Planning a Frugal Wedding

by A Guest Writer · 21 comments

in Living Frugally


Planning a Frugal Wedding

Even in difficult economic times, one event that seems almost recession-proof is a wedding.  People get married in good times and bad, even when money is tight.  As we watch spring (the wedding season) bloom into its full glory, it wouldn’t hurt to talk a little about keeping things manageable if you are planning a wedding.

If you haven’t heard before, the average cost for a wedding these days is $27,000.  Think about that for a minute before you nod in agreement at the “need” to spend that kind of money.  This is a pretty nice car, a sizable portion of a college degree or a down payment on a house.  Unless you are wealthy, this is not a wedding budget that you should consider.

This is a very important day, but you need to remember you are planning a marriage, not just a wedding.  You don’t want to go into it all with wedding debt you didn’t need to have already haunting you.


Consider these five tips if you are getting married and want to cut costs but don’t want to do it all yourself.

1.      Use a restaurant for your reception. There are some gorgeous restaurants out there and they have everything you will need right there.  You won’t have to worry about caterers, rental companies, etc.  They’ll do it all.

2.      EBay. Yes, consider buying what you need from EBay.  I purchased my new wedding dress, wedding shoes, and sash from EBay and there is no reason not to give it a try.  If you can try on a few dresses in person, you will have a better idea of style and size.  Many EBay sellers are quite good about returns if something doesn’t fit.

3.      Avoid bridal salons. These places are exhausting and overpriced.  If you hate the EBay idea, consider stores such as JCrew that offer beautiful wedding apparel at a reasonable price.  The best part is you can order it and try it on at home.  If it doesn’t fit, you simply return it.

4.      Skip the favors. No one remembers wedding favors and they are an extra expense for you.  Forget them.  No one will notice and you will be glad you did.

5.      Use the grocery store as your florist. Don’t knock it!  Your local grocery store may be able to offer you beautiful arrangements and bouquets for your wedding at a very nominal cost.  While you may have to pick them up yourself, it beats trying your hand at DIY arrangements the day before your wedding.


There are so many ways to save on your wedding without becoming the DIY girl or totally forgoing the things you most want for your big day.  Ask around and look into some non-traditional places for information and ideas-Craig’s List is a GREAT place to look for wedding vendors.

Remember, no one has had a wholly-original wedding in about 1000 years.  It can still have your personality woven through it without breaking the bank.

These are great wedding tips from Courtney! What are your frugal wedding tips?

This post was contributed by Courtney Phillips, who writes about how to obtain a degree in accounting. She welcomes your feedback at CourtneyPhillips80 at


1 Nate @ Debt-free Scholar March 20, 2009

I know someone who gave seed packets as their wedding favors.

Great post!


Nate @ Debt-free Scholar´s last blog post..Why Take CLEP Tests?

2 Jessie March 20, 2009

We did our wedding and reception with 48 guests for around $5500, and a big part of that was $1800 for a great photographer (ceremony and formals only). The main things were:
Gown – $230 bridesmaid dress on sale (they do sell white ones if you ask)
Ceremony site – $750 donation to a historic library in town, included chairs and amazing decor with all of the architectural details
Reception site/food/cake – $29 per person (I KNOW!) at a local B&B, and it included flowers on each table in my colors since they do flowers every week anyhow
Music – free, brought a laptop and speakers and asked a friend to hit play

3 ann March 20, 2009

I second looking at bridesmaid dresses in white/cream/ivory for your bridal gown. I wanted something tea length and simple and I wasn’t about to pay extra for a long gown with (even a short) train and then pay extra again to have it lopped off. Instead I found a lovely bridesmaid gown for less than $200, and paid to have them add a short length of detail (they sell “ribbons” of faux pearls, rhinestones, etc. in fabric departments). I also bought a small broach to add detail at the waist where the ruching came together and I still wear that broach as a reminder of my wedding when my husband and I go out for anniversaries. I ended up with a completely one-of-a-kind dress, exactly what I wanted, and saved tons and tons of money on an item that is often Very Expensive.

4 megan March 20, 2009

I second looking for your wedding dress on eBay. I’m getting married in September and found a great deal for my dress – a Casablanca dress for $100! It will need to be laundered and slightly altered, but I’m still coming in waaaay under budget for the dress.

5 Ali March 20, 2009

My husband and I got married in June and were absolutely floored at the cost of things when we began to plan. To alleviate a ton of the costs we took the plunge in Las Vegas. This definitely isn’t for everyone, but for less than $2000 we got an amazingly beautiful chapel in the Mandalay Bay, the officiant, some flowers, and some photos with a wonderful photog. The really important people in our lives all made the trip and it was a short and sweet ceremony. I also grabbed my dress for just $135 – it was a white prom gown for JC Penneys!

Ali´s last blog post..Belated St. Patty’s Day

6 CdnStealthGirl March 20, 2009

* Borrow what isn't essential to have as a keepsake later. We didn't have special toasting flutes or a fancy pen for the guestbook.

* Accept help from friends or family who offer their expertise. We had homemade wine for toasts/supper, traditional wrapped wedding cake for favours which was made by my husband's grandmother and my sister did my makeup for me.

* At the start, figure out what is most important and use that to set your budget. Then do the important stuff first. If you run out of money or time, the most important things are taken care of already and what gets missed shouldn't be really upsetting.

7 Sarah H. March 20, 2009

We catered our own wedding and saved tons of money. It was a bit of work, but with lots of people helping to cook, we got it all done no problem. In fact, the food was excellent and there were a lot of choices. We also used the fellowship hall in the church where we got married, so there was no extra cost to rent a reception hall. Finally, we created an mp3 playlist to play over the church speakers via our laptop during the reception so we didn't have to hire a DJ.

<abbr>Sarah H.´s last blog post..Mission: Appliances – Deep Fat Fryer</abbr>

8 Slinky March 20, 2009

Seconding grocery stores for flowers, but do ask for references and examples of their work just like any other florist. There is a huge range in the quality of grocery store florists.

Slinky´s last blog post..No post today!

9 jennifer March 20, 2009

Wedding expenses flabbergast me. We had our morning wedding in church with the reception in the church hall (free) with light refreshments, punch and cake. No one went into debt over wedding garb, hotel rooms, limousines or other extravagances — we spent most of the time socializing on the church lawn because it was such a beautiful day! It became about the joy we shared around our new marriage, not the novelty around expensive (but passing) finery.

jennifer´s last blog post..The Amazing Technicolor Dreamquilt Contest

10 Suzy March 20, 2009

Hi Kelly,

I think the spend on weddings is outrageous! It's as if that one day is the end all of everything, and it possibly is for some. How can anyone live up to the to the expectations that they place on themselves for their wedding day.

If you wanted to — you could get married for $100.00 or less. Lots of people do. I did. I didn't want a fancy wedding at the time. But don't get me wrong — I like to look at weddings and attend them. They can be beautiful. However, I think a lot of the small weddings are so much more enchanting than the large ones, which can be like some big Broadway production.

You definitely have the right idea to having a more meaningful event, and not having to fret over stuff before and after the nuptials — can set a marriage off on a more realistic path. 🙂

<abbr>Suzy´s last blog post..Sowing Seeds in Spring</abbr>

11 Rebecca March 21, 2009

These are some great tips. We used a grocery store for our wedding flowers and the florist there did a beautiful job. We got my bouquet, flowers for three bridesmaids, three flower girls, and over a dozen corsages and boutonnieres for around $300 and that was for roses.

I know you said to shop eBay in lieu of bridal salons but there are deals to be had at bridal salons too. David’s Bridal runs a $99 gown sale a couple times a year. Also, I worked at a Bridal Salon while I was in college. They would sell off their sample gowns when they no longer needed them and you could get a designer wedding gown for a song if you didn’t mind the fact that other people had tried it on.

Rebecca´s last blog post..Mar 15, Disney Cars Room Theme – Decorating a Room With Disney Pixar Cars

12 Monroe on a Budget March 21, 2009

The timing of your wedding also can help with your flower expenses.

We scheduled our wedding two weeks after Easter. We knew that according to our parish custom, the church would be flooded with flowers for Easter … and furthermore, that our church staff would leave the fresh flowers and potted plants in the sanctuary for a few weeks afterward.

We made pew ribbons and a centerpiece floral arrangement. But we didn’t need to purchase any other floral pieces.

Monroe on a Budget´s last blog post..Detroit News music video about southeast Michigan

13 Maria March 21, 2009

We had a mix CD for a favor but here is how we made it special: We both love music and made a “radio show” where we were DJ’s and talked about what the songs meant to us. We used cardboard sleeves instead of plastic jewel cases. This favor was less than 100 dollars, although it took a lot of time it was worth it.

14 Shoestring March 21, 2009

It always amazes me how much people can spend on a wedding! We were lucky in that we had a lot of help. My Mum made my dress and gorgeous table decorations with candles, holly, ivy and pinecones from their garden. Other folk contributed by decorating the venue for us and making our wedding cake. Husband and I made up a couple of CDs of our favourite songs. We got married 10 years ago and many people have been kind enough to say that they still think it was the nicest wedding they have been to. I understand the urge to have a huge celebration, but I really think it should be about the marriage itself and not just the one day at the start of it!

15 kim-free personal ads March 22, 2009

Planning a wedding can be so expensive these dys. Thanks for sharing this post it makes wedding planning at least lesser expensive.

16 El Cheapo March 23, 2009

Nice advice. Not quite at the point where I need to plan a wedding, but will be there soon enough, so this is all helpful. I have also heard that you can save money by looking for amateur or friends to do photography/videos. These days, everyone has a DSLR and is a budding photographer, help them out and yourselves.

BTW, found your site while researching mine, so if you would like to exchange links, let me know.

El Cheapo´s last blog post..TipJar by Google

17 Kristy @ Master Your Card March 23, 2009

My friend actually rented her gown. With everything – underclothes, veil, shoes, and dress, the total rental came to $250. She thought about doing the ebay thing, but she’s a plus size girl, so that means her dress was going to cost more anywhere she went. Since she’s not really the sentimental type, she reasoned there was no reason to spend that much money on a dress she’d wear once and have pictures to remember it by, as opposed to leaving it in her closet.

I second the motion of not going to the bridal shops…absolutely overpriced! The dress I bought for the wedding I found at JC Penney’s for 50% less. Talked about pissed!

Kristy @ Master Your Card´s last blog post..Weekly Round Up

18 cd rate March 24, 2009

I’m am fortunate enough to be marrying the most amazing Navy Sailor whom I am so proud of. He’s been my best friend for well over two years. We’re getting married at city hall while he’s home for one week leave in a few months and I need ideas for low-budget wedding ideas. We plan to have an amazing reception in our backyard so yes I have lots of planting to do now. But I need summerish table decoration ideas and what to have period since he’s navy and going to wear his dress white’s. I want this day to be simple yet beautiful any ideas welcome!

cd rate´s last blog post..Schwab Credit Card Review

19 adrian how March 27, 2009

One of the ways I saved heaps on flowers is by using the florist employed by the church. We made a deal with her to provide the flowers we wanted but to keep them there for the upcoming services held during the same weekend. This way, we got a huge discount off flowers whilst churchgoers for the weekend got to enjoy a little more flora that weekend!

<abbr>adrian how´s last blog post..Nested Furniture</abbr>

20 Carly March 28, 2009

Hello all. I am getting married in July and just wanted to let you all know there are so many other places than bridal salons to find your dress! I was more than willing to pay their prices when I started planning but then my mom told me she’d found a dress at a thrift shop, thinking “Oh no, what does it look like?” I told her it was okay if she wanted to get it and that if I didn’t like it she could always get store credit. So she buys it (without me seeing it) and it turns out to be a Marcella’s dress (our local handmade wedding dress designer) for an outrageously low price! Originally $70, my handy mom had a 50% coupon- I’ve got the perfect dress, just what I wanted for $35- it’s going to end up being less than anything else for the wedding. I’ve also seen tons of great wedding dresses on Craigslist. Check it out, you never know what you’ll find!

21 Sarah@ budget weddin February 17, 2010

eBay is amazing for cheap wedding items. However, you do need to be careful with who you buy from on there. Some sellers do not have good reputations.
.-= Sarah@ budget weddings´s last blog ..Budget Wedding: Is Cheap Wedding Photography Really Worth It? =-.

Previous post:

Next post: