How to Save Money on a Wedding


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
I was single for quite some time before I became a Frugal Fiance. My frugal tendencies carried over to our wedding plans. The thing is, I’ve seen a lot of cheap weddings. As much as my now wife and I wanted to save money on a wedding, we didn’t want a ceremony that was poorly planned and executed.

So we scoured the internet (and interrogated a bunch of friends who had nice weddings) to find ways to save money on wedding while having a lovely ceremony. Having a classy, beautiful, and well put-together ceremony was a non-negotiable for us.

If you’re also looking for tips on how to save money for a wedding, read on. I’ll be sharing all the great techniques my wife and I used to save on our wedding. The result was a beautiful and romantic event that still managed to be within budget!

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“Why Should I Save on my Wedding?”

I can’t believe people still ask me this. But I can sort of see why: we’ve been taught by TV and movies to believe that a grand wedding is a prerequisite for a successful marriage. But this isn’t the movies. This is real life, with real considerations and real budgets. If you can truly afford a fancy wedding, go for it. But if not, there’s no point going all out, only to live the next few years of your marriage crippled by debt. In fact, this article on 20 Something Finance featured a study that shows how spending big on a wedding could actually have an adverse effect on your relationship:

"Among other interesting findings, they concluded, “marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony“. In other words, not only is it a bad idea financially to spend a lot on these things, but higher spending on materialism for show = greater likelihood of divorce. I think now might be a good time to say: TAKE THAT, HATERS!"

And here are a few more findings from that same study:

"In the sample of men, spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring is associated with a 1.3 times greater hazard of divorce as compared to spending between $500 and $2,000.

Spending $1,000 or less on the wedding is significantly associated with a decrease in the hazard of divorce in the sample of all persons."

… and that’s partly why we decided to have an affordable (which is different from “cheap”) wedding. And know, without further ado, here are our top wedding money-saving tips:

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Keep Your Guest List Short

Unless you’re a celebrity, chances are you don’t need hundreds of people to attend your wedding. The more people you invite, the more you will have to spend. And when you think about it, regular people don’t really need to invite each and every one of their friends and family. A shorter guest list will minimize stress, expenses… and your ceremony will be more intimate and memorable, as a result.

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Keep the Ceremony Short

Most venues charge per hour, or will give you a set number of hours, but will charge you a surcharge for each hour you in excess of the agreed-upon time. So make sure you keep your ceremony within the allotted time. These limitations could actually inspire you to create a program that is to the point and won’t bore your guests.

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Consider Multiple, Smaller “Receptions”

A grand banquet will cost a lot of money. One novel way of saving on food money is to hold a series of smaller “receptions” at home or in smaller restaurants. Since you won’t have to make reservations for a lot of people, you won’t have to reserve events venues or function rooms. All you have to do is bring out a few of your closest friends and family. Plus, this will create more intimate dinners, which will, in turn, let people get to know you as a couple better.

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Get Clothes You Can Wear After the Wedding

Instead of a traditional bridal gown, my then-fiancee got a lovely frilled skirt and lacey top that she could wear to just about any formal dinner. I had a new suit made (my older ones were outmoded and didn't suit me anymore). It cost a bit of money – in fact, clothes were one of our bigger expenses – but we can use these items of clothing even after the wedding.

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Avoid Diamonds

I won’t say diamonds are a scam, but they’re not all they’ve been built up to be. The supply of diamonds are carefully controlled, to increase prices and desirability. Diamonds sure look pretty, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend a month’s worth of income on a ring. Instead, my wife and I decided to use our birthstones. As a result, our rings were cheaper, but they were still personalized and romantic.

Unless you really have a strong personal connection to diamonds, there’s really no reason for you to get one. Don’t worry, you won’t be breaking some centuries-old tradition by opting not to use a diamond ring. Check out this article on HuffPost Life. It gives the low-down on the diamond industry. These paragraphs are especially relevant to this article:

The most common misconception about engagement rings is that they’re some kind of ancient tradition that’s deeply embedded in human history in societies around the world. This is completely false. The idea of a diamond engagement ring is roughly a century old. Guess who invented the concept? Not surprisingly, it’s the same people who mined the diamonds — the De Beers diamond syndicate. How far did De Beers go in their quest to create demand for diamonds? Edward Jay Epstein notes in his famous investigative article:

"In its 1947 strategy plan, the advertising agency strongly emphasized a psychological approach. ‘We are dealing with a problem in mass psychology. We seek to … strengthen the tradition of the diamond engagement ring — to make it a psychological necessity capable of competing successfully at the retail level with utility goods and services…’"

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