Tips for the frugal bride

white chair wedding

My father once told me he would give me $5,000 in cash to elope. My stepmother promptly beat him upside the head with a rolling pin and screamed, “Over my dead body!” Though my stepmother dreams of helping me to coordinate my dream wedding, my father is still a frugal man and I have a herd of siblings that need food and clothing. Thus, I have known since I was in high school that I will most likely be having a do-it-yourself kind of wedding.

I plan to enlist the help of friends and family in creating a cake. I am going to utilize my grandmother’s riverfront property for the ceremony. And I am strongly considering skipping the usual DJ in favor of simply making a lot of well timed mix CDs. Cutting certain costs will allow me to rent those white wooden folding chairs I love as well as a portable dance floor and huge canopy tent. That’s why I’m already reading things like Kathleen Kennedy’s “Priceless Weddings for under $5,000.” Sure, being a do-it-myself bride will be stressful, but, hey, so is everything else!

That said, the Internet is full of great tips on how to do a wedding “on the cheap”, like these from wikiHOW:

Have your ceremony and reception in the same location to simplify things and save you money. There will be no need for limos to take you to the second location. Many houses of worship have halls that are equipped to handle wedding receptions at reasonable fees – especially if you are a member.

Ask friends to lend their talents (in lieu of a gift)by helping out with such things as invitations or flowers. Ask a friend with pretty penmanship to address your invitations instead of hiring a calligrapher. If you simplify your flowers and arrangements, perhaps a friend can assemble fresh or silk flowers which will save you hundreds of dollars.

Instead of a limo, consider a regular vehicle.

Remember that the wedding is one day at the start of a life-long committment. Look beyond the wedding day to future goals you will have as newlyweds. If you want to purchase a house in the next few years, keeping that as a priority throughout the wedding planning process will help you to be prudent about how much you spend on that one day.

Personally, I’d rather use the minimum amount of money that will buy me the maximum amount of wedding and then put the rest in a nice, stable Roth IRA. My memory of my wedding will last a lifetime and when I’m old and wrinkly, I want to have all the free time in the world to think about those memories.

12 Responses to “Tips for the frugal bride”

  1. Lori says:

    Never teh Bride, I commend you for living within your means instead of saddling yourself with consumer debt. As the Manolo might say, the girls of the modest means, they must save up their moneys and look for the bargains. When an emergency strikes you and your future husband (that’s when, not if), you’ll be glad you did.

  2. Never teh Bride says:

    Thanks, Lori!!

  3. enygma says:

    Very smart. However a word of caution. I’ve been to some “frugal” weddings and they were, well….I can’t say this very nicely, but they just “seemed” cheap. Instead of even a simple buffet, one couple had bento boxes. Plastic ones. Yeah…..The couple were some of my favorite people but still…..there are some things you want to splurge on.

  4. Never teh Bride says:

    Great point, enygma! I think one can minimize the cheap in frugal by emphasizing what one really likes and de-emphasizing the rest. Like I love food and dancing and drinking, so I could make those focal points while maybe skimping on something no one really cares for, namely stupid, chalky Jordan almonds*.

    *please note – i love really good Jordan almonds

  5. When I was planning my wedding, I did most everything through family members and friends, except for the location, the tuxes and my dress and the flowers, everything was arranged through the kindness of people around me. You can still have the wedding you want and do it on a modest budget. The one peice of advice that I found useful when planning my wedding is find one thing you don’t scrimp on and splurge a little. Be it flowers, the cake, or table decorations or whatever, there should be one item on the list that you go all out on. Which makes sense to me. There should be some aspect of the wedding that suits you to a tee that you don’t want to compromise on, thus making the day even more special…

  6. Gigolo Kitty says:

    My stepmother promptly beat him upside the head with a rolling pin and screamed, “Over my dead body!”

    She sounds like my mother:) My South Asian mother started shopping for my trousseau the minute she came back from the hospital with me. I think she wants me to get married just so she can get rid of the accumulated crap…

  7. jj says:

    I think that one can be frugal without being cheap. The key is to prioritize the things that are important to spend money on, and those that are not. For us it was the food, the location and my dress. By the wayside were flowers (we went for moderate bouquets and relied on the garden setting for everything else), hard alcohol (we live in California where a wine & beer reception is perfectly acceptable), pricey favors and a whole lot of other silliness that the wedding industry tells you that you MUST have. Figure out what matters to you, and spend your time and money on that.

  8. CyndiF says:

    My words of advice:

    1) Decide what’s really important to you and spend your money there. Let the rest fall out without stress.
    2) Do you have a seamstress in your family? My mother sewed my wedding dress and it had great sentimental appeal. For about $500 (we splurged on $100/yd lace) I had a unique dress that was in a style I wanted.
    3) Make a real assesment of how costs will add up in a do-it-yourself setup. We went to a B&B with a wedding coordinator and initially balked at the price. But, after we added up the cost of a cheaper site, but having to deal with tents, tables, chairs, tableware, caterers, bartender, we ran screaming back to the B&B, which took care of everything without stress.
    4) Which I guess is my overall point. Spending the money to get what you want and to reduce anxiety is smart spending. Spending to get what others say you should have when you don’t really care is wasteful spending.

  9. Bacon's Mom says:

    Yay to DIY brides and other frugal people! The only quibble I have is with articles that tell you how to save money by scaling back just slightly instead of eliminating altogether. Not enough people tell brides that if they don’t like flowers, they don’t have to have them; or that limos really are optional; or that most every one of your guests will, indeed, throw that $2 favour away.

    We eliminated so much crap that I’ve had vendors kind of stare at me blankly, like, “But it’s not a wedding without a frilly guest book!” Don’t be afraid to get rid of things you don’t like, don’t want, and don’t need.

  10. Never teh Bride says:

    Tell me about it, Bacon’s Mom. What is up with those little porcelain baskets with Jordan Almonds inside? What am I going to do with a porceline basket with little porcelain flowers on it? Answer: Break it at a later date to use in place of rocks in potting soil.

    And PS Bacon is the cutest!

  11. Angie Cox says:

    Thank God for that I got my Kathleen Kennedy’s confused and thought “Well of all the nerve ,like they needed to cut back.Just sell Cape Cod or something……two common names ..but what with producing all those films I had visions of Ethel on a sewing machine or one brief and awful moment.

  12. Bela says:

    I had my wedding on December 26th while the church was still decorated for Christmas. Saved on flowers!