90 Super Smart Ways to Save Thousands on Your Dream Wedding

How to save money on a wedding
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“You’re getting married! That’s so exciting. When’s the big day? How many attendants will you have? What kind of flowers are you going to carry? DJ or band?”

As soon as you have a ring on your finger, it’s amazing how quickly people move from exclamations of joy about spending the rest of your life with your favorite person onto the details of the upcoming celebration.

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the hullabaloo.

If you’re planning to walk down the aisle in style while adhering to a budget, the process of wedding planning can be more stressful than joyful.

How to Save Money on a Wedding

I’m here to help, with a list of 90 unique ways to save money on your wedding — without anyone realizing you cut some corners or skipped a few traditions.

Don’t try to use more than 10 or 15 of these tips on any one wedding celebration, but see whether any of these ideas feel right for you. No one’s going to doubt your love for one another because you don’t have fancy table runners or cute favors.

Ready to create a beautiful celebration of your joy on any budget?

The Engagement

Detail of a man and woman holding hands and a pearl engagement ring
Arturo Pena Romano Medina/Getty Images

Couples spent an average of $5,680 on engagement rings last year, according to The Knot’s 2018 Real Wedding survey. Here’s how you can save on the bling.

1. Remember, Diamonds Are Forever

Popping the question? Spring for a high-quality diamond.

“The center diamond is the most valuable part of the ring,” Jayme Pretzloff of Wixon Jewelers in Minneapolis explained. “You can always remount the diamond into another mounting in the future.”

She also noted that the tiny pave-set diamonds adorning many rings don’t have anywhere near the value of the main diamond.

2. Fake It With Flair

This tip takes mutual agreement, but it can help you save big on an engagement ring or on wedding bands. Ask to take a look at a jeweler’s faux offerings, such as cubic zirconia or moissanite.

3. Ditch the Diamonds

But what if diamonds — real or fake — aren’t your style? Fret not. You are free to profess your love by displaying a stone of your choice, whether it be pearl or peridot.

If you need a little nontraditional inspiration, check out Etsy’s wedding categories. You may find handmade jewelry you love for a price that’s perfect.

Venues and Vendors

The average cost of a ceremony site last year was $2,382, while a reception hall cost about $15,439, The Knot reported in its annual survey. Here’s how to save on the ceremony, the venue and the vendors.

4. Forego Tradition

Not every wedding reception needs to be in a big hall. “Consider a bed and breakfast, a public park or an art gallery for your reception,” said Danielle Farrell of Michigan’s Betty Brigade. Farrell used a senior center in her hometown for her wedding, which included an outdoor park area and banquet center, “for a fraction of what it would have cost at a hotel. And it was gorgeous!”

5. Scope Out the Furnishings

When viewing venues, take note of their furniture and tabletop styles, said event planner Sacha Patires. If the venue matches your personal style, you could save a bundle that you would have otherwise spent on rentals.

6. Bring the Party to You

The Wedding Wagon in Las Vegas will come to you. All you need is $129 to seal the deal with a witness and photos.

On the East Coast, Washington, D.C. business Pop Wed Co. offers chic elopement services (they even take care of the paperwork!) for $2,500. If there’s a similar service near you, a unique package could solve most of your planning problems before they even crop up.

7. Double-Check the Package Deal

Buying directly from a vendor can be more cost-effective than buying a package deal directly from the venue. Contact the vendor directly to compare prices.

8. Ask for Referrals

Got a recommendation from a friend? Maybe they had a great experience with a vendor and you’re excited to consider that florist or baker as well.

When you contact a vendor, make sure to mention the friend who referred you. There may be a referral discount (or a bonus for your friend!).

9. Have a Planner Help You Save

Portrait of a wedding planner
Kondoros Eva Katalin/Getty Images

Wedding planners know how to work with budgets of all sizes and will go to bat for you over contracts and negotiations.

Not sure if you can afford a planner for the entire planning process? Many offer supplemental help by the hour or day — just get in touch with them to ask!

10. Ask for Help

If you’re getting married at a church where you’re a member, call on its social groups.

Note, however, that these groups may ask for a small donation in exchange for their members’ time.

11. Multitask

“Use vendors that do more than one thing,” said wedding planner McNall. Think about a florist who also rents linens, or a wedding planner who offers decor installation.

“You’ll save on the ‘get me through the door’ fee that you have to pay each individual vendor you use.”

12. Ask About Sponsorship

Yes, I’m serious. Ask your vendors if you can advertise their services at your celebration in exchange for a reduced rate.

Word of mouth is powerful advertising indeed, especially if some of your guests are planning their own upcoming weddings.

13. Phone a Friend

Last year couples spent an average of $286 on officiants, according to The Knot. Skip clergy or justice of the peace fees by having a friend officiate. Becoming ordained is simple and doesn’t take much time, but be sure your officiant is complying with local laws and regulations.

And make sure your selected officiant is comfortable with public speaking! And do treat them to a kind gift for their services.

14. Don’t Guesstimate Your Guest Count

“You’ll have to give a guaranteed number of guests — especially if it’s a seated meal,” warned Teddy Lenderman, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Wedding. If you have fewer guests than the guaranteed number, you’ll be paying for empty seats.

“’I think’ and ‘I guess’ are the two phrases you don’t want to use when it comes to guaranteeing your guest total for the caterer. This number equates to money — at times, lots of money.”

15. Consider Your Guest List Carefully

“The best way to save money on a wedding is to cut the guest list, hands down!” wrote wedding and event planner Danielle Rothweiler.

She even did a little math for us: “If you have a guest count of 200 people, that’s 20 tables of 10; but by bringing it down to 150, you just eliminated five tables. That means five fewer centerpieces that you need to have, and 50 fewer meals and bar tabs.”

How do you decide who makes the cut? “We tell our clients that if the person hasn’t shared a drink, a laugh or a cry with you in the past year, there’s no reason they need to share all three at your wedding,” Rothweiler said.

16. Take Note of Tipping

When you plan your budget, don’t forget to factor in gratuities. Some of these will be spelled out in your contracts, like that of your venue or caterer.

But don’t forget those smaller gratuities. Getting your hair done at the salon? You’ll be tipping. Getting chauffeured for the day? There’s another tip. We have a tipping guide that can help you work gratuities into your budget.

17. Take Note of Time and Date

Trim costs by choosing an unusual time and date for your wedding and reception.  Who says your celebration has to include a full meal? “Time your wedding away from a full meal if you want to save on catering costs,” recommended relationship and etiquette expert April Masini. Her top pick: a 2 p.m. champagne and cake reception.

Also consider getting married during the holidays — your friends and family will already be home!

“Most venues are beautifully decorated, and you’ll have to put less money into making the place look spectacular,” said wedding planner Amy McNall of Unmistakably You.

One warning: some venues charge a premium for booking during the high Christmas-party season, so make sure to ask around.

You can also consider choosing a date outside of the typical wedding season. Masini offers these awesome off-season dates to watch for: “It’s off-season between summer’s end and Thanksgiving” for some venues, and February is a great time to squeeze in a wedding when “winter break is over and spring flings haven’t yet begun.”

Invitations

The average cost of wedding invitations last year was $386, The Knot says, with some people spending over $1,000. Here’s how to trim costs.

18. Don’t Save the Date

“Skip the save the dates,” wrote Courtney Lutkus of Southern California’s Simply Radiant Events. “They’re fun, but not necessary.”

Cutting these early notices could save you $100 or more — and that’s before the cost of postage.

19. Test Your Handwriting

Calligraphy is on trend, but hand-lettered envelopes can cost $3 each!

Instead, solicit your wedding party or family members to help you address invitations. Remember, the envelope will end up in the trash, but your invitation will likely get prime real estate on someone’s fridge. It makes sense to save money on the piece that will go straight into the recycling bin.

20. Design on a Dime

Got design chops and want to craft your own invites? Martha Stewart Weddings recommends checking out dafont.com and abstractfonts.com for free or donation-based typeface styles.

21. Turn Up the Heat

Lea Armstrong of WeddingPaperDivas.com told Martha Stewart Weddings that thermography can be an affordable alternative to engraving. While the methods differ, Armstrong assured that the look of raised ink is almost identical. The price of printing? You can cut it in half.

22. Get the PDF

Enlisting a graphic designer can help save costs, too. “Find a graphic designer to design your stationery and send you high-res PDFs that you can print and assemble yourself for invitations, table numbers and favor tags,” suggested wedding planner McNall.

Not sure how to find a designer? Check Etsy: Most printable suites cost under $100 if you request minimal edits.

23. Go Digital

A woman wearing a dress looks at her cell phone
pixelfit/Getty Images

Dreading buying stamps for your invitations, response cards and thank yous? Go digital by checking out services like Paperless Post or Greenvelope.

“Tools include RSVP and plus-one tracking, open rate management, registry announcement, wedding website link inclusion, photo sharing, survey questions to collect meal preferences, allergies or song requests,” noted Amanda Arrigotti of Greenvelope.com.

24. Don’t Be Square

The U.S. Postal Service hates square envelopes.

OK, we don’t know that for sure, but we do know that square envelopes require more postage than the standard rectangle — each one costs 70 cents instead of the standard 55 cents. Those cents add up quickly!

25. Skip the Tissue

Tissue in invitations is a thing of the past. “Sheets of tissue between layers of invitation packages were used in the past to prevent ink smudging,” explained Carolyn Garin and Kathleen Hughes of The Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide.

“They’re likely unnecessary for your modern invites, and you can even skip the interior envelopes for most invitation suites.”

26. Sign, Don’t Seal, Deliver

Use a postcard for each guest’s response instead of a card with an envelope.

“The cost to print these is about the same as an enclosure and envelope, [but] the big savings is in the postage,” author Lenderman said.

27. Send Guests Online for Details

Services like The Knot and eWedding offer free wedding websites where you can list accommodation options, directions and a link to your registry. List your wedding website on your invitation or an accompanying note, and you’ll be able to skip a few of those extra cards people usually lose from invitation packets.

Photography

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but are wedding photos worth $2,679? That’s the average amount couples spent on photographers last year, according to The Knot. They also spent just over $2,000 on videographers and another $325 on photo booths. Here’s how to save on the snaps and videos.

28. Choose a Promising Newbie

Working with an up-and-coming photographer instead of a pro can save you big money. Find one through friends and social media.

29. Trust Your Gut

Photographer Dorie Hagler advised against hiring a studio that seems to inexpensive to be true.

“It’s better to hire a local newspaper photographer,” she said. “They show up early, stay late and they know how to cover an event. Many high-end wedding photographers were newspaper photographers first.” Hagler knows — she’s one of them.

30. Don’t Double Up

Many photographers offer an assistant “second shooter” in their standard contracts, but others offer it as an option and charge extra. If you’re expecting fewer than 100 guests, one photographer should suffice.

31. Watch the Clock

Many photographers offer hourly blocks to fit all sorts of occasions. If you can only afford your top-pick photographer for a few hours, Hagler said to organize your event so you cut the cake (and arrange other special moments) in that time frame.

32. Choose Digital Photos

Don’t pay for a pricy album if you can avoid it. “If you get the digital photos, you can make prints of your favorites,” said Lou Lomibao of SnapKnot.

If you decide later that you’d like a digital album, you can create one that fits your budget at that time.

33. Crowdsource Your Video

Are you OK with guests using their varied electronic devices at your celebration? Want to capture big moments, but don’t want to pay big bucks for a wedding video?

Invite your guests to contribute video through a site like WeddingMix. You’ll be able to piece together your big day (or have a pro do it for you) with a bit of home-movie style.

34. DIY the Photo Booth

You can capture fun, informal photos of friends and family without renting a photo booth. Set up a simple backdrop and provide some fun props. Guests can use their phones or personal cameras and snap away. You’ll likely be able to enjoy all the shots later on social media!

If you’re using a wedding hashtag, you can pick and choose Instagram snaps to have compiled into photo books by companies like Blurb.

Flowers, Decor and Favors

wedding bridal purple and pink bouquet with lace and ribbons on the vintage wooden chair outdoors in the forest
mictian/Getty Images

Weddings and flowers pretty much go hand in hand, and couples spent an average of $2,411 on flowers and decor last year, according to The Knot. They also spent another $245 on favors for guests. But we’ve got ways to trim costs.

35. Go Minimal

Let your setting shine on its own. “If you are getting married outdoors, let the scenery do the work for you,” encouraged wedding planner Lutkus. “You probably picked your venue partly on looks, so don’t cover up what you love about your location.”

36. Alternate Your Table Arrangements

When planning centerpieces, “Have some [tables] with “wow” pieces and some with something smaller that costs much less,” recommended Anthony Navarro, founder of Liven It Up Events in Chicago. You’ll catch your attendees’ eyes with carefully placed centerpieces.

37. Get Low

Photographer Hagler prefers smaller centerpieces, as she says towering features tend to cost more and they get in the way of photos. “Other than the one wide-angle room shot, large, tall centerpieces make it difficult to photograph people at the table,” she said.

38. Look Up

In lieu of large centerpieces, you can fill overhead space. One bride told us she spend just $300 on flowers and decor, partly by using paper lanterns accented by mobiles made out of bunches of origami paper cranes.

39. Make It Work — Twice

Author Lenderman recommends moving pew or aisle markers from your ceremony to double as centerpieces at the reception.

You can also reuse your bouquets. “After the ceremony at my friends’ wedding, the bridesmaids simply popped their flowers into vases waiting on each table. The centerpieces were super simple, but looked gorgeous,” said Heather van der Hoop, a former editor at The Penny Hoarder.

40. Focus on the Head Table

“If you love specialty linens but can’t afford them for all of your tables, just use them for your head table and cake table,” recommended Tampa-based wedding planner Tracie Domino. These tables will be the most prominent during your celebration — and will probably be photographed the most.

41. Buy From Other Brides

“Check out listings and post your own request on Kijiji or Craigslist,” wedding planner McNall recommended. Once-used linens and decor can often be found for prices that beat the cost of renting.

42. But Don’t Expect to Profit From Other Brides

If you’re concerned about making back the bucks you spent on new decor, skip it and rent decorations, said wedding planner Jennifer Taylor. She warns that many decor items don’t sell, “and if they do, it will be at much less than what you purchased it for.”

43. Choose Your Favorite Flower

“If you pick one kind of flower instead of pricy arrangements, you can get many more flowers for a lower price,” Jessica Probus noted on Buzzfeed. “The expense of flower arranging is in the labor, and mixed bouquets take much longer to make.”

Bonus: You’ll need fewer of your favorite large blooms to make a statement.

44. Follow the Blooms

Wedding publications can drive an interest in a trendy flower like a peony.

“If you’re getting married any time from late summer to early spring, [peonies] will cost a fortune,” wedding planner Domino warned. “Work with your florist and select flowers that are in season. They will look better and will save you money.”

45. Look Outside the Wedding Industry

Wedding planner McNall recommended exploring vendors who work in events but aren’t always swamped with weddings. “I often use a talented florist in town whose bread and butter is corporate work, so she doesn’t upcharge her wedding work like some florists do,” she said.

46. Be Open With the Vendors You Love

“I visited two florists before making a decision,” Jane Bianchi shared at LearnVest, explaining that she liked the first option much more but couldn’t bear the much higher price estimate.

“I decided to email Florist A and say, ‘I’d really love to work with your company, but I got an estimate from another florist that’s $1,100 less.’” Bianchi’s preferred florist matched the price, proving the power of negotiation.

47. Rent Your Greenery

Yes, renting flowers for your big day is an option. After the event, you can return them to the florist for resale.

48. Put Your Green Thumb to Work

Got a flair for gardening? Enjoy your blooms longer than just the wedding day. “I planted… huge pots of annuals that would last the entire summer and fall season,” offered bride Kelly Fallis from Ontario. “I still spent $1,000, but was able to enjoy the florals from June until November rather than spending it on one day!”

49. Try Paper Petals

“Paper flowers are an inexpensive alternative to real ones,” said Buzzfeed writer Probus. With a little practice, you can DIY these. If you’d rather save some time, paper blooms start at about 50 cents each on Etsy.

“Plus,” Probus added, “you get to keep your bouquet forever.”

50. Use Coupons

Wedding planner McNall of Unmistakably You keeps her advice simple: “Never buy anything at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s without a coupon!”

It’s wise to even save coupons that have expired, as some stores will still honor them.

51. Share a Free Map With Guests

If you’ve ever traveled to an out-of-town wedding, you’ve probably been greeted with a bag at the hotel that contains snacks and local guides.

You can still tell your guests about your favorite places without spending the money on supplies or the time on assembly. Drop markers on a Google map that you can share with guests, or create a local scavenger hunt through the Stray Boots app.

52. Don’t Favor Favors

Lutkus is a minimalistic wedding planner (she suggested skipping save-the-date cards and decorations, too). “Skip the wedding favors,” she dared to suggest. “They are cute, but what do guests really do with them after the wedding?”

If you really want to provide favors, have them offer a dual purpose: Lutkus-approved favors include bubbles to blow at the ceremony and something personalized to eat at the reception or save for later.

53. Give Guests a Gift

“Wedding favors are often more stressful than they are useful,” Probus shared on Buzzfeed. Instead of wedding favors, Probus suggested inviting guests to take home centerpieces or decorations.

“They’ll get a great home decor item and you won’t have to worry about what to do with 15 mason jars filled with flowers,” she wrote.

Bride and Groom

Guests Throwing Confetti Over Bride And Groom At Wedding
monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

Brides spent about $1,600 on their wedding dresses last year, and they spent another $250 on accessories, according to The Knot. Grooms spent $283 on their attire and accessories, while groomsmen spent roughly $187. Here’s how to save on bride and groom attire.

54. Choose Something Old Over Something New

If you’re thinking of wearing a vintage or secondhand gown, you’re in luck. You can check out  vintage shops (some of which focus solely on wedding gear); some regions now feature bridal shops that only offer pre-worn gowns.

You might need to spend more on tailoring, but the up-front savings will likely offset that cost. Grooms, maybe you can track down a fly vintage tux?

55. Think Like a Bridesmaid

Want a super-simple dress? Event planner Patires said to look at bridesmaid dresses in white or ivory shades. “They are much less expensive than wedding gowns, but can be made simple and elegant with bridal accessories.”

56. Rent Your Dress

Event planners Arreguin and Burton encourage renting a gown through a website like Rent the Runway.

Don’t forget: “Check out formal wear options for white dresses that are chic and on-trend but not necessarily bridal gowns.”

57. Borrow Something

It is sort of a wedding rule, after all.

“Before you purchase something, think about weddings that you’ve been to recently,” bride Jane Bianchi wrote. A bride might even be honored if you ask to borrow her veil, shoes, jewelry or shawl — and you’ll cut those costs completely.

58. Give It the Think Test

On “Say Yes to the Dress,” they call it “jacking up” to help a bride see what she’ll look like in a dress, veil, sash — the whole deal.

Grace Caiazzo, former owner of Bella Bridal and Heirlooms, explained that this technique can help bridal associates increase their commission — but brides can also find themselves with a larger bill. “I recommend trying on different styles, then going home and searching the internet for the best price on the style you like best,” she said.

59. Avoid a Veil Fail

“There is no way to tell the difference between mid-priced veil and a high-end designer veil,” wedding planner Domino noted. Since you’ll likely only wear your veil during the ceremony, save a bundle by choosing an inexpensive style.

60. Rock Your Favorite Shoes

Just because it’s your big day doesn’t mean you have to wear everything fresh out of the box.

Check your closet for a pair of shoes that would pair well with your dress, or wear your favorite bold heels. If you’re wearing a long dress, your feet won’t have a starring role anyway.

61. Practice Patience

If you must have new shoes, wait for a sale. “If you can, hold out for big holiday sales around Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day,” Bianchi said.

And while you’re online window shopping, check your local bridal salons for their sample sale dates.

62. Consider a Suit You’ll Wear Again

A custom suit you can wear again will not only help grooms look sharp on the wedding day, they’re also good investments. You’ll be able to wear those suits for as long as they fit.

63. Borrow a Penguin Suit

Want the formality of a tuxedo without the price tag? Borrow one from a friend or family member (just make sure the fit is right).

Jewelry

A bride’s wedding band cost about $1,078 last year, while a groom’s cost $584, according to The Knot. We’ve got ways to save on jewelry — from wedding bands to other accessories.

64. Consider Alternative Wedding Bands

White gold may be popular and traditional, but it’s not essential. Alternative-metal rings can be much less expensive than traditional white gold, while also often being more durable, according to Vincent La Rosa of Tungsten World.

65. Melt It Down

Contributing your own metal for your wedding bands could help save on costs. “We asked our friends and family to donate their old gold to an environmentally friendly jeweler,” wrote blogger Sarah Cotner.

After melting down the old goal, Cotner received a credit to have new rings created from the molten metal. Her cost for two wedding bands: $109.

66. Test Costume Jewelry

Instead of real diamonds or pearls, costume pieces can add a dash of glamour at a modest cost. “No one will guess that the jewelry isn’t real,” Caiazzo  said.

67. Choose Classic Jewelry

Choose versatile bride and bridesmaid jewelry. You’ll get more use out of pieces that you can wear with other outfits or in a variety of venues.

Bridal Party

Having a large bridal party can cause costs to quick add up, with transportation alone costing an average of $856 last year, according to The Knot. Bridesmaids dresses cost about $142 each, and groomsmen spent roughly $187. Here’s how to keep bridal party expenses under control.

68. Keep It Small

Don’t feel pressured to have a huge wedding party. Keeping it small or skipping attendants altogether can offer major cost savings, said event planners Arreguin and Burton.

“You’ll save hundreds on your flower budget — no extra bouquets and boutonnieres — plus you won’t have to buy bridal party gifts.”

69. Move Everyone in Style

Need to transport your bridal party or family? Ask limousine, trolley or bus companies if they offer rates by the hour or by the day. By comparing different kinds of estimates “apples to apples,” you can determine the best option for you.

Looking for a more subdued method of transport? Contact sedan companies that specialize in corporate transportation. They may be willing to contract out a few Lincoln Town Cars for your big day.

70. Borrow a Vehicle

Only need to go a short distance with your group?

“One bride, who wasn’t obsessed with having a vintage car to go a mile, borrowed friends’ SUVs to shuttle the bridal party and family,” planner Pamela Fishman Cianci told Martha Stewart Weddings. “Nobody noticed the difference.”

71. Color Coordinate

Marketing coordinator and event planner Farrell used her planning savvy for her own wedding day.

“My bridesmaids found their dresses at a variety of places, including David’s Bridal, eBay and Tradesy,” she said. Farrell requested a specific color, but allowing bridesmaids to choose their style helped each woman stick to her own comfortable budget.

72. Take on Touch-Ups as a Team

A bride’s makeup costs just over $100, according to the Knot, while each bridesmaid’s makeup costs just over $80 (hair is extra). Makeup artist Rosemary Redlin shared this smart tip with Martha Stewart Weddings: Hire the best makeup person you can afford, but ask them to leave a touch-up kit for you.

Since most artists charge by the hour, you don’t want to pay for someone to wait around to do a five-minute touch-up before your portraits.

Food and Drink

You can’t have a wedding without food and drinks. Last year, couples spent an average of $70 per person, according to The Knot. Keep food and beverage costs down with these tips.

73. Skip the Cocktail Hour

The cocktail hour typically allows time for wedding party and family portraits. If you’re having all your wedding activities in one location, and/or will have your photos done before the ceremony, you may be able to skip that extra hour of service altogether.

74. Ask for Small Plates

Thinking of having a buffet? Ask to use seven-inch plates rather than the standard 10-inch dinner plates.

“Guests tend to put less food on smaller plates and will likely consume what’s only on their plate,” noted Greg Jenkins of Bravo Productions in Long Beach, California.

75. Eat Family Style

Ask your caterer or venue if meals can be served family style. Marcey Brownstein, a New York City-based planner, told Martha Stewart Weddings that family-style serving makes the food a focal point as well as a way to start conversation. It also allows you to serve a few less-expensive dishes, like pasta, that you might not expect at a traditional plated dinner.

76. Ask to Pay Based on Consumption

Event planner Jenkins said that most venues won’t propose this to a bride, but it’s worth asking if you can purchase food on consumption. With this model, you pay for what’s eaten, rather than how many guests attend.

77. Simplify the Appetizers

“Review the big picture and put your dollars into what is really important,” said Jenkins. “An example is spending money on expensive appetizers, whereas simple cheese and fruit platters might very well suffice.”

78. Do Dining DIY

Providing your own food will allows you to save big if your venue allows you to do it. “Whether you want an exquisite formal dinner or you’re just looking for a more homestyle meal, you are able to scout around and find the best prices to fit your needs,” event planner Farrell said.

79. Go Local

Share your favorite local spot with your guests while potentially saving a big chunk of change. “Catering costs can get pricey,” said D’Antonio.

80. Consider Mobile Meal Options

Alexis Evans of Roaming Hunger noted that food trucks are flexible and can offer a variety of services: full meals, late-night snacks or maybe just desserts. “Especially for weddings with long guest lists or picky eaters, hiring a variety of trucks allows guests to sample a variety of cuisines without breaking the bank.”

81. Choose a Signature Drink

Buzzfeed writer Probus warned that liquor can really eat up your wedding budget.

“Instead of an open bar,” she suggested, “opting to serve a signature cocktail or two can save thousands of dollars and also add a personal touch.” Plus, it’s a great excuse for you and your sweetie to play mixologist at home to test out cocktail recipes!

82. Be Wise With Alcohol

Determined to have an open bar? There are still ways you can keep alcohol costs down. “Use only house brands of liquor,” wrote Lenderman. “Most of your guests will not notice, and the cost difference between house brands and premiums is tremendous.”

You can also ask the bartender to ban shots, which can add up quickly.

And then there’s champagne. Capital-C Champagne hails from that specific region in France and comes with a price tag to match. Consider switching out the fancy stuff with cava or prosecco. You can save $20 per bottle or more, according to an expert for Martha Stewart Weddings.

Have your heart set on real Champagne? Jenkins offers this cost-saving compromise: Offer a one-glass Champagne toast instead of having the bubbly flowing all night.

Dessert

An overhead close up shot of a strawberry rhubarb pie and a slice.
DebbiSmirnoff/Getty Images

Like all things wedding-related, cake costs will vary; however, in 2018, couples spent an average of $528 on them. These tips will help you save money on dessert costs.

83. Have a Dummy Cake

Cake gets expensive.

To help you save costs, your baker could make a four-tier cake with two fake tiers of polystyrene that cost just a few dollars each. Once frosted, they look the same as the rest of the cake.

84. Order Two Cakes

It might sound counterintuitive, but this is a smart savings strategy.

“Order a small decorative cake for the cake-cutting ceremony,” advised Stacey León of Butterfly Bakeshop in New York. “And have a sheet cake in the back that can be cut for serving guests.” You’ll save big on decorating labor.

85. Bake Up a Buffet

Don’t let those slices go to waste. “Instead of serving each person a slice of cake, have your caterer set up a buffet-style table where plated slices can be placed,” said León.

By letting guests serve themselves, only those who truly want to enjoy dessert will take a slice. And in doing so, you’ll be able to order less cake.

86. Use Natural Embellishments

“Order a plain base cake with colorful trim and then have your florist add fresh flowers on site,” recommended León. Most florists have extra flowers on hand after decorating, so discuss this option with your floral provider.

87. Choose a Cake Alternative

Instead of a fancy cake, consider an assortment of cupcakes, or perhaps a series of pies. These options will be cheaper than a traditional cake.

Music

After the ceremony, it’s time to cut loose. Do you want a live band or a DJ at your reception? Or do you want both? Last year couples spent an average of $4,247 on reception bands and an average of $1,292 on DJs, according to The Knot. But we’ve got ways to keep costs down.

88. Be Your Own DJ

“Load up your iPod with playlists for each part of your wedding, and designate a friend or family member to grab the mic during special announcements and monitor the music,” recommended D’Antonio.

You’ll get to hear all of your favorite songs on your wedding day without risking a DJ making tacky jokes. Be sure to ask your venue about hookup equipment, speakers and the like.

89. Ask Guests to Perform

Talented guests can help provide entertainment. “We had two other friends who are talented singer-songwriters, and they agreed to play music for free during the ceremony,” bride Bianchi shared on LearnVest. Even after providing gifts for her performers, Bianchi estimated saving $750 on this aspect alone.

90. Look for Student Performers

Probus suggested contacting your local college’s music department to ask about students who play at events.

“They cost less than professional musicians and are often eager for the experience,” she wrote. “If you don’t live near a college, look up local music teachers and see if they have any top students to recommend.”

Lisa Rowan is a former senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Editor Sushil Cheema contributed to this article.