The Most Impressive (and Inexpensive!) Wedding Details According to the Experts

How to throw a Pinterest AF wedding—without breaking the bank

Updated 04/09/17

Photo by Chris J. Evans

It’s no secret that weddings are expensive, but there’s more to hosting an incredible party than a limitless budget. In fact, there are all sorts of ways to personalize and add detail to your big day while keeping costs low.

No one knows how to get more bang for your buck than the pros, so we’ve asked some fabulous wedding planners to spill the beans on their favorite inexpensive details.

So don’t stress about those dollar signs, and keep reading for inspiration you’ll definitely want to add to your Pinterest board.

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Invest in a Statement Head Table

Wedding Reception Sweetheart Table

Carla Ten Eyck

Can’t afford to deck out every.single.table? “You can still provide lots of impact by keeping most tables simple, then creating a statement head table,” says Candice Coppola of Jubilee Events. “It’s the table you’ll be sitting at with your closest friends and family, so all eyes will be on you and how you decorate it. It will really become a focal point of your reception.”

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Repurpose Décor

Wedding Ceremony Flower Arch

Ali & Julie

“If logistics and time allow, finding ways to reuse décor from your ceremony at your reception will save you a lot,” says Coppola. “Pew and chair decorations can be placed on cocktail tables, and the flowers from your ceremony entrance or altar can decorate the bar, head table, or another focal point.” More than just saving money, you’ll also get to enjoy that beautiful décor throughout your party!

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Include Natural Elements

Escort Card Tree

Love Me Do Photography

“Many budget-savvy brides know that booking a lush and naturally beautiful venue will help you save a lot on décor,” says Christiane Lehman, owner of Truly You Events. “But take it one step further by incorporating that beauty into your design! If you’re exchanging vows outdoors, choose a gorgeous tree as your altar and hang flowing ribbons for a little accent. Or instead of arranging escort cards on a table, attach them to twine and wrap it around trees in the cocktail area to really make your design one with nature.” Neither idea is pricey at all, but it will draw your guests’ attention to their surroundings!

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Tray-Pass Drinks

Passed Drinks at Cocktail Hour

Alison Conklin

No one wants to wait in line at the bar! “Instead of splurging on a second set-up, ask your caterer to dedicate a few servers to tray-pass drinks as guests arrive at cocktail hour,” Lehman recommends. “It makes a wonderful first impression! Glasses of white wine, champagne, and sparkling water will give the event an elegant feel and also take the heat off the bartenders for the first 15 minutes or so.” You’ll keep the evening flowing (without a bottleneck!), and those servers can switch over to passing hors d’oeuvres after the initial rush.

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Set Up a Speaker at the Ceremony

Bride and Groom Exchanging Vows

Matt Lien Photography

This might seem like an extra cost, but it’s worth the (small!) investment. “A speaker system at the ceremony will make all the difference between your guests engaging in your exchange of vows and daydreaming while you exchange rings,” says Natalie Dawley of Two Be Wed. “What’s the point of inviting your friends and family to the ceremony if they can’t hear you or the officiant?”

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A Welcome Bag

Welcome Bags

Joseph West Photography

Sure, the super-curated versions of these bags are stunning—which is why they’re also crazy pricey. But you can achieve the same goal without spending a boatload. “Showing appreciation to your guests for making the trip to be with you is a must, no matter your budget,” says Dawley. “It’s a nice gesture that doesn’t have to be complicated. Pair a handwritten note with a themed treat, then add free local magazines, maps from the Chamber of Commerce, and a curated list of your favorite restaurants, bars, museums, parks, and places to shop. It will give your guests a peek into your everyday life, or could be a guided tour of the destination you’ve chosen.”

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A Private Last Dance

First Dance

Joseph West Photography

This one won’t cost anything extra, but is a little detail you’ll really cherish. “As the party ends, send guests out to get ready for your grand exit while the two of you dance to one last song in private,” says Dawley. “This moment is a beautiful and sentimental way to bring the night to a close. It’s a reminder of what you’ll have when all the guests have gone, and is absolutely priceless!”

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Candlelight

Candle Reception Decor

Steve Koo Photography

“For a wedding after dark, candles are impactful, beautiful, and timeless,” says Lori Stephenson, owner of LOLA Event Productions. “Use gobs of candles, and accent them thoughtfully with inexpensive blooms or some greenery. Don’t underestimate the impact of candlelight!”

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Signature Cocktails & Late Night Bites

Signature Cocktails

Jai Girard Photography

“I always tell my clients, let’s WOW your guests at the very beginning and the very end of the evening,” says Stephenson. She loves to welcome guests with a signature cocktail, either before the ceremony or at the beginning of cocktail hour, and to close out the night with late-night snacks on the dance floor. “I would rather see my clients invest in these guest-pleasing touches than upgrade the protein for the entrée or serve an extra course at dinner. And these are the details guests will really remember, not whether they had chicken or beef!”

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Great Lighting

Wedding Reception Mood Lighting

Christina G Photography

You can have the most stunning venue or centerpieces, but if the room isn’t lit properly, it’s all for naught. “Budget a little less on flowers, and put that toward great (and effective) lighting,” says Stephenson. “Pin-spotting floral centerpieces, uplighting architectural details, and washing the dance floor with soft light so your VIPs aren’t giving toasts in the dark are effective uses of lighting that will make every aspect of your reception more impactful.”

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Accented Place Settings

Wedding Reception Place Setting

Emilia Jane Photography

“Designing a beautiful table is not just about the centerpiece,” Stephenson explains. “It’s about what is at each guest’s seat, too.” She suggests tucking a fresh herb into each napkin or making the centerpieces smaller so you can place a single bloom on each guest’s menu. “It makes your table feel more special and thoughtful without adding any cost!”

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