The Frugal Wedding: How to Get Married On the Cheap

No matter how you look at it, getting married costs money.  There are marriage licenses to apply for, invitations to create, a venue to rent, and food to buy.  Even the most frugal couple can end up spending more than they bargained for when it comes to planning their wedding.  There is no need to fall into this trap.  In fact, some expenses can be avoided altogether.

According to a recent survey, the average cost of an American wedding is just over $27,000. This can be a significant burden on those who need to foot the bill, but it doesn’t have to be so painful. There are many steps you can take to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck when planning that special day. Saving money on your wedding doesn’t have to mean sacrifice.

Here are some ways to creative and cost effective ways to make the most out of what you got and still have the wedding of your dreams:

Rent your attire – What’s the sense of wearing something once and then holding onto it for sentimental reasons?  Although many brides like to keep their wedding dresses, this is hardly economical.  Look into renting a beautiful gown instead.  Gowns By Pamela is one example of a retailer that rents bridal dresses.  You can look like a million bucks for a fraction of what other women pay.

Have the ceremony and reception in the same place – Renting two venues can be costly.  Rather than have the ceremony in one place and the reception in another, consider reserving one location and using the same furniture and decorations.  You will create less waste and be able to use the savings for your Honeymoon or first home.

Make your own invitations and decorations – Assembling your own invitations and decorations is easy after a trip to the arts and crafts store.  Select items that complement your wedding theme and pay special attention to the little details.  Handwritten invitations leave little room for error.  Double check one before you commit to making others.

Enlist a talented friend or family member to take pictures – Having an amateur or professional photographer as a friend or family member can be extremely beneficial.  Ask them if they will do you the honor of shooting your wedding for you.  This will save you a tremendous amount of money and add a special touch to your big day.  This will be the best gift you receive.

Skip the Wedding Entirely – While it may be every little girl’s dream to have an amazing wedding, the practical matter is a lot of people are skipping the elaborate ceremonies entirely. Instead, you may opt to simply get the legal paperwork done behind the scenes and then throw a big party to celebrate. Obviously, this isn’t for everyone, but you can save almost the entire cost of a typical wedding this way.

When it comes to tying the knot, there is nothing more stressful than incurring debt.  Keep your costs down, your aspirations high and most importantly remember that your wedding day is only one of many that you will spend together.  There is no reason to start your future together by owing more than you can afford to pay.

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About the Author: Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer with a love for thrift. She contributes to many different personal finance blogs.

6 comments
GeraldACavender
GeraldACavender

I know a lot of people who chose to elope. When they went home, they just prepared a small gathering for their close friends and family members. As long as they’re in love, I think the people around them will just understand and support them.

nathanieltoney
nathanieltoney

What a close friend of mine did was, she planned ahead. Way way ahead. She's a collector of stationery papers and she used it for her invites. A year before her wedding, she started writing the invitations by hand. So not all of her guests received the same invite but it gave a personal touch.

Dan
Dan

Don't forget about destination weddings. My wife and I got married in Cuba for free. At our resort the wedding cost was $500 (which was comped as we had more than 7 people attend the resort with us). The $500 was to cover the flowers and an amazing lobster dinner.

Another plus is for every 13 people who attended we got a free ticket. We had 31 people attend (including us) so our tickets/flight/stay there was free as well. So in all we got our wedding/honeymoon for free (although subsidized by family/friends coming to the wedding).

Our wedding guests said it was the best wedding as all four sides got to know each other over the course of a week rather just seeing each other in passing during the few hours at a reception. It was such a hit that my brothers and cousins are following in our footsteps.

For a reception for people who could not attend (such as grandparents for medical reasons) we held a bbq reception with over 100 people for $3000 (including open bar) in the backyard.

Jen
Jen

We are: having everything in one location, skipping flowers, doing all the decor & design, negotiating with vendors when applicable, delaying the honeymoon by a few months, and paying for it all ourselves. Neither of us have credit card debt or a mortgage, and we refuse to go into debt for the wedding. Our goal is about half the "American average", though even with cutting corners, it is scary how things can add up quickly.

The key is to ignore all of the "You should do it this way" advice from the Wedding Industry, who keeps finding new ways to tack on expenses! DIY as much as you can, call in friends & family to help, negotiate with vendors, and keep away from anyone who tries to manipulate your emotions into a quick sale or added expense, if it doesn't jive with you & your partners budget.

SuperT
SuperT

The wedding ceremony which originated as an inexpensive religious event for the family and community has turned into a grand spectacle. Young couples would be better off spending that money on a house, an emergency fund, a retirement fund, or reducing / eliminating current debt.

Even if the parents are paying for it, the money could be wisely spent on the couples future instead of tearing through it on a wedding production that will last only a few hours.

If you're spending anywhere near the supposed 'American average of $27k', you'd better have all of your other financial interests and obligations well under control.

Jenny
Jenny

I have to say, our one big splurge was on the photography. You won't have a "do-over" if you have a hobby photographer do your pictures and they turn out terrible you're stuck. If you go with a reputable photographer with a portfolio you can examine, you're much more likely to have wonderful pictures.

After all, what do you really have to remember that day by (other than your spouse & the fact that you're married,) other than the pictures?

Kevin
Kevin

I'm trying to get married on the cheap so we're making our own centerpieces. Keeping the florist to minimal work is going to keep the price way down.

Diana
Diana

We got married in a park and our reception is more like an afternoon tea party. Got a beautiful bouquet made at a local Whole Foods for $75 instead of $300 at a professional florist. Spent around $5000 with 75 or so guests, and everyone loved it!

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