Here are 10 of our best tips for saving money on your wedding. These are in no particular order so be sure to read them all. You’ll be glad you did!

How to have a wedding on a shoestring budget!

1. Reach Out for College Talent
Local colleges are a great resource for finding ceremony musicians as well as culinary services (especially for wedding desserts). Students are often grateful for the opportunity and you’ll be happy with the cheaper rates.

2. Shop Décor Early
Long engagements are awesome when planning a budget-conscious wedding. Why? Two reasons: you won’t get stuck with the cost of reserving vendors/services last-minute and you’ll have lots of time to shop for decorations. As a budget shopper, you understand the cycle of sales. If your engagement is longer than a year, you can take advantage of seasonal clearance sales, which are great for scoring beautiful decorations at incredible prices.

3. Shop Off the Rack
Specialty bridal shops are wonderful if you’re interested in a traditional gown shopping experience but you can also find beautiful bridesmaid dresses and even bridal gowns at department stores like Nordstrom and dress shops like the Dress Barn. Shopping “off the rack” will provide a larger range of prices, which means you’re more likely to find some really great deals.

4. Tap into Friends and Family
Friends and family often have talents you can tap into. Do you have an aunt who loves to bake or a friend who does photography on the side? See if they’ll offer up their talents for your wedding. Only do this if you’re completely comfortable with their skills. If you’re expecting perfection, you will want to spend the money to hire a professional.

5. Don’t Say Wedding!
When reserving venues, services and rentals, try not to mention they’re for a “wedding.” Everyone seems to hike up their prices as soon as they hear that word. Refer to it as “an event” when you’re establishing price. Once the price is finalized, you can mention the occasion. It’s easier said than done but do your best and you might save some serious cash.

6. Limit the Guest List
You’ve heard us say this over and over again but it is truly the best way to keep your wedding costs down. Comb through your guest list several times and remove as many people as you can. The smaller the guest list, the less money you spend on everything from wedding invitations to food.

7. Cut the Fresh Flowers
The cost of fresh flowers adds up fast! Granted, you can choose flowers that are in season and there are plenty of reasonably priced varieties but the fact is it’s easy to get carried away with flowers. Plus they’re a bit tedious as far as setting them up and getting rid of them after the wedding. You can add color with fake flowers, paper lanterns, poms poms, wedding napkins, bowls of fruit, greenery and more. Get creative!

8. Shop Smart for Invitations
Buying a traditional wedding invitation ensemble (invite, response card and reception card) can be spendy. We offer lots of affordable alternatives to the standard invite. Check out Seal and Send Wedding Invitations for a uniquely designed invitation with lots of style at an affordable price. You might also want to consider Invitations with Online Reply to skip the cost of enclosure cards all together.

9. Skip the DJ
Although there are some definite perks to hiring a DJ, it’s not a must-have with so much fabulous technology at your fingertips. Asking a friend or doing it yourself will definitely free up some big money but you will need to put a lot of thought and effort into your playlist, the app you use and the sound/light equipment you choose to rent. Want more tips? Read How to be your own DJ written by our friends at Invitations by Dawn.

10. Make Smart Food Choices
Food will likely be your biggest wedding expense so be smart about it! Buffets are often thought to be cheaper but this isn’t always true. Paying per plate is a more controlled expense and can be more cost-effective. Shop around for a catering service and be up front with how much you want to spend per person. Some caterers will show you a list of what they offer with pricing already determined. If you don’t see a price you’re comfortable with, ask if they are willing to create a meal option that’s cheaper. If not, move onto the next caterer.