This content originally appeared as "Waste Not, Want Not" in Brides magazine. Prices and other information in this story were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual designers and vendors.
Get artsy and frame your bouquet. Start by hanging flowers upside down. Once they're dry (two weeks or so later), pluck the petals and arrange them inside a shadow-box frame; use a glue gun to attach them. Keep your creation in a shady spot so its color will last.
Let your guests know that they're welcome to take home centerpieces and bouquets. Place a special card at each table saying as much at the end of the night. Or ask your florist to redistribute day-old buds to local nursing homes, assisted-living communities, or hospitals.
Split the cost of flowers with another bride. Ask the venue manager if a wedding is happening the day after yours and if that bride would care to share arrangements. It's most likely you'll get half off ceremony flowers, as they tend to be more versatile, but you never know.
There are many ways to reuse wedding paper and accoutrements: Unused place cards are great for dinner parties at home; cut off the motif or monogram from leftover programs and menus to make mini gift tags; and use table-number holders to display holiday cards on your mantel.
All the hours that you're spending on your wedding invitation's design make it a small work of art. Be sure to frame at least one for your desk at home. Better still, get the wording engraved in a silver tray or etched in a glass plate—elegant and thoughtful gifts for your mom, dad, and in-laws.
Hire a seamstress to transform your wedding gown into a fantastic cocktail dress. Basic A-line silk-chiffon or satin dresses are easiest and cheapest to flip. Expect a hem alteration to cost about $250, and lace or beading removal to run at least $500.
Donate your dress, then file a tax deduction for it. Brides Against Breast Cancer gives proceeds from the dresses it resells to support cancer victims, The Bridal Garden contributes proceeds to needy kids in NYC, and Brides Across America sends gowns to military brides.
Selling your gown online (on Recycled Bride, PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, Nearly Newlywed, or eBay) doesn't mean you love it any less. Really. Current gowns should be marked half-off—60 percent off if they're older.
Justify pricey tabletop decor by giving it a second life at home. Instead of registering for, say, frames or candlesticks, buy them yourself to use at the wedding and, later, in your living room. So get those crystal flutes if you want! Just bring them out every time you celebrate an anniversary.
If it's not from a rental company, pawn it on the Web. Online marketplaces hawk everything from cake stands and ring pillows to table runners and old-fashioned popcorn machines. Try Ruffled's "Recycle Your Wedding" section, Weddingbee's classifieds, and Broke-Ass Bride's brideshare.net for starters.
Disguise leftovers as favors. Personalize craft boxes with tissue paper, thank-you notes, stickers, or ribbons, and present uneaten cake and dessert in tidy packages as guests bid adieu.
Sell small stuff online or on consignment. Veils, headpieces, beaded belts, and sashes sell well on BravoBride.com. Shoes can be more challenging but are still worth a go.