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10 Principles for a Frugal Wedding

The following Guest Post is from Fred, a personal finance writer. He helps people to compare home loans, savings accounts and credit cards online.

Being frugal with your money is not about being too tight to spend it, but it’s about smart spending and the main principle of frugality asks you whether you want to spend time or whether you want to spend money – the frugal will spend the time to achieve the same high quality, but for much less. You can apply this and many other frugal principles to your wedding planning to save you money, and as you and your family and friends put time into your wedding preparations, you’re also putting meaning.

1 Think outside the church

Consider the savings you could make by getting married somewhere other than a church, where you don’t have to pay the hire fees, you don’t have to pay an organist, or for prayer cards or pew bows. Instead, think outside the square when deciding on a venue for your wedding ceremony and you may come up with a pretty park or lakeside setting where you and your fiancée have picnicked before, or perhaps a friend or family member has a big backyard you could use? Even if you get married outside of a church, you can still be married by a priest or minister.

2 Family-owned catering

If there is a favourite family-owned restaurant or cafe which you know does good food, ask them whether they’d be interested in catering your wedding. A family catering business will not only maintain good quality, but they will also aim to please, treating you like one of the family too, and your wedding like their own. Your local family restaurant may be so honoured at receiving the extra work that they’ll work out a good price for your wedding meals, plus a family-owned business will be cheaper than a big production-like catering company.

3 Honeymoon essentials

Before you book expensive flights for a round the world trip, think about what you’d actually like to be doing on your honeymoon – spending time with each other. Therefore, choose a honeymoon destination close to home to save on travel expenses and choose a motel or B&B where you can cook your own meals rather than a pricy hotel where you only get a kettle. Then you can spend your honeymoon budget on the experience and go horse riding or mountain biking or hiking or fishing – or just for a romantic walk on the beach.

4 Attendant gifts

It is tradition that the happy couple give their bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl and page boy a special gift for all their help, but it doesn’t have to be something to break the bank. Instead think of something which will be meaningful to your attendants – and which will be cheap and easy to make too – as a personal gift will say so much more.

For example, give each person a book you know they’ll enjoy reading or a pen, money clip or notebook journal. Or you could find a photo of yourself with each of your attendants – even if it’s from when you were in kindy together or at your high school prom – and have it reprinted and put it in a nice frame.

5 Register for wedding services not gifts

Instead of making a bridal registry for your guests to choose you a gift, ask them to instead help you out with something for the wedding. Instead of buying you gifts your guests could: provide candles for the ceremony; make table centrepieces for the reception; provide the bridal bouquet and flowers from their own garden; bake a wedding cake or provide a dessert each; act as the photographer or videographer; play an instrument or sing as the entertainment or mind the small children.

6 Re-frock your attendants

Rather than spending all the time and money to find a dress which suits all of your bridesmaids and will cost hundreds of dollars – if not more – ask each of them if they already have a nice frock they want to reuse at your wedding. You can even take your cue for the wedding colours and theme from the dresses your bridesmaids already have as each can wear a different colour and style, but they’ll all fit with the theme.

While you’re saving money and time on your bridesmaids, consider making or having your own wedding dress made. You can often have a style ‘borrowed’ from a bridal store and made by a dressmaker for less than half the price, or do it yourself if you’re handy with a sewing machine. And you don’t have to stop at the dress, you can make your own veil, purse and mother of the bride dresses too. Making your own dress is also a great way to incorporate your mother or grandmother’s wedding dress too as you can use their dress as the fabric for yours (and save on buying fabric too!).

7 DIY invitations

If you have a computer with basic desktop publishing – or even just word – programs you can make your own invitations and save hundreds of dollars. Print your invitations on nice paper and dress them up in a way which suits your style; you might add a little glitter or a ribbon, or even some themed stickers can make your invitations look professional and keep them affordable. To save on paper, forget about the RSVP card and envelope and just print your phone number on the invitations so people can call you directly.

When you make your own invitations it’s also easier to add a few new guests to the list and have their invitations look the same as everyone else’s, rather than requiring a whole new print run from a professional printer. When you’re creating your invitations, make sure to check their weight before you get too carried away with decorations because if you have to pay for package postage your frugality will be lost.

8 Keep the guest list to people you’ve met

Of course that sounds obvious but many people feel obligated to invite everyone and their cousin to their wedding. Whether you’ve met them, not seen them for 10 years or just aren’t particularly close, you can have a frugal and affordable wedding by keeping your numbers down; plus, if you barely remember the names of some of your guests, what about your fiancée who wouldn’t know them from a bar of soap. Instead celebrate your wedding and marriage with your close family and friends and it will save you money in food, venue hire, invitations and drinks packages and you’ll have a much better time.

9 Don’t plan for a wedding

It has been found that when you book services for a wedding, as compared to any other type of function, you can pay anywhere from 25-75 per cent more for everything. Therefore, don’t book your caterer, your venue or your DJ for a wedding, but for a ‘family function’ and you can make savings without even trying to be frugal.

10 Wedding advertising

You don’t have to pin a banner ad to the back of all your groomsmen but it doesn’t hurt to ask whether your wedding suppliers will do your wedding for a discount or for free if you hand out business cards to your guests. You don’t have to force the cards on your guests but can leave them on the pews in the church or next to the place cards at the reception and you can save a fortune by helping out your local wedding suppliers.

6 Comments

  1. Great post! I still regret the amount of money we spent on our wedding. We went into debt because our parents were not covering it. My husband has a large family, so we invited cousins and everyone, and it took a year to pay it all off.

    Also, regarding the honeymoon…I ended up very sick after the wedding, probably from the stress and all. I was so glad we did not go somewhere super expensive because I ended up spending a lot of time in the hotel room with a fever.

    If I had to do it over again, I would have only invited people that I would envision myself hanging out with 10 years from then. Obviously there are some family members you have to invite, but I would have cut my guest list in half. But I was 23 and didn’t know any better!
    .-= Everyday Tips´s last blog ..Tips for Traveling With Kids =-.

  2. Wow really great points! This is stuff I really have never thought of before. A lot of it makes total sense however, especially family catering! I know my family would love to cater for my wedding haha:)

    I’m going to a wedding sat, so I’ll see if I pick up on any frugal tips!

  3. Great tips for sure! Especially about limiting the guest list.. that is a big way to make it affordable. We also found some more great tips for planning a wedding on a budget here: http://www.celebrationideasonline.com/Planning-a-wedding.html One of the best was getting your wedding invitations at Costco of all places!

  4. I like the family-owned catering idea. I know some people who just had their favorite local pizza joint do the food for their wedding. It didn’t break the bank, showed some personality, and had people talking positively about their wedding.

    I’d love to have some sushi or Chinese food at my wedding someday!
    .-= Austin @ Foreigner’s Finances´s last blog ..How to Negotiate Overdraft Fees =-.

  5. These are all great ideas. I’ll definitely keep them in mind when planning for my wedding. I also think that shopping around for floral arrangements is KEY to saving a lot of money. Photographers are also extremely expensive.

    Wedding shows like “Say yes to the dress” don’t make planning easier… girls buy dresses for thousands of dollars on there.

  6. I wonder how couples pull this off nowadays. Just a few years ago couples were willing to put on a wedding that might have cost half their years’ salary knowing they could easily finance everything (even the house they’d be buying). Now, nobody is too sure what the future holds and going into that kind of debt is scarier. Still, I was never sure how young couples could do it at all considering they are typically making the lowest earnings of their careers. I guess it was simply that important to them.

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