Frugal Wedding Ideas

by Kelly · 10 comments

in Living Frugally

So, I’m sure you’ve heard that a nice young couple called Kate and Will got married on Friday. I have to admit, I watched the ceremony from beginning to end (all 15 minutes of it! Didn’t it seem short to you?) and a few tears were shed. Of course, it was a lot easier for me to watch it than a lot of other Americans, seeing as how I’m almost in the same time zone as the UK- only an hour off. It was beautiful, she was beautiful, the hats were beautiful, and no matter how much it cost, I bet the royal wedding did a good job of bringing many, many pounds into the UK economy.

But there are very few of us who have a budget like the royal family, and let’s face it, if you’re reading this site, you’re probably not interested in spending extravagant amounts of money on your wedding. So here are some of my favorite frugal wedding tips.

I’ve been married twice (once when I was only 20- gee, wonder why that one didn’t last; once to my French guy), and both times the weddings were pretty frugal affairs. For my first wedding, I think our biggest extravagance was the food; it was catered by the people who owned the restaurant next door to my father’s book shop. We rented a wedding and reception site, but got a good deal because the wedding was on a Monday. My best friend’s mom made my dress and the cake came from a local grocery store (it was delicious!). My mother, a letterpress printer, made the wedding invitations (as she did for my second wedding) and the table decorations were potted tulips, irises and hyacinths, also from the grocery store.

My second wedding was a French affair. I think the biggest expense (although not for us) were the plane tickets for our guests who flew in! My husband and I decided to get married before I moved back to France, and so most of the planning went on while I was still living in Seattle. My husband and my mother-in-law planned the entire thing- much easier than trying to plan things long-distance. I only took care of my wedding dress, which was a vintage cocktail dress that I bought from a second-hand store for less than $50. The wedding ceremony was held at city hall (as are all French marriage ceremonies), and the reception was held at a local restaurant/dance hall. I’ve actually been back several times since then as it’s a popular spot for bachelorette and birthday parties. We didn’t have to decorate or pay for a DJ- those costs were all included in the catering costs.*

My tips for a frugal wedding are (based on experience):

Use your friends and family (lovingly, of course!). What skills do they have to offer that they could give you as a gift, instead of spending money on something you might not want? I still have the dress that my best friend’s mother made, even though the marriage is long over.

Think outside the box. Do you have to get married on a weekend? Maybe you could have a private ceremony at the city hall and then a big party later. Do you have to have a big fancy dress? What else could you wear? What could you use to decorate?

Remember, above all else that the reason you’re getting married is because you love your spouse to be and want to be with him or her for the rest of your life (or, as my first wedding vows put it: “For as long as your love and faith shall endure.”) That will make everything else seem worth it!

What was your wedding like? Was it frugal? And what are your tips on saving money on a wedding?

* A sweet story: my husband’s grandmother died several months before we got married. I had only met her a handful of times and she died before we even decided to get married, but she left us money in her will to pay for our wedding.


1 Liz May 2, 2011

I got married when I was 21. We were both students, so it was a budget wedding. One of my sisters made my dress and the three bridesmaids dresses. My mum baked the cake and another sister decorated it. My dad was a headteacher at the time and we held the reception in his school hall (decorated with balloons and streamers by my sisters). Food and flowers had to be be paid for, but the food was cooked by some of my parents friends from church and the flowers arranged by someone from the church, so while costs had to be paid for, they were not as expensive as if we’d used professionals. A friend offered to drive us in her husband’s smart work car for the bridal car. All in all it was a pretty frugal wedding, particularly compared with the thousands of pounds some people spend on it now. We did pay for a professional photographer, and if I were to do it again, I would ask a couple of friends to take photos. And despite us being only 21 and 20, we’re hitting 19 years this summer – although I’m still waiting for the honeymoon we decided to postpone until we could afford it!

2 Frugal Living May 2, 2011

I know whenever I decide to get married, my wedding will be a frugal one and I have definitely noted some of these ideas

3 Jessica07 May 2, 2011

Save on the dress. Know one is going to have the gull to ask you what you actually paid for it. So, if you find one on sale, grab it and don’t think twice. Just because a dress is on sale does not mean it looks any less gorgeous. When I got married, I had a $1800 budget for my dress and I only ended up spending $50. Everyone who was at my wedding, however, had no idea what my budget was or what I actually spent, but the comments were all the same, “Oh my! You look stunning!” “What a beautiful dress!” “I bet you’ll have to scrimp a little on the honeymoon after buying that gorgeous thing!” Just smile, say thank you, and enjoy your special day. 🙂

4 Cyndi May 2, 2011

Hubby and I have been married for 4 years, and he still refers to our wedding as the 40 % off wedding (in reference to all the Joann’s & Micheal’s coupons I used). I always encourage people to spend their money on the things that mean the most to them. I wanted pretty invitations, so I spent alittle extra on those, and saved money by making my own hotel gift bags, card box, and favors. I tried in vain to make our pew bows, but ended up having a mini-panic attack in our living room (Hubby then made me call the flowerist and have her make them.) We also waited to take our honeymoon so that we could ‘catch-up’ alittle bit and not have to put everything on our credit cards.

5 Jenny May 3, 2011

My mom altered her dress (which she had made for her wedding) for me to wear, and I am wearing her ring, which was also my grandmother’s wedding ring. We bought a band for my husband and had it engraved to match the designs on mine. We got married in the “pub” at the college I’d just graduated from. It looked like an alpine ski chalet–wood floors, big windows, giant fireplace. The rent was cheap, but the condition was that the food service had to provide the food. This made me incredibly nervous, but it was fabulous! The food service students were so excited to have an event to cater that they went overboard–whole smoked salmon beautifully plated on mirrors with capers, and red onions and cream cheese piped in swirls. Homemade bread and crackers, a beautiful cheese tray and tons of great hors d’oeuvres. They also catered the rehearsal dinner which was great and included a beautiful salad full of edible flowers (in 1984, well before it was common.) My husband has two bachelor uncles who are into wine so their gift to us was to provide all the wine and champagne.

My mom and I decorated baskets with ribbon to match our colors and we put potted pansies in them for the tables. The bridesmaids wore ivory silk blouses and skirts (made by mom). She also made a quilted wall hanging in our colors to hang above the fireplace.

My husband designed the invitations and we printed them on simple cardstock.

The big expenses for us were: renting tuxes for the guys (this is not a suit wearing crowd!), the flowers, and the cake, which the college staff did not provide.

My best advice is to think outside the traditional–maybe talk to a cooking school to see if they cater events for practice, or ask your family and friends who sew to help as their gift to you, try parks or rec centers or colleges instead of a country club or hotel. It is ridiculous to spend the amount of a down payment on a house on a half-day event!

6 queen of string May 4, 2011

We got married last year, on the bandstand in our local park. We had the two legally required witnesses and the only flowers were buttoniers. Both of us have been married before and had elaboprate weddings. The simplicity of this one was much more us, very personal and extrememly moving. Even the celebrant commented on how moved she had been! being simple and dispensing with all the things a wedding ” should” have was the right thing for us and had the added benefit of being very frugal. The one thing we really blew the budget on was making each others rings with an artisan jeweller in Seattle, something I would highly recommend.

7 Bethy May 5, 2011

I also had letter-press connection for my wedding! A friend did the beautiful invites at cost because my husband helped with the printing. And we saved more by not doing favors. Because we were married in South Carolina (I think the law varies by state), we were able to return any unopened bottles of wine.

But I must say, I splurged on my dress. 🙂 Gotta pick what’s important to you!

8 Super Frugalette May 6, 2011

I got the photographer down a bit by having her shoot for only three hours. I do have issues on asking the “friends”. I had a friend offer to video tape the ceremony. I have never seen the ceremony. She never gave me the tape.

9 DeeAnna May 8, 2011

I just did a post on “A not so Royal Wedding”. I put together a little garden wedding for under $500.00. Every single piece came from our local Goodwill stores, from the wedding dress to the china….you can watch it here:

10 average guy May 16, 2011

When we got married, I rented out the local senior center for the ceremony. Something like $60 for the afternoon.

Previous post:

Next post: