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Budget Savvy Bride: Keep the Vision, Don’t Compromise the Wallet.


For the past five years, I have been dating the most amazing man in the world.  When he proposed over the holidays, I was thrilled to pieces.  Of course, we had also recently purchased a house together, so while we wanted to throw the most amazing party in the world that reflected us as a couple, we didn’t want to break the bank doing it.

Below are lucky thirteen simple tips on how we were able to keep our wedding vision, without compromising our wallets.  And you can do it too!

1. Shopping around.
Saving money requires research and a bit of patience.  The first wedding shop I went to had some truly gorgeous dresses.  I fell absolutely in love with a dress there for the low low price of $1,500. 

Of course, I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on a dress I would wear once.  This is not to say the trip was in vain!  By trying on several styles there, I learned what colors and styles looked good on me.  I was then able to hunt around a bit more knowing what I was looking for.  I found a dress over at Pebble’s that was equally gorgeous, but at half the price.  Only $700!  (Saving $800)

Also, by checking out some of the smaller local shops like Friar Tux compared to Men’s Warehouse, we were able to get a better deal on the men’s suit rentals.  Plus, they have a larger selection!

2. Using things you already own, or things your friends own!
Sometimes in the throws of planning a huge event like this, one tends to go a little spend crazy.  Take a hard look in your closet (and your friend’s) and think about what stuff do you already own that will work just fine, and do you REALLY need a new _____?

I have a beautiful necklace that I love, sitting in my jewelry box and works perfectly with my dress.  BAM!  Free wedding jewelry.  My MOH has kept her veil and has offered to let me wear it for the big day.  Sweet!  Free veil.  (Saving $250)

Of course our biggest saving of all is our reception venue.  I mentioned that we recently bought a house.  Fortunately for us, the backyard is HUGE and perfect for throwing a giant wedding reception.  (Saving $6,000 or more)

3. Three little letters... D.I.Y.  (Do It Yourself)

Not only does DIY add a personal touch to your wedding, it saves you money too!

My husband-elect is a programmer by trade.  So he created our wedding website.  He also photoshopped and designed our Save The Date and Invitation cards.  (Saving $200 design fee)

My MOH and I plan on making some delightful tissue pom poms to go around our backyard.  She purchased the supplies from Nashville Wraps and by doing this simple project ourselves vs paying someone on Etsy to do it for us, we save over 60%.  (Saving $2 per pom pom)  Below is pictured the tissue poms that were made for my bridal shower as a test.

Of course, our biggest DIY project is our photo booth.  My brother, Sky is extremely talented.  He owns the company Red Dawn Media and specializes in creating photo sets for people’s events.  When we talked to him about wanting our own photo booth, he jumped at the challenge.  The man has built our very own booth from scratch complete with touch screen controls, dual printing strips with a custom banner and digital images for us to keep.  Cost to us?  FREE  (Saving over $1,400)

This brings us to my next tip...

4. Sharing is caring
The reason why that photo booth is completely free to us?  My brother, Sky, is getting married two weeks after us.  Since he wants to use the photo booth for his wedding too, he offered to eat the costs to make it.  Plus, he plans on renting it out for future events.  (And of course the booth has made a couple appearances already for a few house parties.)

There are so many awesome things out there that perhaps you can’t afford on your own.  However, there are also several brides out there with similar tastes.  By pooling your resources together and sharing in the cost of an item you an both have what you want for your big day at only a portion of the cost.  You can then even turn around and sell the item after both weddings and split the profit. 

My mini salt and pepper shakers for the tables are a prime example of this.  My coordinator had two brides who both wanted the same thing.  She suggested we split the cost, and share the item.  I now have my mini shakers at only 50% of the cost!

5. The internet, it is your friend.

Do not be afraid of the internet!  You can find some great deals if you’re willing to look. has some great items, and by utilizing Etsy Alchemy you can post what you need, what you’re willing to pay, and various artists can bid on your item.  They get business, you save money, everyone wins!

Ebay!  Ebay is not often thought of when planning a wedding, but you can get some great deals!  My maid of honor got her Diane Von Furstenberg dress from there.  Originally $465, won on Ebay for $91.  (Saving $374)

Utilizing a 50% off coupon, we managed to print our Save the Dates and Invitations at only half the price at PS Print.  Sweet!

6. Non “Wedding” Lables
So often times, we get sold on a brand and in order for it to count as ‘wedding-like’ we must use that brand or go to that store!  I say, try some non ‘wedding’ places.

My engagement ring was a prime example.  My husband-elect went down to LA’s jewelry district for a little bargain hunting himself.  By not going to your traditional ‘wedding jewelry’ store, he was able to get my stunning green sapphire ring custom made for only $900.  (Saving $1,500)

A couple of my bridesmaids have found some lovely dresses to wear at department stores vs a place like David’s Bridal or Alfred Angelo.  They got their dresses between $50-100 each.  (Saving $100-$200 per attendant) I got my shoes from an outlet store (Saving $50).

Want a great venue, don’t have a backyard?  Try looking through your local parks and recreation.  LA River and Gardens Center for example is $2,500 rental fee vs a traditional wedding venue which can cost three times that.

Want some great quality flowers?  Try places like the farmer’s markets, Trader Joes, Fresh and Easy, Sam’s Club, Costco or the LA flower market.  All of them have high quality blooms at reasonable costs.

Places like Sam’s Club, Dollar Tree, Costco, Staple’s, Big Lots and Target are also great places to get paper goods.  I bought my thank you cards from Big Lots.  By Martha Stewart, $12 for 140 cards.  (Saving $156)

Looking for some interesting random wedding stuff?  Try the flea market!  We got some fantastic fabric from the Hawaii flea market while on vacation there which we plan on using to make napkins for the wedding.  (A little reminder from the trip, makes the wedding personal, and we get to keep and reuse them later!)

Also, a great way to save on food!  Instead of using an expensive caterer, we’re ordering dishes from some of our favorite restaurants.  Many places will deliver, and we know we’ll love all the food!  Caterer can be $65/plate.  Restaurants $10/person.  (Saving $8,250 for 150 guests.)

7. Vendors... get them while they’re HOT! 
Often times you can save money by finding a vendor that’s relatively new to the wedding industry so their prices are low, but shows great potential.  The trick is making sure you find a GOOD vendor.  One that goes above and beyond, is helpful, and meshes well with you.

Our wedding coordinator, Kristeen of has been more than worth every penny.  I hate making phone calls and doing research.  I’m not kidding.  It’s like a phobia or something.  Kristeen has kept all the contracts in line, done a ton of phone calls, found deals for me, utilized all of her contacts and pulled strings to make the budget work.  She is more than competent.  Because we signed on with her early before her price increase we got a good deal!  (Saving $150)  I know that with her at the helm, everything is going to go smoothly.

Our photographer, Conrad Lim of gave us a great deal for again signing on early.  He has tons of experience but recently went from working as a second shooter to the primary shooter.  He’s so talented!  Also, a great way to save on your photographer is to tell them you don’t want a brag book, just raw files, and digital images with color correction.  There are so many websites out there like Blurb, Shutterfly, Picabo, Snapfish etc where you can make your own book if you really want to.  (Saving $800)

Our videographer doesn’t typically to weddings, he normally does music videos.  As a result, and because of his connection with Kristeen, we were able to get a good rate with him.

Our DJ is good friends with my maid of honor, and gave us a friend discount.  (Saving $300)

8. Family and friends have skills too!
We’ve been really lucky because many of our family and friends are very skilled and either own businesses or are just starting out and offered to do wedding related things for us at cost as part of their wedding gift to us.

Sky, from http:/ is my brother (as said before.)   In addition to building us a sweet photo booth.  He also did a photo shoot with us for our Save The Date cards for free!  (Saving $100)

My bridesmaid, Sara Lindsay of is also a very talented photographer.  She was sweet enough to make a trip out to LA and shoot two different engagement photo sessions with us for free!  We were able to use her photos for our invitations.  (Saving $250)

My maid of honor, Marla Hudnall of has also very recently started her flower business.  She’s awesome at coming up with interesting arrangements and has agreed to do our flowers for cost of supplies only as a wedding gift.  (Saving $1,000)

My dear friend Meg is an AMAZING baker.  You can see her work here:  She has agreed to make our cake for cost of supplies only.  (Saving $600)

My friend Colleen has offered to do my hair for me.  Score!  (Saving $75)

My mom is making my niece’s tutu flower girl dress.  (Saving $50).  She’s also sewing all of our napkins which we will then be able to re-use in the future!

9. Deputize!
I’m fortunate enough to live in a state where almost anyone can marry you.  They just have to pay the $75 fee, attend a class, and they’re deputy for a day!  So, my brother, Sky is going to marry us.  This way, we don’t have to pay an officiant which can cost as much as a $500 donation fee.  (Saving $425)

10. When to rent and when to buy.
Sometimes renting is cheaper, and sometimes buying may be less.  The key is research.

My navy blue table cloths?  They were actually cheaper to buy than they were to rent!  (Thanks Kristeen!)  Not only that, but after the wedding, I’ll be able to re-coup some of the costs by selling them to someone else.

Husband-elect purchased a suit and got a smokin’ deal on it!  $300, originally $900.  (Saving $600) Not only that, but he’ll be able to wear it again and again because he owns it.

We did end up renting a lot of things like tables, chairs, bathrooms etc.  (Because honestly, I don’t think I want to OWN 150 folding chairs.)  There are also some great options for renting things you wouldn’t normally think to rent like:
Jewelry.  There are TONS of websites out there where you can rent jewelry for a week at a fraction of the cost:

Dress.  Renting your outfit isn’t just for the guys any more!  You can rent your wedding dress too.  And they will tailor it to make sure it fits you perfectly.

11. Gently Used

You don’t have to buy brand new!  You can always buy used!  There are several places you can look too.  many of these dresses are gently used, or even brand new and are at a fraction of the cost of what they might be in the bridal salon.  The event tours the country and has plenty of options.  Plus, the money goes towards a good cause granting wishes for terminally ill women.  Unfortunately, I was unable to go because there wasn’t an event near me before the wedding.  However, a friend of mine went and she was able to get her dress for only $350. is another great place to find gently used dresses at a reasonable cost.
Wedding blogs!  Constantly search the classifieds at http://www.weddingbee, or there are always some great deals with brides looking to get rid of stuff after their weddings.

12. Do without! 

It’s time to prioritize.  What do you feel is vital?  What do you think you can do without.  Don’t let the wedding mags rope you in! 

Things we are skipping:

  • Transportation

  • Cake Server

  • Toasting Flutes

  • Bathroom Baskets

  • Out of Town Gift Bags

  • A wedding band for me.  (I like my engagement ring just fine!)

13. Misc.  A few things that didn’t really fit anywhere...

Keep your ear to the ground about events and sales.  You never know where you’ll find something useful.  For example Filene’s Basement Running of the Brides!  If I lived in one of those towns, you betcha I’d be taking advantage of that.

Club memberships can save you some mulah!  My mom lives in Napa and is a wine club member at a few wineries.  Suffice to say, she’s going to be buying all the wine for the wedding saving us a ton of money.

If you need to get event insurance, check with your home owner’s or rental insurance to see if they offer it.  Many times you’ll get a deal too because you’re combining the policies.

As you can see, we saved a ton of money using the above tips.  We were able to stick with our vision of an awesome party, without compromising our wallet.  Not only that, but with all the money we saved, we were able to renovate our kitchen from this:

To this:

Can you say “Increase in Equity?”  Boo ya!

Last Updated: August 3, 2013 at 10:32 pm
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