If the sheer amount of Cinderella adaptations tells us anything, it's that people have a soft spot for fairytales. Even more so for real-life ones: More than 30 million people tuned in to watch Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry in 2018. There’s just something magical about royal weddings—the flowers, the foliage, the fascinators—that draws us in.
So, if princess vibes are what you’re going for on your big day, we support that. And, believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to get that fairytale feeling even without a king’s purse. Read on for our top 17 ideas to bring a little royal magic to your wedding day—without breaking your budget.
Opt for a Sapphire Ring
We’ve all seen Kate Middleton’s stunning sapphire ring—but what you might not know is that carat for carat, the blue gemstone is actually less expensive than a diamond. (And bonus, unlike other colored gemstones like emeralds, sapphires are nearly as durable as diamonds). Go blue with your engagement or wedding band for a cost-effective option that’s got a royal ring to it.
Incorporate a Crest
Every royal family has an official crest, and you can too. Many stationers can help you create a unique crest or monogram as a couple—or, if you’re a creative, you can dream up your own to save on design costs. Use the symbol for invitations, programs, menu cards, and more. (For an extra royal touch, apply it to a wax seal for envelopes.) Pro tip: If you want to be official, opt for two versions of the same crest—one with just your first initials for invitations and pre-wedding materials, and another with your married monogram for anything that comes after “I do.”
Wear a Tiara
The most literal way to feel like a princess? Wear a tiara, flower crown, or even a bejeweled headband. Chic toppers don’t have to break the bank: There’s a stunning selection on Etsy to choose from (and bonus, you’ll be supporting local business). Purchase early and bring the tiara to your hair trial so you can pull the whole look—hair, veil, and tiara—together.
Outfit Your Miniature Attendants in Royal Garb
Every fairytale wedding has a bevy of miniature attendants—flower girls, ring bearers, and babies generally meant to look adorable and round out the wedding party. Sweet snaps surrounded by the little ones are must-haves in any royal photo album. Of course, they’re always outfitted adorably. Source flower crowns for the girls—or string together your own for major savings—and suspenders or bow ties for the boys.
Add Some Sparkle
Glitter is a modern bride’s fairy dust. There are countless ways to make your big day sparkle—some affordable and others extravagant—from twinkling string lights to an embellished cape for your gown to edible glitter adorning the cake. Find a shiny element that speaks to you (and your budget).
Dress the Part
Channeling a princess can easily set you over the top, so focus on one royal element for your gown to make it easier on the budget. Perhaps it’s long lace sleeves in the form of a modest bolero; maybe it’s a train. Our top princess-inspired pick is a ballgown silhouette—and opting for an unembellished style, like Lauren’s ivory satin stunner, will often stretch you budget further in terms of volume. (Psst, her shoulder embellishment was created by her florist.)
Get Married in the Winter
There’s a definite financial benefit to getting married in the winter: It’s a slower time of year, and many venues and vendors offer lower off-season rates. But, there’s also a beauty benefit: Snowy wedding portraits are about as magical as it gets. Lean into the theme with white birch branches in decor or faux fur throws draped over chairs.
Or Say “I Do” in the Woods
The woodland creatures may not actually talk, but there is at least one major bonus to getting married on private wooded property: no venue fee. Embrace the rustic vibe with bench seating (or ghost chairs that disappear into the environment, like Charlotte and Blake did) and natural florals and foliage—and a fairytale scene is set.
Ask Guests to Accessorize
It's a royal tradition that wedding guests wear hats or fascinators to the big event—and asking your guests to accessorize properly comes at no cost to you. (As a courtesy to help guests save, though, you can recommend a few affordable hat-shopping options on your wedding website’s dress code page.)
Carry a Petite Bouquet
For her wedding to Prince William in 2011, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton carried a petite and delicate Lily of the Valley bouquet. Lucky for you, small bouquets are often easier on the budget; for a similar look that costs even less, opt for a baby’s breath arrangement like the one seen here.
Choose a Cathedral-Length (or Longer) Veil
It wouldn’t be a royal wedding without an epic train, but that can add a big expense to the cost of your wedding gown. Likewise, long lace veils come with a hefty price tag. Achieve the same look with a simple tulle veil in the longest available length (find one on Etsy). Look for cathedral length (typically 120 inches) or, better yet, royal length—up to 144 inches.
Make a Memorable Exit
An easy way to make the moment after “I do” high-impact? Get guests involved. Tossing fresh flower petals always looks beautiful, but there are some fun and inexpensive alternatives, too: Large, lightweight tissue paper confetti will fall slowly (perfect for capturing in photos) and bubbles float and catch the light. (Rich and Lily, above, opted for oversize sequins for their recessional). Do it again for your grand exit from the reception—try sparklers for the nighttime escape.
Take Pictures at Golden Hour
Looking back, what makes your wedding magic is the photos. Curate the perfect shot list for your photographer by culling the internet for inspiration—there’s no cost to doing research in advance—and taking screenshots of must-have moments: a father-daughter first look, for example, or a snap of your veil wafting in the wind. Our favorite shot? A romantic portrait at golden hour. Pro tip: This may take a little shifting of your timeline—make sure you’re not mid-ceremony when the sun begins to set.
Pick a Jewel-Toned Palette
California-based planner Denise Lille’s top tip for royal engagements? “Pick a strong jewel-toned color palette full of purples and metallics like gold, rose gold, and silver,” she advises. “This will instantly and effortlessly add to the richness and royalty vibes.” The selected colors can show up in bridesmaids’ gowns, florals, table linens, and more—the bolder the better.
Seat Guests at One Long Table
Often when we think of royal weddings we think of grand affairs—over-the-top decor and hundreds of guests. But the truth is, guest count has a huge impact on budget, and the fewer guests you have, the more you can keep costs down. There are plenty of ways to make intimate affairs feel regal though; one we especially love is a grand king’s table at the reception. Seat all the guests at one long table for a unique and royal reception. “It’s better to invest in king’s tables with heavy decor, chargers, and specialty chairs, rather than spending a lot of money on each individual table,” Lillie says.
If you’re taking the fairytale theme literally, there are plenty of Disney-inspired elements you can incorporate into your big day without it feeling cheesy. Display single roses under glass cloches a la Beauty and the Beast, make your grand entrance in a horse and carriage, or—our personal favorite—ignite sky lanterns (you can buy them in bulk) like the ones that light up the sky on Rapunzel’s birthday each year in Tangled. Pro tip: Make sure you’re in a wide open area to set lanterns off safely.
Make it Your Own
The truth is, every wedding is magical, and every bride a princess. So our final tip to create the royal wedding of your dreams? Break free from tradition and incorporate elements that are unique to you and your relationship.