Thursday, September 10, 2015

In Pursuit of an Inexpensive Wedding: Our How-To

Photo by Kelly Bauer
We've known from the beginning that we couldn't afford to host a big soiree for our nuptials. Living nearly paycheck-to-paycheck as a young couple meant that we couldn't invite every person we'd ever met, or have a cake that could reach the ceiling. However, that didn't stop us from planning a wedding that we could love and be proud of. As we close in on just one month to our big day, here's just a few ways we've saved money.

Guest List
For obvious reasons, this is generally the first place to go when making cuts in a wedding budget. We invited 25 people to our actual ceremony, and an additional 15 to our reception. This keeps our costs low and really made us consider who we wanted to be a part of our special day. (Questions to ask when trying to answer that question: How often do we speak to this particular person? What will we think when we see them in our wedding photos 20, 30, 50 years from now?) We also hope that our guests will realize how intimate our day is and realize how much they mean to us as friends and family.

Bridal Party
Cutting down a bridal party will save you money (and probably headaches) in the long run. Hosting fewer people for rehearsal dinners and cutting costs on bridal party gifts can help you save some change. My fiancé and I opted to have one person stand with each of us: his uncle will be his best man, and my sister will be my maid of honor.

Time of year
We are getting married in October, and although the Internet claims fall weddings are "in," it's definitely not the peak summer season for weddings. Because of that, we were able to score a deal on a photographer who has a fairly clear schedule in the fall. Some venues also provide discounts for those looking to get married in off-months (fall, winter, early spring.)

We selected a restaurant's banquet room for our reception. It has room for a dance floor, food (obviously) and ample parking. By selecting a restaurant venue we were able to avoid the costs that come with the idea of a "wedding venue." By putting the name "wedding" or "reception" on a venue, you can see costs skyrocket into the thousands. Restaurants generally cost you a small base amount and the amount for dinner. For example, a local reception hall in our area is $1,200 to rent out, which doesn't include booze, food or anything other than the hall itself. For our restaurant location, we pay for food and service only.

Music is my everything. I couldn't imagine the big day without it. That being said, I already own a lot of music, and it wasn't in our budget to drop $1,000+ dollars for a DJ, especially when our venue has an iPod hook-up included. So, we started digging through my 7,000 songs on my personal iTunes. My fiancé and I spent one day creating dinner and dancing playlists and discovered how "cross fading" your music on iTunes can create a DJ effect by eliminating the awkward silence between songs. We think that because we carefully selected each song, the music will be one of the most unique parts of our day.


We may not be floral artists, but my mother and I created two floral bouquets, (including the bridal bouquet!) seven boutonnieres and five corsages out of fake flowers from our local craft store for less than $100. I implore you to find a florist who can do that for cheaper.

Although we've had more work to do than most (after all, we did spend a few hours just organizing our music!) we have had so much fun creating special elements for our wedding. Plus, we saved money, which was really the only option we had if we wanted to have a wedding at all.

I'm hoping to give you an update on how all of these things actually fared for our wedding in just a month and a half! Be sure to check back to see how it all went down. Hopefully we will be starting married life debt-free!

Do you have any money saving tips?


  1. I love the idea of having a small bridal party. It just doesn't make sense to have 15 people who stand up at the altar with you, but one or two special people I think makes it more special (as well as being a cost saver). Great post!

  2. I married my high school sweetheart a year out of high school. We didn't have an extravagant wedding, but it was beautiful and intimate with people we loved. Our church hosted the wedding and reception for free and we had a friend who had big speakers DJ. My tip is to let family help you if they are willing. I don't know how we would have done it if not for the help offered by family and friends no matter how small, it was all helpful. Ten years later and it is still a day I will never forget. Can't wait to see how yours turns out, good luck!!

    Sammy @

  3. Hey there! Stopping by from the Sunday Blog Hop. Thank you so much for linking up :) I love these ideas. When we were married, I kept everything as affordable as I could. It wasn't a big fancy ordeal, but I had my creative hand in everything. I made my own save the dates, invitations, decorations, monogrammed things etc. We are friends with lots of folks with skills. So one did my bouquets and flower arrangements (only paid for the supplies), another prepared the food (I only paid for the food), another made our wedding cake (completely free). We were able to pull off a wedding that I loved for under $2,000 for everything!

  4. It's an excellent location, right in the heart of the city near public transportation. They have coat hangers right at the entrance of Chicago wedding venues where you can leave your coat, and a lobby where you can set up some cocktail tables.