6 Frugal Wedding Planning Tips

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Those that know us know how frugal we are. I managed to find my dream gown for under $100, a vintage reception dress for under $1 (yes, you read that correctly), used a coupon for florals, found a way to secure a venue for $0, and my incredibly talented sister is making our wedding cake from scratch. We refuse to incur any debt from a single day that is really about our shared future together. For our top six cost-saving wedding tips, check out the latest post at Home on Harrington.

Top 6 Cost-Saving Wedding Planning Tips 

1. Think Small: Curate the Guest List 

Modern wedding planning can easily become an overwhelming task. Something as simple as creating a guest list can quickly turn into a gargantuan endeavor to include everyone nearest and dearest to us. Suddenly, that small list includes distant relatives and acquaintances we’ve met in passing. Other decisions also begin to crop up as the list continues to grow with each new addition. Controversial questions concerning whether or not children should be permitted to attend the ceremony or reception and issues pertaining to childcare become a pressure point in discussions with friends and family. 

Although not possible in every circumstance, do your best to curate a guest list that best reflects your wedding preferences. If the thought of a growing guest list is becoming overwhelming, give yourself permission to edit that list and choose a smaller one. It really is that simple. Although we dreamed of a large wedding with hundreds of friends and family in attendance, that dream quickly evaporated after viewing venue after venue so far beyond our budget. An intimate ceremony will be just as meaningful as a large one to our cherished loved ones. For those unable to attend, they will understand. Love conquers all. 

2. If possible, elope.

If the possibility of eloping hasn’t crossed your wedding planning radar yet, pause and give it proper consideration when weighing all of your options. Even a small wedding ceremony and reception can quickly become an expensive endeavor with some serious logistics involved. When orchestrating hotel accommodations and travel arrangements, even for close friends and family, a modest budget is decimated. 

Eloping may seem like monumental news to break to disappointed friends and family that were eagerly waiting for their wedding invitations, but a more intimate day with that curated guest list discussed earlier means BIG savings elsewhere. Use that wiggle room in the ceremony budget on a reception for friends and family wanting to share in your special day. 

3. Skip the Catering 

Chicken, beef, fish, and a vegetarian option? Add in an option for a choice of dessert? Should the bar be open or cash-only? Will light hors d’oeuvres be served? Questions of catering lead to costly decisions! With an already overwhelming amount of decisions to make to begin with, skip this step in the process entirely if possible. 

If opting for a small ceremony or elopement, consider making reservations at a favorite restaurant instead. If your ceremony venue takes you off the beaten path, consider booking a local food truck for an evening event. If these options are still beyond the big-day budget, check with family and friends. You may suddenly find yourself inundated with an outpouring of love in the form of casseroles to taste test for your special day! 

4. DIY for the Big DAY

Price comparisons on even the most inexpensive floral arrangements, bouquets, and boutonnières will eat away at any budget. Hiring a professional florist to create signature designs for a more elaborate ceremony can cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. When considering florals, consider making your own for the big day! Whether you decide on faux-florals or fresh-cut stems, making your own creative arrangements will be one more cost-saving strategy in your wedding plan.

If family and friends want to be more involved in the wedding design process, this is a great jumping off point! Have them help in the design for florals if you find yourself overwhelmed or completely at a loss on how to move forward. Block of an afternoon or a weekend for crafting, watch tutorials online, and hit the ground running. This gives everyone space to make some great memories and equally great floral designs. If DIY is just not for you or your loved ones, remember that something as simple as a bouquet of fresh eucalyptus from the grocery store can be just as elegant and inexpensive on the big day. 

5. Find the Perfect Venue for Pennies 

When you envision the perfect venue, what do you see? For us, we knew we wanted a natural setting. We briefly considered a backyard wedding, but settled on a wedding at one of our favorite national parks instead. National parks generally require permits for special occasions, including wedding ceremonies. Check with the park of your choice to gather information on pricing. In our case, the venue amounted to $0 for the small number of guests on our list. Conducting your own research during this planning phase is crucial. Selecting a park that you have already visited on dates and day trips will add sentimental value to your final selection. For help with additional research, Lauren Nowack has a great article published on The Knot that shares detailed advice on planning a national park wedding. 

6. Say “Yes” to the Budget-Friendly Dress

I love bridal boutiques and appreciate the gorgeous designer gowns showcased with each new season, but I also knew that an expensive gown would not have a place in this season of my life. As we are renovating an old house, I could not justify spending thousands on a gown to only wear once. I even balked at the thought of spending hundreds of dollars, but I also knew that the perfect dress would find its way to me if I could patiently wait. Sure enough, I found a sale on heavily discounted bridal gowns. For just under $100, I purchased the Zac Posen gown of my dreams. I was instantly blown away by the buttoned backing and intricate lacework, and knowing that the dress was affordable was the icing on the wedding cake. 

After finding the perfect wedding dress within my budget, I wanted to challenge myself on the reception dress and spend no more than $10. That may seem like such a small amount in the face of modern wedding reception spending, but again, I wanted something practical and timeless. After all, the most important element of any wedding is the person you choose to spend the rest of your days with. Honestly, my partner would say that I looked beautiful even if I was wearing a potato sack. That secure foundation of our relationship definitely gave me added confidence when I stumbled upon a vintage dress in a thrift store for less than $1. I knew that with a little care, the dress would be perfect for our special day. 

Of course the best way to save when spending on a wedding dress is to wear a hand-me-down gown. I am always in such awe of friends that have walked down the aisle in their mother’s or grandmother’s dress. Cost-saving aside, this creates a beautiful tradition that can be passed on for generations. There are so many ways to be frugal on your big day, but feeling your best in what you wear is still a must. 

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