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13 Wedding Cost-Cutting Ideas For Everything From Photography To Catering

  |   By Bailey Spagat

Are you trying to pull off the wedding of your dreams on a tight budget? Here's some good news: You don't need to sacrifice elements of your dream day just because you can't afford to spend six figures on your event. The key is putting a bit more time and effort into the planning process to source out deals. Start with these tips. We'll spill the details on how to score a less expensive venue, hire a photographer on the cheap, find a gown for less, and share ideas for cutting costs on everything from catering to flowers.

No.
01

Flowers

Image courtesy Nathan Walker Photography

Use in-season flowers or non-floral arrangements for your bouquets and centrepieces. If your venue will allow, carry tapered candles down the aisle and use tea lights and silk flower petals as centrepieces. Candles are elegant and relatively inexpensive to buy. If you grow your own blossoms or live near a nature centre or reserve, you can also DIY your own bouquets and score major savings.

No.
02

Venue

Image courtesy 5ive15ifteen Photography

Choose a venue that doesn't ordinarily host weddings. They may not have all the decor you need, but you'll save a bundle on the space. Look to local restaurants, art galleries, dance studios, and other venues that don't have a set price for a wedding reception. Save on decor by choosing a venue with the look and feel you want for your wedding. This is not only unique and original, but it reflects your personality much more than traditional wedding venues.

No.
03

Alcohol

Image courtesy Jamie Delaine

Serving alcohol can be a considerable expense at a wedding. Have a cash bar or provide guests with a few drink tickets to keep costs down. Alternatively, offer a limited selection of specialty cocktails (even better if they're crafted around your wedding theme) so guests aren't asking for everything under the sun.

No.
04

Favours

Image courtesy Jason Dorey Photography

Donate to a charity close to your heart in honour of your wedding guests in place of favours. You don't have to make a donation for each individual guest the way you have to purchase favours. Instead, you'll make one large donation in honour of all your guests for an amount you can afford. If you like, feature a list of selected charities on your RSVP cards and let guests check which one they prefer.

No.
05

Shoes and accessories

Image courtesy Blush Wedding Photography

Borrow bridal accessories, such as your veil, from friends or relatives who have recently gotten married. Cruise vintage and second-hand stores for jewellery and browse around online. Scour sites like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay for discount shoes and accessories. Even better, sellers on sites such as Etsy make their own goods and can personalize your wedding accessories or offer a discount when you purchase multiple pieces. If you're buying shoes online, make sure they're refundable, and remember that retailers often will not refund shipping and duties if you've ordered from outside the country.

No.
06

Catering

Image courtesy Jamie Delaine

Rather than having a full-course dinner, save on food by having an afternoon brunch or lunch reception or a late evening cocktail party. There's no hard and fast rule that you need seven courses to satisfy guests, and unless you're having hundreds of people, it results in a lot of food waste by the end of the night anyway. A smaller meal is entirely okay, and you can get just as creative with your food selections.

No.
07

Cake

Image courtesy Coralee Penner of Red Photo Co.

Get the important people in your life to make minis of their favourite cake recipes in lieu of a tiered cake. The responsibility will be shared, so you won't burden one person with baking 300 mini cakes and it'll be nice to incorporate your loved ones into your wedding. Not only that, but the eclectic variety of flavours and tastes will push everyone's taste buds into overdrive.

No.
08

Music

Image courtesy iStockphoto

Rather than hiring an expensive band or DJ, make a playlist. Use your RSVP cards to poll guests on their favourite artists and songs, then incorporate their selections into your playlist. They'll feel involved, appreciated, and ready to bust out the moves.

No.
09

Wedding dress

Image courtesy iStockphoto

Buy a sample gown off the rack instead of ordering a new one at full price. Bridal boutiques often have sample sales, and designers have trunk shows that offer huge savings on dresses. Online shops do the same, and you could discover a small designer with more affordable styles at the same price point.

No.
10

Honeymoon

Image courtesy iStockphoto

Take a staycation and honeymoon in your hometown. Take a few days off work and tour your own city or one close to you. You can splurge on tourist attractions you wouldn't normally go to because you won't be wracking up hotel fees, and you'd be surprised what you can discover (or re-discover) in your own backyard. If you're looking to go away, pay for your wedding expenses with a credit card and accumulate points for your honeymoon.

No.
11

Photography

Image courtesy iStockphoto

You don't necessarily have to hire a high-priced photographer to get professional-quality wedding photos. Hire a student or someone who is new to the business. Their rates tend to be less expensive because they lack experience, but a lack of experience does not mean they lack talent. Also, look to daily coupon sites for deals on engagement sessions and wedding photography; you'd be surprised how much you could save.

No.
12

Wedding planning

Image courtesy iStockphoto

If you've decided you can't handle all the decision-making and stressful planning on your own, enlist the help of a close family member or friend to help take on the burden of scheduling (instead of a paid wedding planner). There's always that one person who's more than happy to help and will jump in with both feet, so let them do their thing.

No.
13

Hair and makeup

Image courtesy Rebecca Wood

If you aren't able to do your own hair and makeup, it's still possible to score a professional look at discount prices. Hire a beauty school student who needs the apprenticeship hours, or look to daily deal sites for spa package discounts. Plenty of up-and-comers are eager to build their portfolios and will pamper you without the high price tag.

This article was originally published on Jul 15, 2013
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