My Wedding Plans Cost Too Much

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The Challenge: Wedding Help Requested

I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on how to save money on my wedding. I am going to get married in June and I want to have a beautiful wedding, but everything is so expensive. The bridesmaid dresses I want are $300.00 a piece and I have 4 bridesmaids and I can not afford $300.00 per dress. I tried some fabric places and the fabric would cost me as much as buying a new dress. Also, I would like to know if anyone could tell me how to save money on my wedding cake. My aunt will make my cake for free if I can buy the supplies. One piece to the cake will cost $150.00. That piece is a water fountain to be placed in the center of the cake. Once again I can not afford something that expensive. Could anyone please help me save some money on my wedding?

The Wedding Compromise

Well everybody (but me) seems to want a big wedding but you can't get blood from a stone. There is only so much money. Stacey is going to have to compromise somewhere. Maybe rent the dresses for the bridesmaids (aren't they supposed to pay for them themselves?) or tone down that cake a little. One fancy day isn't worth the continuing pain of debt.
Linda B. in Toronto

From another June Bride-to-Be

Stacey, I'm also getting married in June, and I can sympathize with how expensive the quality stuff is! My advice for the bridesmaids dress is to keep looking; there are lots of beautiful gowns out there for half that price (check out Champagne Formals; they have a Web site that shows off some very elegant styles). Or check the department stores for formal dresses that aren't strictly marketed for weddings; you can probably order identical dresses from the store if they don't have them in stock. If you have your heart set on those $300 dresses, contact Discount Bridal Service or another discount retailer and see if they can get them for you at a lower price. Or, if your bridesmaids are able, have them pay for part or all of the cost of the dress (that's what most bridesmaids are expected to do, anyway, though I'm paying for all my 'maids dresses also).

As for the cake, do you really have to have a water fountain in your cake? Think about how crucial it is to the success your wedding reception. Maybe it's pivotal, but if not, just consider a different style of cake. You're already saving $$$ by having your grandmother bake it for you.

How to reduce wedding expenses

Finally, if you haven't read Bridal Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields, pick up a copy before you drop another dime on wedding stuff. Lots of helpful information and creative ways to save money that you might not have thought of.


In order to cut down wedding expenses RENT! You can rent dresses as well as tuxes. You can rent those fountains you want for the cake. If you can't find any rented dresses you like, consider borrowing them. Another option is a Bridal Warehouse or clearance sale. Also look in consignment shops. Check the phonebooks of larger cities for options. Please don't go into debt for your wedding. I had a very inexpensive wedding and it was wonderful Everyone I know who went the expensive route said it wasn't worth it. Save your money for the honeymoon or a new house!

Take a Deep Breath

Regarding the reader who wants to save on her wedding: first, Stacy, if you are *truly* interested in saving money on this event, you're going to have to take a deep breath and give up the ideas of $300 bridesmaid dresses and water fountains in your cake! You can have a perfectly lovely wedding working within a small budget, but it is not going to look like something out of "Dynasty." We were married 3 years ago, paid for everything except the catering (bride's family covered because they wanted a certain caterer), and people still talk about how nice it was. Our methodology: had a "Sunday brunch" wedding on a family friend's estate instead of the traditional "Saturday night at The Marriott"; shopped around for prices on flowers & kept it simple; hired jazz guitar student from the local university for music (much less expensive than a band or DJ); bridesmaids each purchased matching long dresses from local boutique ($65 apiece) while the bride bought a Jessica McClintock wedding gown from designer's outlet store (under $200); got discount on tuxes by renting all from same place and using AAA card (!)...the list goes on, but you get the idea. We also found the book "Wedding Bargains" by Denise & Alan Fields immensely helpful. It probably saved us $200.
Chris S.

Could a wedding planner save you money?

Wedding Advice from a Newlywed

I am a recent newlywed and I actually saved quite a few dollars from doing some research. First, I used a photographer who took pictures for 4 hours at a flat rate of $550 (a minimum of 200 pictures guaranteed).

Second, I ordered my invitations form a Party Store, not a card shop, and they offered a 30% discount on everything. I got 100 napkins, 75 invitations and response cards, and 75 personalized candy boxes for $115. I created maps to the site at work for free. Even in various mail order books, the total amounted to well over $180.

Third, I picked a restaurant that was able to handle the catering, the ceremony near the bay, and all the little details that need to be taken care of.

Fourth, I picked out a $900 dress that I was able to rent for $225, including the veil, cleaning, fitting, etc. I was also able to rent bridesmaids dresses for $70, including the fitting and cleaning. My total cost including everything was under $3000. Call around for better prices, visit a few bridal shows, and do your homework. It really paid off for me. I couldn't have asked for a better day at a cheaper price.
Sherri R.

Upcoming October Wedding

I too am getting married next year in October and we are paying for the whole thing ourselves. We only have a budget of about $3000 for the wedding and reception so I've been doing a lot of shopping around for bargains. First of all, in most cases today, unless you have wealthy parents who are willing to pay for everything, the attendants are responsible for paying for their own gowns unless this is going to be their gift from you. In most cases though the girls cannot wear the dresses again so this is not much of a gift. However you still should not expect them to spend $300 on a dress. I found a wonderful seamstress who only charges $50 a dress and the material I want is a very simple lightweight satin backed crepe which is about $20 a meter here but goes on sale all the time for half price and I only need about 3 meters for each dress so I'm looking at less than $100 per dress which my attendants are paying for. You just have to really do some looking around and watch for the sales. The fabric shops should be able to give some names of some good local seamstresses as well who may give you a good bargain. Even if you don't want to you may have to compromise a little on the material or style but stay with the same color to save some money.

My cake is being made for me for free as well by my sister. Most places around here will rent the fountains for much less than buying them. You'll probably never use the fountain again so why buy it when you can rent it? Check the local grocery stores and bulk food stores. I'm not sure of what type of reception you are having but one huge expense is a full sit down dinner. I've always hated these because they are so long and drawn out by the time everyone is served and is finished eating. We are having a finger food buffet with vegetable, fruit, cheese and cracker trays and sandwiches and everyone can just serve themselves and mingle at the same time. It's a much more relaxed atmosphere and a lot less expensive, you can do it yourself.

One way to save money too is to order your invitations directly from the company and not through a local stationery shop or card shop. You can save almost half with some companies. You can order just about any catalogue at this website

Another huge expense is flowers as I quickly found out when I was shopping around at the local florists shops. They are charging $100 just for the bridal bouquet and by the time you get bouquets and boutonnieres for 10 attendants(5 each) you're looking at quite a few hundred dollars. So, my mother suggested going to the floral department at the local grocery store because a young girl up the road from her was married and they did all of her flowers for $105 dollars. That included her bouquet, 2 bridesmaids, boutonnieres and corsages for the mothers. So I went and met with them and they do beautiful work for a fraction of the price. Don't be embarrassed about going to a grocery store instead of a florist to save money because in the end who will know but you, right? And that goes for everything you buy for the wedding.

These are just a few suggestions. If you want some more ideas you can check out this website It's full of great ideas on their message board and you can get and answer to any question you might ask.

Wedding Cake Suggestion

As for the cake, check out a Wilton cake decorating catalog. They have numerous choices for cake decorations. You may find something less expensive that still suits your decorating needs. Perhaps there is a baker or cake decorator in your area who will rent you a decoration for the day. As for dresses, perhaps you can go shopping with your bridesmaids to a nice department store and let them pick out either matching or complementary evening dress styles that they can wear again - bridesmaid styles are usually expensive one time only affairs.

Make your own professional looking cakes

Spend Only on the Important Things

This is from my own experience, plus others. On dresses, a friend of mine had the bridesmaids buy their own dresses in the selected color. That way, they could buy something they would wear again. I used a Precious Moments figurine instead of a fro-fro cake topper. Same price, but can be used again. We used 2 plain champagne flutes from Garden Ridge pottery for $2 apiece. Have your bridesmaids carry a single rose as opposed to a nosegay or bouquet. Your groomsmen can wear suits instead of tuxes. Check the prices on having a professional printer do your cards instead of Hallmark. Have your wedding at a time of day where you can have h'orderves instead of a full dinner. My advice is to spend money on the things that are important to you and scrimp on the rest.
M. from TX

$300 Wedding Dresses Are Out of the Question

It is very easy to save money on your wedding without looking cheap. $300 dresses are completely out of the question though. I let my bridesmaids pick their own dresses. I showed them mine and told them what color I wanted. The four of them chose their dress. They were all the same but they were agreed upon by the bridesmaids. They paid for their own dresses and I haven't heard of any bride paying for her bridesmaids dresses in years. The other thing that you can do is tell them what color and what length and let them pick their own dress and let them be different. It can be very pretty.

For flowers my aunt made silk bouquets. It was her wedding gift to us. If you don't know anyone who knows how you can ask someone at the craft store to show you and they will, for free usually.

The wedding cake that I had had the fountain in it like you mentioned. I had someone do the cake that did a lot of wedding cakes. The cake cost $150 and was absolutely beautiful and enough for 300 guests. Go to someone who already owns the fountain. A professional baker (not affiliated with a bakery) will probably have one and charge you less than a bakery because of low overhead.

In the church we had one arrangement of fresh flowers ($50) and pew bows made at home for cents per bow. Again, the craft store can show you how to make them. The birdseed things we made at home with bridesmaids and family.

The one place I don't know how to save money is in the food for the reception. Make it yourself is the only option that I know.
Beverly B.

Expensive Does Not Equal Pretty

First of all -- an expensive wedding isn't always the best or the prettiest... Please keep in mind that even if you think your bridesmaids dresses can be worn after the wedding the odds are they won't be. Try catalogs for nice dresses. Also, a lot of canceled weddings sell their dresses through the local newspapers cheap! You don't have to tell anyone where they came from. If you aren't set on owning the dresses, including the bridal gown, look into bridal rental places. Most big cities have at least one and sometimes a few. You can rent a $5000 bridal gown for as low as 500$. You can rent bridesmaids dress for as low as $35 plus alterations.

Concerning the cake, look into your local supermarket. A lot of the big chain stores make wedding cakes for cheaper than the local bakery. You can rent the fountains and other accessories for a lot less than purchasing them.
Michele W.

More inexpensive wedding ideas

We Spent $900

My husband and I got married 4 years ago and had a beautiful wedding with 75 guests for less than $900 (including the reception). First of all, I was able to find my dress second hand! I went to a wedding resale shop and bought a $1500 dress for $150! It was just like the one in the catalogue and the many pearls were hand sewn...not glued! The dress had a full train and was made of white satin. I didn't compromise the style at all and got a super bargain! My husband rented his tux for about $80. My bridesmaids had dresses that were patterned after one that I liked but made out of a fabric that was a bit different (LESS EXPENSIVE). A seamstress can do this for you. You may also want to make your dresses something that can be worn again to other functions and ask that your bridesmaids pay for their own. That way, they keep a dress that can be worn to all the other summer weddings and parties! They might not mind the cost so much if that is the case.

To save money on all the decorations, we held our wedding in a beautiful chapel which catered to our colors and decorated it for us. The price for the chapel rental was about $275 and since it had just been remodeled it was beautiful! (stained glass windows, steeple and all)

Next we went to discount flower and craft outlets and Wal-Mart and bought the flowers (silks) that I liked. I made my own bouquet as well as the boutonnieres, and brides maids' bouquets. If you aren't handy with silks...I'll bet you know someone who is and will do this for you as a favor or wedding present. (If you MUST have fresh flowers, try purchasing them from green houses and gathering wildflowers to arrange yourself)

For our reception, we went to a discount paper supply store, and bought wedding decorations and streamers. We decorated for the reception the night before the wedding ourselves. Since the wedding was at 1:30 in the afternoon, we did not need to serve a meal (saving more money). We had a lovely wedding cake (without an expensive fountain) that was 3 tiers high and a chocolate groom's cake as well as punch, mints and nuts. Our napkins and plates matched our colors but were not printed on. (Saving us a bundle)

We didn't drive away in a limo...we took our own car and drove away from the reception DEBT FREE! People see our wedding photographs and think we spent a fortune because it was so elegant and my dress was so extravagant! I love to laugh and tell them we did it all for less than $900!

Good luck Stacey! May your lives be as wonderful as your delightful frugal wedding will be!

updated April, 2013

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