As an expectant bride, I have quickly become acquainted with the stresses of planning
Predominantly ignorant of what was involved when I began, the process has been both
a joy and a challenge. Although I was aware of the most obvious components (e.g.,
the wedding dress, the rings, the bouquet, the tuxedo, the invitations, the cake,
etc.), I discovered that I knew little regarding even these basic elements, from pricing
to style possibilities. Having attended only two weddings and one reception during
my lifetime (not to mention that I had never opened a bridal book or magazine), I
was at a loss.
As the divorce rate has risen, so has the average cost of an American wedding, which
currently stands at approximately $26,000--a significant expense that many can ill
afford, myself and my fiancé included. Considering our humble budget and the necessity
for a simple ceremony and reception, I mistakenly assumed that less detail would result
in decreased levels of stress. However, conducting research for inexpensive items
and money-saving suggestions can prove time-consuming and overwhelming. Fortunately,
there is a good deal of invaluable information available for those who cannot afford
a "platinum" wedding.
Creating a budget and calculating costs is imperative. Compile a list of expenses
for both the ceremony and the reception: attire, rings, flowers, photographer, decor,
music, food and beverages, wedding favors, centerpieces, etc. Strive to remain within
the financial boundaries you have set, factoring in the contributions of friends and
Following is a list of tips to help you save money on your memorable day:
*If your ceremony is going to be held within a church, be prepared for fees, which
can be high depending upon the church you attend. If you are struggling with this
expense, consider approaching the minister, pastor, or elders. Frankly discuss with
them your difficulties. They may be willing to waive the fees or ask members of the
congregation to make donations toward the payment of your ceremony.
*If you are uncomfortable approaching the elders of your church, a change in location
may be the solution. Your pastor or minister can conduct your ceremony at a friend's
or relative's home.
The Wedding Dress
*If you do not mind taking risks, consider shopping for your bridal gown from online
sources such as E-bay, where you will find excellent bargains.
*Many stores carry less expensive, formal gowns that can be just as lovely as wedding
*Visit local bridal shops for possible markdowns.
*Do not discount thrift shops as a possible source. I have seen beautiful wedding
dresses at secondhand stores.
*If you are acquainted with a seamstress, perhaps she would be willing to offer you
a discount to create a dress of your own design. If she is a friend, she may not charge
*Rent a wedding dress.
*A wedding invitation kit is inexpensive and includes all the materials necessary
to assemble and send your invitations, along with instructions on how to print them
on a computer.
*Purchase paper from a paper goods store and enlist the
help of crafty friends to create your own unique invitations.
*If you are ordering your invitations, do not request colored ink or use the engraving
method. These will result in extra charges.
*Instead of hiring a calligrapher, ask a friend with nice penmanship to address the
envelopes for you.
*Forego the inner envelope. It is unnecessary and will only increase the postage.
*Whenever possible, hand-deliver your invitations instead of mailing them.
*Print any reception information on the invitation itself instead of using separate
*Do not spend extra money on RSVP cards. Have your guests RSVP by phone or e-mail.
*Although untraditional, some couples opt to send internet wedding invitations, otherwise
known as "e-vites." There are many virtual invitations available free of charge or
at a low cost. However, you must be certain that most, if not all, your guests get
online to receive your invitations.
*If at all possible, avoid marrying during times when flowers are in high demand,
such as Mother's Day and Valentine's Day.
*Purchase flowers that are in-season--they will be less expensive.
*Buy flowers in bulk.
*Make your own bouquet by purchasing flowers from a grocery store. Cut the stems and
bind them with a rubber band. Cover the rubber band with a satin ribbon.
*Instead of a bouquet, you can walk down the aisle with a single rose, decorated with
*Have your ceremony and/or reception at a botanical garden or park.
*Use silk flowers, or a combination of silk flowers and real ones.
*Consider using carnations. They are lovely, inexpensive, and come in a variety of
*The majority of your expense will go toward the reception. However, lavish decorations
and a five-course banquet are unnecessary to create a joyful, memorable experience.
*Reception halls can be more expensive during wedding season (between May and October.)
If possible, avoid these months. Also, try not to book a hall on Saturdays at 7 PM,
as it tends to be costlier.
*Having your wedding at a church hall can potentially save you money.
*If you are having an informal wedding, consider a barbeque reception in a relative's
or friend's backyard, or at a park.
*Some couples decide to skip the reception altogether. However, a possible compromise
would be to have a cake and punch reception for all of the guests who attended your
ceremony, while reserving a more formal, intimate dinner reception for your close
family and friends.
*Have a dessert reception.
*Have a cake and punch reception.
*Serve a variety of finger foods, such as Swedish meatballs,
cheese and crackers, sandwiches, etc.
*Have a buffet-style meal. Pasta salads, ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and rolls go
a long way.
*Have a potluck reception.
*Instead of purchasing a large wedding cake, buy a small one along with less expensive
*If you know someone who decorates cakes as a hobby or profession, ask if they would
be willing to make your cake.
*Find out if you can make your own cake and have a bakery decorate it for a modest
*Have a multi-tiered cupcake stand instead of a wedding cake.
*If you are not offering a meal, be certain not to have your dessert or finger food
reception during the hours a sit-down meal is customarily expected: 8 AM, 12 PM, and
*Remember to specify on your invitation what type of reception you will be having.
In this way, your guests will not be taken by surprise.
*You will significantly decrease your expenses if you are willing and able to prepare
the food yourself--hopefully with the help of others!
*Use helium balloon bouquets. For a fun twist, tie them down with candy bars.
*Use potted plants.
*Purchase glass containers and fill them with candies. For example, M&M's, Hershey's
Kisses, Jelly Beans, etc.
*Place different sized candles on mirrored tiles purchased
from a home improvement store.
*Buy shallow dishes, fill with water and place floating candles inside.
*Purchase long, slender vases and fill each one with a single, long-stemmed rose that
fits your color scheme.
The Wedding Favors
*Use inexpensive candy wrapped in tulle.
*Purchase organza bags or small boxes in bulk and fill with mints, M&M's, or other
*Buy lollipops or make your own cookies and wrap them with cellophane paper tied with
*Hire a DJ instead of a live band.
*If you have a quality sound system at your disposal, play CD compilations of your
*Consider hiring an amateur, preferably one that can provide you with a portfolio
of his/her work.
*Leave disposable cameras on the tables so your guests can photograph you. Collect
the cameras following the reception.
As you embark on your own wedding
it is my hope that you would remember one of the most crucial details of this special
day, which is the covenant you are entering into with the person you love. This is
and always will be of much greater importance than the perfect centerpiece or wedding