Frugal Weddings: Ideas to Save You Money Getting Married

Wedding Savings to Crush Every Expense but Give You a Fun & Fabulous Wedding!

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If you’re planning a wedding or helping with one, we’ve got dozens of frugal wedding ideas to help you make your wedding day fabulous, frugal and fun! Read what readers from all over the country have done to save tons of money.

Finding Deals on The Rings

Man in a blue jacket on his knee proposing to a woman in a scarlet gown.

Buy New

Go to several jewelers and get competitive prices. This will also give you an education on what the different stones, metals, and settings cost. In the process, you may stumble upon a jeweler who gives you a bargain price or has a used ring. You may also find online coupons or discounts for the larger chain jewelry stores.

Buy Used

Find a jeweler who resells estate jewelry and who also does appraisals (if you find a ring somewhere else this would be a source to help you determine a fair value and authenticity).

  1. CraigsList
  2. Pawn Shops
  3. Estate Sales
  4. Estate Auctions (google your city and the words “Estate Auction”)
  5. Consignment Stores
  6. Thrift Stores (like Savers, Salvation Army and Goodwill, but don’t neglect the smaller local stores)

We like the idea of used only because of the number of people who either call off a wedding or get divorced and need to liquidate a ring. The likelihood of finding a bargain increases when you’re looking for a used ring. BUT . . . You’ve also got to consider if your “intended” will have a difficult time with the idea of a used ring . . . If so, then your only option is to search for a bargain for a new ring.

Save on Invitations

We went to a commercial stationary company (not a store) and bought blank invitations which we printed ourselves on our computer. You don’t need a special program to do this, any word processing program has enough nice fonts that you can create something beautiful.
Deidre Collins—Glendale, CA.

Save on The Wedding Dress

The frugal wedding ideas shared about wedding dress savings could result in cutting the cost of your special day by thousands of dollars.

First, get accurate body measurements because wedding gown sizes are different than regular clothing sizes. Then, visit a couple of bridal salons and try on dresses to see what styles look best on the bride’s figure. Remember to try on a variety of styles, not just the one from the cover of “Brides” magazine.

Take notes about what silhouette looks best since most salons won’t let you take photos (it’s best to spend a little research time online to educate yourself about styles so you can keep good notes).

After that, start searching for the style and size that works best. If you are open-minded about fabrics and trims there’s an excellent chance of finding the perfect gown for considerable savings. One pal got a brand new Oleg Cassini dress for $50 (retail $499) and the other found a new sample gown by designer Lazaro for $135 (retail tag, $2300).
Paula Anderson—Phoenix, AZ.

A Wedding Outlet Store

I bought my wedding dress from a discount wedding outlet. Sure it needed dry cleaning and I took it to a local seamstress for tailoring—never have the shop do it, they will overcharge you! All said and done, it only cost $300 and to this day (a year later) I STILL get comments on how beautiful it was. Janice Zink—Elmhurst, IL.

We purchased my dress at a thrift store for $15. It was very simple and elegant. After we had it cleaned, my aunt offered to attach beads and sequins to make it even fancier—this was part of her wedding gift to us. One of my close friends made my headpiece as her wedding gift. A couple of years ago, I lent the dress to a friend, so she was able to save money on her wedding too!
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

Wedding Dress Sticker Shock … Relieved

I remember being shocked at the cost of wedding dresses and tailoring costs after purchase. I checked thrift stores and every online source. I loved the dresses at one shop however they started at $1200 CAD.

So I asked if they had any options at lower prices and they did.

They brought out 5 dresses between $250 and $500 CAD. I fell in love with one that looked exactly like one of the dresses 3 x the price. It also didn’t need tailoring and I sold it later.

I got a better deal by just asking for options.

Deborah Paludi—Canada

Editor’s Note:

Deborah – Thanks for sharing your story – you’re so right – just ask – it’s amazing what happens when you politely share your limits! 

And honestly – you save money, but the store was able to reduce their inventory of, perhaps, less popular or last year’s fashions. So you really helped them out too.
Way to go. You’ll never forget that awesome deal!

Deals on The Bride’s Shoes

High top wedding shoes with the price tag on them.

Our daughter found her wedding shoes long before she found her husband. We were shopping at Savers on a 50% off day and Becky’s younger sister Abbey brought her a pair of shoes and said, “Becky, here are your wedding shoes!” They fit perfectly and Becky loved them – but she especially loved the price $7.99 minus 50% =$3.99.
Steve & Annette Economides – Scottsdale, AZ

I got regular off-white shoes at JCPenney’s. After all, the dress covers them for the most part, and you’re only probably going to wear it once. We did a non-traditional wedding (we got married in a castle and did a medieval theme) so my husband ordered our bridal parties’ clothes off of eBay at substantial savings.
Susan Schellman—Winchester, VA.

To save on shoes, I bought plain white satin pumps on sale for $10 and my Mom decorated them with pearl and diamond beads—she had fun being involved and we saved lots of money!
Janice Zink—Elmhurst, IL.

The Bride’s Hair

My aunt styled my hair before the ceremony and I applied my own makeup.
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

Check out Pinterest and YouTube for lots of hair styling ideas and tricks. 

Options for Wedding Day Flowers

My mother-in-law was good at floral arrangements, so we bought dried and silk flowers from craft stores and she put together many of the arrangements, including the flowers that I held (I still have these as a display). Much cheaper than fresh flowers, and it was something we could use later around the house for decorations.
Susan Schellman—Winchester, VA.

A bridal bouquet full of red and white roses sitting on a brides veil.

If you can have a “Meeting of the Minds” with your local florist regarding your floral needs and budget, they may go out of their way to help you. We had a flower ‘crown’ circlet created inexpensively and the bride’s bouquet price dropped dramatically when they agreed to use roses which we brought in — from a friend’s garden. The florist supplied the fillers, ribbon, and wrapping.
Elizabeth Hardisty—Mercer Island, WA. 

Save on Bridesmaids Dresses

Instead of choosing a particular dress pattern for the bridesmaids to wear, I chose a color. Two of the bridesmaids were able to wear something they already owned. A talented aunt of mine made lovely dresses to fit the other two bridesmaids.
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

Cutting to Cost of the Wedding Cake

These frugal wedding cake ideas are so creative. Hope you find a great way to save money here.

A small white wedding cake for cutting.

A Variety of Cakes

We did not do a traditional wedding cake. Instead, we did several cakes, all in different flavors. That way there was something for everyone, and it wasn’t as expensive as a “traditional cake.” Of course, this fit more with our theme, so it may not be for everyone.
Susan Schellman—Winchester, VA.

A Fake Cake?

To save on our cake expenses, the three-tiered cake we used for the cake cutting photo was not 100 percent cake only the section we used was a full cake. The other 2 tiers were made mostly of cake with some kind of fake filler. A sheet cake of the same color, flavor, etc was in the kitchen being cut to serve. That saved over $30 off our cake expense! Most cake bakers know this trick!

Flowers on the Cake

Also, instead of buying extra flowers to put on top of the cake I asked a close friend to take flowers from our flower arrangement used at the church (which were transported and used at the reception for double use) and decorate our cake.
Janice Zink—Elmhurst, IL.

A Wedding Cake as a Gift

My husband’s cousin made our wedding cake as her gift. We also asked a couple of friends with experience in baking to make some sheet cakes in a variety of flavors, which they did as their wedding gifts to us.
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA

Small Cutting Cake Plus a Sheet Cake

We attended a wedding of our pastor’s daughter. As you can imagine the church was packed, between blood relatives, church family, and friends.

Well, they got ready to cut the cake and it was the smallest two layer cake I had ever seen. They decided to save the top layer for their one-year anniversary, so Ron and I were thinking, how can this small second layer ever feed all of those people??

What we came to find out, was that in the church kitchen, they were cutting pieces of sheet cakes for the guests that were the same as the wedding cake. This must have saved the bride’s parents, who paid for the wedding, a lot of money on the cake. Ron & Angel Ayala – Palm Desert, CA 

Reducing the Cost of The Wedding Ceremony

A couple standing at the wedding altar with word balloons around them.

We purchased about 20 boxes of white twinkle lights for one-dollar each at after-Christmas sales. These added mood lighting and ambiance to the ceremony. We also used a large portico and pillars—part of our church’s Easter drama set.

At a fabric outlet, we discovered a large quantity of white swimsuit lining priced very inexpensively. We draped it between the pillars and across the baptistery with white lights hung behind—it looked so elegant. Of course, no one knew what the material was originally intended for.
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

A white wedding unity candle with two taper candles lighting it.

Instead of purchasing an expensive, decorated unity candle we bought a plain pillar and my aunt and I decorated it with pearl strands, ribbon and fabric flowers.

Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

The Wedding Coordinator

It’s hard to supervise friends and volunteers when the actual wedding day arrives. We found that putting together a “Wedding Committee” of a handful of friends or family worked best. We met several times in the weeks before the wedding, dividing up the tasks and deciding who would be in charge of what area. With a few mental “dress-rehearsals” done with the committee, we felt prepared to actually enjoy the meaning and camaraderie of the special day.
Elizabeth Hardisty—Mercer Island, WA.

Unique Wedding Reception Ideas

To save money on the reception and not go into our honeymoon exhausted, we decided to have a morning wedding and serve lunch at the reception, instead of the typical afternoon wedding and dinner. Lunch is about 40% cheaper than dinner. PLUS we went to a local restaurant for the reception, instead of those overpriced banquet halls.

The restaurant served family style so it was all you can eat. It was a great hit! Lastly, it was a restaurant that had a frequent diner program, so we were able to use the entire cost of the reception towards points—which turned into $150 in gift certificates for future meals!
Janice Zink—Elmhurst, IL.

The Simple Reception

The reception tradition in my area of the country includes cake, punch, coffee, and nuts. The tradition in my husband’s area of the country was a full sit-down dinner. So we compromised with a pot-luck of sorts. We asked family members and friends to donate food items that each of them is known for preparing well. We served the food buffet-style and everyone enjoyed it.
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA

Serving alcohol at the reception is a must for some families, but eliminating this cost can save lots of money. As a student, I worked at a reception facility and spent several years observing receptions with and without alcohol. I never worked at a wedding where hard liquor was served where people did not get extremely “stupid” because of overindulging and do something to ruin the reception for everyone else.

You are far more likely to have the reception enjoyed by all if nothing stronger than beer or wine is served. My boss would beg potential brides and their parents not to serve liquor (even though she obviously made much more money from having an open bar) because she had seen too many weddings ruined by alcohol.
Deirdre Collins—Glendale, CA.

Reception Getaway

Instead of renting an expensive limousine, after the reception, we dressed in black leather and left on my husband’s motorcycle. The guests loved the change from the usual wedding vehicle and the motorcycle was easier to hide from would-be pranksters.
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

On December 31, 2005, I rang in the New Year by getting married—the frugal way. We had a beautiful celebration that was enjoyed by over 200 of our closest family and friends. To get maximum enjoyment out of our ceremony for the least cost, we had a morning ceremony with a brunch reception. That evening we hosted a New Year’s Eve party. I know that this sounds expensive, but when you cater it yourself and hire a Girl Scout troop to serve everything (they were earning money for an upcoming trip) it works out great!
Therese Post Hanion—Niles MI.

Great Wedding Decoration Ideas

Instead of using expensive flower arrangements for centerpieces on each dining table, I bought a few bags of different colored rose petals from the florist (very inexpensive) and it turned out beautiful!
Janice Zink, Elmhurst, IL.

The table centerpieces for our reception were goblets with blue water and floating candles with metallic confetti, blue ribbon curls and Hershey’s hugs and kisses scattered about.
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

If you have red, silver, gold, blue, green, or white as a part of your color scheme, check out Christmas clearance sales after the holiday for centerpieces and decoration elements. It’s much cheaper than buying decoration elements full price from a craft store, and many popular decoration ideas nowadays involve Christmas lights. Using this idea, really saved a bundle.

-We also saved money by using candles that we bought from these Christmas clearance sales instead of flowers as our main centerpieces on the tables.  Our wedding was in the evening, and the overall effect was very elegant.

-We found it was much cheaper to buy tablecloths than rent them. Make sure you look at multiple options.  Emily Hess – Corpus Christi, TX

Music for the Ceremony

Ask any musically talented friends or friends of friends to play at your ceremony. They may be happy to play or sing for whatever donation you can afford. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for musicians way ahead of time. Elizabeth Hardisty—Mercer Island, WA

A talented friend played the piano as her gift to us.
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

Saving on a Wedding Photographer

A college professor whose hobby is photography took our pictures. He told us ahead of time that his photography would not be as “artful” as some, but that he would provide us with a good remembrance of what happened. He did just that, and we were pleased with his work and his price — which was much lower than any of the professionals we interviewed. His price included the purchase of the negatives, so we have been able to make more copies whenever we want to. Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

Although you could get a friend to take pictures, there is significant value in hiring a professional photographer because you will get significantly better pictures. However, most photographers insist on keeping your negatives, which means you will pay a great deal more for copies of the photos you want.

We found a freelance photographer who was willing to take our pictures for the cost of his time and the film. After the wedding, he gave us the film and we took it to a large photo lab that had been recommended to us. They processed the film and printed the photos for much less than we would have paid at a studio. This one decision saved us several thousand dollars.
Deirdre Collins—Glendale, CA. 

Save on the Videographer

We asked four friends and family members to videotape the wedding as their gifts to us. They captured a variety of shots and angles, and we have many viewpoints from which to see our ceremony and reception.
Aimee Lenger—Renton, WA.

Frugal Honeymoon Idea

To save on our honeymoon we cashed in some frequent flyer miles for our trip to Europe and to save on the hotel, we used credit card “points.” Upon getting engaged, we began using a credit card from a major name hotel to secure everything for the wedding. Soon we had enough points to cash in for gift certificate dollars that covered several nights of lodging.
Janice Zink—Elmhurst, IL. 

The Things We Didn’t Do At Our Wedding

When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we found that many other couples were spending a lot of time looking for inexpensive ways to purchase items that were not, in fact, even necessary. The cheapest way with a lot of wedding items is just not to buy them at all.

We did not get any paper goods stamped with our name and the date (the banquet hall provides napkins, etc., anyway), we did not do favors, and we chose a beautiful historic church which did not need any additional decorating by us.
Deidre Collins—Glendale, CA. 

Simplicity Pays Off

We have been married 14 years and we did many things to save on our wedding expenses. We did such a good job, in fact, that my parents decided to give us a cash gift of $2000. This was money that they said they would have spent if, “We had gone overboard with the reception.”
John and Hazel Cotton—Texarkana, TX.

For more great money-saving ideas get the book Bridal Bargains—it will stimulate your frugal thinking. 

A Unique Wedding Present to Give

I had just completed a quilt for our friend’s wedding shower. Looking around the house, we didn’t have a box big enough to nicely wrap the quilt. I thought, “Why not wrap the quilt in one of those plastic storage bins? They’re relatively inexpensive, AND who couldn’t use a storage bin?” So she ended up getting a nice, sturdy storage bin with lid for $3.89. And rather than use rolls of expensive store-bought wrapping paper, Linda used a yard or so of brown Kraft paper. Then we wrapped the box to resemble an old-fashioned suitcase.

I added some “travel labels” (Paris, Rome, Venice…). Then I fashioned a handle from pipe cleaners and attached a “luggage tag” (made from a file folder and brown duct tape). The tag said, wishing the soon to be wed couple, “May the rest of your life be as wonderful as a sunny day in Paris”. The package AND the quilt were a big hit, and there was hardly anything to throw away.    Linda & Mike L. – South Holland, IL

How to Give Away the Bride: A New Way!
A lacy wedding dress with pearls and a ribbon as a background - with the type: how to give away the Bride - A new way)

The Big Question

“Who gives this woman to be married to this man,” is a very common wedding ceremony question that a pastor or priest usually asks the father of the bride.

The Normal Answer

The common answer is, “Her mother and I do.” And then the father of the bride gives her to the groom and sits down.

The Uncommon Understanding

We have given away two daughters to be married to great guys. And at each wedding, Steve charged each of our sons-in-law with the responsibility to care for and nurture our daughters just like Jesus would.

After each wedding, many people have come up to us and said that they so appreciated our words. And were struck by the beauty of the transfer of the mantle of leadership. Because of this, we have decided to share the charge that Steve gave to our sons-in-law with you.

In this video, Steve answers this monumental question in a very uncommon way. The reason is that the transfer of responsibility for the spirit of a person is a very serious charge. 

Transferring the Mantle

We’ve just been asked a question about giving away someone who is of greater value and more precious than anything we own or have created.
We’re being asked to give away our daughter Becky.

There are visible and invisible – physical and spiritual significances to this “Giving Away” question.

Physically we are giving Becky into Nolan’s hands, knowing that he will work with her to build a home that is safe, loving and honoring to God. In giving her away physically, we aren’t losing anything,

But we are gaining the privilege of watching you build a life together

This brings us great joy.

Spiritually – in heaven – another transaction is occurring during this hour –
The transfer of a mantle of leadership.

The Leading, Guiding and Protecting of Becky’s spirit has been our calling as parents since she was born.

In God’s economy, mysteriously, he charges fathers with the ultimate responsibility for the spiritual well-being of his children . . . and his wife. To lead and protect their spirits like Christ does.

It’s a huge responsibility that NO man is equipped to do
and something that I haven’t done as well as I’d hoped . . .

. . . but it is one thing that every Christian man, who asks God,
can be empowered to do.

Nolan: Annette and I . . . after getting to know you, after seeing your character, after observing your teachable spirit, after perceiving your heart for God and witnessing your heart to love, nurture and protect Becky:

So to answer the question of “Who gives this woman . . .”

Today we wholeheartedly Say WE DO.

We give Becky to You and transfer the mantle of responsibility for the condition of her Spirit –

We are confident that you will Love her and Lead her the same way Jesus does.

A bridal party dressed in red and white standing on a church platform.

A lacy wedding dress with pearls and a ribbon as a background - with the type: how to give away the Bride - A new way)

Author: Steve Economides
Scottsdale, AZ

2 thoughts on “Frugal Weddings: Ideas to Save You Money Getting Married

  1. Melissa

    Terrific job, Steve. We think we may be giving away one of our daughters soon and I know my husband would like to issue a similar charge!

    1. Steve Economides

      Melissa – Congratulations – we’ve given away two of our daughters – they were some of the best days of our lives.

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