I need help creating a budget tight wedding and reception.?

by DIY wedding planner on September 3, 2012

I need some cost efficient ideas for the expenses of a wedding and reception. Here are a few I’ve already thought about:
Used wedding dress (ebay even seems to have quite a few unused)
Finding an inexpensive public facility to rent for the reception
Our DJ is already free, so reception music is covered
My sister-in-law is letting me use the fish bowls and mirrors for centerpieces which she had used at their wedding
I plan to print my own invitations, Staples has wedding invitation kits for $30 for 50 invitations, envelopes, and reply cards
The biggest expenses are catering, beverages, and cake.
We will have an immediate family and close friends guest list of approximately 200 people.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

lauren September 3, 2012 at 5:32 am

sounds awesome! and remember… less is more! :)


abbyroxmysox September 3, 2012 at 5:35 am

sounds great so far to cut cost on food have close family each bring a dish or dessert


coloradosnoflake2 September 3, 2012 at 6:19 am

you should check your local parks- many have pavilions w/electricity and restrooms- they are very inexpensive and you wouldn’t have to do much decorating. You could then have the caterer do BBQ, along with many finger foods, and that may help with your food budget.
Also check your local Elk’s/Moose lodges, American Legion, YMCA or rec places. They often have large ballrooms you can rent out that are plain, but inexpensive.
You should get smaller wedding cake for presentation, cutting, but get sheet cakes to actually serve. It will cut your cake cost ALOT (and no one has to see those)


jadrake85 September 3, 2012 at 6:29 am

I was in the same thing you are now.

We had 2000 for our wedding and almost 1/3 of that went for my dress. What we are doing is found our invitations at Wal*Mart for 4 dollars a box with 50 invitations in each. They were in the Clearance Aisle. We bought all our flowers that we are using at the dollar tree. They are still pretty and will go with the season you are have the wedding in. You can go to second hand stores also for your wedding dress or you can rent one also. If you are having the ceremony in the church see if they have a basement that you can use of the reception. If you are the member of the church or someone in your family is sometimes they will give you the area for no cost at all.

As for food we are doing it ourselves. I asked some of my family members to help serve everything and we are doing buffet style baked ham and cheese potatoes green beans corn on the cob potato salad cheese balls meatballs ham rolls and things. To drink we are have punch on the cake table and then iced tea and lemonade.

For the cake, if you know anyone that just got married recently ask them where they got there cake from. If nothing else Wal*Mart’s bakery will make cakes. They are really pretty and they are on the Wal*Mart website.

If you have anything else you would like to ask me. You can email me at jadrake85@yahoo.com for any ideas i can give you.


Rachel G September 3, 2012 at 6:44 am

Decorations are very cheap at Hobby Lobby too (you can buy bouquets and boutennieres from there.) Everything is usually always 50% off. Get your cake from a small mom and pop shop. We did and it only cost us $200 to feed 150 people. Remember, you’ll only need to order cake to feed about 100 people because not everyone eats it, only about half of your guests. If not, try Sams Club, Costco or Albertsons. They all are very reasonable.

Also, try your catering at a mom and pop restaurant. The bigger the chain the bigger the check. Go small and the price will be low. See if any of your friends have a friend who is a bartender. Ask him/her if they’ll bartend your wedding for free or offer a small price…then maybe he or she and get you a good deal.

Consider finding a hall…sometimes they provide all the decorations, drinks and even catering. You might pay a couple hundred more, BUT its a less headache and saves you time of decorating yourself and you don’t have to find tables and chairs.

Try the site below for cheap wedding ideas. And don’t forget David’s Bridals on the wedding dress too. Very cheap deals! You can find one for as low as $99.


Andi September 3, 2012 at 6:52 am

For your cake- check around and see if someone you know does cakes. Check at church, friends of friends, family member’s friends, and everyone you know. I always know people I can go to for cake- maybe I’m lucky though:-) Tell people that you will display their business card by the wedding cake and maybe get a discount in return for advertising. (My friend did this tastefully behind her wedding cake when the reception started- after her and her hubby cut the cake.)
Beverages- whether it’s alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, buy some little by little, or bottle by bottle every week up until the event. It won’t be such a grand expense all at once that way.
Catering- Same as the cake kind of….find someone who can set up the food and serve it. Your neighbor, a friend…whatever. try to get “casserole” type items which can be made a few days before and are usually cost effective. Someone can heat up and set up the day of. Chicken (or beef) and Noodles, Lasagna, Pot Roasts…whatever. Do some research of local caterers. The ones with home style food or chicken quarters are the least expensive- you may find it’s not as bad as you think.


bossanovaville September 3, 2012 at 6:53 am

It’s hard to say without knowing what your budget is exactly. Based on some of the money-saving tips you’re considering, my first instinct is to tell you to shorten your guest list! The food and alcohol for that many guests will blow your budget! I had a buffet and champagne, wine and beer only (no liquor) for 120 guests and my mother paid $8000. But you know better than I do what you can and can’t afford. J. Crew has beautiful wedding gowns that are simple and made of natural silk that start at $300. Here’s a link to their wedding dresses: http://www.jcrew.com/AST/Browse/WeddingParties/womens/forthebride.jsp
I would stay away from ebay. There’s no guarantee that what you’re getting is authentic or even what’s pictured and sellers don’t have as good of a return/exchange policy as a store would. As for reception, consider places open to the public, like a park, arboretum, or museum. Also, consider a morning wedding. With it being earlier in the day, you can get away with serving champagne and hors d’oeuvres rather than a sit down dinner and the fees for rentaing a location for a morning wedding are lower. Look into places like Central Market or grocery stores for the cake. Or if you know someone who is fairly skilled at baking, have them make several 2 layer cakes, frosted with plain white icing, and then line the perimieter with flowers. They can be displayed by placing them on stands at varying heights, kinda like this: http://www.cakes-galore.co.uk/cakestands/3tieracrylic.jpg It’s easy, inexpensive and you can arrange greenery and flowers around the bases to spruce it up.

EDIT: I personaly would NOT advise a cash bar. I considered it myself until my mother told me it’s kinda rude to offer a cash bar. A wedding is basically a big party you’re throwing for everyone to join you in your big event. Why would you invite them and then have them pony up their own money for every drink they order?? Also, for the bridesmaids, I had my girls wear whatever black dress they wanted and then gave them all blue silk sashes to tie around their waists.


SirenSong September 3, 2012 at 7:13 am

Make a list of things that you have to have and a list of things you don’t need or want. Nix anything on the second list.

Hold the reception at a non-meal time so you don’t have to serve a full meal and you can do desserts and coffee instead. Or if you must have a full meal, look into Boston Market or your favorite restaurant that offers catering (most will do this with no problems) as they will provide the same amount of food at a fraction of the cost of a wedding caterer.


Jessi Z September 3, 2012 at 7:58 am

food wise why not make your own food? I know it is a hassle but you woudl save soo much money! If you are inviting 200 hundred people then most likely you will bel lucky to have 150 there. You could make simple foods that are appitizing and you could make one, all your bridesmaids could make one, your mom could make one etc. until you have a whole buffet. My friends sister did this and it was better this way because you know all the food will be good since you know your friends nad family and how they cook!


April Marie September 3, 2012 at 8:09 am

You have a great list so far.
Food and beverages are usually the biggest cost of a wedding. There are ways to keep the costs down though.
A lot of brides are opting to have a cocktail/appetizer reception these days because of the expensive cost of serving a full meal. That is always an option.
You don’t need to serve anything like prime rib or filet mignon – if you are really strapped for cash then you might want to think about doing a pasta dish. You can do pasta primevera or lasagna – then all you have to do is serve it with some garlic bread and green salad. That makes a good meal. If you serve something easy like pasta or lasagna then you might be able to do your own food. Lasagna can be done ahead of time and pasta can be easily prepared.
For beverages you don’t have to offer a full open bar. You could do a cash bar, which a lot of people do these days, or you can just offer wine, champagne and beer. That will keep the liquor costs down.

For your flowers you should look for a wholesale florist in your area. They usually have better deals. For your bouquets you can use gerbera daisies and carnations – they are both very affordable, but nice looking flowers. Or you can just use the gerbera’s – they look lovely by themselves:


Rachel-waiting for 11/21/09 September 3, 2012 at 9:02 am

Do you live in an area with snow in the winter? I found the best way to cut THOUSANDS of dollars from your budget. Booking in the “off” season (January to March) or days (Friday or Sunday any time of year) caterers and venues give you huge discounts.

When my fiance and I were looking at venues for the winter we were given quotes that were up to 40% off for winter dates and up to 50% off for Friday or Sundays for the per person catering prices. If you are having 200 guests that can be like thousands of dollars saved on catering, just by picking the right date.

Plus venues offered to waive or reduce booking fees for those off seasons/days which for us was up to $1500.

My fiance and I got a great deal booking a winter package that was $40 off the normal price and with over a hundred guests that’s over $4000 saved!

Making your own invites and flower arrangements are great ways too save a few hundred dollars (we’re doing that too) but booking for an off day is virtually no work and cuts thousands off your budget!

Good Luck!


just me! September 3, 2012 at 10:02 am

wow your immediate family and ‘close’ friends number 200?
ok, wedding gown first: check out consignment shops, and don’t look just for ‘wedding’ gowns, look at evening gowns, ball gowns, cocktail dresses, prom dresses. there are some gorgeous vintage gowns to be had if you take the time to shop around! and its fun looking! you can also rent one or go shopping at the mall and find a pretty dress in a style you like! it doesn’t have to cost the moon and it doesn’t have to be a ‘wedding gown’!
attendant’s dresses: just tell them what color, what length and ask them to pick out their own! tell them they don’t have to be expensive they just have to match!
flowers: consider silks, that way you can make your own bouquets. they are dead easy to make, silk flowers are gorgeous and you can generally find them on sale at michael’s or joann’s or other craft shops. and they have the little bouqet holder thingie – i forget the name but its inexpensive as well.
as for the public facility: try the veteran’s halls or legion halls, they are very inexpensive and even though you have to use their bar and staff – the drinks are extremely reasonable.
food: you can do a great deal with your family and friend’s help. get everyone organised into making platters of finger foods and desserts!
wedding cake: you can order a pretty cake – it doesn’t have to be a ‘wedding’ cake, for you and your man to cut at the reception. you can make cupcakes for your guests. they are all the rage it seems and again you and your family and friends can make cupcakes every night the week before the wedding, freeze them and bring them out of the freezer the day of the wedding! ice them up and voila! your cake issues are taken care of. or you can order slab cakes from costco at a very very reasonable price, have them pipe flowers and your names on the cakes. you can do a chocolate, a vanilla, and a carrot cake – giving your guests lots of variety!
you can have a lovely wedding without breaking the bank, it just takes time and organizational skills! and patience! lol
whatever you decide to do i wish you every happiness~!


iloveweddings September 3, 2012 at 10:53 am

Hi and congratulations!

You are definitely off to a good start.

~ If you live by a Target, I have recently noticed that many of their invitations are clearance priced – the boxed sets like at Staples – and they are only $10! (at least where I live.) Check it out if you want. Although $30 is a grood price also.

~ Cake and Flowers:
Go to a grocery store that has a bakery and a floral department. They will be much cheaper than a regular bakery and florist. Do you live by a Costco, Walmart or Publix? They have really good cakes. The only problem, though, is that YOU need to pick them up (cake and flowers) and transport them to the wedding/reception site (at least where I live you do.) So check on that.

~ Forget above favors. They are not necessary, and doing favors for 200 people will cost.

~ Photographer: DON’T scrimp (my opinion). Remember that once the wedding dress is packed away and the memories fade…..you will always have your pictures.

~ Don’t get a videographer unless your have a family member or friend who is willing to do this for you. Really…..how many people actually watch their wedding video?

~ Buy your guest book at Target, Walmart or even a dollar store. Again, who really looks at all the signatures in the guest book? I never did understand the purpose of having one.

~ Forget about renting a limo.

~ Don’t serve alcohol. This will save a bundle.

~ Food and beverages for 200 will cost you. No way around that.

Good luck and I hope this helps.


Wedding Plannner-Event Planner September 3, 2012 at 11:10 am

Dress-Ebay, want ads, craigs list, and consignement stores. A lot are unused because people cahnged thier minds or didnt fit. Plus worn is only once. Just try it on first and be sure it fits. Alterations can be done well 1-2 sizes, no more!

Location-VFW or a type of hall are generally inexpensive. If its big enought have it all i one location to save on trasportation and venue prices.

Cake-small rpetty cake for show, sheet cake for searving

food-talk to local caterers about budget meal ideas like bulk pastas and salad.

drink-have a cash bar

favors-you can skip them!

guests-keep the guest list small


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