Plan a Great Wedding on a Tiny Budget
Edited by Theona I. Layne, Shelley, Eng, Maria Quinney and 1 other
Like most people, you probably dreamed of the day you'd get married. The dress, the flowers, the handsome groom, the beautiful bride. Somehow, you knew it would all come together to make an amazing and memorable day. Then reality smacks you in the face when you realize how much needs to be done and how little green you have to do everything. Well, put your worries aside. It's possible to have a great wedding without having to take out a loan. Here are a few tips to help you save a bundle on your special day.
Save On the Cake
Here are some creative ways to save on your wedding cake without sacrificing fun and good taste.  For the cake cutting ceremony, opt for a small posh cake. But wait, what about your guests? Well, you could:
- 1Serve a sheet cake from the local bakery. A sheet cake would be a wonderfully frugal solution to an expensive wedding cake. You can have it decorated with fresh fruit or fresh flowers - use your imagination.Advertisement
- 2It's hip, and cheaper, to be square. A square cake will provide more servings for your guests. Plus, it's so much easier and quicker to cut than a round cake.Advertisement
- 3Serve wedding cupcakes. Wedding cupcakes wouldn't break your budget because they require far less labor than huge, fancy wedding cakes and can be just as fun and stylish, even more so in some cases.
- 4Try mini pastries. With so many different pastry options and flavors available, they make a wonderful alternative to a single large wedding cake.
- 5Change up the frosting. Frosting is the best part of any cake right? Well, it is also one of the most expensive. Instead of fancy schmancy and costly fondant, get its less expensive cousin, buttercream. One thing though. If you choose an outdoor wedding, get the fancy schmancy stuff. Why? Buttercream will melt in the sun.
Save On the Flowers
If you're good with arrangements, why not buy one from a local florist and copy the arrangement? If you have a creative friend, ask him or her to do your arrangements on the cheap. Better yet, these arrangements could count as their wedding present to you. Add even more romance to the occasion with candles. Yes, pillar candles placed between small flower centerpieces will add volume to the arrangement and a bit of romance.
Save On the Food
- 1Have your wedding reception catered by a small, family-owned restaurant. The food will probably be a lot better because, let's face it, nothing beats homemade. You can probably negotiate a good deal with them, especially if they are local.
Save On the Venue
Besides the dress and the food, the venue is going to be one of the most expensive items on a wedding to-do list. Here are some things to consider that may surprise and delight you.
- 1Consider getting married in the morning. OK, don't roll your eyes. It's true that not everyone is a morning person. But, an early morning wedding can save money because a breakfast or lunch reception is cheaper than a dinner service.
- 2Avoid getting married on the weekend. Although a lot of people get married on Saturdays, it isn't always the best course of action. Why not? It's true that weekends are convenient for everyone, what with work schedules, school, social calendars, etc. But it's also the busiest time of the week for venues. That often means that prices inflate faster than a helium balloon at a county fair. Try booking your weekend wedding on a Friday or a Sunday. So how about a Sunday or Friday morning wedding instead?
- 3Change your venue perspective. Forget about tradition for a while. Whip out a pen and paper and jot down a list of places that have lots of space and will accommodate your guests.  How about a local bed and breakfast, or a public park for a wedding reception? The cheapest venue of all is right in your backyard. Or, you can opt for a small town wedding/reception because prices are usually cheaper in small towns compared to large cities. Other interesting venues include: aquariums, a zoo, galleries and historical sites.
- 4Have the wedding ceremony and the reception at the same location. Some churches have a reception hall. And your guest will love you to bits for not having to drive from the ceremony to the reception.
- 5Beat the crowd and consider an off-season wedding like November or January. OK, so we've covered venue and the best time of day to hold the nuptials. Now, what about the season? We've already covered summer as the traditional wedding season, especially the months of May and June. But, booking a summer wedding can pose a real challenge. It's just like trying to get a decent price on a plane ticket around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The price will go up because demand is so high.
- 6After the ceremony, invite your besties and closest family members to the reception. Limit the guest list to about 50 people. Then have a small and inexpensive party for the rest of your friends and family. 
- 7Trim your reception time by at least one hour. Don't worry about looking cheap - everyone will still have a ball. By simply trimming your reception back by just one hour, it will save you a bundle. Discover how to Choose a Cool Wedding Venue for the Perfect Reception.
Save On the Dress
Want a new wedding dress at a huge discount? Check out a bridal sample sale. When a store has an abundance of merchandise they need to get rid of, they'll hold a sample sale. Search online for bridal sample sales in your town or city.  But before you go off to find that terrific deal, here are a few things to remember.
- 1If you're shopping at a bridal store, be patient and wait until the final few hours of the sale. Yes, you're shopping for a great deal, but don't get roped into thinking you've got to grab the first thing you can get your hands on. Why on earth would you do this? In addition to avoiding the rabid bridezilla crowd, you'll save up to an additional 20 percent on your great find.
- 2Rather get that special dress by shopping on the web? Beware the "Buy now!" message. Instead, go for sales advertised as "blowout." In most cases, online sales tend to last anywhere between 24-48 hours. Check out these sites for some great deals: Ruelala.com, Ideeli.com, and Hautelook.com.
- 3The size may not be the one marked on the label. Try it on in the store and make sure everything fits well.
- 4Look for any imperfections in the dress. Are there any holes, tears or discoloration? These imperfections can score you an additional discount.
- 5If you're really in a money crunch, why not buy a second-hand wedding dress? Used wedding dresses can obviously save you a TON, and they can be just as beautiful and stylish as new wedding dresses. All you need is to do a little detective work to find the right one. First, investigate your local consignment shops. Goodwill and Salvation Army stores are also great treasure troves. When you find a potential keeper, make sure the measurements are spot on or at least big enough where you can have some alterations made. Don't forget the most famous online consignment shop, eBay. Buying a dress any from someone online can be very tricky. Usually, eBay Powersellers are the most reliable and trustworthy. Plus, eBay and PayPal team up to provide really strong buyer protection.
Save On the Pictures
- 1Just like wedding venues, photographers can charge a mint to work on a Saturdays, especially during the summer months. So, Saturdays in May or June are not advised unless you don't mind paying major bucks.
- 2Remember the little tip about cutting time off the reception time? The same goes for the photographers. They'll usually charge by the hour, so you can try a few things to get a cheaper bill. You can ask for pictures of the ceremony and one hour of the reception. Or, you can ask for pictures of either the ceremony or the reception.
- 3Get a student to take pictures. Do you know of any reliable high school students? Maybe you have a friend who's a budding photographer. Either way, you'll likely save a lot of money if you find someone you know.
- 4Let the guests do the 'Point and Click'. Here's a really cost effective alternative. Make your wedding pics a true group effort by giving each of your guests a chance to take pictures. Pass around a few disposable cameras during the reception, and give each guest a turn snapping those pics.
Save On the Invitations
One of the best ways to save on wedding invitations is to go the DYI route. But if you're not creatively inclined, then have a designer friend do this project in lieu of giving you a wedding gift. 
If you choose to go with a printer, remember to:
- 1Go for all black ink. The colored ink is where the real cost comes in.
- 2Avoid the fancy foil-stamp process. This adds an extra unnecessary increase.
- 3Avoid colored paper. Stick to white or ecru.
- 4Stick to square or rectangle shapes. Round shapes cost more due to added labor.
- 5Order your thank-you notes at the same time that you order your invitations. You may be able to get a bulk discount doing it this way.
These sites offer great calligraphic font solutions and they are free!
Now you see? Planning a wedding isn't so scary, after all. With a little creativity, you can have a memorable day and enjoy it knowing it didn't cost an arm and a leg.
-  Wedding Cake Prices: 20 Ways To Save Big. The Huffington Post. Posted June 12, 2013 Retrieved October 4, 2015.
-  16 Ways to Find Cheap Budget Wedding Venue Ideas for the Ceremony & Reception. Money Crashers. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
-  Tips for A Frugal, Not Cheap Wedding. The Simple Dollar. May 1, 2015. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
-  Wedding Budget: 17 Ways to Save. Better Homes and Gardens. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
-  US News. April 30, 2014. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
 10 Creative Ways to Cut Your Wedding Costs Reader's Digest. Retrieved October 4, 2015.