Your money-saving wedding hacks
When it comes to weddings, more money doesn’t mean more meaningful.
The last thing a newlywed couple needs is to walk down the aisle and right into a big pile of bills. Engraved stationery, award-winning photographers, fancy cakes, large animal trainers—people are spending so much on weddings these days that often the financial aftermath is no honeymoon.
Call me unromantic, but there are (arguably) better uses for all that money. Think about it: The average wedding costs about $26,000. That would make a good start on a down payment for an apartment—or one whopper of a student loan payment.
And when it comes to weddings, more money doesn’t mean more meaningful. In fact, it can be a sign of discord to come. An Emory University study found that couples who spent more than $20,000 on their wedding were more than three times likelier to break up than those who spent $5,000 to $10,000. Couples who take on wedding tasks themselves—from invites to music—can get a deeper sense of satisfaction and we’re-in-this-togetherness, while saving big bucks.
That’s why I’m a big fan of finding resourceful ways to save money while still knocking your nuptials out of the park. I was going to offer a few ideas of my own, but when I asked for wedding hacks from my social media and IRL friends, the floodgates opened. From the catering to the invitations, here are some brilliant DIY tricks to save cash on your big day, courtesy of…you.
“I did a pig roast. And for the vegetarians? I made two huge pans of spinach lasagna the week before and froze them. Took them out the morning of the wedding and heated them up in the oven during the ceremony. Also: Try batching one ‘wedding cocktail’ that will be a crowd pleaser. Offer that instead of trying to field a full ‘open bar.’ (Serve wine and beer, of course, as well.)” —Tony, Portland, Maine
“My wife kept a detailed Google spreadsheet, which helped us keep our eye on costs. We added a column about anticipated alcohol consumption per guest. Try it. (1) It’s kind of fun to think about how many drinks each person will or won’t throw back, and (2), more importantly, it will help you plan for an appropriate amount/ratio of booze/soft drinks.” —Firas, San Antonio, Texas
Say less to the dress
“If you are really desperate for a designer dress, go to wedding sample sales for major discounts. My friend just got at $14,000 Oscar de La Renta for a (still exorbitant!!!) 75% discount of $3,500 at Saks. It’s a very pretty dress.” —Nidia, Bozeman, Montana
Call in friends
“It was my second wedding. My friends and family brought various finger foods and I made a simple cake decorated with fresh flowers. I had two friends taking pictures. (I bought the film.) It was so much sweeter and more intimate than the big wedding my parents gave me 10 years earlier.” —cathyhasapoint, via Instagram
Avoid “high season”
“We had a Saturday brunch wedding to save on venue costs; food and beverage costs were more reasonable for a family-style brunch meal vs. an elaborate dinner. And I was also able to negotiate lower rates with a few of our vendors since the timing was earlier in the day and they were sometimes able to book a wedding in the evening as well.” —crchoi, via Instagram
“When setting the date, ascertain when the offseason pricing begins at your venue. Just a couple of weeks could make a big difference in price: Because an early October event would have cost much more at the spot we chose, we got married in mid-November.” —Robbie, Athens, Georgia
(Note: Lots of venues and vendors see dollar signs when you say “wedding.” You might be able to save big bucks by telling them that you’re planning a family party instead. —Beth)
Downsize your venue
“NYC City Hall! Fantastic day! Small group of friends and family.” —monroeschoolhighlanddancenyc, via Instagram
Cancel your calligrapher
“We went to Michael’s and got invites to print at home. We used a Michael’s coupon, so it was half-price.” —maderenee, via Instagram
Allow yourself one luxury
“If you’re going to be extravagant, do it selectively. We got keg of Lagunitas IPA and a fancy photo booth for the main event, but our Friday night rehearsal dinner was a low-key, dressed-down affair.” —Leanne, St. Louis, Missouri
Set a spending cap
(Quotes have been edited for style and length.)