In our previous post, Planning a Wedding for Less Than $3,000, we gave you a broad overview of how much weddings are costing today (average of $30,000!) and how we managed to spend less than 10% of that ($2,515, to be exact).
Of course, there are as many ways to save money on weddings as there are to spend money on weddings, so here are just a few money-saving strategies we implemented for ours that you might find useful as you plan yours.
1. Send Photogenic Invites
Remember those days when you used to receive those super fancy wedding invitations: Vellum lined envelopes with embossed return addresses; more layers of envelopes inside; pre-stamped RSVP cards; little cards of various shapes and sizes for the registry, the reception, the directions; and oh, a few stray pieces of tissue paper in there for good measure. It’s painful to think how much people pay for such extravagance. Sure, $4 an invitation doesn’t seem so bad at first, but if you have 400+ people on your list like we did, $4 instantly becomes $1,600!
Fortunately nowadays, the tradition of sending such unnecessarily elaborate invitations is being replaced with more creative, non-traditional, and often simpler styles. We decided that for us, the most important aspects of the wedding invitation were:
- Information – date, time, place of ceremony
- Wedding website address – this is where they could get more information and RSVP
- Photo – a picture of the couple together is something that many of our friends and family keep
We concluded that the easiest, cheapest, and most efficient way to combine these 3 priorities was on a photocard. Wait! Before you cringe and throw this ingenious idea out the window, consider the following advantages:
- The photo is incorporated into the card so doesn’t need to be printed separately.
- Having everything on one card ensures that the envelope and contents will weigh less than one ounce, therefore guaranteeing the lowest priority postage rate.
- Because the photo is the main focus of the card, it’s something that people keep (we still saw our invitation on friends’ fridges a year later).
- Requires no assembly.
We found a website where we could design the full photocard with our own colors and styles without having to use one of their templates. The total cost for the invitation, including envelope, tax, and shipping was $0.30/card. After the cost of postage, the whole cost per invitation was less than $1!
We also saved postage costs by mailing multiple invitations to one address whenever possible (i.e. family units who lived near each other, coworkers who all worked on the same campus), and emailing invitations to international friends and family. After the wedding, we did the same for thank you cards.
Here are the total costs for the invitations and thank you cards, including envelopes, tax, shipping, and postage:
|400 Invitations + Envelopes @ $0.30 each||$120.00|
|200 Thank You Cards + Envelopes @ $0.30 each||$ 60.00|
|Postage (Invitations & Thank You’s)||$152.50|
2. Stretch Your Gifts by Going Green
Your guests give you gifts because they want to give you a boost in married life. Why not amplify that boost by redirecting the costs your guests would pay for overpriced products and shipping to wise and frugal purchases you can buy when you need them and where it’s most economical?
For example, the cheapest toaster oven on Bed Bath & Beyond’s website is currently $29.99 with an additional $6.99 shipping and $3.42 tax (where we are in TN), resulting in a total of $40.40. Because we chose not to have a registry and suggested monetary gifts instead, after we were married we used $40 of our wedding gift money to buy a fairly new $2 toaster oven at the thrift store, along with a brand new non-stick skillet, garden tools, and even a gently used recliner. Which way would you like to spend your $40? Do your guests a favor and make their gifts for further.
3. Visit Uncle Sam
When shopping for flowers for the bouquet, boutonnieres, and decorations, we had decided that our decision on flowers (whichever was most affordable and tasteful) would determine our wedding colors. I didn’t want customary red or pink roses, and my mom said it would be difficult to make a bridal bouquet out of orchids (although we did find them quite cheap). But then we found Sam’s Club calla lilies.
These artistic purplish-pink lilies with long elegant stems weren’t previously on my radar, but I soon realized what a graceful and sophisticated flower they were, even one lone flower stuck in a vase all by itself! At florists, they ran about $7/stem, but Sam’s Club* sold 150 mini calla lilies for $175, about $1.16/stem! We called to place our order for 150 lilies and the customer service rep encouraged us to have them arrive a couple days before the wedding in case any were damaged, as they guaranteed that any damaged ones would be replaced overnight free of charge.
In the bustle before the wedding, the large flower box arrived….with a conspicuous dent where it looked like the top had been slightly crushed. Upon examination, we found that 25 flowers were slightly damaged but still fairly usable. However, we decided to call Sam’s Club and let them know what had happened. After explaining to them how the box had arrived and the number of flowers that were slightly damaged, the rep immediately stated that they would replace the WHOLE order! We were ecstatic! But then we realized we didn’t really need 300 flowers. When the rep came back on the phone, she had found that they were out of mauve calla lilies and offered a FULL refund instead! So we used all 150 original flowers and thanked the Lord for providing all our gorgeous wedding flowers for free.
By the way, the reviews for these flowers were raving saying that they lasted for up to 2 weeks after the event. Sure enough! Weeks after the wedding, Al’s boutonniere on our dresser looked as fresh as it did on our wedding day.
*Last I checked, the price has gone up at Sam’s Club but they are still extremely inexpensive compared to most other florists. Costco now also sells mini calla lilies but in limited colors and more expensive than Sam’s Club.
4. Resist Useless Trinkets
Although wedding favors can be a nice touch, we didn’t see the meaning or value in sending guests home with a fairly useless trinket that would likely end up in the trash. The cost and work in producing them was not worth it to us, so we skipped wedding favors altogether. Instead, we used our thank you photos with a handwritten note as a memento of the occasion and many of our friends still have them to this day.
5. Involve the Inner Circle
When we were planning for our wedding, a close friend of ours was commenting how she had lost touch with many of her bridesmaids and wasn’t as close to them as before. Her sage advice was, “Friends come and go, but your family will always be part of you.” I realized how true that was. How many people do we know had a whole lineup of bridesmaids and groomsmen but now don’t know where they are and no longer keep in touch with them? But family are different, no matter the distance or life circumstances that separate you, you are always connected (like it or not!).
So when we were making the hard decisions of who to have as our bridesmaids and groomsmen and also thinking creatively how to save money, we decided to have our siblings and cousins as our wedding attendants*. Sure, it was definitely a smaller wedding party, but those on the stage with us when we got married were those we love and will always be a part of our lives.
And don’t forget, when you have a smaller wedding party (especially if they’re family) you have fewer outfits to worry about, fewer bouquets and boutonnieres to make (esp if you’re making your own like we did), they’re there anyway so you have fewer schedules to coordinate and accommodations to arrange (important for us because most of our family and friends were coming long distance), and of course, taking wedding party and family pictures is super efficient!
* Oh, except for the cute little blond Bible boy. We made an exception for him!
6. Don’t Burst Your Own Bubble
How many times have you attended a wedding, blew bubbles at the getaway, and found baskets and baskets of leftover bubble tubes sitting around the reception hall? Yeah, just about every wedding I’ve been to. That being said, it is very likely that many of your married friends have boxes filled with these leftover bubbles in their closets wishing they could get rid of them. So check with them before buying your own. Keep in mind that up to 50% of the guests have usually left by the time of the getaway, so don’t overestimate how many you’ll need. We used my brother and sister-in-law’s leftover bubbles and still had bubbles to spare!
These are just a few of the ways we saved money on our wedding, but there are millions more! What tips do you have to save money on the big day? Share your experience with us in the comments below!