53 Genius Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

We've enlisted some of the wedding industry's top professionals to show you how to cut wedding costs — without sacrificing style

bride and groom on getaway scooter

Jose Villa

Chances are, there's something you're dreaming about for your wedding day that might be just a teensy bit over-the-top: a statement flower wall that rivals Kim and Kanye's crazy wall of blooms; not one, not two, but three stunning wedding gowns, à la Chrissy Teigen or Serena Williams; or, maybe just a diamond tiara worthy of a princess (we see you, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle). But here's the thing: All that style is really, really expensive.

Lucky for you, our editors teamed up with some of the top wedding professionals from coast to coast—florists, planners, chefs, mixologists, cake bakers, you name it—to put together a master list of been-there-done-that advice on how to save money on your wedding that could add up to hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars. From hacks that can knock $500 off the price of your wedding gown and $3 off each slice of wedding cake (that's $300 per 100 guests!), it's safe to say that this list has some tips that will help the two of you cash in on serious savings.

7 Great Ways to Save on Your Wedding
Jessica Olah/Brides

When it comes to planning a wedding, it's all about knowing your priorities and allocating your wedding budget funds wisely. That's why making a list of your priorities and setting a budget should be step number one of wedding planning.

The best part? These tips can save you money without sacrificing an ounce of style. You see, when it comes to planning a wedding, it's all about knowing your priorities and allocating your wedding budget funds wisely. If you want that Kimye-level flower wall, you can have it, but you might want to consider cutting those over-the-top centerpieces on each table. Have to have a five-tiered showstopper of a cake? Try it in buttercream rather than fondant and trade sugar flowers for fresh flowers (which are a fraction of the cost and just as lovely). And about that designer wedding dress: Shopping at a salon's sample sale will score you significant savings, anywhere from 20 to 90 percent off the original cost.

Other times, it's all about working with what you already have. Did you rent special chairs for your ceremony? Why not use them at your reception, too? You may have to pay a moving fee, but it will still be cheaper than ordering twice as many. (Hint: the florals from your ceremony and your bridesmaids' bouquets can do double-duty at the reception, too.) And what about the deets for all those other wedding events, like the rehearsal dinner and day-after brunch? Put them on your wedding website rather than printing a separate card for your invitation suite and you could see savings of several hundred dollars.

Keep reading for more pro-approved ways to save money on your wedding day!

01 of 53

Consider Other Days of the Week

rehearsal dinner

 Photo by Mike Larson 

A Friday wedding will save you thousands on your wedding venue and your weekday rehearsal dinner. Even better: A Sunday wedding. Site fees can be $4,000 less, plus food and beverage minimums are lower, which is great for smaller parties. —Reese Rowe, Herban Feast Catering and Events, Seattle, WA

02 of 53

Say "Yes" to Letterpress... Sparingly

botanical invitation

Photo by Jen Huang Photo; Invitation by Paperfinger  

Love the look of letterpress for your wedding invitation suite, but not the price? Splurge on it for the main invitation but choose less-expensive flat printing for insert cards and you could save as much as $500 per 100 invitations. —Courtney Jentzen, Swiss Cottage Designs, Brooklyn, NY

03 of 53

Choose Your Card Stock Wisely

Getty Images

If you like the look and feel of thicker paper stock, use two-ply for your invitations and make the rest of the insert cards one-ply only. You'll save $275 for every 100 invitations. —Erica Henriksen, Bella Figura, Syracuse, NY

04 of 53

Skip the Envelope Liner

wedding invitation suite

Courtesy of Julie Song Ink

Using a colorful or otherwise untraditional outer envelope in lieu of an interior envelope liner means you could pay $1 less per invitation—plus it's a fun surprise when it shows up in your wedding guests' mailboxes. Cheree Berry Paper, St. Louis, MO

05 of 53

Direct Your Guests to Your Wedding Website

working on a wedding website on laptop

Getty Images

When it comes to your wedding invitation suite, you can save as much as $800 by having a single insert directing guests to your wedding website instead of multiple cards for your other events—like the rehearsal dinner, welcome party or day-after brunch—as well as logistics, like transportation and details about the hotel room block you've set up for your guests. —Erica Henriksen, Bella Figura, Syracuse, NY

06 of 53

RSVP Postcards Are Fresh and Fun

Courtesy of Copper Willow

Replace the traditional reply card, which requires with its own additional envelope and stamp, with an RSVP postcard instead. Using postcards will cut costs on both printing and postage, as postcard stamps are cheaper than stamps for regular first-class mail. —Mariam Naficy, Minted, San Francisco, CA

07 of 53

Slash Your Printing Fees

<p>Wedding menu</p>

Photo by Stephanie Brauer

Order any day-of printed items—such as wedding ceremony programs and dinner menus—at the same time as your wedding invitations. Doubling up by taking care of everything at once will minimize your printing fees. Cheree Berry Paper, St. Louis, MO

08 of 53

Grab a Few Pens (& Maybe a Few Helpers)

Getty Images

Stationers can charge as much as $7 per set for envelope addressing, assembly and mailing. Don't be afraid to DIY assembling and addressing your own wedding invitations, especially if you have nice penmanship. Plan to spread the work out over several sessions, or speed up the process by asking for some help from close friends or family. —Courtney Jentzen, Swiss Cottage Designs, Brooklyn, NY

09 of 53

Get a Jump on Dress Shopping

designer bridal salon

Kelly Cummings of Spindle Photography

Order your wedding gown at least eight or nine months out to avoid rush fees of as much as $500 and last-minute alterations of $100 to $300. —Alix Childs, Ceremony, Boston, MA

10 of 53

Watch for Deals (& Sales) on Social Media

Getty Images

Follow your favorite local bridal salons on social media to find out about trunk shows, sample sales and also to catch promotions like 10 percent off your gown, 20 percent off jewelry or a free veil with gown purchase. —Lindsey Principi, Maddison Row, Charleston, SC

11 of 53

Save During a Trunk Show

Azzura Photography

Shopping during a designer trunk show means you could pay anywhere from $150 to $500 less for your gown. Some salons will even throw in complimentary customization—like a neckline change, size adjustment or veil—which could be another $150 to $800 in savings. —Camille Wyn, The Dress Theory, Nashville, TN

12 of 53

Snag a Sample

blush pink skirt and corset top

Studio 19 Photography

Buying your dress off the rack at a sample sale means a retail markdown of 20 to 90 percent. Most occur before or after Bridal Market—which happens twice a year, in late spring and early fall—but even if a sale's not happening, don't be afraid to ask if the boutique has any samples they're looking to sell. Chances are, some gowns have already been set aside for the next one! —Anna Walsh, Anna Bé Bridal Bouquet, Denver, CO, and A & Bé Bridal Shop, Minneapolis, MN

13 of 53

Seek Out Up-and-Coming Photographers

woman on laptop

Getty Images

Rates wedding photographers charge can vary widely, and one sure way to save some funds is to seek out new talent. Social media is a great resource; additionally, seasoned photographers can often recommend someone up-and-coming in their market, too. —Christa Milster, Our Labor of Love, Los Angeles, CA

14 of 53

Bulk Up on Your Blooms

Esther Sun Photography

Florists can get discounts by ordering just three to five types of flowers in bulk. Create a chic, uniform centerpiece by grouping together monochromatic blooms in individual vases—for example, one of white hydrangeas, another of white tulips and another of white calla lilies. —Kelly Revels, The Vine Garden Market, Saint Simons Island, GA

15 of 53

Go Green(ery)

Ruth Eileen

Don't underestimate the beauty of greenery in your bridal bouquet. It's inexpensive and adds a lot of size and texture to arrangements. —Rick Davis and Christopher Vazquez, Amaryllis, Inc., Landover, MD

16 of 53

Borrow Your Baubles

<p>theia dress</p>

Photo by Treebird Photography

Rent your jewelry from a high-end site like Adorn, which lets you borrow a $30,000 diamond necklace for $300. Downside: You do have to send it back! —Alix Childs, Ceremony, Boston, MA

17 of 53

Make the Most of Your Photographer's Time

<p>bride and groom</p>

Photo by Volvoreta

Consider booking your photographer for eight to 10 hours instead of a full day, which is typically 12 to 14 hours. They'll still capture all the important moments, but you'll pay as much as $4,000 less. —Sarah Tiedeman Gallagher, Readyluck, Brooklyn, NY

18 of 53

Score Second Shooter Savings

Nancy Cohn

You can save several hundred dollars by booking a second shooter to assist with only the getting-ready shots, some venue details and the ceremony, which means they're done much earlier in the day. —Tory Williams, Tory Williams Photography, Brooklyn, NY

19 of 53

Embrace Minimalist 'Maids Bouquets

Jemma Keech Photography

You need only two or three large blooms with a little bit of filler to create bridesmaids' bouquets that are minimalist cool—and $50 cheaper apiece. —Kelly Revels, The Vine Garden Market, Saint Simons Island, GA

20 of 53

Banish Boutonnieres

Birds of a Feather

Skip the boutonnieres, which can set you back $300. Encourage your partner and the gents in the bridal party to sport pocket squares instead. —Kelly Revels, The Vine Garden Market, Saint Simons Island, GA

21 of 53

Sharing Is Caring (& Means Fewer Programs)

Ceremony program detail

Photo by Dos Mas En La Mesa 

One more way to save on your printing costs? Print just one ceremony program per couple, instead of one per guest. —Sara Fay Egan, Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design, Dallas, TX

22 of 53

Have Your Ceremony Florals Do Double Duty

Rochelle Cheever

There are so many ways to repurpose your wedding flowers! Use decorative florals from your ceremony site to adorn the escort-card table or the bar, and bridesmaids' bouquets work great for reception tables. —Lindsay Coletta, Lindsay Coletta Floral Artistry and Design, Atlanta, GA

23 of 53

...And Why Not Repurpose Your Chairs, Too?

Ceremony aisle and gold guest chairs

 Photo by Addison Jones

Reuse your ceremony chairs at the reception. You may have to pay a moving fee, but it will still be cheaper than ordering twice as many seats. —Maria Svensson, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, Santa Barbara, CA

24 of 53

Ditch the Escort Cards

Reception seating chart on black background

Courtesy of Frank and Bunny Love

Have your stationer (or another DIY maker) design one main seating-chart poster or display instead of personal escort cards, which can be $3 each. If the poster costs $250, that's $50 saved per 100 guests, and the savings only increase from there. —Courtney Jentzen, Swiss Cottage Designs, Brooklyn, NY

25 of 53

Go for a Wow Moment

Jake Holt Photography

Work with your florist to design a major floral statement that guests will drop dead over instead of spreading your budget thin with a room full of smaller arrangements that they'll walk right past. Focus on areas where they'll congregate, like the bar and the dance floor. —Rick Davis and Christopher Vazquez, Amaryllis, Inc., Landover, MD

26 of 53

Unique Doesn't Mean Expensive

Shannon Renee

Pick affordable, atypical varietals such as spider mums, fennel flowers or hosta flowers. Display in large groups for high impact. —Cristina Lozito, Cristina Lozito Photography & Flowers, New York, NY

27 of 53

Add Fruit Into the Mix

blood oranges in reception table centerpiece

Joy Marie Photography

Take an organic approach and create centerpieces featuring fresh fruit. One idea: Set lemons, oranges or apples in a dish and sprinkle with flower petals. You could even go glam and paint some of the fruit gold. —Jacqueline Elfe, Stellar Style Events Floral & Event Design, New York, NY

28 of 53

Print Fewer Menus Per Table

framed reception menu

Photo by Clark Brewer Photography

Skip individual menu cards and opt for one or two per table to reduce printing charges by up to 90 percent. Display the menus in a nice-looking but inexpensive frames; it's a sure way to get guests talking. —Brooke Keegan, Brooke Keegan Special Events, Newport Beach, CA

29 of 53

Choose a Statement Glass

Jen Huang

Full settings of specialized glassware are a beautiful tabletop statement but will cost you around $14 per guest. Choose just one standout item—such as a colorful beveled goblet—and use standard options for the rest to get the same look for $10.50 less per setting. —Brooke Keegan, Brooke Keegan Special Events, Newport Beach, CA

30 of 53

Swap Centerpieces for Bud Vases

Michelle Boyd Photography

Place single-stem flowers, like budget-friendly roses or tulips, in slim bud holders. Arrange groups of vases at varied heights for a stylish effect—and savings of around $65 per centerpiece. —Jacqueline Elfe, Stellar Style Events Floral & Event Design, New York, NY

31 of 53

Lose the Linens

Blumenthal Photography

Instead of renting expensive linens, top your venue's standard cotton or polyester tablecloths with a decorative runner and save about $25 per table. —Emarie C. Vangalio, La Tavola Fine Linen Rental, Napa, CA

32 of 53

Axe the Glass Vases

Getty Images

Ask your florist to use plastic containers instead of glass. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors—even metallic, too—and guests won't know the difference. —Jacqueline Elfe, Stellar Style Events Floral & Event Design, New York, NY

33 of 53

Make It a Bamboo Bash

Meredith Perdue

Use disposable, compostable bamboo plates for apps during cocktail hour and dessert, too. Verterra makes quality dishes that cost 50 cents each, plus they're eco-friendly. —Marci Delozier Haas, Frankies Spuntino, New York, NY

34 of 53

Get Glowing

reception table settings with candles

Photo by Sarah Falugo

Fill the room with candles to up the romance factor and cut flower costs. Add depth by mixing tall candelabras and short glasses with tea lights. —Molly Middleton Green, Molly Middleton Events, New York, NY

35 of 53

Cut Transportation Costs

bride and groom exit on scooter

Jose Villa

If you can plan your wedding day so that your ceremony and reception are at the same venue—or at two locations that are within walking distance of each other—you can save up to $4,000 by eliminating the need for guest and wedding party transportation. —Jennifer Stiebel, Soco events, Washington, D.C.

36 of 53

Set Up a Lounge for Less

<p>lounge</p>

Photo by Still55 Photography

If you want a lounge-like setting for your cocktail hour, it never hurts to ask your venue if you can borrow some sofas, chairs or tables, instead of having to rent everything to be brought in and set up. —Sara Fay Egan, Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design, Dallas, TX

37 of 53

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

Damion Hamilton Photography

Instead of renting a photo booth for thousands of dollars, create a Polaroid station with a few cameras, props and tons of film. It's just as fun! —Duana Chenier, Rock Paper Details, Los Angeles, CA

38 of 53

Make Your Signature Drink a Limited Edition

Signature cocktails

Photo by Stephanie Brauer

Save thousands by serving a signature drink or two during cocktail hour only, then switching to beer and wine at dinner. —Tina Reikes, Bear Flag Farm, Winters, CA

39 of 53

Forgo Top-Shelf Liquor

Birds of a Feather

If your guests want gin, they don't need Bombay Sapphire to be happy. You'll save $1 to $4 per drink—and up to $25 per pour of fine scotches and bourbon. —Maureen Donegan, Presidio Social Club, San Francisco, CA

40 of 53

Only Serve Bubbly at the Bar

Maria Vicencio

Skip the Champagne toast and instead offer bubbly as an option at the bar to pay $10 less per person. —Maria Svensson, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, Santa Barbara, CA

41 of 53

Source Your Caterer From the Suburbs

Birds of a Feather

If you're getting married in a major city, try booking a less-expensive caterer who's based in a nearby suburb who's willing to travel for your event. —Reese Rowe, Herban Feast Catering and Events, Seattle, WA

42 of 53

Save on Kids' Meals

Ashley Garmon Photographers

If you're planning on having kids at your wedding, ask your caterer if their meals can be discounted. Caterers will often cut the cost in half—or offer a separate menu with less expensive à la carte pricing. —Jamie Schmones Erickson, Poppy's Catering and Events, Brooklyn, NY

43 of 53

Get On Board with a Bountiful Buffet

charcuterie and cheese display

Brklyn View Photography

To cut staffing costs, a buffet is really the way to go. Depending on the caterer, you could save anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per 100 guests, and you often get more food for the amount you pay, compared with a plated dinner. —Candace Kiersky and Basia Biddle, Tarallucci e Vino, New York, NY

44 of 53

Avoid Hard-to-Prepare Foods

<p>sushi</p>

Photo by Carla Ten Eyck Photography

Labor-intensive specialty foods—such as sushi rolls, some raw bar items and anything that requires a live cooking station—always require extra staff to prepare and serve. —Reese Rowe, Herban Feast Catering and Events, Seattle, WA

45 of 53

Recruit Grad School Musicians

jenna and val first dance

Photo by Duke Images  

Think about hiring graduate-student musicians to play at your ceremony or cocktail hour. They can be booked for much less than the pros. —Molly Middleton Green, Molly Middleton Events, New York, NY

46 of 53

Downsize Your Cake

Marissa Maharaj

If you don't really want a custom tiered cake with all the bells and whistles, choose a smaller display size and supplement with a statement-making dessert bar, or serve sheet cake, which is only $4.50 per slice. —Lauren Bohl White, A White Cake, New York, NY

47 of 53

Embellish Just the Edges

Allyson Wiley Photography

Want the look of expensive sugar flowers, gold leaf or hand-painted accents? Ask your baker to decorate just the edges of the tiers to reduce the cost by a couple hundred dollars. —Melody Brandon, Sweet & Saucy Shop, Long Beach, CA

48 of 53

DIY Your Dessert Décor

Christine Chang Photography

Choose a simple buttercream or fondant cake, which is less than $7 per serving, and provide your own decorations. Fresh flowers, a personalized topper, colorful fruit... the possibilities are endless! —Lauren Bohl White, A White Cake, New York, NY

49 of 53

Get Naked

Nadia Hung Photography

Naked cakes are all the rage and look especially great at outdoor weddings. They're also inexpensive—as much as $3 less per person than buttercream or fondant. For a 100-person wedding, that's $300 saved. —Melody Brandon, Sweet & Saucy Shop, Long Beach, CA

50 of 53

Not Everyone Will Have the Late Night Munchies

Onelove Photography

Order late-night snacks for only 70 percent of your head count. Some guests may leave early, and others won't want to eat. —Brooke Keegan, Brooke Keegan Special Events, Newport Beach, CA

51 of 53

Combine Food & Favors...

Clean Plates Pictures

Instead of passing out late-night food and favors, combine the two by offering ready-to-eat edible favors, like milk and cookies or freshly-popped popcorn that's ready and waiting for guests as they leave the reception. —Sara Fay Egan, Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design, Dallas, TX

52 of 53

...Or, Make Your Favors Travel Friendly

Belathee Photography

Most out-of-town guests want something to eat, drink or use in the hotel room—and is easily transportable. A scented travel candle or a little something sip or savor later won't break the bank. —Sara Fay Egan, Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design, Dallas, TX

53 of 53

Pass on Ordering the Extras (for Now)

Bride and groom with their wedding photographer

Getty Images

To save on your wedding photography, you can always choose a less-expensive package that doesn't include hard-copy prints and albums. Those can always be bought and/or printed later. —Lauren Fair, Lauren Fair Photography, Pennsburg, PA

Related Stories