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The Best Money Saving Wedding Tips, According to Experts

I asked wedding and finance experts to share their best money saving wedding tips, and some of their responses will surprise you. Read on for 19 ways to save money on all aspects of your wedding, from the dress to the venue to the food. Rest assured, you can still host an incredible and touching event for you, your S.O., and the people you love most — without draining your net worth.

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Before we dive into the nitty-gritty: Congratulations!! You’re planning an event that’ll be one of life’s most memorable. And you’re celebrating a beautiful union that’s destined to last forever. OK, now I’m getting misty…

So, let’s get into it. Below are the best money saving wedding tips I collected from an expert panel of wedding planners, vendors, and personal finance gurus. I organized the tips into categories and bullet points — because you have enough to do without having to read a novel to find the advice you need.

View from behind of bride and groom standing on the beach.

Planning tips to save money on your wedding

Most of the experts I spoke with emphasized the importance of creating a budget and setting priorities — before you make any major decisions. Forrest McCall, founder of Don’t Work Another Day and Jessica from The Budget Savvy Bride offer these budgeting and prioritization tips:

  • Before looking at any venue, getting any ideas, or making any decisions – create a wedding budget. By doing this first, you can avoid the temptations that come with spending money on a wedding, like a slightly “nicer” venue or offering an open bar.
  • To create your budget, identify exactly how much you want to spend on the event.
  • Make a wish list of details you want to include. This should encompass your big-ticket items, like the venue, down to smaller things like live music and a hotel room for the night.
  • Prioritize your wish list items. There are so many different expenses when it comes to a wedding. You must prioritize which aspects mean the most to you (and which you can do without). For example, for some people, the venue might be the most important decision of the wedding. Others might prioritize food and drinks.
  • When you have everything prioritized, it’s easy to see where you can cut costs. Simply start at the bottom of the list and work up until the event is within budget.

It’ll also help to stay off Pinterest, says Amy McCord Jones from Flower Moxie. Scrolling through endless photos of someone else’s wedding will only encourage you to blow your budget, and for the wrong reasons. Your wedding should be unique to you and appropriate to your budget. A stranger’s Pinterest photos are neither of those things.

How to save money on your wedding venue

1. Time it right

The timing of your wedding greatly affects the price you pay for the venue. Here’s what the experts say about the cheapest day and time to get married:

  • McCord Jones recommends a morning or afternoon wedding ceremony, instead of evening. The venue will be cheaper, and so will your food bill. At these off-times, you can serve snacks rather than a full meal.
  • Planning an off-season wedding date that’s also on a Friday or Sunday can save you loads, too, according to Alexa from Broc and Alexa Photography. Off-season varies depending on where you live, but it’s usually in the winter months.
  • Celebrity wedding planner Samantha Goldberg floats this idea: Why not have your wedding during the week? More people work remotely these days, which could make it easier to attend a mid-week wedding.

2. Negotiate

Here’s another gem from Goldberg: Negotiate with your venue. If you have a budget for the venue (which you should), tell them where you need the costs to be and ask what your options are. Make this a win/win conversation. If you can fill the venue when it’s not normally in use and lock in an affordable price, both sides are happy.

3. Have a destination wedding

Destination weddings are cheaper than traditional ones. Jason from Paradise Weddings shares these statistics:

  • The average cost of a U.S. wedding in 2021 was $22,500, according to BusinessInsider.
  • The average cost of destination wedding in 2021 was $5,500.

The difference is shocking, right? So, here’s the thing. A destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort essentially crowd-sources the entire wedding — from ceremony to reception, food and drink, flowers, etc. Since your guests also stay at the resort, they help offset the wedding-related costs. It’s efficient for you and the resort. Plus, how many of your closest friends would love an excuse to hang out on the beach for a few days?

How to save money on your wedding dress

1. Shop demo wedding dresses or secondhand pieces.

Woman walks on street wearing retro wedding dress and holding flowers.

Elopement photographer Sean from Vows and Peaks recommends shopping demo wedding dresses or secondhand pieces. Call around local bridal shops and see if they have older floor models or samples available for sale. Also pop into all your nearby consignment and thrift shops. You never know what you might find!

For this strategy to work, you must be open-minded. Try on many dresses and look for the good in each. You might find a gown that’s amazing as is, or one that needs a little nip and tuck. Either way, you’ll spend less vs. buying the latest and greatest from a bridal shop.

2. Have a nude wedding.

Mary Jane Kolassa from Paradise offers this unconventional advice: Have a nude wedding. You might be snickering right now, but nudity is practical. A nude wedding means no dress, no tux, and probably no guests. This could be a fun elopement ceremony just for the two of you. You could then host a more casual party at home for family and friends.

Kolassa says nude brides can wear nothing at all, or get “dressed up” in a short tulle or birdcage veil. And, grooms can opt to sport a cummerbund and bow tie. I guess you probably can’t post the ceremony pics on Facebook, but who cares? If you and your S.O. are happy, that’s all that matters.

If you’re intrigued, check in with the American Association for Nude Recreation. The Association has over 180 member clubs throughout the U.S. and Canada and internationally that can accommodate nude weddings. AANR clubs not only host nude weddings and vow renewals, there are also members within the Association who are ordained ministers and licensed to perform the nuptials.

3. Shop discount bridal shops

This is my advice. Shop discount bridal shops for a lovely dress that won’t break the bank. There are many out there offering stunning wedding gowns for $150 or less.

How to save money on food at your wedding

Skipping the traditional, sit-down, multi-course meal with formal servers will save you loads. But what do you do instead? Here’s what the experts say:

  • Pickering recommends a buffet over a formal served dinner. Or, even better, choose a venue that allows you to cater from elsewhere or bring your own food and alcohol.
  • Wedding DJ Gary from Fizz and Groove suggests a BBQ. Plan on supplying bibs though!
  • Brittney Sogge from Keller Golf Course recommends hiring a food truck.
  • McCord Jones offers this strategy to spend less on the cake specifically: Order a small round bridal cake for your photos, then serve a sheet cake to guests.
  • As mentioned above, schedule your wedding and reception at an off-time, so you can serve snacks in lieu of a full meal.

Saving tips for wedding flowers, music, and decor

So the venue, food, and dress are the big wedding expenses. But there are so many other things — photography, music, flowers, wedding favors, decorations. To trim costs in these areas, go back to your budget and priority list. And then think creatively about the things you can’t live without. For example:

  • DIY your flowers — see Flower Moxie for info.
  • If you’re going to be your own florist, Pickering recommends checking which flowers are in season early on. You don’t want to fall in love with particular blooms, only to find out you can’t get them when you need them.
  • Make your own Spotify playlist and be your own DJ — a good tip from wedding DJ Gary (who’s a newly married guy himself)!
  • Scour Facebook and Facebook groups for new brides who are selling their wedding decor. That’s another gem from Pickering.

Protecting your investment

Goldberg has one last piece of advice for brides and grooms: Get wedding event insurance, even if your venue doesn’t require it. The cost of an event policy is low compared to what’s at stake. You can structure insurance to include liability coverage in case someone gets hurt, plus get coverage for last-minute cancellations as well as protections for your wedding rings and wedding attire.

If you still need more money-saving inspo, see how a couple from Scotland hosted the cheapest wedding ever.