3 Smart Ways to Save on Your Fabulous Wedding Without Going Broke

We all want to be as smart as possible about when to spend a lot and when to spend a little.
protea wedding isle decor bride holding bouquet
Photos: Jenna Leigh Photography and Christine Clark 


OK, we know it can feel like a dirty word for brides to be, but a budget can actually be a blessing in disguise. So you don’t end up blowing your funds in the first month of planning on whimsical purchases like mini favors bottles that you won’t use or hot-pink linens that you'll end up scrapping, you can use the numbers to help keep your mind on the big picture—and what’s really important to you. Feeling “meh” about flowers but can’t wait to nom on your wedding feast? Funnel your dough into the catering budget and cut down on your florist’s share. Realize you (probably) can’t have it all, so distribute the cash according to each area’s value to you and your guy. After all, it’s your money and your day—and that’s the real bottom line.


That’s why we’re always on the lookout for when to steal and when to splurge. Here are a couple of our favorite luxe vs. less contenders to keep your budget balanced in the direction that’s right for you.


Single protea vs. bouquet

Talk about a pretty penny. Flower prices can easily rival your food budget. Major bummer. We also know that, for many a lady, it’s not a wedding without the bouquet she’s been imagining walking down the aisle with since she was in grade school. What’s a gal to do? While the luscious waterfall bouquets, heavy with boughs and dripping with blooms, are totally to die for and definitely worth the splurge for floral-fanatic women (think $200 and up), try going the steal route with a quick, minimalist switch that’s still way pretty and on-trend: one or a few statement-making king proteas tied with a trailing ribbon. These chunky tropicals are heartier than your average wedding bloom, so they’ll be easier to work with for D.I.Y.-ers who need to buy their goods early. Plus, no complex artistic arranging skills needed, and these babes will set you back less than 20 bucks each.


Sheet cake vs. custom tiers

We've gabbed a lot about alternative desserts (hey, what can we say? We love us some treats!), from doughnuts to pie to cookie bars to local cakes, all options that can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than the splurge of the iconic tiered custom wedding cakes. All those sugar flowers, scrollwork and metallic shading cost money! One of our easiest steal alternatives for ladies who still want a tasty sweet finish to the wedding meal? Sheet cakes (with a mini “cut cake” for the couple) are a classic workaround since the decorations and tiers are what really nudge wedding cake costs up. We say skip the boutique wedding-cake bakeries altogether and get a sheet-cake you love that will win over guests in the flavor department—think chantilly from Ted’s Bakery or lemon crunch from Diamond Head Market & Grill. Servers can cut it, plate it and pass it out to guests, so no one needs to see it in sheet form. As for your mini cut cake? A cheap grocery store number oughta do the trick. After all, when it comes to the actual eating, you’ll probably want to tap into that sheet-cake, too!


Bartender vs. table wine and kegs

Start with the labor, then the hours, then the liquor. Then you've got glassware rental (which runs higher than you'd expect!), ice, any costs for mixers, garnishes, fancy straw or napkins—oh, and do you need to actually rent a physical bar, umbrella covering or table? Getting hand-mixed, fresh cocktails is an undeniable crowd pleaser but it’s also a serious splurge, so if you’re going that route make sure you're factoring in a good couple thousand or more for a 100-person affair.


Your venue, legal requirements or size of your party could all affect the plausibility of this steal, but, if you can pull it off, table wine (or even kegs!) can be a real moola-saver. Set out the red bottles early and task a pal with bringing out the chilled white bottles at the last moment, aiming for eight to 10 bottles total per table. Pro tip: Try to incorporate the bottles into the table décor for a sort of functional centerpiece, like arranging them with flowers or trinkets, on wood slices or in pretty buckets.