Planning Your Own Wedding: Opulence on a Dime

Apr 23


Cherie Johnson

Cherie Johnson

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Paying for the big event often takes its toll on couples' wallets. But by planning your own wedding (with a little savvy), you can have a beautiful, but reasonably priced wedding. Selecting affordable wedding favors well in advance, buying a reduced price dress, and choosing an off-season date are just a few ways to have the wedding of your dreams - on a dime!


According to the Bridal Association of America, Planning Your Own Wedding: Opulence on a Dime Articles the average cost of a wedding runs most couples a whopping $30,375 (1)!

Yes, now may be the time for many of us to cut a few corners by purchasing affordable wedding favors, food, and decorations, but this doesn't mean you have to sacrifice beauty and elegance when planning your own wedding. In order to save a few bucks and even reduce overall spending, many brides-to-be are postponing their long-awaited wedding days for more prosperous times. Instead of waiting, however, you could simply scale back your wedding. Fortunately, there are many ways to make your wedding just as special if you hunt around for deals on tasteful yet affordable wedding favors, refreshments, and flowers - in fact, taking advantage of bargains and discounts while planning your own wedding day and doing many things yourself could be the very highlight of your special day.

Simple, Affordable Wedding Favors are Key: For the bride planning her own wedding with little time as it is, envisioning and making 150 affordable wedding favors sounds a little ridiculous (read time consuming), and while many sites recommend you make these yourself, the cost of construction and materials would probably be higher than just biting the bullet and buying pre-made (though affordable) wedding favors. A lot of times you can find favors for well under $1.00 each. A recent check on quality, affordable wedding favors showed charming silver mint tins for $0.52, bride and groom swizzle sticks for $0.75, and place card holders for $0.94.

In addition to purchasing affordable wedding favors, remember always to buy enough the first time around. If in doubt, buy slightly over your estimated head count. And try to order with plenty of time to spare to avoid exorbitant shipping costs, meaning you should start planning your own wedding far in advance to ensure this as shipping on a rush order alone can add well over $50.00 extra. Above all, take full advantage of volume pricing on your order of affordable wedding favors, which helps you avoid paying the lowest (and most expensive) tier price.

The Lovely but Reduced-Priced Dress Route: Finding the perfect wedding dress is considered an epic quest by many brides who are planning their own wedding, but still want to look their loveliest on that special day. Whether the bride chooses hundreds of flounces and tulle or a simple A-line design, the whole ensemble - dress, veil, undergarments, and shoes - can add up rather quickly. To save money while planning your own wedding, you have a few options, most of which present themselves online. Search for dresses on auction sites, such as eBay, or classified ad sites, such as Craigslist, to find previously worn wedding gowns at cheap, bargain basement prices. You can often find name brand or even designer dresses in great condition, along with all the accessories. If you want to take your search offline, contact thrift stores and consignment shops in your town to see what their inventories are like before hitting the pavement.

If you'd rather have something more personalized, you can have your dress made, although this will be a little more expensive. Occasionally, art and design students offer their services for a cheaper dressmaking fee than established places and can create a dress for you at well below market value. You can also have a trusted friend who has time and sewing prowess make your dream dress from scratch.

You can get a visual of your desired dream dress using this helpful online tool while planning your own wedding - the Wedding Dress Creator (, which allows you to select from a variety of options, such as dress length, shape, and color.

The Date Matters More than You Think: Oftentimes, the date you choose can be significantly more expensive than another. High-priced seasons, such as the spring and summer, drive up your budget noticeably - caterers charge more for a filet of fish, and florists for miles around only seem to have the most expensive lilies. During the crisper, colder fall and winter months, when most couples are reluctant to schedule or even attempt planning their own wedding, prices come down noticeably. Photographers lower their prices, and holiday decorations (especially ideal for a Christmas or Easter-themed wedding) are already up and in place, meaning you get away with not purchasing pricey flower arrangements, fragrant wreaths, garland, and candles. The venue of your choosing, most likely a church or some other community place, will have all these decorations available to you free of charge (save, of course, for the cost of renting the space). All you need are the discount dress, a budget meal, affordable wedding favors, the groom, and presto, instant wedding!

If you're dead-set on a spring or summer fete when planning your own wedding, have it outside in a friend's or family member's backyard. Or, choose a quiet park and set up a garden arbor and trellises adorned with flowers to complete the look. To get your flowers at a reduced cost, check with your local florist, who might be able to give you a discount on leftover bouquets or arrangements.

You can also purchase from a flower wholesaler to get flowers at deep discounts; however, keep in mind that you will be responsible for creating, arranging, watering, and transporting the bouquets for the wedding day. Above all, ensure that your chosen flowers are in season.

Food and Refreshments that Don't Break the Bank: Feeding 75, 100, or even 250 guests can get pretty expensive, even if you scaled back with an inexpensive wedding dress and affordable wedding favors. Even estimating $10 at the very least for each dinner can send your budget skyrocketing. And you obviously do not want to forego delicious food to help cut costs. Fortunately, you have a few options when planning your own wedding: the modern bride has realized that feeding her guests an elaborate, three-course dinner is not necessary and certainly not required. After all, guests are there to celebrate the happy couple's special day and should not be coming for 'hand-outs.' So, why not consider serving satisfying, but light hors d'oeuvres? From fruit and cookies to mini tea sandwiches and crudités, you can keep your guests' stomachs full on just a few dollars. By making a number of refreshments in large quantities, you can drive down the price. A few brides have even been known to serve fondue - of either the chocolate or cheese kind - both of which can be accompanied by a tasty selection of 'dippable' foodstuffs.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars on catering, you can also re-introduce a concept that used to be popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when planning your own wedding: a pot-luck reception. Sure, it may sound a little folksy, but it's what the brides of yesteryear used to do to avoid spending a lot of money when wallets were essentially empty. Etiquette dictates, however, that the couple consider these offerings of food comparable to a wedding gift or at least a significant part of it. Even if you choose this option, decorating the tables is still a necessity - set the mood with freshly ironed tablecloths, polished candelabras, and those affordable wedding favors you purchased earlier.

And finally, we come to the cake. Remember that research conducted by the Bridal Association of America? The survey found that the cake alone cost $543. You could feasibly cut that number in half or even by two-thirds if you make the cake yourself. Have your mother, sisters, female relatives, or bridesmaids help you with this task; purchase a book on the topic or research tips on the Internet. If this sounds like it could be a huge disaster and take time away from planning your own wedding, try something easier instead: wedding cake cupcakes. Simple, easier to decorate, and just the right portion, cupcakes bake fast and are a break away from the usual.

From Discount Decorations to Affordable Wedding Favors and Beyond

Cutting corners when planning your own wedding doesn't mean your big day has to look cheap. Far from it! Focusing on little details, like simple yet affordable wedding favors, pretty, discount decorations, and delicious but homemade food, incorporates your own personal spin and infuses your wedding with character. Think planning your own wedding and showing your guests a great time on a limited budget is still impossible? Just remember that they're there, first and foremost, to celebrate the love and commitment of the happy couple.