According to The Knot’s Wedding Budget 101 guide, a typical 150-guest wedding costs $25,000 on average. That’s enough to pay for a new car, cover the down payment on a new house or fund (at least partially) a college education.
Still, no bride wants to sacrifice her entire dream wedding in the name of frugality. So what’s a girl to do? Compromise. Pick what you don’t want to scrimp on, budget for that, and then DIY everything else to keep costs down. Here’s a bunch of ideas to get you started:
The Knot says 2 percent to 3 percent of your wedding costs go toward stationery. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but for a typical $25,000 wedding it breaks down to $500 to $750 spent on paper.
Start your wedding off on the frugal foot with homemade invitations and save-the-date cards. Start by asking your friends and family for their unwanted craft supplies. I’ve done this a few times and ended up with an arsenal of stock papers, markers and stickers.
For everything else, shop around. Online, check Etsy’s Craft Supplies section, Overstock.com’s Crafts & Sewing section, and discounts sites like CreateForLess. Offline, Michaels, Jo-Ann and Hobby Lobby run regular sales on paper craft supplies, and you can get discounts through email by signing up for their newsletters:
- Hobby Lobby.
Once you have your tools, you can find design inspiration at:
- Oh So Beautiful Paper DIY Ideas – A large collection with instructions.
- Meridian Bride – Ideas with DIY videos.
- Wedding Chicks – A collection of free printable invitations.
The wedding soundtrack accounts for 8 percent to 10 percent of costs, or $2,000 to $2,500 for a $25,000 wedding, according to The Knot. My friend recently paid less than $500 for her ceremony and reception music by eliminating the third party. Instead of hiring a band or a DJ, she bought an iPod, put her own soundtrack together, and enlisted a family member to keep it playing. Here are some tips to pull it off:
- Use an MP3 player. CDs scratch too easily. Check Craigslist and eBay for discounted players or borrow one.
- Make separate playlists to keep things organized. My friend had a playlist for the ceremony, one for the reception, and one for important dances like the father and daughter dance.
- For song ideas, check out the music lists on WeddingWire, Project Wedding and Brides.
The reception represents a large chunk of your total expense. The Knot says it’s 48 percent to 50 percent on average, or $12,000 to $12,500 for a $25,000 wedding. Make your own decorations and you’ll slash the reception costs. Here are a few ideas from around the Web:
- Yarn ball string lights.
- Homemade votives from Mason jars.
- Billboard letter lighting.
Setting the scene:
- 10 different garland ideas.
- Tin can vases.
- Small and large crepe paper flowers.
Now, here are a few more ideas to help cut costs:
- Pick DIY ideas that use what you already own like a large collection of old books, records, magazines or lace swatches.
- Shop flea markets for odds and ends. Flea markets are a great source for buttons, bottle caps, twine and other odd bits.
- Ask your local Freecycle community. For a friend’s wedding I needed a few hundred buttons to make place holders. I figured it was a long shot, but I posted an ad on Freecycle anyway. An hour later, I had my buttons.
The biggest part of your reception costs is probably going to be food and drink, especially if you hire a catering company. It’ll take some work, but making most (if not all) of the food yourself will save a ton of money. Here are some ideas:
- Cookie buffet – Cover a buffet table with different kinds of cookies on platters you already own (or can borrow) for a cheap dessert table.
- Wedding party potluck – Have each member of the wedding party bring their own home-cooked dish.
- Heart-shaped fruit – Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. Serve them on toothpicks as appetizers or on the tables as finger food.
- Cheese plates – Stock up on inexpensive cheeses and crackers at a warehouse club. Serve buffet style or on individual platters.