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

Updated 09/24/19

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner

Chances are, you're dreaming of an over-the-top wedding: An event with the prettiest flowers, the tastiest hors d'oeuvres, the coolest photo booth, and on and on. You're thinking a flower wall that rivals Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's crazy wall of blooms, a wedding cake like Sofia Vergara's tiered masterpiece, a gown as beautiful as Eva Longoria's body-hugging wedding dress (designed by fashion bestie Victoria Beckham, nonetheless!). 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 that will save you hundreds (and, sometimes, thousands!) of dollars on your wedding. From hacks that knock $500 off the wedding dress and $3 per slice of wedding cake (that's $300 for your 100 guests!), it's safe to say that this list may very well be your new MOH.

The best part of these 53 budget-saving tips? They 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 using your money wisely. For instance, 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 that five-tiered showstopper of a cake? Try it in buttercream rather than fondant and trade sugar flowers for actual flowers (they're a fraction of the cost and just as lovely). And about that designer wedding dress: Shop at a salon's sample sale to score it at 20 to 90 percent off the original cost.

And sometimes, it's all about working with what you already have. Did you rent special gold Chiavari chairs for your ceremony? Use them at your reception — you'll have to pay a moving fee, but it will still be cheaper than ordering twice as many. Hint: You can do the same with your ceremony décor and bridesmaids' bouquets at the reception. And what about the deets for those other events like the rehearsal dinner, bridesmaids' luncheon, and day after brunch? Put them on your wedding website (you did build one, after all!) rather than print them on a separate card in your invitation suite for savings of $800. Done and done.

Click through for more pro-approved ways to save big on your wedding day!

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How to Save on Stationery:

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner

Ready to seriously save on stationery? Read on!

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It's What's on the Outside That Counts

Courtesy of Mr. Boddington's Studio

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

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Purchase a Pop of Color

Courtesy of Bright Room Studio

Use a colored outer envelope instead of an envelope liner. You'll pay $1 less per invitation, plus it's a fun surprise in guests' mailboxes. Cheree Berry Paper, St. Louis

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Pay Per Ply

Getty Images

If you prefer thick paper stock, use two-ply for the invitation only and make the insert cards one-ply. You'll save $275 for every 100 invitations. — Erica Henriksen, Bella Figura, Syracuse, N.Y.

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Save with a Site

Getty Images

Save $800 by having one insert directing guests to your wedding website instead of multiple cards for events, like the rehearsal dinner, welcome party, or brunch, and logistics, like transportation and accommodations." — Erica Henriksen, Bella Figura, Syracuse, N.Y.

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Grab a Pen (and Some Girlfriends...)

Getty Images

Stationers can charge as much as $7 per set for envelope addressing, assembly, and mailing. Don't be afraid to DIY; just spread the work out over a few days. —Courtney Jentzen, Swiss Cottage Designs, Brooklyn

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Go Postal

Courtesy of Copper Willow

Replace the traditional reply card with an RSVP postcard to cut costs on both printing and postage. — Mariam Naficy, Minted, San Francisco

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Cut the Cards

Natalie Shelton of N. Barrett Photography

Have your stationer design a seating-chart poster for $250 instead of personal escort cards, which are $3 each. For 100 guests, that's $50 saved. — Courtney Jentzen, Swiss Cottage Designs, Brooklyn

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Minimize the Menus

Leggy Bird

Skip individual menu cards and opt for one per table to reduce printing charges by 90 percent. You can display the menu in a nice-looking, inexpensive frame that gets guests talking. — Brooke Keegan, Brooke Keegan Special Events, Newport Beach, CA

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Couple Up

Danfredo Photo and Film

Print one ceremony program per couple instead of one per guest. — Sara Fay Egan, Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design, Dallas

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Pass on the Printing Fees

Gina and Ryan Photography

Order day-of items — ceremony programs and dinner menus — at the same time as the invitations. Doubling up minimizes printing fees. Cheree Berry Paper, St. Louis

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How to Save on Flowers:

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner

Wedding flowers are notoriously expensive—but there are still tons of ways to save!

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Renew, Reuse, Recycle

Rochelle Cheever

Repurpose flowers! Use ceremony décor on the escort-card table or bar and bridesmaids' bouquets on reception tables." — Lindsay Coletta, Lindsay Coletta Floral Artistry and Design, Atlanta

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Go Green(ery)

Ruth Eileen

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

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Budget-Friendly Buds

Michelle Boyd Photography

Place single-stem flowers, like budget-friendly roses or tulips, in slim bud holders. Arrange in groups of 20 or 30 at varied heights for a stylish effect — and savings to $65 per centerpiece. — Jacqueline Elfe, Stellar Style Events Floral & Event Design, New York

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Get Glowing

Readyluck

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

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Flowers & Fruit: A Perfect Pear

Jen Haung

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

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Axe the Glass

Getty Images

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

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Bulk Up

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

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Unique Doesn't Mean Expensive

Shannon Renee

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

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Make a Statement

Jake Holt Photography

Have your florist create a few statement arrangements that guests will drop dead over instead of spreading your budget thin with many smaller florals 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

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Minimalist 'Maids

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 bucks cheaper apiece. — Kelly Revels, The Vine Garden Market, Saint Simons Island, GA

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Banish Boutonnieres

Birds of a Feather

Skip the boutonnieres, which can set you back $300. Encourage your fiancé and his groomsmen to sport pocket squares instead. — Kelly Revels, The Vine Garden Market, Saint Simons Island, GA

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How to Save on Bridal Attire:

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner

Here's how to say yes to the dress without going over budget.

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Remember What They Say About The Early Bird?

Studio 19 Photography

Order your 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

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Borrow Your Ice

Clane Gessel

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

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Save at a Show

Azzura Photography

Shop during a designer trunk show to pay $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

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Scan Social Media

Getty Images

Follow bridal salons on social media 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

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Snag a Sample

Kelly Cummings of Spindle Photography

Buy your dress at a sample sale for a retail markdown of 20 to 90 percent. Most occur before or after Bridal Market in late spring and early fall, but even if a sale's not happening, ask if the boutique has any samples you can buy. Chances are, some gowns have already been set aside for the next one. — Anna Walsh, Anna Bé Bridal Bouquet, Denver, and A & Bé Bridal Shop, Minneapolis

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How to Save on Photography:

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner

Wedding photography is one of the most important aspects of the day. Here's how to budget properly for picture-perfect photos.

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Pass on the Prints

Tara Polly Photography

Choose a less-expensive package that doesn't include hard-copy prints and albums. You can always buy them later. — Lauren Fair, Lauren Fair Photography, Pennsburg, PA

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All Day? No Way

Getty Images

Book the photographer for only eight to ten hours instead of a full day (12 to 14 hours). She'll still capture all the important moments, but you'll pay as much as $4,000 less. — Sarah Tiedeman Gallagher, Readyluck, Brooklyn

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Second Shooter Savings

Nancy Cohn

Save $500 by booking a second shooter for only the getting-ready shots and ceremony. — Tory Williams, Tory Williams Photography, Brooklyn

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Find Fresh Faces

Getty Images

Seek out new talent! Seasoned photographers can often recommend someone up-and-coming, who's likely more affordable. — Christa Milster, Our Labor of Love, Los Angeles

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How to Save on Favors:

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner

Of course you want to send your guests off with something special. But that doesn't mean you have to break the bank.

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Make It Travel Friendly

Belathee Photography

Most out-of-town guests want something to eat, drink, or use in the hotel room. A small scented candle doesn't break the bank and is easy to bring back home. — Sara Fay Egan, Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design, Dallas

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Combine Food & Favors

Clean Plates Pictures

Instead of passing out late-night food and favors, combine the two and serve warm cookies to guests as they leave the reception. — Sara Fay Egan, Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design, Dallas

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How to Save on Your Venue and Decor:

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner

Your wedding venue is bound to eat up the largest chunk of your budget, so it's important to save where you can.

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Off-Peak Offerings

Getty Images

Choose an off-peak day. A Friday wedding will save you thousands on the venue and on 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

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Terminate Transportation Costs

Birds of a Feather

Host your ceremony and reception at the same venue or at two places within walking distance of each other. You'll save up to $4,000 by eliminating the need for transportation. — Jennifer Stiebel, Soco events, Washington, D.C.

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Recycle Your Chairs

Ashley Garmon Photographers

Reuse 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

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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

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A Lounge for Less

Emily Wren Photography

If you want a lounge-like setting for cocktails, ask to borrow sofas, chairs, or tables from other rooms in the venue instead of renting furniture. — Sara Fay Egan, Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design, Dallas

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Wow with Your Wine Glasses

Jen Huang

Specialized glassware is a beautiful tabletop statement, but a full setting can cost $14 per person. Choose just one standout champagne or wine glass 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

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Make It a Bamboo Bash

Meredith Perdue

Use disposable bamboo plates for apps and dessert. Verterra makes quality dishes that cost 50 cents each, plus they're eco-friendly. — Marci Delozier Haas, Frankies Sputino, NY

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How to Save on Catering:

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner

See all the yummiest ways to save on wedding catering.

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Buffets Really are the Way to Go

Scott Clark Photography

To cut staffing costs, consider a buffet. 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, NY

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There are Major Savings in the Suburbs

Birds of a Feather

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

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Ditch Hard-to-Prepare Treats

Getty Images

Eliminate labor-intensive specialty foods like sushi rolls, which require more staff to prepare. — Reese Rowe, Herban Feast Catering and Events, Seattle

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Bubbly at the Bar

Maria Vicencio

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

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Make Your Signature Drink a Limited Edition

Gina and Ryan Photography

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

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Forgo Top-Shelf Liquor

Birds of a Feather

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 Scotch and bourbon." — Maureen Donegan, Presidio Social Club, San Francisco

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Cut Kid Costs

Ashley Garmon Photographers

If you plan on having kids at your wedding, ask if their meals are 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

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Don't Count on Everyone Having 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

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How to Save on Entertainment:

Illustration by Katie Buckleitner

Here's how to throw one heck of a party that won't end in sticker shock.

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Save with Students

Brandon Lata Photography

Hire 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

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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

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How to Save on Cake:

Corbin Gurkin Photography

Basically, how to have your cake and eat it too.

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Downsize the Decadence

Marissa Maharaj

If you 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, NY

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Embellish 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

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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

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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, NY

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