Call me oblivious, but I had no idea just how expensive weddings were before I started planning ours after my husband and I got engaged in 2015. Between the venue, catering, music, the dress, floral arrangements…it adds up real quick. It seems that just tacking the word “wedding” onto anything automatically doubles the price.

When my husband and I got married, we knew that we didn’t want to blow all of our money on one day. Instead, we wanted to spend that money on an amazing honeymoon, and ultimately, a down payment on a house. If you’re in the same boat as we were, I’m sharing eight of the small things we did that saved us thousands on our wedding.

1. Pare down the guest list.

Kasey and I decided to go really small for our wedding and only included immediate family. Not only did this save a ton of money on food and drinks, but it also allowed us to get more creative when it came to choosing a venue as we could pick something that wasn’t limited to a certain number of guests. Basically, if you absolutely cannot imagine your wedding day without them, they get an invite. We absolutely loved that our wedding was so intimate. It completely lowered the stress of the day knowing that it would just be us and our very closest family members.

2. Decide what’s most important to you and pick one or two things to splurge on.

We decided that one thing we absolutely did not want to skimp on was photography. Think about it, your wedding day will pass by so quickly, but you’re going to have your wedding photos forever. You’re going to be so glad you didn’t skimp on quality photography when you’re looking at those photos years from now or when you’re showing them to your children or even grandchildren. We did a ton of research on photographers in our area, and were extremely impressed with ours! Make sure that you carefully look through their portfolio and like the overall vibe of their photography.

We ultimately chose ours based on the editing style of his work and how he captured candid moments between the two of us, rather than awkward poses that felt forced. Having our engagement photos done by the same photographer really helped us make sure that we were certain he would be a perfect fit for our wedding day too.

3. Consider an out of the box venue.

Since our venue was outside in a garden, we saved a fortune on décor and flowers, as the garden was in full bloom from the spring. Outdoor weddings can be a little risky though, especially in the spring, so make sure you have a back-up in case the weather doesn’t want to cooperate!

Be sure to look for event spaces that aren’t particularly labeled as wedding spaces, too. I spent what felt like an eternity researching wedding venues in our area without any luck. Once I widened my search to small event venues, a lot more options were made available. We ended up getting a completely private, fenced in garden space with a little barn on the property in case of weather, for thousands less than other venues labeled specifically for “weddings.”

4. Have a family member or friend officiate the wedding.

We got lucky and Kasey’s brother in law was actually able to officiate our wedding! Not only did it make the ceremony a lot more personal for both of us and our families, but I’m sure it saved money as well. Becoming a marriage officiant is actually pretty cheap and can be done completely online.

5. Hire a local music student to play at your wedding.

We were able to find a local music student to play the violin at our wedding ceremony and reception. Students will charge a lot less than professionals, and can often be just as great. We got super lucky again in this area and were able to get a seasoned wedding violinist at an amazing cost. He played beautifully and it made the day that much more special! I recommend checking with your local college’s music departments.

6. Look into wedding cake alternatives.

We opted to go with donuts instead of a traditional wedding cake. Donuts are one of my husband’s favorite desserts and have become a lot more trendy thanks to Pinterest in the recent years. As you can imagine, donuts are a lot cheaper than wedding cakes and made the reception a lot easier as there was no waiting to cut the cake. Guests could just simply grab what they wanted and eat it right there. We had a spread of various kinds, including gluten-free, to make sure that everyone would have something they could enjoy.

Our donut cake reception also doubled as our wedding favors as we were able to order a lot more donuts than guests. I ordered white treat bags off of Amazon and stamped them all with a cute stamp that read “Love is all you need.” And voila! A cute treat that your guests can take home. They were a huge hit with my nephew, too. How cute is he??

7. Order your wedding dress online.

I tried on a dress in-store that I absolutely loved but was a tad bit out of the price range that we felt comfortable with. I’m not sure if I just got lucky on this one, but I was able to find the exact same wedding dress online for a lot cheaper than in-store. Not only did we have free shipping, but we were able to find coupon codes to help with the cost as well. Online, I had the option of ordering the dress without the train (something that would have gotten dirty anyway in an outdoor wedding) and saved almost $100. Whether you’re ordering your dress in-store or online, make sure to do it early! Often they can take weeks to ship out depending on the season and availability.

8. DIY your wedding signs.

If you’re looking on Pinterest for inspiration while planning your wedding, chances are you’ve saved more than one cute wedding sign to your boards. Whether it be seating signs, welcome chalkboard signs, or table signs, it is usually more cost effective to DIY these when you can. My mom has amazing calligraphy skills, so she wrote on our welcome chalkboard. For the table signs below, I simply played around with different fonts in Photoshop until I was happy with how they looked, and then printed them out and placed them in cute photo frames. This saved a lot of money doing them ourselves rather than buying them already done!

Ultimately, remember that your wedding day is about the life-long commitment that you’re making to your spouse rather than about the day itself. The day will go by quickly, but your marriage is what it’s really about long-term.

Which of these money-saving tips did you find the most helpful? Share with me in the comments below!

Getting married in Tulsa, Oklahoma? Check out these vendors!

Hair/Makeup- Adney Artistry | Photography- Aiming Arrow Photography | Dress- David’s Bridal | Venue- Linnaeus Garden at Woodward Park | Donuts- Livi Lee’s | Veil- Amazon | Flowers- Ever Something |  Music- Daryle Hudson

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