Start early because it allows you to shop around.
  • Don’t go with the first bid! Get at least 4-6 bids in each category.
  • Buy used whenever you can! Or buy wholesale and then re-sell it after the wedding. It could be cheaper than renting. You can find tons of local Facebook re-sell groups.
  • Go to every bridal show you can. Enter drawings. They offer special deals and packages just at the show. Save every coupon you can.
  • Sign up for as much freebies, discounts, and contests as you can.
  • Ask if you pay in cash if there is a discount!! You can save 10-15% that way.
  • Skip having a throwaway bouquet, programs, guest book, party favors.
  • Consider talents of friends and family and how they can help. Ask around to see if you have any connections who may do events if not weddings.

Day of the Week

  • Weekdays are cheaper and a lot of brides are now opting in for Thursday and Friday weddings. Lots of vendors including venue, photographer, caterer will have much better rates on weekdays. Weekday wedding also helps cut down the guest list.
  • You’d have to expect some people may not make your ceremony if they are unable to get the day off, but otherwise with enough notice you should be fine.
  • Sundays are another popular day to cut the cost down.
  • Another option is off peak season, e.g. a winter wedding.


  • Do the math on inclusive venues vs mostly DIY. Sometimes all inclusive venues will be cheaper, and other times it makes sense to get your own vendors.
  • Look for non-wedding venues (e.g. meeting spaces, event venues, conference centers). Everything that comes with a label "wedding" is way more expensive. Here are some ideas you might want to consider.

    - Backyard wedding
    - Local state park (look it up on your local City Parks and Recreation website)
    - Church you go to
    - Local farm with a nice barn
    - Local nursery
    - Local botanic garden
    - Local museum
    - Airbnb location for a smaller wedding and if you rent it for a few days, you can also have a rehearsal dinner there
    - Local country club for smaller weddings

Guest List

  • Guest list. Guest list. Guest list. Slash your guest list! It means spending less money on save the dates, invites, food and drinks, favors, tables, chairs, decor, cake, thank you cards. That's the biggest trick.
  • Invite those that really matter.


  • Look for sample sales and going out of business sales.
  • Tons of dress salons will have off the rack sales where you can save some serious money.
  • Buy a dress from another bride - this helps a bride recoup some cost and is good for the planet by not buying new. Here are two great websites where you can do this:
  • Look for pay it forward wedding dress groups like this one on Facebook - Its All About The Dress. Pay It Forward - where you can get a dress for free!
  • Look on websites like Azazie, Lulus, Cocomelody, ShopJaus. While they are not traditional bridal stores, they have a nice selection of wedding dresses at very affordable prices as low as $100.
  • For alterations go to a regular alterations shop instead of the specialized bridal place. The price markup is insane! Or find a person that just works out of her home to do alterations.

Wedding Party Attire

  • Rent instead of buying for the groomsmen in your wedding.
  • Consider bow ties and suspenders instead of a full suit. Bow ties and suspenders have become more of a trend in the recent years and will look great at any type of wedding whether traditional or rustic.
  • Skip the boutonnieres for the guys.

Flowers and Greenery

Flowers can be really expensive but we have a few great options for you.

Faux Flowers

  • sells wood flowers. Check out their Facebook group where they offer a ton of help. They have amazing sales where you can get up to 60% off.
  • - their flowers look very real
  • is a very popular option among brides for flowers for rent
  • Amazon - Make sure everything says “real touch” and you won’t be disappointed. Amazon has a lot of options for hedge walls that are so popular these days.

Fresh Flowers

  • This won’t work for everyone, but look locally for a Mennonite family that does a roadside flower stand. You can get a really good price for all of your flowers!
  • Costco, Sam's Club, Trader Joe’s all have a great selection at affordable prices.
  • Check with your local grocery store's floral department.
  • Buy the eucalyptus in bulk fresh. It keeps very well and is easy to set. Place them in 5 gallon buckets and have a dark cool place to store them (do not refrigerate unless you happen to have a floral cooler). Quick tip - spiral eucalyptus would dry out too quickly.


  • Check out Sam’s Club or Publix for cake and cupcakes.
  • If you'd like your multiple tier cake to look big, have a cardboard bottom layer. Do sheet cake for the rest of the slices.
  • Go with the Bundt cake instead of the classic wedding cake; you can find lots of ideas on Pinterest.
  • Do a donut wall instead.
  • Get a deal with a baker that doesn't have their own shop but work from home.


  • Order food from a local restaurant rather than an official wedding caterer.
  • Consider a food truck.
  • Do a taco bar.
  • BBQ is a great option. Have someone pick it up right before the wedding. offers very affordable BBQ in a number of states.
  • Have family members cook for you.


  • Use a punch card / token / ticket system to limit the amount of alcoholic drinks guests can have and after they’ve maxed it out, make it a cash bar.
  • Talk to a local bar and see of they can help you order alcohol from their distributor rather than going through the liquor stores (assuming your venue doesn't make you use / offer a bar package).
  • Buy a bottle of alcohol every two weeks until your wedding for an open bar. That way the final bill for alcohol won’t look that big

Save the Dates and Wedding Invitations

  • Skip Save the Dates and just send invitations out a little earlier.
  • Check out for Save the Dates.
  • Consider e-invites.
  • Skip the return postage on RSVPs with an online RSVP on you wedding website.
  • Design and print your own card.

Affordable wedding invitations:

  • has a large selection of affordable invitations, great customer support

How to design your own wedding invitations

  • Use free Invitation Card Maker app on your phone.
  • Etsy offers a large variety of very affordable wedding invitation templates.
  • Buy your own fancy card stock and bring it to your local printing shop.

Where to print your wedding invitations online

  • (for UK based brides)
  • or (little hack - when uploading your invitations, upload them as copies, not as invitations, make sure they’re 100% to scale, and select the thickest matter paper).
Depending on where you live, you could print out your invitations at these local businesses. Bring your own card stock if you want your invitations to look fancy!
  • Staples
  • Kinkos (FedEx)
  • Costco
  • Sam's Club
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • CVS

Guest Book

  • Instead of a guest book, have a gallon size mason jar and ask your guests to write you a little note on a slip of paper and then you can read them on your 1st anniversary.
  • Have your guests write their wishes on their place card.

Wedding Decorations

  • Check out Dollar Tree, Michael's, JoAnn's, HobbyLobby as well as thrift stores. They often have big sales.
  • Centerpieces - consider candles instead of flowers for centerpieces. There’re a lot of DIY ideas you can look up on Pinterest.
  •,, are all great for tablecloths, napkins, runners, etc.
  • You can get great and affordable dinnerware on

Photographer & Videographer

  • Check out They’ll send you 5 HD cameras for your guests to use and then offer on-staff editors to create a professionally edited video for an additional charge.
  • You can go to a local university and find a student who majors in film and have them do it to add it to their portfolio
  • Have your guests download The Guest photo sharing app or Shutterfly share app on their phones. They can upload any photos or videos they take of your wedding day and you have the option to download them all onto your phone. We suggest you make little cards with your event code and the app details and hand them out with your programs (if you have them) OR text it to your guests, so they can download it before they get to your wedding ceremony OR add it to your wedding website.


  • Rent audio equipment to plug your phone into and make a playlist for the reception
  • Music schools often have talented students who can play harp or violin for a fraction of what actual wedding musicians charge
  • You can always call your local schools to see who Dj’s their events

Day Of Coordinator

  • For a coordinator you can save money by getting a student that is studying event management at a local college - get a senior and they can add it to their resume
  • If you have a friend who is hyper organized, they’ll be a great help!

Easy Side Projects That Could Help Pay for Your Wedding

Besides cutting back on your spending and having a longer engagement, here are some ways you could make extra money for your big day:

  • Instacart or Shipt (whichever is available in your area)
  • DoorDash (evenings, Friday and Saturday tend to pay better)
  • Uber or Lyft
  • Postmates
  • Donate plasma (BloodBank, Biolife)
  • Consider getting a part time job at a craft store - Michaels, JoAnns to get some extra discounts on arts supplies
  • Look for gigs on Craigslist or Nextdoor
  • Pet sitting and dog walking ( and
  • Houses sitting
  • Babysitting
  • Cleaning houses
  • Poshmark, Mercari, Facebook Marketplace to declutter
  • Ibotta and Rakuten for cash back
  • Teach English online (requires a Bachelor's degree). VIPKid is one of the platforms for this.
  • Google Rewards app (slow but steady)
  • Textbroker (if you're a good writer and love to write)
  • Upwork

Whether you throw a luxe affair or a small romantic gathering, your wedding day is all about celebrating who you are as a couple. Cost-effective weddings allow couples to choose every detail mindfully, from the groomsmen wardrobe to the wedding bands. Keep our guide handy as you plan your dream day and stay on track with your ideal budget.