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32 Genius Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Here's how to cut wedding costs without sacrificing style.

If you and your soon-to-be spouse are like most couples, there's a good chance that there's something you've been dreaming about for your wedding day that might be just a teensy bit over your budget: A statement flower wall; not one, not two, but three stunning wedding outfits (à la Chrissy Teigen or Serena Williams); or, maybe a diamond tiara worthy of a princess. Here's the thing: All that style gets really, really expensive. To help couples in the middle of the planning process, our editors teamed up with some of the top wedding professionals from coast to coast—florists, photographers, wedding planners, caterers, cake designers, you name it—to put together a comprehensive list of experience-driven advice and practical tips that will help you save money on your wedding.

From small swaps that can knock $500 off the price of your wedding dress to tips for shaving $3 off each slice of wedding cake (that's $300 per 100 guests!), it's safe to say that this list has advice that can help you come away with some serious savings. The best part? All of these tips will help you save money without forcing you to sacrifice an ounce of style or vision.

Consider Other Days of the Week

Who says you have to get married on a Saturday? According to the experts, a wedding on any day of the week is perfectly fine. If you know you want a weekend date, though, Reese Rowe of Herban Feast Catering and Events explains that hosting a Friday wedding with a weekday rehearsal can save you thousands of dollars when it comes to venue rates. Another option? Hosting a Sunday wedding. "Venue fees can be $4,000 less, plus food and beverage minimums are lower, which is great for smaller parties," she says.

Choose Your Card Stock Wisely

When it comes to choosing wedding invitations, there are certainly lots of decisions to make—and one element that can really increase the price of the overall wedding suite is the type of paper you choose. "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," suggests Erika Henriksen of stationery company Bella Figura. "You'll save $275 for every 100 invitations."

Skip the Envelope Liner

Envelope liners certainly are beautiful, but this is one of those extra costs that can really add up—especially if you have a lot of invitations to send. "Using a colorful or otherwise untraditional outer envelope in lieu of an interior envelope liner means you could pay $1 less per invitation," says Cheree Berry of Cheree Berry Paper & Design. "Plus it's a fun surprise when it shows up in your wedding guests' mailboxes."

Direct Your Guests to Your Wedding Website

Having multiple cards within your invitation suite can be beautiful, but it comes at a price. Instead of going that route, Henriksen suggests having a single insert and providing additional information online. "You can save as much as $800 by having a single insert directing guests to your wedding website instead of [sending] 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."

Wedding dress sample sale and simple wedding reception flowers

Photos by Stocksy and Beatrice Howell; Design by Mehroz Kapadia

Get a Jump on Wedding Dress Shopping

One thing you may not realize about the wedding dress timeline? Rush fees can add up really fast. In order to avoid the cost pile-up, Alix Childs of bridal salon Ceremony suggests ordering your wedding gown at least eight or nine months ahead of the wedding to "avoid rush fees of as much as $500 and last-minute alterations of $100 to $300."

Save During a Trunk Show

Trunk shows are the ultimate way to save money on your wedding dress. "Shopping during a designer trunk show means you could pay anywhere from $150 to $500 less for your gown," says Camille Wyn of The Dress Theory. "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."

Snag a Sample

Sample sales are another great way to save money on your dress. In fact, these sales could result in a retail markdown of 20 to 90 percent. "Most [sample sales] 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," says Anna Walsh of bridal salons Anna Bé Bridal Bouquet and A & Bé Bridal Shop. "Chances are, some gowns have already been set aside for the next one!"

Embrace Minimalist Bridesmaids' Bouquets

Just because you decide to cut down on florals doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style. "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," says Kelly Revels of The Vine Garden Market.

Have Your Ceremony Florals Do Double Duty

The flowers you choose for each part of your day are beautiful and expensive, so using them in as many places as possible helps you get more bang for your buck. "There are so many ways to repurpose your wedding flowers," says Lindsay Coletta of Lindsay Coletta Floral Artistry and Design. "Use decorative florals from your ceremony site to adorn the escort card table or the bar, and bridesmaids' bouquets work great for reception tables." Ask your florist or venue manager if they're able to make the switch for you, otherwise tap your wedding planner or a few members of the bridal party to take on the task.

A simple wedding invitation and ceremony seating

Photos by Addison Jones and August + White; Design by Mehroz Kapadia

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

Repurposing design elements between different parts of your event can save you hundreds. Another example? Reusing your ceremony chairs for the reception. "You may have to pay a moving fee, but it will still be cheaper than ordering twice as many seats," says Maria Svensson of the Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore.

Ditch the Escort Cards

Escort cards are a beautiful detail, but they're not entirely necessary for the reception to run smoothly. "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," says Courtney Jentzen of Swiss Cottage Designs. "If the poster costs $250, that's $50 saved per 100 guests, and the savings only increase from there."

Lose the Linens

Linens are stunning, but the fancy stuff can add up—fast. "Instead of renting expensive linens, top your venue's standard cotton or polyester tablecloths with a decorative runner and save about $25 per table," suggests Emarie C. Vangalio of La Tavola Fine Linen Rental. Of course, this only works if the tables beneath are beautiful enough to be on display. If not, choose a lower-end linen in a neutral color and let your florals and other tabletop décor speak for themselves.

Cut Transportation Costs

It may not be the first thing you think of during the planning process, but shuttling guests between a ceremony location and the reception can add up. "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," explains Jennifer Stiebel of Soco Events.

Forgo Top-Shelf Liquor

Chances are, your guests don't need top-shelf spirits to enjoy themselves at your celebration. "If your guests want gin, they don't need Bombay Sapphire to be happy," says Maureen Donegan of Presidio Social Club, so skip the really good stuff and stock the bar with affordable mid-range basics. "You'll save $1 to $4 per drink—and up to $25 per pour of fine scotches and bourbon."

Skip the Champagne Toast and Serve Bubbly Only at the Bar

Instead of passing glasses of Champagne to every guest or having it pre-poured at every reception seat, just have bubbly available as an option at the bar. Svensson says you'll pay $10 less per person and no one will end up toasting with flat Champagne.

A champagne tower and a black wedding reception seating chart with white script

Photos by Frank and Bunny Love and Beyond Jade; Design by Mehroz Kapadia

Remember Not Everyone Will Have the Late-Night Munchies

Don't feel like you need to go overboard with the late-night snack options. "Order late-night snacks for only 70 percent of your headcount," recommends Brooke Keegan of Brooke Keegan Special Events. "Some guests may leave early, and others won't want to eat."

Combine Food and Favors

"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," says Sara Fay Egan of Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design.

Skip the Sugar Flowers on Your Cake

If you're trying to create savings on your wedding cake, Betsy Thorleifson of Nine Cakes suggests looking for other ways to decorate aside from sugar flowers. "I love the look of fresh fruit as a way to decorate and save some money," she says. "Typically this could save $4 per serving compared to sugar flowers."

Don't Hire Two Shooters for Videography

Despite what you may have heard, you don't need to hire a two-person videography team for your wedding. "Almost every couple I speak with is shocked to hear me say you don't need two shooters," says Alex Dodds of Something Blue Creative. "In my experience, the only places you really notice only having one shooter are during prep and cocktail hour. However, with a solid timeline and a plan to execute the timeline, you can make it work."

He goes on to explain that in order to easily shoot the prep period (when each partner is getting dressed and ready) as a solo shooter, it's best to keep the locations close together. "This makes it so much easier for your videographer to capture everything with both of you." In terms of cocktail hour, Dodds recommends doing a quick first look video session at the cocktail hour, and then the couple is free to enjoy that time with their guests.

Ask About Package Deals and Service Bundles for Photography

When it comes to photography, couples should definitely inquire about package deals. "Some photographers offer package deals that include both photography and videography or offer a discount when booking both services," says Michael Fayehun from F10 Studio. Wedding photographer Amy Anaiz seconds this, and highly recommends that couples consider bundling services whenever it's offered. "Many times photographers offer Photo Booth/Boomerang Booth services as well usually at a better rate than if you were to hire a separate vendor," she says.

Signature wedding cocktails and a minimalist bridesmaid bouquet with a single pink dahlia

Photos by Caroline Lima Photography and Curtis Wiklund Photo; Design by Mehroz Kapadia

Skip the Uneccessary Florals

"Cut out the small stuff," suggests Erice McNeff of Everbloom Floral Design. "Do you really need a floral arrangement and greenery on your welcome table and welcome sign?" McNeff explains that while these are nice touches to include if your budget allows, they aren't the details that your guests will remember. "Chat with your florist and get their input on the areas that are the most impactful," she suggests.

Pass on the Drone

While having aerial shots of your special day may feel really important, this is a great place to save. "Skip the drone," says Cindy Caughey of Harborview Studios. "Really think about the location you’re getting married in—is it scenic? Are drones allowed to fly where you’re getting married? Are you getting married near an airport or a military base?" These are the questions you need to ask yourself. "Depending on how complicated the set-up is for your drone request (multiple locations, flying during the ceremony) it may even require an additional videographer with a drone license to make these shots happen and be done correctly and safely," she adds. "That can be a surprisingly large expense."

Skip the Raw Footage

Raw footage from your videographer may sound incredibly romantic, but one expert says it's not what couples think it is. "It’s not a super-long-ultra-extended-just-not-fancy edit of the wedding day," says Caughey "It’s unrefined footage. While we love raw footage, because it’s a wonderful place to find hidden gems and a fun addition to your family archives, know that your videographer has already pulled out the best of the best to use in your films. If you’re feeling a [budget] squeeze, this is definitely a safe place to skip."

Consider Steak Alternatives on the Menu

Kimberley Ashlee of Kimberley Ashlee Catering suggests thinking outside the box when it comes to pricier items on the dinner menu. "For many weddings, a steak on the menu is a must," she says. "Look past the filet—don't worry, a little marbling never hurt anyone!" Ashlee urges couples to consider other cuts of beef, like flank steak, which will clock in at a fraction of the cost. "And it can be sliced and plated elegantly," she notes. "Also, consider proteins such as chicken, quail, or pork, because when prepared correctly, they can be elegant."

Opt for a Plated Meal Over a Buffet

It may come as a surprise, but a buffet isn't always the more affordable option for a reception dinner. "From a caterer's standpoint, there is so much more volume required for a buffet or stations," says Ashlee. "My philosophy is the station must look great from start to finish—no guest will appreciate a picked-over experience. This means that caterers have to factor in additional portions to ensure that the displays look great and also to account for seconds or even thirds from your guests. On that note, the caterer must anticipate the consumption which would be at least one of everything, which further increases the amount of food." However, if you serve a plated meal, everything is calculated ahead of time and thus there is less waste.

Don't Over-Order the Invites

When ordering invitations, Ashley Haglund of Ashley Elizabeth Wedding Stationery & Signage says she sees couples make the same mistake over and over. "The biggest mistake I see couples making when ordering wedding invitations is that they usually order an invitation for every anticipated wedding guest when in actuality you only need one invitation per couple or household," she says. "Imagine the money you will save ordering half of the invites you originally thought you were going to need!"

Use the Standard Invitation Size

Haglund stresses that in order to keep costs down with invitations, it's best to go with the standard 5x7 sizing instead of a square or another more complicated shape. "This will save you significantly on the postage used to mail your invites," she says. Another suggestion? Opt for a save-the-date postcard, which Haglund notes will result in less expensive postage.

Embrace Vintage Items

If you want to save money on some style elements of your wedding day look, Alicia Mae from ILÈ Events urges brides and grooms to shop their own homes and look to family members and friends for other décor items. "Consider vintage items that you can borrow from close family members to use or wear for your wedding," she suggests. Consider wearing your mother's veil or a family member's earrings or cuff links. After all, you need to find your "something borrowed!"

Cut the Guest List

Many wedding industry experts will agree that one of the best ways to cut costs is by cutting the guest list. "In my years of planning weddings, the most tried and true way to save on a wedding is to cut the guest list," says Roxanne Bellamy of Roxane Bellamy & Co, a destination wedding planning company. "The proposed budget may not be best suited to provide a brilliant experience for 150 guests, but it may be ideal for 75 or 80 guests," she explains. "In cutting the guest list, clients are saving on the cost of meals, rentals, centerpieces, menus, and more. Surprisingly, there's often room to include that wish list item that otherwise would have had to have been removed. For example, upgrading the entertainment from DJ only to a Band and DJ jam session or upgrading the culinary experience from chicken to butter poached lobster. We remind our clients that the quality of the experience they are creating is the measure."

Nix the Cash Bar

Waverly Coleman of Waverly Coleman Events recommends saying "no" to a cash bar when it comes to saving money on alcohol. "Instead, limit the hours you serve," she suggests. This way, you still get to offer your guests an open bar, but it won't come with the price tag of all-night service.

Skip Save-the-Dates

 "I've never been a fan of physical save-the-dates," says Coleman. By the time you send them, half of the guests you're sending to already know your date so now you've wasted paper," she explains. "If you must, opt for a virtual version or use the landing page on your wedding website as your save-the-date."

Lean on Specialty Cocktails

Instead of stocking a full bar, Mackenzie Irland from Amorology recommends planning to have a few specialty cocktails on offer for guests, as well as beer and wine. "Create some specialty cocktails to pair with beer and wine to serve throughout the night rather than a full bar and your guests will be just as taken care of," she says.

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