Luxe for Less

Clever Ways to Stretch Your Wedding Budget

Think an upscale look for your wedding day has to cost big bucks? Think again. With a little bit of research and a big dose of imagination and attention to detail, you can dream up a perfectly posh party without breaking the bank. Here are 40+ creative cost-cutting ideas to inspire you!


• Saturdays are the most popular – and expensive – days for weddings, so why not consider another day such as a Friday or Sunday. Many ceremony and reception venues, as well as other vendors, will have less expensive rates on weekdays and Sundays. You might also find that some bigger venue sites are more willing to accommodate small weddings on an off day.

• Think off-peak season and save thousands! Consider scheduling your event between late September and early spring, avoiding the more expensive “peak season.” If your guests require accommodations, affordable rooms are often more readily available during the off season.


• Cut your guest list. The simple truth is that there is no quicker, easier way to save money than by limiting the size of the event.


• Hold your wedding and reception at the same venue. The payoff: one less site fee and no need to pay transportation fees to ferry you between locations. It also helps cut down on the cost of decorations.

• Set your sights on venues that specialize in weddings, as these often offer great package deals that include everything from food and flowers to decorations and a wedding cake.


• Some bridal boutiques offer designer trunk shows where you may be able to find a great gown at a great price.

• Scout sales in the months leading up to your date, and don’t overlook a dress that is one or two sizes too large; custom tailoring can make it a perfect fit. If you plan to wear white, look at all white dresses, not just “wedding” dresses.


• Consider having a morning or afternoon wedding, so you can serve lunch or brunch instead of dinner. That will keep the cost of food way down. And, guests tend to drink less alcohol in the afternoon than in the evening.

• Hold down expenses by skipping the sit-down meal. Consider a cocktail party featuring hors d’oeuvres and food stations. You’ll save on a full catering staff and total cost per person.

• Skip the traditional, pricey steak and seafood entrées in favor of ethnic fare such as Mexican, Italian or Indian dishes. It’s trendy and usually less expensive than traditional wedding fare.

• Some reception sites allow you to bring in your own offsite caterers.

• Instead of offering a full bar, save money by serving only beer, wine and a signature drink of your choice.

• Pare down your cake bill by having the baker prepare a small custom-designed cake for photos and the cutting ceremony and a large sheet cake (which is less expensive to make but still delicious) to be served to your guests. Have the cake sliced in the kitchen and your guests will never know they aren’t eating the confection they watched you cut.

• Instead of an elaborate wedding cake, serve beautifully decorated cupcakes – or even a variety of donuts, homemade pies or macarons.

• Focus on beautiful and creative presentations rather than overly expensive food items. For example, layer wheels of cheese on top of each other to look like a wedding cake; or add frozen colored ice cubes (in your wedding colors) to drinks; or ask the chef to add your initials (with a sauce) to the plated meals.


• Have your flowers work double duty: Flowers that decorate your ceremony site can be used as centerpieces at your reception site.

• Swap out more expensive flowers for less costly ones. Focus on using one bright color, or a specific hue that goes with the wedding to help maximize the impact while using fewer flowers.

• Gather your craftiest friends and family, florist’s tape and foam and ribbons and have a DIY floral arranging party.

• If you are getting married outdoors, let the scenery do the work for you. Or choose a venue that doesn’t need much décor, such as a garden or art museum.

• Hold your wedding around the holidays, when ceremony and reception venues are already decorated for the occasion.

• Consider non-floral, seasonal centerpieces. Incorporate punches of color, depth and dimension to your decor with seasonal fruit or veggies (less costly than flowers!), such as oranges, lemons, apples, pomegranates, grapes, pumpkins, gourds, artichokes, etc.


• Save money, time and trees by emailing your save-the-date cards.

• Instead of enclosing reply cards in your invites, direct guests to RSVP online at your wedding site.

• Print the reception time at the bottom of your invitation instead of on a separate reception card. You’ll save the cost of the paper and the additional postage.

• Use chalkboards, French-café style, to list the menu or display table numbers.


• Enlist a friend or relative who plays an instrument well, or has a good voice, to perform a song during the ceremony. Chances are, he or she will feel honored to be asked.

• Book a DJ, since these pros generally cost less than bands. Bonus: You only need to provide food for one person instead of a group.

• Ask one of the musicians from your band (a violinist, a pianist or an acoustic guitarist) to entertain your guests as they arrive at your reception venue for the cocktail hour.


Hiring a professional photographer to document your day in pictures is a must. This is one category where every dollar counts, and instead of scrimping make sure you go with someone whose style you love because it’s hard to put a price on memories. That said, consider ways to control costs:
Some pros may offer special promotions depending on the time of the year.

• Consider booking a photographer for fewer hours, such as eight to 10 hours instead of a full day (12 to 14 hours).

• Hiring a photographer and videographer from the same company may get you a discounted rate.


• For your wedding bands, consider metals other than gold or platinum such as titanium or palladium.

• Comfortable with the unconventional? Don’t overlook buying a ring without any diamonds. Consider other precious gems and stones, which can be less expensive yet still stunning.

• Generally, the more metal within wedding bands, the more expensive the product, so you can significantly reduce cost by simply choosing a thinner product.

• Shop at a place where engraving is complimentary.


• An elegant favor given doesn’t have to be spendy, especially considering most guests won’t hang onto it afterwards. A beautiful custom-wrapped chocolate is always deliciously in style.

• Set up a candy buffet where guests can assemble their own favors and get a sweet treat while they're at it. Bulk candy is often less expensive than personalized gifts and you can buy it in colors that match your wedding theme.

• Choose wedding favors that do double duty, like tiny potted succulents that might hold guests' name cards.

• Send them home with homemade treats: jam, cookies or brownies are guaranteed crowd-pleasing favors.