Wedding Budget: 20 Smart Ways to Save

Setting and keeping your wedding budget is one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning. Check out these easy ideas to get the most bang for your buck.

By Kaelin Zawilinski

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Choose a Bargain Location

    Ceremony and reception locations can be huge budget busters. Find a location that will save you a few bucks such as a friend's barn or a local church with a reception hall. A home wedding can save money but make sure to weigh all your options because renting chairs and tables can add up.

Don't Do Saturday

    Even though Saturday is the most popular day to walk down the aisle, consider doing a Friday or Sunday bash. Since locations and vendors are looking to fill their calendars rather than sit empty, they often give discounted rates.

Shorten the Guest List

    It's obvious that the fewer people you have means the less money you will have to spend, but the hard part is narrowing down the list. The best place to start is with the kids. You don't have to invite your friends' five kids, just invite the parents -- they'll understand. Another good place to cut are the "plus-one guest." Be clear on the invitation that you're inviting just one person. Your friends will respect a limited guest list.

Keep Dinner Simple

    The easier the meal, the more money stays in your pocket. If you're doing a more casual dinner try a simple, but pretty Country Ham sandwich. For a more formal meal, don't be fooled by choosing buffet vs. a plated meal. Sometimes vendors charge more for a buffet because they're making more food. Be sure to ask your vendor for a price list for both.

Choose Where You Want to Splurge

    If you love rich chocolate and dream of an exquisite, towering cake -- go for it! But realize that you may have to cut back in other areas, such as making your own invitations or wearing your mom's dress.

Hit the Sample Sales

    Dream of a beautiful designer dress but don't want the large price tag? Check out designer sample sales; you can get amazing discounts. Also, consider buying the dress right off the rack. Even though it has been tried on a few times, most dresses are wedding-ready, especially after a quick spot clean.

Get Creative with Grocery-Store Bouquets

    Save money on flowers by doing it yourself. With a few snips of stems and basic flower arranging skills, transform grocery-store bouquets into beautiful arrangements. Then personalize it with a creative container that matches your decor, like this bold bucket.

DIY Wedding Cake

    Save big bucks on a wedding cake by making your own treats. From cupcakes to brownies, dress up these classic desserts with a pop of colored icing, or display them in a creative fashion.

Limit the Alcohol Budget

    Alcohol can make your reception bill sky rocket! Avoid the big bucks by having an open bar for just the cocktail hour then have a cash bar for the rest of the reception. Another way to save is to serve only beer and wine, letting your guest pay for the hard alcohol drinks. Make sure to clarify with your reception location the alcohol prices and be sure to ask lots of questions -- is it per keg? Per drink?

Serve a Signature Drink

    Another way to save when it comes to alcohol is by serving a signature drink. This easy idea will add a pop of personality and keep dollars down when it comes to your bill.

Bargain Centerpieces

    Make easy centerpieces with a charming bit of personality. Find creative holders such as this bucket to add a bit of country flair. For other ideas, consider borrowing bright and bold vases from family and friends for a unique and personal centerpiece.

Stay in Season

    Flowers and food can save you money if you choose in-season items. Ask your florist to suggest a list of in-season flowers to fit your color scheme.

Double-Duty Flower Arrangements

    Make your flowers work twice as hard by using them in multiple locations throughout your wedding. Here we placed the bride's bouquet at the head table next to the pretty flowers.

Handmade Favors

    Store-bought favors can get a little pricey, so check out these easy and creative ideas to thank your guest for joining you on your big day.

Something Borrowed

    An easy way to save is to borrow the pricier items on your list. Wear your mom's (or grandma's) wedding dress for a vintage feel. Borrow your sister's veil or headpiece. This will save you a bundle of cash plus you'll already have your "something borrowed."

Enlist Your Friends and Family to Help

    The best part of throwing a do-it-yourself wedding is by having your family and friends help along the way. Just remember to stay organized so your helpers stay busy and use their time most effectively.

Make Your Own Invitations

    Wedding stationery can also take a huge chunk out of your budget, so why not make it yourself? Gather a group of friends and create an assembly-line workflow. You'll have customized, handmade invitations and programs in no time.

Be Your Own DJ

    Personalize your weddings with your own tunes. Save money on a DJ or band by setting up your iPod with your favorite wedding play list.

Save for Your Guests

    Save your guests a few bucks by blocking off a set of rooms at a local hotel. Ask the hotel if they'll give you a discounted rate because you'll be booking so many rooms.

Make a Deal

    From your honeymoon to your vendors, there are tons of hidden discounts that will help your budget. Many hotels offer honeymoon packages which is a great way to save. You register for honeymoon treats like massages and dinner cruises through a hotel Web site. As for your vendors, bridal stores will often offer deals when you purchase your bridesmaids dresses or rent tuxes at their store. It never hurts to ask the question: do you have a discount for weddings?

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