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Stop Wasting Money: 18 Tips For Planning A Frugal (Not Cheap) Wedding

Photo by Gianni Scognamiglio on Unsplash

The key is for couples to do their homework, allow for at least one year to approach the planning process, and barter and negotiate from a point of strength and knowledge about the process.

Here are 18 more tips to plan a frugal (not cheap) wedding recommended by experts.

#1 Search Airbnb for both affordable and under-the-radar wedding venues

Plus, you can save you and your wedding party even more money by all staying at the property– avoiding costly hotel reservations. Just don't try to keep it a secret from the property owner, no matter how small the wedding is. Look for reviews that mention that a wedding has been hosted at that Airbnb before to ensure a smooth interaction. More on how to search airbnb for wedding venues here.

Contributor: Peter Vandendriesse from guestboard.co

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#2 Eliminate the carving stations

Eliminate the carving stations of prime rib and jumbo shrimp, opting for more inexpensive fare such as chicken, fish, and mini appetizers. Barter with the venue to provide you with something comparable at a lower price. Mini crab cakes could easily replace the jumbo shrimp.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#3 Ask the venue whether you can purchase food on consumption

Ask the venue whether you can purchase food on consumption. Many venues won't propose this to a bride and groom, but the benefit is you actually pay for food & beverage that is consumed.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#4 Barter for the luncheon menu for your evening dinner function

It's basically the same menu and dinner menus always cost more.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#5 Negotiate with the reception hall to provide the space free

Negotiate with the reception hall to provide the space free with a guaranteed amount that you will spend on food & beverage. In addition, negotiate the contract where the venue reduces their service charge -- perhaps from 18% to 16%.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#6 Research the venue’s ‘peeks and valleys’ in deciding when to host your reception

Research the venue's 'peeks and valleys' in deciding when to host your reception. You can negotiate a better price during a less popular season or timeframe. June, July and August weddings will cost you more. And winter weddings in Vail, Aspen and Telluride, Colorado and other popular ski resorts also will cost more money.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#7 Suggest using 7 smaller plates rather than 10 dinner plates

Suggest using 7 smaller plates rather than 10 dinner plates for food on smaller plates and will likely consume only what's on their plate. And that will save you money.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#8 If hosting a buffet, have your caterer provide staff to put the food on the guest’s plates

If hosting a buffet, have your caterer provide staff to put the food on the guest's plates. This will control portion size, which results in saving money -- and will allow you to avoid running out of food.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#9 Request pitchers of water instead of pricey bottled water

Request pitchers of water with lemon or cucumber slices instead of pricey bottled water. That also should apply to water provided for the bars. Don't pay for water. 

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#10 Barter for different types of comps.

For example, perhaps the venue may throw in charger plates, perhaps they will provide you with a one night stay if you are using a hotel.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#11 Reduce the number of invited guests to your reception

Instead of 200 guests, you can probably live with 150. If you multiply 50 people x $40 per person, the savings is $2,000.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#12 Avoid hosted full-bars

You might want to offer guests a complimentary glass of champagne -- perhaps beer and wine ONLY. A couple can go into bankruptcy trying to provide a full hosted bar with alcohol and mixers.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#13 Buyer Beware – Do some research and compare whether the venue’s ‘wedding package’ will actually save you money

Buyer Beware - Do some research and compare whether the venue's 'wedding package' will actually save you money. Many venues hire a florist to create the centerpieces and then mark up the price when offering them to you.

It might be well worthwhile to hire your own florist. In addition, some deals sound too good to be true, and most of the time you end up spending more money in the long run. Save money, but be a wise and smart shopper in making decisions for your wedding needs.

Contributor: Greg Jenkins from bravoevents-online.com

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#14 DIY as much as you can

This may sound pretty simple, but it can really save you a good chunk of money. I would recommend that you get a Pinterest account, if you don't already have one, and start looking up ways to make your own wedding decorations, dress accessories, hairstyles, makeup styles, wedding favors, flower arrangements, and you probably could even look up how to make your own wedding cake/refreshments if you have the time. 

Wedding details can really make a dent in your budget, so the more you find out how to make/do yourself, the more money you can save. Personally, I saved quite a bit of money by making my own flower arrangements, table settings, and bouquet/boutineers. I bought white roses and baby's breath in bulk and bought a good amount of ribbon. After those initial purchases, my family and I were able to make our own simple flower

Contributor: Alayna Pehrson from bestcompany.com

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#15 Look into renting your wedding attire

If you think about it, paying a huge sum of money for a dress or suit/tux that you are only going to wear once may not be a good idea, especially if you have a tight wedding budget. It's surprising how many nice wedding dresses and tuxes you can find for rent (for fair prices). 

If you don't find anything you want to rent, you can also look into purchasing second-hand attire or create your own, unique style (if you have time). Remember, there are many ways to avoid dropping thousands of dollars on your wedding attire.

Contributor: Alayna Pehrson from bestcompany.com

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#16 Make your own playlist

Having a DJ is nice to direct guests and play great music, however, if you are on a budget, you can easily make a playlist on a music streaming app like Spotify and get your phone plugged into your venue's sound system. 

Plus, you can put a friend in charge of the playlist so there is never a music issue. Bonus: you get to play the music you want at any time you want. You are in control. Personally, I chose to do this very thing to save myself a large amount of money and it worked great!

Contributor: Alayna Pehrson from bestcompany.com

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#17 Plant a 4' x 12' cutting garden

Plant a 4' x 12' cutting garden this year and continue to add to it each Spring. This will ensure you have fresh cut flowers no matter what late Spring-early Fall date the wedding is.

These flowers can be used at your shower, rehearsal dinner, ceremony or reception- or any combination you choose. 

Wedding flowers are so expensive that this should save quite a bit of money and allow you to stretch your budget further. (I know my church & reception flowers were almost $2,000 many years ago!)

Contributor: Allison Radkay from LooksLikeHappy.com

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#18 Start by actually writing out your guest list

The guest list is a huge determining factor for estimating their wedding budget. Actually writing it out is the difference between, Oh, I think we are going to invite 150 people, and knowing that your list is at 225. 

After couples have written out their guest list I direct them to the website, Cost of Wedding, it is an amazing free tool that guestimates what your wedding budget will be based on your geographic area and the size of your guest list. By using their Wedding Cost Estimator a couple can not only find their overall general budget based on how couples in their area have spent in the past but also how it should be allocated based on their specific wants and needs for their wedding. 

While CostofWedding.com is a great tool they do have one little flaw. They don't accurately set aside enough money for a Full-Service Wedding Caterer. What money they do allocate is just enough to cover the cost of the food and not the food + the service staff, which couples will need to have a wedding that feels like a five-star restaurant. 

A realistic cost of a caterer would be about 1/3 of the overall cost of the wedding. For example, if your wedding budget is $35,000 then expect to spend around $9,000 for your caterer. Feeding 150 - 200 people ain't cheap and understanding this ahead of time will save couples from the shock and awe of wondering how they're going to pay for it.

Contributor: Emily King from callmefiance.com and whiskeyandwhite.com

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