14 Couples Reveal How They Saved Money on Their Wedding

place setting on wedding reception table

Photo by Kristin La Voie Photography

Anyone who has gone through the wedding process knows how quickly expenses can add up. In fact, Zola surveyed 3,309 couples planning a 2022 wedding and discovered two-thirds had already exceeded their wedding budget and that budgeting is the number one topic of conversation in their online community.

Since the best advice often comes from someone with experience, we asked married couples to weigh in on the one big way they saved money on their weddings. Ahead, 14 smart tips for couples looking to trim their wedding budget.

01 of 14

Hire the Novice

"We found a videographer who was looking to expand his portfolio—at the time he had no experience in wedding videography. We took a risk and hired him, paying $500 for our video and saving thousands of dollars. In the end, we knew it would be mostly us watching the video, so we didn’t require perfection, just a 'great enough' video showing the people we loved having a good time. It was a win-win—we put the money toward buying a house that we recently moved into and the video turned out perfect. " — Danielle Pellegrino, Easton, Pennsylvania

02 of 14

Make Your Own Music

"My husband and I are both music lovers so it was important to us that we control this part of our wedding and not leave things up to someone else. We curated our own playlist, saving a lot of money on a band and DJ and putting the funds toward our honeymoon in Mexico. The cocktail hour featured music from indie artists like Tame Impala and Dayglow, the dinner highlighted soul and R&B, including Al Green and Erykah Badu, and post-dinner we had a mix of modern, pop, and hip hop classics from musicians like Rihanna and OutKast, with a few slow songs mixed in. Thankfully, our venue had a great sound system—we simply connected via Bluetooth and played our playlists from Spotify." — Kaitlyn Hannah, Seattle, Washington

03 of 14

Limit Bar Options

"To save money, we served wine, beer, and a signature whiskey-based cocktail instead of having an open bar. Our guests were happy they could grab a quick drink and get back to the dance floor, while we were excited to save on expenses without changing the fundamental nature of our wedding day experience. We also chose a venue in a beautiful forest setting, so we didn’t have any floral costs, putting all the savings toward a cross-country move we made not long after our nuptials." — David Nahmias, Oakland, California

04 of 14

Throw a Dessert-Only Reception

"We threw a wedding for 200 people and kept costs down by limiting the hours of our reception from [7 p.m. to 9 p.m.] and serving only desserts, which we purchased mostly from Costco! Also, as members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, we were able to take advantage of the temple’s reception hall, procuring the venue free of charge. We borrowed decorations from friends and family, including tablecloths, lights, and fabric, which we draped from the ceiling, and then used some of our savings the next day when we hosted a small luncheon for our family and wedding party." — Kellie Yorganson, Nashville, Tennessee

05 of 14

Use Repurposed Flowers

"My wife and I never felt flowers were a necessity for our wedding and hated the idea they would be displayed and then most likely thrown away. But our event planner shared there was a wedding at our venue the day before ours, and asked if we wanted access to some of the leftover flowers. We paid a small fee to have the beautiful hydrangeas and white roses refreshed and rearranged and ended up saving a lot of money, which we put toward other parts of our wedding." — Raymond Johnson, White Plains, New York

06 of 14

Borrow From Friends and Family

"We’re from a small town in the deep South, where friends and family often share items for events like weddings. In fact, my mother has a barn on her property where she stores chafing dishes, linens, fountains, tables, decorations, plus so much more. For our wedding of 500, we dug into all of her great stuff and brought it over to our venue, saving big bucks on rental items. Planning a wedding for 500 guests on a budget taught us to be cost-conscious and fiscally responsible." — Christy Vickers, Douglass, Georgia

07 of 14

Get Married During the Week

"My husband and I grew up on Cape Cod where we started dating our senior year in high school. This past December, we went down to the city hall and got married for $60, the price of the marriage license. We still wanted to celebrate with family and close friends, so we’re planning a reception by the water in Rhode Island on a Thursday in July and keeping the guest list under 100 people. Getting married during the week is saving us 50 percent on the venue and vendors, allowing us to put funds toward the purchase of a home and our European honeymoon." — Jennifer Encarnacion, Cambridge, Massachusetts

08 of 14

Make Your Own Cake

"Oftentimes, you end up at a wedding where the cake is super sugary and rich-tasting. We didn’t want something so frilly or foofoo, just a plain Jane cake that people would love to eat at the end of the evening. My ex-boyfriend’s mother is a great baker so together we made a traditional three-layer chocolate cake with vanilla frosting in her kitchen. In the end, it was just right and saved us money we put toward our honeymoon." — Lisa Trevisan, Charlotte, North Carolina

09 of 14

Restrict Parent Lists

"We paid for our wedding and decided early on to limit the number of friends our parents could invite as a way to save on money and so the focus remained on our family and close friends. And we’re glad we did—due to the pandemic, we had to postpone our December 2020 wedding date, only exchanging vows at that time. A year later, when we threw our reception, we were grateful the close friends and family we hadn’t seen in a long time were the ones who were celebrating with us." — Mark Jones, New York City, New York

10 of 14

Shop Homemade

"We ordered items like signage, cocktail napkins, a cake topper, and favors from Etsy, where everything is customizable yet oftentimes more affordable than traditional store-bought items. Having everything personalized made our day extra special and we were able to use our savings to add an extra night to our honeymoon." — Kate Pollakoff, Los Angeles, California

11 of 14

Consider Alternative Venues

"We didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a venue and have to use their vendors, so we booked a historical dance hall that was built by German settlers at the beginning of the last century and used a local caterer and florist so we could support small businesses. The rental cost us $350 and we had the hall to ourselves for three days, allowing a day for setup and takedown. With the money we saved, were able to prioritize my dress, the flowers, and invest in save-the-date cards, something we may not have considered if we hadn’t saved elsewhere." — Paige Moyle Barroso-Juarez, Sealy, Texas

12 of 14

Skip the Traditional Sit-Down

"We gave our guests the heads-up we’d be serving heavy hors d’oeuvres only after our 7 p.m. candlelight service—everything from wrapped scallops to lamb lollypops—and that they may want to eat something before arriving. Having a reception where everyone could freely mingle and not wait around for servers to show up at a table gave our reception a whole different level of energy. At the end of the night, we served a lovely cake decorated with some of our wedding flowers. I would say having a firm budget for the wedding allowed us to focus on what was most important and not spend frivolously, which has also helped in our marriage when it comes to budgeting and our financial goals." — Sheree Craig, South Thomaston, Maine

13 of 14

Choose a Venue With Guest Limits

"We’re minimalists, so it was no surprise to anyone who knows us that we only invited 28 people to our destination wedding in the Dominican Republic. We purposely chose a villa where we all stayed that restricted the number of guests, allowing us to keep the invite list small and to put money toward fun excursions for our guests. We also got married on the beach without having to pay for decorations or flowers as the backdrop was so gorgeous." — Morgan Smith, Orlando Florida

14 of 14

Accept Help From Friends

"Our parents helped, but we paid for most of our 175-person wedding. My husband’s best man offered to make homemade wine for each reception table, to help save money on alcohol and put funds toward other wedding-related items. He personalized the labels with our names and the wedding date and on our one-year anniversary, we celebrated with a leftover bottle." — Suanne Camfield, Chicago, Illinois

Article Sources
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  1. Zola. "The First Look Report 2022." 2022

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