Let’s be honest: though a wedding is and should always be the most special day of any couple’s life, the romance starts to fizzle as soon as the conversation about price quote and budgets begin. (As important as it is to have a celebration that reflects your love, nobody should go into post-wedding debt.) The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it is possible for couples to have the best day ever for less.
While Brides has always offered sage saving advice from wedding pros, we were curious to learn which budgeting tips couples actually used for their big days. So, we tapped four real couples to share the best ways they saved money on their weddings. From flexing their DIY muscle to helping out their inner circle’s bottom line, these stories are proof that money can’t buy you love.
When Rich Pedine married Matt D’Auria in 2015, the pair wanted to keep the festivities as intimate as possible. Not only did the couple get married at the Beverly Hills courthouse with only immediate family present, but they also threw their welcome dinner at their former Los Angeles home.
“We [hung] string lights, brought in a few rented tables, chairs and heat lamps, and we were pretty much ready to go,” Rich explains. “We had originally planned to do a big splashy wedding in Palm Springs, but then we realized it wasn’t very authentic to who we are and we could spend that [money] in better ways.”
By not throwing a pricey destination wedding, the couple was able to save up a down payment on their dream home in Palm Springs. “We ended up buying at the bottom of the market and then sold it at the top of the market for more than twice what we originally paid,” he shares. “Weddings just don’t have a return on investment like that. I’m grateful every day that we didn’t spend a lot on the wedding; we get to enjoy our home every day!”
Reuse Your Flowers
Looking for a tip that’s equal parts budget-saving and sustainable? Take a cue from Chelsea Simunovich and Guy Talarico to repurpose some of your materials. For their upcoming June 4th nuptials, the couple is planning to reuse their cocktail hour florals for their reception.
“The cocktail hour and reception are being held in different areas of the farm to give each festivity its own moment and I didn’t want one hour worth of flowers to go to waste,” the bride-to-be shares. “We will be using florals in bud vases from the high top tables for the cake [and] coffee table and the bar arrangements for the bars at the reception.”
As Chelsea puts it, every bit counts—and repurposing her day’s flowers has allowed the couple to focus on quality without driving up their final bill.
Another way to cut flower costs is to trade in your live blooms for cute paper pinwheels, just as Jessica Mozes and Brad Maestas did during their 2019 nuptials. “Whenever I read [something] about throwing a budget wedding, it bummed me out—it seemed like everything required calling in favors,” she explains. “I didn’t have any makeup artist friends to hit up and—even if I did—I believe people should be paid fairly for their craft. I wanted to have all the things, but not spend $100k. So, we looked to get as much bang for our buck where we could, again, while paying fairly and not sinking loads of our own time.”
Fortunately, Jessica found an Etsy tutorial that ticked off all of the boxes—and trimmed $1,000 off their floral budget. “I was able to buy a variety of pretty cheap paper packs in colors I liked, and casually punched the paper in front of the TV for a few weeks,” she shares. “Then, a couple days before the wedding, a dear friend and an aunt donated their thumbs to putting together the pinwheels with the little hardware bits.”
Whether you choose a cash bar or an open setup, one thing’s for sure: your party’s libations can get expensive quickly. So, why not take matters into your own hands and bring in your own spirits?
“I didn't want to worry about a bartender clearing a $9 [soda], or thinking about caps or drink tickets,” Jessica adds. “We were members of the wine club at a wine shop near our apartment and the proprietors were really great about helping us choose wine. We knew we wanted wines we actually liked that were hopefully from smaller producers.”
Not only were Jessica and Brad able to create a bar lineup that matched their tastes and preferences, but they were also able to save in the process. That said, Jessica knows that bringing in your own alcohol is not always allowed by venues. (In fact, that’s exactly why the couple selected San Mateo’s CuriOdyssey as their location.) If you are thinking about going the BYOB route, discuss with your venue before signing on the dotted line.
Forgo the Wedding Party
For Megan Killea, it was important to make decisions that would help her inner circle’s bottom line. Since she and fiancé Joe Mele are traveling to Greece for their September 2023 nuptials—and estimate that their guests will have to spend top dollar to get there—they didn’t think it was fair to ask their close friends to buy a certain type of suit or dress for the big day. So, they nixed the wedding party altogether.
“We are still having friends incorporated—one is being the officiant, one will sing a song at the reception, and our siblings will make speeches—but it gives everyone the financial freedom and feel no obligation to spend additional money,” Megan shares.
And, according to this bride-to-be, her nearest and dearest are allocating the money they would’ve spent being in a traditional wedding party elsewhere. “My one friend said, ‘Well, I will just put that money towards my red bottom funds so I can wear those shoes at your wedding,’” Megan adds.