50 Easy Ways to Save $500 on Your Wedding

Want to throw the wedding of your dreams without sacrificing anything? Follow these genius budget tips

Updated 07/18/19

Photo by Les Amis Photo

Think you can't pull off your dream wedding on a budget? Think again. Sure, not all of us can splurge on a custom-etched marble table and golden toilet tower (looking at you, Kimye), but it's easier than you think to stretch your budget without giving up the things you love. Want a farm-to-table menu and the venue of your dreams? Or a designer dress and a five-tiered cake? It's possible to make it happen — the key is compromise.

A few dollars here and there doesn't seem like a lot when you're shelling out thousands total. But a few hundred bucks — $500, to be exact — will make a major difference when it comes to your bottom line. Find a few places where you can trim half a grand from your budget, and suddenly that gorgeous destination wedding venue you've been obsessing over will seem a lot less out of reach.

5 Easy Ways to Save on Your Wedding
Emily Roberts / Brides 

We asked top planners, caterers, bakers, florists, and bloggers to share their best-kept secrets on how to get your vendors to come down big time on their prices. Plus, we got real Brides readers to weigh in on the most genius ways they saved money. Even if you've never haggled at a flea market in your life and supermarket coupons look like they're penned in a foreign language, you can nail these budget hacks without thinking twice.

Read on for the 50 best ways to save $500 on your wedding!

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Opt for Digital Invites

Courtesy of Holgate Creative

Love the look of hand-painted invite but not the steep price point? Have a graphic artist create a digital design that you can print at home instead. The final result will look just as pretty but cost half as much.

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Schedule Your Day Wisely

Shannen Norman

For a surprising savings, avoid a long gap between the ceremony and reception. Photographers and musicians will charge for the extra wait time. Plus, your guests will appreciate the quick transition!

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Skip the Bread Basket

Levi Stolove Photgraphy

Say no to bread baskets on your dinner table. Not only will you trim hundreds from the bill, but your guests will actually eat the plated meal you're paying for rather than filling up on carbs.

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RSVP Smarter

Courtesy of Appy Couple

Have guests RSVP on your wedding website or app instead of on a reply card. You'll save tons on paper and postage, and you're more likely to get responses from the majority of your guests. Be sure to include your phone number or home address for elderly guests who may not be as tech-savy.

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It Pays to Give Feedback

Getty Images

Some vendors will slash their fees for feedback. Ask yours if they are willing to offer a discount in exchange for an honest online testimonial.

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Switch Your Officiant

The Nichols

Skip the standard officiant and ask a friend if he or she will get ordained to marry you. This will equal a big savings and also make for a more personalized ceremony. Win, win!

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Think Customizable, Not Custom

Courtesy of Bejoyful Paper

Instead of ordering completely custom invitations, order a DIY printable from a site like Wedding Chicks. You're able to customize certain aspects of the invite while still keeping costs low.

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Standing Ceremonies Will Save You Big

Tec Petaja Photo

If you're marrying outdoors, consider a standing ceremony to save on seating rentals. But remember to bring a few chairs for elderly guests or those who might be unable to remain on their feet. And keep it brief!

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Think Big for Programs

The Nichols

Posting one large program at the entrance of your ceremony site is way less pricey than printing one for each person. Trendy options like calligraphed chalkboards or mirrors are budget-friendly and totally chic!

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DIY Your Photo Booth

onelove Photography

Forget the photo booth and buy a Fuji Instax or digital Polaroid instead. Set up a photo station with a cute backdrop and ask your guests to leave you a snap with a note. This can double as your guestbook or a favor for friends and family to take home.

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Negotiate Meal Prices

Kristi Drago-Price

The cost of children's meals is often negotiable. If you ask, many caterers will knock kids' plates down by half. Or opt for more budget-friendly children's meals — mac and cheese, mini sliders, and chicken fingers are generally affordable and kid-friendly!

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Sign Up for Deals

Getty Images

Scoop up deals by subscribing to vendor newsletters and following them on social media. Keep a lookout for savings and book when the price is in your budget.

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Don't Overdo Favors

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

Instead of shelling out big for a favor for each guest, give one to every couple. Just make sure it's something sharable, like champs or another treat! Guests will appreciate the late-night booze or snack.

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Select a Family-Style Meal

Highpass Pictures

Consider a tasty family-style dinner, like a gourmet pasta bar, in place of a three-course plated meal. Select several choices guests will love, including meat and vegetarian options, for a substantial and crowd-pleasing dinner.

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Select Trifold Invites

Courtesy of Studio on Fire

Doing destination I do's? That means lots of paper. Instead of printing individual invites, itineraries, and maps, have your stationer create one trifold containing all of the important details. You'll save big by printing together. Plus, guests will be less likely to lose the important information since it's all in one place.

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Select Double-Duty Flowers

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

Have your florist create arrangements that work for both the ceremony and the reception. Enlist a trustworthy friend or family member to make sure the blooms get safely from place to place.

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Repurpose Bridesmaids' Bouquets

Lisa Lefkowitz Fine Art Photography

After the vows, combine bridesmaids' bouquets to make one large centerpiece. They're great for the bar or escort table. It's also a way better use of the blooms since your 'maids will likely ditch their bouquets once it comes time to dance.

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Go for Mismatched Arrangements

Next Exit Photography

Have your florist provide a mix or short and tall table arrangements. Smaller centerpieces are more cost-effective, but a few towering displays will help fill in any gaps. Bonus: The pretty mixes are super trendy since they'll lend your party an eclectic vibe.

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Less Is More!

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

Go sparse for centerpieces! Think single stems in clusters of bud vases surrounded by tons of glowing candles. The display looks dramatic and formal without costing you a ton.

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DIY Wisely

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

Invest in a florist for the most-photographed flowers (your bouquet, the head-table arrangements), and DIY the rest. Consider taking a class or lesson on floral arrangements and practice your centerpieces in advance. Make sure to pick a display that won't be too time consuming and enlist family or friends to help.

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Don't Be Afraid of Carnations

Courtesy of Fairchild Archive

Carnations have gotten a bad rep as being cheap and overused. But mixed with other blooms, they create the same lush, fluffy texture as peonies, which are four to five times more expensive. Use them to bulk up your centerpieces and bouquets for that romantic look you love without breaking the bank.

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Make Your Menu Work for You

Lacey Rabalais Photography

Who says you need a lengthy dinner menu? Serve just one delicious meat entrée and fill the rest of your menu with less pricey options. Pasta dishes and vegetable sides are crowd-pleasing and wallet-friendly!

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Get Your Gown for Less

Getty Images

Wedding dresses are a huge expense, especially if you have your heart set on a designer gown. Look around for sample sales, where you'll be able to purchase your dream designer dress at a steep discount. Or consider an off-the-rack option, which can be tailored to look custom-made without spending a fortune.

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Hire Another Type of Pro

Harwell Photography

Have you always dreamed of a violinist or harpist playing as you walk down the aisle? A professional musician can be quite costly. Luckily, local music schools have teachers — who can play quite well — that will happily perform at weddings for a fraction of the cost. Sit in on a lesson to make sure they know their stuff.

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Don't Pay a Flat Rate for Alcohol

Ein Photo

If your guests aren't big drinkers, ask your caterer if you can pay for alcohol à la carte. That way, you're only charged for what guests drink instead of their flat rate, which covers enough alcohol for the entire reception.

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Think Small for Cakes

Amalie Orrange Photography

Skip a big tiered cake, which can run in the thousands, and serve simple single-tiered cakes instead. You can have your caterer provide single layers for each table or create a cake buffet where your guests can sample different flavors. You'll still be able to have a cake-cutting moment without the huge cost.

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Offer Other Desserts

Courtesy of Morgann Hill Designs

Not a big cake fan? Then don't pay for a pricey dessert you don't even want. Swap a wedding cake for pies, which can cost half as much.

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Go for a Dessert Buffet

One Love Photo

Dessert buffets are quickly becoming a wedding staple and can easily be created on a budget. Challenge competitive relatives to a bake-off and serve the delicious results. Think cupcakes, cookies, and other mini treats that guests can sample.

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Swap Your Sweets

Anne Jaye Photography

Replace your dessert table with a sweet candy buffet. You can buy treats in bulk at a wholesale warehouse store like Costco and provide pretty bags or containers for guests to fill. Plus, these goodie bags can double as a favor.

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Don't Waste Desserts

Jade and Matthew Take Pictures

Leftover wedding desserts often go to waste. Plan to pack extra sweets in cute boxes and give them to guests. Instafavors! Or ask your caterer to send any remaining treats back to your wedding suite for a late-night snack.

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Keep Tables Simple

Erich McVey

You don't need chargers to dress up your reception tables. An elegant napkin and menu are enough to make any place setting pretty, and we promise your guests won't notice they're gone.

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Choose Beer and Wine

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

Give up the hard stuff after cocktail hour and serve only beer and wine through the rest of your reception. They pair better with dinner anyway and are half the price of a full bar. Worried your guests won't be happy with the selection? Offer one or two signature cocktails they can choose from for the rest of the evening.

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Don't Feel Required to Match Your Suites

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

Splurging on a custom invitation suite? Then skip the matching RSVP cards and order fun postcards that represent your wedding style from an affordable site like Zazzle.

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Wait for Sales

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

Most rental companies have big linen sales a couple times a year since they like to replenish their stock. Buy what you need when the price is right, then resell your tablecloths and napkins after the wedding.

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Make Stationery Count

KT Merry Photography

Put a guest's name on their menu instead of ponying up for spendy place or escort cards. The result will look just as personalized, but won't be as expensive as printing an additional piece of stationery.

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Don't Leave Wine or Champagne Bottles on Tables

Kristi Drago-Price

To save big, arrange for poured service at a sit-down meal instead of placing wine or champagne bottles on each table. The average wedding guest drinks half a bottle of wine, which means a 150-person wedding will need about 75 bottles. But that number goes up by about 25 percent if people their own, mostly due to waste.

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Stick to Your Budget

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

Be clear about your budget — and stick to it. If vendors know up front what you can spend, they're less likely to pad costs or overcharge you. Plus, they'll present options you can afford, so you don't have to worry about falling in love with ideas out of your price range.

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Play a Little Hard to Get

Courtesy of Fairchild Archives

By not fawning over your vendors, you put yourself in a better negotiating position. They'll be more likely to meet you halfway if they don't think they're your first choice. But be careful not to take it too far. Most vendors want to work with couples who want to work with them.

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Watch Out for Hidden Costs

Getty Images

Make sure common surcharges like cake-cutting and permit fees are listed in your contract, in addition to anything you might be dinged for after the wedding (extending the evening, property damage, unexpected extra guests, et cetera).

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Rethink Welcome Bags

Angie Silvy Photography

Don't feel compelled to create over-the-top welcome bags for your guests. A handwritten note and a bottle of wine (which you can buy it in bulk for major savings) is more appreciated than a bag stuffed with knickknacks your friends and family will likely never use.

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Keep Stemware Simple

Austin Gros

Don't worry about putting every glass known to man on the reception table. A wine glass and water goblet are all you really need and will keep your tables from looking too busy.

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Hire a Student

Landon Jacob

Ask a reputable cosmetology school to recommend a student to do your bridal party's makeup. She'll likely go the extra mile to help build a client base for a fraction of what a pro would charge. (Just do a trial to make sure you like her work.)

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Not Every Vendor Has to Be Local

Getty Images

If vendors in your hometown are too pricey, find a professional you love in a nearby city. Many photographers and videographers are willing to travel, so don't feel pressured to pay extra for someone local.

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Create a Video Save-the-Date

Olivia Leigh Photographie

Instead of mailing paper save-the-dates, email guests a fun video you and your future husband made yourselves. You'll save on printing and postage, plus it's a great opportunity to show your personalities!

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Pick Candles Over Flowers

KT Merry Photography

Skip floral centerpieces in favor of tall rented candelabras. They'll light up the room beautifully at a significantly lower cost.

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Host a Morning Wedding

Jessica Loren Organic Photography

If you're open to unconventional reception, consider getting married in the morning. You can save tons on catering by having a breakfast buffet with morning favorites, like an omelet station, waffle bar, mimosas, and yes, a pancake wedding cake!

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Save Big with BYOB

onelove Photography

Pick a venue that is BYOB. You can purchase your own wine, remove all of the existing labels, and put a fun label on each bottle. Not only is it cheaper, but it's way more personal.

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Up Your Guest List

Jen Huang Photography

The more guests you have, the more likely your venue is to come down on the per-person costs. Most venues will even give a discount for exceeding the minimum required guest count, which can result in a big savings. The more the merrier!

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Pick a Less Popular Wedding Date or Time

Milou + Olin Photography

You can score a great deal by marrying on an unconventional date or day of the week — think Friday evenings, holidays, or Friday the 13th — since these are days that are traditionally hard for venues to book. Be open to alternate times, too!

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Get Creative with Your Wedding Dress

John & Joseph Photography, Inc.

If your wedding dress isn't your biggest priority, consider ordering a white bridesmaid dress or purchasing a white gown off-the-rack. You can have it tailored for a perfect fit (and even include a train!) for a fraction of the cost of a designer gown.

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