47 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

We know, weddings are expensive—but you can cut costs without anyone even noticing.
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
Senior Editor
  • Kim writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in etiquette and planning advice
  • Kim manages freelance writers for The Knot Worldwide
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Kim was Associate Bridal Editor at Washingtonian magazine and Associate Fashion Editor at Conde Nast’s Brides Local magazines
Updated Dec 04, 2023
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Whether you're newly engaged or in the thick of planning your big day, you've probably figured out one obvious fact: Weddings are expensive. The trickiest part of wedding planning may be creating a personalized, beautiful event and emerging with your budget still intact. So, how do you save money on a wedding without sacrificing style? Turns out it's totally possible, and there are lots of options when it comes to cutting wedding costs.

To get started, we recommend sitting down with your partner to discuss your wedding-day priorities. What two or three aspects of your big day are most important to you, and which are less essential? This conversation will help you determine where you can splurge, and where you can save. You'll also want to create your wedding budget (and divide it up by before starting to research and hire vendors).

In its over 25 years of existence, The Knot has collected a lot (and we mean a lot) of budget tips from pros and couples alike. Consider this our expert guide to how to save money on a wedding, from food to flowers, music to photography and much more.

In this article:

How Much Does a Wedding Cost?

According to The Knot's Real Wedding Study, the average cost of a wedding is $30,000 (this doesn't include the engagement ring, which costs around $6,000 on average). Remember this is just an average, and there are many factors that go into how much your wedding will cost. One of the biggest factors is location—weddings in coastal cities tend to cost more than those in more rural areas. As an example, a wedding in New York costs $46,000 on average, while in Utah the average is about $16,000. Guest count also has a big role to play—couples who invited 50 or fewer guests spent about $14,00 on their wedding, while those with over 100 guests spent $38,000 on average.

The breakdown of costs is also important—how much you'll spend on each wedding expense. For example, you should expect to spend about half of your budget on your venue and food, and about 7 percent on photography. However, your specific wedding cost breakdown won't necessarily be an exactly science—as your specific budget, location, priorities and how you choose to save money will be unique to your big day.

Easy Ways to Save Money on a Wedding

If you're in the early stages of wedding planning, there are some ways to save money right off the bat. This tried-and-true advice will start you on a path to saving, not overspending.

1. Hire a wedding planner

It may sound counterintuitive—hiring a wedding planner can help you save money? It's true! One of wedding planners' most important duties is ensuring you stay within budget. And (major bonus!) they can use their wedding industry contacts and know-how to get you the best deals and savings.

2. Use a wedding budget tool.

If you're not hyper-organized during the wedding planning process, you can very easily slip into overspending mode. That's why using The Knot's (free!) Budget Planner is essential—it'll help you keep track of your budget and stay organized which in effect, will help you save.

3. Trim your guest list.

We know it's hard to consider celebrating without certain friends and family members, but cutting your guest list is the easiest way to reduce your budget. It'll lower everything, including your catering and invitation costs, your venue size and rentals. Knowing that the average couple spends $266 per guest, if you invite 100 guests instead of 150, you'll save over $13,000!

4. Enlist a smaller wedding party.

While your wedding party pays for a lot of expenses themselves (attire, travel, etc.), there are certain items the couple traditionally pays for (bridesmaid bouquets, boutonnieres, wedding party gifts, etc.). If you can swing it without offending anyone, the fewer bridesmaids and groomsmen you enlist, the less you'll spend.

5. DIY responsibly.

You've probably been told by well-meaning loved ones: "DIYing saves you money!" And in some cases, it does! But DIYing certainly isn't free—you'll need to purchase supplies, which can add up. And don't forget about the time and potential stress taking on too many DIY projects may incur. If you're super into the idea of creating your own wedding decor, take our recommendation: Choose one project to DIY and leave the rest to the professionals.

6. Give your budget some wiggle room.

Overspending on your wedding budget is actually super common—according to our Real Wedding Study, nearly half of couples admitted to going over budget. That's why we recommend reserving 5 percent of your total budget for extras, hidden costs and fees, additional decor, those shoes you just had to have, etc.

How to Save Money on Your Wedding Venue

Your venue will set the tone for your big day—and it's one of the biggest wedding expenses (the average couple spends $10,700 on their venue alone). However, finding an affordable wedding venue isn't impossible, just follow these tips.

7. Choose a shoulder-season date

Depending on where you plan to tie the knot, you could save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars by doing so in your destination's off-season or during one of the general shoulder seasons (typically late winter and early spring). We know the weather might not be as optimal as it is during prime wedding season, but it could totally be worth a February event to afford your dream venue.

8. Host it all in one place.

Having your ceremony and reception at one location will cut travel time for vendors you'd have to pay by the hour.

9. Reconsider the at-home wedding.

You might think that hosting a backyard wedding is a great money-saver (no rental fee!), but it's usually even pricier than a traditional wedding venue. You'll have to bring in everything from tents to generators to portable toilets, even a portable food prep station—all of this will add up quickly. Your best bet is to book an all-inclusive venue that offers many services in house.

10. Skip Saturdays.

Venues charge way more for Saturday events because they're by far the most popular day of the week, and there's far more competition. So, while it's not always as convenient for you or your loved ones, a Friday or Sunday (or pretty much any other non-Saturday) wedding date could be the answer to your budget prayers. And weekday weddings are totally trending right now, so don't discount a Monday or Thursday!

How to Save Money on Wedding Catering

Food is another huge wedding expense (couples spend an average of $75 a person on food), but you can absolutely save on your wedding menu while still offering tasty and plentiful eats for your guests.

11. Have a cocktail-style reception.

Skip the sit-down dinner or big buffet and opt for passed appetizers (just make sure you have enough to go around—don't let your wedding guests go hungry).

12. Consider a brunch wedding.

Brunch food tends to cost less than dinner food, and it's just as yummy. By hosting a morning or early afternoon wedding, you can save on food and wow your guests with omelet stations, fresh waffles and more.

13. Limit your bar.

Alcohol is a sneaky surprise expense—and a top-shelf full bar can be a budget buster. Please don't have a cash bar, but it's perfectly okay to limit your alcohol offerings. Instead of a full bar with a dozen pricey spirits, serve only beer and wine, and one signature cocktail, or some combination of the two.

14. Skip the Champagne.

Your love will be no less legit if you skip the Dom Perignon. If you're set on a toast moment, all that matters are your designated drink's bubbles and drinkability. Let people say "cheers" with whatever cocktail they're holding, or opt for one of champagne's more affordable cousins: Prosecco, Cava or other sparkling wine.

15. Buy your own alcohol.

Some venues will allow you to purchase your own alcohol for the big day, which can mean big savings. Just make sure that a licensed bartender will be doing the serving.

16. Keep the menu simple.

Fancy preparations and premium items and cuts of meat (lobster, filet mignon, etc.) are certainly delicious, but can be costly. Try to keep your wedding menu straightforward and focused on seasonal ingredients—your caterer can guide you in the right direction to help keep things affordable.

17. Minimize passed hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour.

Passed hors d'oeuvres tend to be more expensive than stationary appetizers. While you can have a couple of passed apps, focus your budget on serve-yourself bites, like a gorgeous charcuterie board or crudités.

18. Limit the entrée options.

While it's nice to give guest choices, too many options can add up. Your best bet is to serve everyone a duet plate with two proteins, or offering no more than two entrée choices (taking into consideration those with dietary restrictions).

How to Save Money on Wedding Flowers and Decor

The cost of wedding flowers has increased in recent years (the average cost of wedding flowers in 2021 was $2,300), but there are still ample ways to save. Our top recommendation? Trust your florist and be flexible with your flower selections.

19. Choose a naturally beautiful venue.

Host your wedding ceremony in a naturally beautiful place. Pick a public park, a flower garden or an already ornate house of worship so you don't have to spend a ton on additional decor.

20. Choose greenery over flowers.

Foliage over flowers? Not only is greenery gorgeous, it's super popular right now too. Use garlands to fill your tables and drape your altar.

21. Swap our pricey blooms.

Replace expensive flower varieties for less expensive ones. Even little substitutions add up: Exchange black magic roses for more reasonably priced deeply colored dahlias in all your bouquets and table arrangements, you'll save about $4 a stem. If you were planning on having five roses per bouquet and 10 per centerpiece—with a wedding party of five and guest list of 150 people, you've just saved $520. (Your florist will be able to recommend other great ways to swap and save too!)

22. Stick to one (or two) stems

If your florist is only sourcing two types of stems, they can buy in bulk, saving you big bucks. Consider sticking to flowers in a similar color scheme or shape for a more cohesive look.

23. Buy local, in-season flowers.

This will guarantee the freshest blooms, plus the stems will be less costly too. Your second-best option is choosing from widely available, year-round blossoms, like roses, calla lilies and orchids. If you go local, you'll save on transport costs, too (tulips from Europe don't come cheap).

24. Consider non-floral décor.

No need to splurge on buds if you don't care about them. Try adding books, seashells, extra candles, heirloom photos or other non-floral elements to your day.

25. Be flexible with blooms.

Don't get too stuck on having a specific flower in your floral arrangements. Instead, focus on your wedding's style and color scheme and let your florist choose affordable flowers that match the vibe.

26. Select linens wisely.

There are so many gorgeous table linens out there, and it can be tempting to upgrade to the fanciest tablecloths available. Instead, just use the expensive tablecloths on your cake or escort card table and feature budget-friendly linens on the guest tables. Alternatively, upgrade the napkins and skip the pricey tablecloths.

How to Save Money on a Wedding Cake

Your wedding cake is likely the most expensive dessert you'll ever buy (it costs $500, on average). These wedding cake budget tips will help you save on this show-stopping sweet treat.

27. Order a small cake.

Have a beautiful a one- or two-tier cake for that quintessential cake-cutting moment, then supplement it with cupcakes, cookies, pies or a larger sheet cake (hidden in the kitchen) for everyone to have a slice.

28. Keep embellishments minimal.

The more ornate your cake decorations, the more it'll cost you. Keep add-ons to simple, minimal details that won't jack up the price too much.

29. Choose fresh flowers (not sugar).

We know they're small, but sugar flowers are super pricey because they cost your cake baker time and effort (it's like a gorgeous mini flower sculpture—made of sugar!). Fresh flowers are your most affordable bet for a floral-adorned confection.

30. Forego fondant.

While you'll get a sleeker look with fondant icing, buttercream frosting is tastier and less expensive.

How to Save Money on Wedding Invitations and Stationery

With so many gorgeous wedding invitations out there, finding budget-friendly stationery can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, The Knot Invitations offers some truly beautiful options at affordable prices. Follow these tips for more ways to save on your wedding paper!

31. Select digital printing.

Certain printing techniques, like letterpress, engraving and foil stamping, are beautiful but pricey. Choose digital printing instead for a more affordable option.

32. Avoid oversized invites.

Couples often forget to factor postage into their wedding invitation budget—and it can really add up! Invitations that are uniquely-shaped, heavy or just plain large will likely cost more to send, so keep your invitations simple with few enclosures.

33. Choose RSVP postcards or online RSVP.

Speaking of postage, RSVP cards and envelopes require their own postage. RSVP postcards don't cost as much to send, or you could offer online RSVP on your wedding website and forgo the RSVP cards altogether.

How to Save Money on Wedding Attire

Your wedding-day look may be the most photographed attire you'll ever wear—so you'll definitely want to choose an ensemble that makes you feel comfortable and confident, without totally blowing your budget. Here's how:

34. Start shopping early.

If you're shopping for a wedding dress, we recommend starting to shop at least eight months before your big day. By cutting it too close, you may incur rush fees or other charges.

35. Look out for sample sales and trunk shows.

Doing some pre-shopping research can help you save. Call local dress salons and find out if there are any sample sales or trunk shows coming up. These events can mean big savings.

36. Choose an unadorned wedding gown.

The more beading, embroidery or other detail a gown has, the more expensive it will likely be. Choose a more minimalist style to save, and if you're missing the sparkle, add accessories like a sash, headpiece, brooch or jewelry.

37. Rent attire for other events.

Buying an all-new wardrobe for your many wedding-related events can definitely add up. Instead, opt to rent attire for your rehearsal dinner, shower, engagement party and other celebrations to save.

38. Rent formalwear from the same place.

Encourage all the groomsmen to rent their suits or tuxes from the same place—often that means the groom's tux will be free.

How to Save Money on Wedding Favors

While wedding favors aren't a must, they're certainly a nice gesture—and they can be pretty affordable! The Knot Shop offers a variety of inexpensive favors at less than $1 a pop—and there are other ways to save on giveaways.

39. Give one favor per couple.

Choose a favor, like candles or a potted plant, where you only need one per couple.

40. Make escort cards double as wedding favors.

We love a two-for-one! Items like potted plants, jars of honey, boxes of cookies, dreamcatchers or luggage tags can all do double duty as escort cards and favors.

How to Save Money on Wedding Photography and Videography

Your wedding photographer and videographer are among your most essential pros, and certainly worth every penny (the average couple spends $2,500 on photography, FYI). If you want to save on photography and videography, it's all about doing your research before hiring your vendors—read on for how to do it.

41. Book an associate.

Ask about booking a photographer's associate. Oftentimes, great vendors can recommend another person who works for them at a lower price, meaning you get a similar vibe and quality, just not the one most in demand. This tip also applies to other wedding vendors, such as DJs.

42. Limit filming time.

Hire your wedding photographer and videographer for the ceremony plus a limited amount of hours at the reception.

43. Read packages carefully.

Many photographers and videographers will allow you to customize your packages, removing things you don't need (extra filming time, parents' albums, etc.) to keep things within budget.

44. Hire a local photographer and videographer.

Many photographers and videographers charge additional fees if they have to travel more than a certain distance to your event. Narrow your search to photo and video pros who are based near wedding's location.

How to Save Money on Wedding Music

Performing or playing wedding music is much more than just creating a playlist and hooking your phone up to a speaker. That's why we recommend booking a professional DJ or live band for your big day. Here's how to save on music services.

45. Get a smaller band.

The smaller the band, the fewer people and equipment you'll need to pay for. It's not always an option, but cutting down your band from 12 pieces to eight or even six instruments and vocalists is an easy way to save on live music.

46. Hire for more than one service.

Hire a band or DJ who can do both the ceremony and the reception. For example, if you're having a band at your reception, ask about hiring one or two members for the ceremony.

How to Save Money on Wedding Transportation

While booking wedding transportation is an added expense, it's definitely a good idea to ensure you and your loved ones get where they need to be. A professional transportation company can help you choose the right vehicles to help you stay on budget.

47. Choose a limo alternative.

Instead of renting a tricked-out stretch limo for your big day, opt for a six-person town car. Sure, all the bells and whistles make for a fun ride, but you main goal should be getting to and from your ceremony safely and on time.

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