30+ Cheap Wedding Ideas: How To Save Thousands And Still Have The Wedding Of Your Dreams

The average cost of a wedding in America is over $33,000 in 2020. Does that seem a little high to you? Here are some ways you can easily reduce the cost of a wedding and still keep it as special as it deserves to be.

In this post I share some of the tips I actually used to keep my own wedding costs down to less than $2,000. When I got married, my fiance and I literally had no money, but we still managed to have an elegant and dignified wedding.

Each of these wedding cost cutters can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars! So, on to item number one….

1. Keep the size of the wedding as small as possible.

The fewer people attending your wedding, the fewer people you need to account for in terms of invitations, reception meals, booze, etc.

2. Have a wedding lunch instead of a reception.

By having an earlier wedding followed by a lunch, you can save tons of money.

People will drink less since it’s earlier in the day, especially if there is no dance to follow.

And if there is no dance, there is no need to pay for a DJ. If you have lunch in a restaurant, the price is often less than the dinner price for the same food.

3. Buy a used wedding dress.

Think about it. Most wedding dresses get worn once and that’s it. You can get absolutely stunning used wedding dresses from eBay for very cheap.

Don’t forget Etsy!

I found lots of really gorgeous used and vintage wedding dresses under 100 bucks on Etsy!

4. Do your own bridal hairdo.

With a little planning and experimenting, you can make a great wedding hairstyle for yourself. An affordable hair accessory like this is an elegant and classy way to add wow for gorgeous wedding hair.

Youtube is full of fantastic wedding hair tutorials too, check them out!

5. Do your own makeup.

Before you go about doing your own wedding makeup, read this:

I highly, HIGHLY recommend this compact powder to finish off your wedding makeup look.

Seriously, it works like magic!

It has special particles that diffuse light, which makes your skin look smooth and perfect in photographs.

In my own wedding pictures it covered up my acne so I was very happy!

6. Ask a friend to take the wedding pictures.

Chances are, you or someone you know owns a good camera.

Ask your most artistic friend (or the one with the best Instagram!) to take lots of photos.

7. Think outside the box.

Don’t compare your wedding plans to anyone else. Just do what feels like the best for you and your SO.

Nowadays a lot of young couples are opting for wedding rings like these which look modern and elegant but cost vastly less!

8. Have a courthouse wedding.

Getting married by a public official is very inexpensive. The cost of a courthouse wedding depends on which state and county you’ll be getting married in, so it varies from state to state. The fee is usually less than $50 though, so it’s a very affordable choice.

Also, check to see if your state requires a wedding license, and how much the fee is. At the time when I got married, I lived in Minnesota which requires a $110 wedding license fee. Some states also require a blood test.

9. Skip the honeymoon.

There’s no need to travel to enjoy a honeymoon. You can spend a weekend in a local hotel or even just take time off and be home together. A delayed honeymoon is another option. Plan to go on a trip together when it becomes more financially reasonable to do so. Why not?

10. Sew your own wedding dress.

Whether it’s the whole dress or just making alterations, anything you can DIY is ultimately going to save you money!

If you are good at sewing, Etsy is a good place to find patterns for making wedding dresses. I can’t believe they even had a pattern to make Kate Middleton’s wedding dress! And one for Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, too.

11. Ask a friend or family member to make your wedding bouquet.

If you know someone in the floral industry, ask them if they’d be willing to help you make a bouquet. Offer to pay them something if you can.

When I got married we didn’t have money. Luckily my husband’s sister is an amazingly talented florist, and she offered to make my bouquet as a gift. It was absolutely beautiful!

Or, just make your own wedding bouquet if you feel like it’s not going to be too much work.

Get creative with wildflowers or even faux flowers made of fabric or paper!

I saw these gorgeous faux flower wedding bouquets on Etsy, look how pretty they are!

Check out the listing to see real brides’ reviews of the faux flowers (plus more photos).

12. Keep it real.

Getting married is an amazing thing in and of itself. It doesn’t actually need any fancy embellishment.

Everything that matters is between you and the one you love, and that’s a lot more powerful than any decor, expensive photography, DJs, catering or anything else.

Focus on what matters. A wedding is one day, it’s the marriage that’s the rest of your life.

The wedding will be special no matter what, believe me! It’s one of those days where you’ll probably remember every thing you did that day for the rest of your life.

Don’t leave your partner out of the wedding discussions. Ask them what their expectations are for the wedding and share yours. Make sure you are both on the same page with expectations and plan a day that is realistic for your budget.

Our wedding was under $2,000 total – that includes our wedding clothing, wedding rings, fees we had to pay with the wedding officiators, fine dining for us and our 2 witnesses and a stay at a very nice hotel. It was not a lavish experience by comparison to what is common these days, but it was all a bit more special than what we were used to.

Save Money On A Big Wedding

Want to have a big wedding, but don’t really want to spend an arm and a leg? Here are tons of ideas that can help you save money on the large wedding of your dreams.

1. Save On The Wedding Venue

Check out this beautiful wedding that was held at a summer camp. Video from Bryan Tranminh on Vimeo.

This is a BIG tip.

Look into summer camps in your area.

During the off-season they provide the perfect wedding venue: natural setting for the ceremony plus they often have a fully equipped kitchen and a large banquet hall!

Have a backyard wedding if someone in your family has a large enough yard and would be willing to accommodate.

Get married in a public or state park with a nice gazebo or bandstand. Even a park with a good-sized picnic area is good. You could decorate the basketball court area as the dance floor!

2. Save Money On The Wedding Food

Opt for a buffet-style meal.

It could even be a potluck.

Because all your aunties would love that sort of thing!

Instead of serving dinner, you could make it a lunch or just serve hors-d’oeuvres and champagne.

Pick a venue where you can bring your own alcoholic beverages.

That alone will save you hundreds.

3. Wedding Invitations

So you want on-trend wedding invitations but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg?

This site is full of amazing designers who design and print gorgeous custom wedding invitations that don’t cost a ton. Check it out here.

They have save the date cards, too!

4. Make A Wedding Website Instead Of Invitations

Nowadays a really cool trend is making a custom wedding website.

Once the website is made, you send out a link via email, facebook, etc.

The best part is, people can RSVP on the website, too! How easy is that?

5. Save On Wedding Decorations

Some super pretty but uber-inexpensive wedding decorations include these pretty tissue-paper flowers.

You can make really big ones and hang them up from trees or from the ceiling.

If you love the look but don’t want to spend the time making them you can try any of these.

6. Save on wedding flowers

Flowers make the wedding look beautiful and elegant.

They add that fragrance and freshness that really help to make the occasion special and memorable.

But custom wedding flower arrangements can really drive up your wedding bill!

Luckily, you (or your bridesmaids!) can have beautiful wedding flowers for cheap if you make your own arrangements.

Using simple mason jars or inexpensive bud vases looks great with small delicate flowers.

You’d be surprised how much you can save if you order wedding flowers from this site.

They have everything you need to make the perfect arrangements for your wedding.

7. Saving Money On Your Wedding Photography

The average cost of wedding photography in the US is $2814.

For less than $1000 you could just buy a mirrorless camera that can shoot excellent stills and 4K video and have a family member or friend take the photos for you.

This way you own the full rights to the images, you can print them as you please, you’ve got top-quality video,and you can continue to take beautiful pictures with the camera after the fact.

8. Save On Wedding Music

One way you could save money on your wedding music is to hold the wedding at a location where there is already going to be a band playing.

For example, in a restaurant or bar that is large enough to accommodate all your guests.

You could also ask a musical family member to be your honorary DJ!

Speakers can be rented online and hooked up to a laptop.

9. Save Money On Wedding Favors

If having wedding favors is important to you, you could consider DIY baggies of candy, gum, mints, etc.

Anything that will be useful for guests to have AT the wedding reception is good.

10. Save On The Wedding Cake

You could bake your own wedding cake, or have a friend or family member do it for you.

Brownies, cupcakes, cookies and even DONUTS (!!!) are another variation that’s easy to do yourself.

Ordering a large sheet cake from the grocery store or this store is another frugal option that also saves you time.

11. How To Save Money On The Groom’s Tux

What we did for my wedding was rent a tux.

It cost us less than $100 for the whole outfit.

Try this site that’s full of really good quality new and used tuxedos, cufflinks, ties, shoes, and more.

12. Save Money On Your Wedding Dress

This site is THE BEST for finding amazing wedding dresses for a fraction of the price.

I suggest looking here for bridal accessories.

13. Ways To Save On Your Wedding Makeup

You can do your own makeup following this YouTube makeup tutorial.

If you decide to do your makeup, I STRONGLY suggest you finish off the look with this special makeup that makes your skin look FLAWLESS in photos.

Seriously it’s like having one of those good smoothing SnapChat filters, but with normal photos!

I used that exact product for my own wedding makeup and was thrilled with how it covered my acne without looking like a thousand layers of foundation!!

This mascara is also a must. It doesn’t flake off like a lot of them and it won’t run.

For lips, this brand is highly recommended as being good for long-wear and having a premium finish.

In my own wedding, I used this kind of lip color that felt and looked as natural as possible while being very long-lasting.

It’s also super budget-friendly!!

14. How To Save On Wedding Hair

The obvious choice is to do it yourself or have a friend who is good with hair do it for you.

Don’t do an up-do if you’re doing it yourself.

Instead, elevate a hair-down look with beachy waves, real flowers, or simple yet elegant hair accessories like these.

15. Other Areas To Save Money On Your Wedding

Use your own car instead of using a limo.

A really cute way to DIY decorate the car is by painting these bottles with gold spray paint or in your wedding colors. Then tie them to the back of the car. Super cute!

Keep your bridal party small. If you have a lot of friends and want many bridesmaids, you could ask them to choose their own dresses in the same color (your wedding color).

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