Here are things I skipped and didn't miss: STDs, signs, ceremony decor, cocktail table decor, RSVPs via mail, photobooth, videography, menus, programs, favors, guestbook, uplighting for the dancefloor, etc. I think it's better to skimp on those things than food and drink for your guests. We didn't have a themed wedding or wedding colors. Our table decor consisted of real hydrangea vases, candles and table numbers made by my MOH. We kept things simple. It looked classy and was cost effective.
Skip out on STDs, RSVP cards (they can do it online or contact you, plus I heard so many stories about RSVP cards making things harder for the bride) programs, menus, favors, flowers, and uplighting. Other ways to save: cake: buy a sheet cake or two from your local grocery store- they taste amazing and are a quarter of the price of wedding cakes- if you plan to do a cake cutting you can do a small one tier cake for that part or even do his and hers cupcakes. FH and I bought our rings on Etsy- paid $75 for the two of them rather than 200+ Flowers: my sis had 0 flowers except her bouquet- bridesmaids carried down DIY signs saying here comes the bride. The groomsmen wore fake flowers made out of guitar picks that she DIY (husband is in a local band). I got my flowers from enjoyflowrs.com and I paid less than $500 for flowers, corsages, and boutonnières for 8 person wedding party and 4 parents. We’re also giving out $15 Uber cards for people to get to and from the venue- saved $600 DIY guestbook, DIY centerpieces, buying dress online or renting. If you can’t see your shoes, don’t spend $200 on them
100% this^^^^^^! Focus on food and drink, that is all guests care about. I don't need a sign to tell me where to sit, I don't need a program, I think I got this, lol. No favors, I will leave it there. No one will care about your centerpieces either (sorry to be blunt.) I wish I had done online RSVP's not to save postage but it mandates you only RSVP the number of people invited. The whole "Well they invited me and a plus one but I am bringing my adult kids and spouses!" (Yes that happened to me, lol)
No games, no photobooths, no chocolate fountain, for all that is holy NO MEMORY TABLE FOR DEAD PEOPLE!!!! (Sorry, that is a peeve of mine!!!)
As others have said, most can easily cut back on flowers/signage without anyone noticing - but also keep in mind what is a priority for you!
I would highly recommend browsing used wedding dress sites, whether you're set on a specific dress or perhaps a designer; it seems like 95% of the time you'll have to have some alterations done regardless of where you buy, so might as well limit the upfront costs! I actually ended up with a very formal white "prom dress" by Sherri Hill, which was much more affordable than similar dresses labeled "bridal".
Also, DIYs may save you some/relatively small amounts (and any savings is good), but sometimes DIYs end up costing a LOT more than you initially think they will -- as will impulse buys that you end up not using. Major savings will come from things like a smaller guest list; considering/asking about venue discounts for time of year/day of week/time of day that you can live with (daughter saved $5000 on a Saturday night wedding in January because the venue considered it "off-season"; we live in So Cal, it was 78 degrees and gorgeous at ceremony time -- plus the venue had a perfect "plan B" in case the weather had been bad), ask about vendor discounts (payment in full at time of booking, cash/check vs. credit card, etc. -- those two discounts saved daughter $1300 on her first choice of photographer); comparison shop ($1000 saved on a florist daughter LOVED compared with next lowest bid, cake @ $4 a slice vs $6-10 with other vendor options, etc.). We live in a high cost area and the last three things saved over $8000, without sacrificing anything daughter wanted for the wedding (and, they were firm about keeping the guest list at 100, regardless of what awkward people asked to be invited...).
I agree with poster who suggested looking at bridal consignment shops. You can get a deal on dresses there and the dresses are beautiful. You won't get Kleinfeld treatment, but you will get a break on a dress.
We had a lunch reception in a beautiful private room of our favorite restaurant. There were stained glass windows and we needed no centerpieces! We hired a pro musician (who was a friend from high school) to play guitar in the background and people STILL comment on the following things: the short ceremony, the food and drink and the music. And we were done by 3! All very budget friendly but not cheap. Super small bridal party (three people total) and stop with the proposing to your bridesmaids. Just ask them, lol. We hosted 50 people, not 150 and a small guest list will be the first part in saving.
For the wedding itself, trimming the guestlist is generally the quickest way to cut back on costs. You can shop around a get coupons and/or good deals on things like STDs and invites - we did postcard STDs and RSVPs on the website, which saved us a little money. We actually got a fair quote on flowers, but I wanted to incorporate some DIY into the wedding, so I'm making all the flowers out of crepe paper, which is a lot cheaper even if I include the cost of the Cricut I bought for it. We're doing cupcakes instead of a large cake as a personal preference, but it's also cheaper and makes it easier to get an accurate count of how much cakes we need. We're also using plastic plates and simulinen napkins (both disposable) because the cost of renting those things was more than I expected and it's one less thing to have to worry about at the end of the night.
I'd recommend you and your FS each making a list of what's important to you, and prioritizing your top choices. The stuff at the bottom of the list is that you can DIY or look for deals on or skip completely.
We skipped several things. No flowers, save the dates, videographer, programs, or welcome sign. We also don't have a big wedding party, just our sons standing as our best men. Our venue is probably the most expensive thing but we are renting a beach house for the entire weekend so it's a little out of the ordinary. Since it is beautifully decorated and leads right onto the beach we don't need much more than centerpieces (which are so easy to DIY) for the tables. We also saved on rentals because I only needed a few tables and the chairs. Our close friend already has a tent we can use. I bought my dress online and only paid $100. It is a gamble but I did the research and it is exactly what I wanted. We are serving wine, beer, and one signature drink instead of buying a bunch of liquor and ALL the mixers. We did get favors but since they are a bit of a DIY project, they were a great deal. We have really good speakers so we're also skipping a DJ. BUT we also don't plan many of the reception moments like parent/bride dances or any tosses so we don't need an MC, just music. I don't recommend that plan for everyone. We are not getting a big cake but got a 1 tier cake with 4 dozen cupcakes. It is exactly what we wanted and costs less. I would not recommend DIYing the food either, you will have enough to worry about. We hired someone we know that does catering and got a great deal for our cocktail party reception plan. My biggest advice, (which I have to keep giving to myself) more is not always better. Do what is important to you and makes your guests feel welcome, entertained, and well fed. The rest is nice but not necessary. Good luck!
I have to chime in once more to support all the posters that sat skip the Save The Date's. It is essentially an invite and there are so many threads with the topic: "Help!! sent a STD and now we need to trim the guest list" or something similar. Tell your VIP's, they will remember.
My flower budget was less than $100 - I had a small bouquet that I simply requested white roses, carnations and stalk plus greenery. We needed a few boots and two corsages.
No video, no grand exit, just concentrate on food and drink for your awesome guests!! Have an awesome wedding!!!
PS - do not let Pinterest "bully" you into thinking you have to do things a certain way, lol!!
We're DIY-ing our flowerless centerpieces and our smaller décor items. I tried to shop on sale for just about everything: décor, stationary, attire, etc.
We cut a lot of frivolous items such as programs, escort cards, and favors. I also steered clear of anything "bridal", because that usually meant more $$$.
The only thing we've had to pay full price for is cake, flowers, and photography. Our DJ is a musician friend who's doing our music as a gift to us.
We negotiated with our vendors to get deals. Our florist cut $150 off our bill for picking up ourselves the day of the wedding. Our baker and rentals company gave us discounts - $100 and $300 respectively- for being referrals from our venue.
Decorations: Besides centerpieces, linens, seating chart, and a couple signs that will have necessary information on them I'm forgoing decorations. I'm also DIYing all my decorations from thrifted, recycled, or otherwise cheap materials. I'm on a few bridal resale pages and it baffles me how much women spend on signs and decor that say unnecessary things just to fill up space. I'm only having my bouquet in the way of flowers and it's borrowed from my mom. The venue is already pretty I can't justify buying hundreds of dollars of things I'm only going to use once in my life. Plastic/ disposable table settings. NO CHARGERS. I think those are such a waste.
No Save the Dates, Don't let mom pressure you into inviting people you don't know or like lol. Print your own invites.
Signature Drinks Only/ Limited Bar, hired student bartender.
DJ: My people aren't the dance party type and my venue has a sound system I can plug into on the day.
Photographer: I'm only getting three hours of coverage from a semi-pro photographer.
Rings: I'm not getting a wedding band. My FH's is from ebay for $40.
Attire: Thrifted suit and dress together $100 or less.
Cake: We're doing the Pittsburgh tradition of cookies baked by family and friends instead of cake.
This is just some of the stuff we've decided on to save cost but still keep things nice but casual.
We're skipping the save the dates, having a trusted person take photos (we get that the photos are important but you only display like 5 and have 50 in an album), spotify playlist, ceremony in the park (be careful tho because we need a permit and to rent chairs, sometimes doesn't end up being very cost efficient), pizza rehearsal dinner or at least at home since we're having the ceremony outside, online RSVPs, we're designing our invites on word and going to print them ourselves, we got my dress at a 65% off sale, we're inviting 50 guests and we have a wedding party of 7 people. Also the venue we went with has many savers such as min guest then you don't have to pay the room rental vee, free room the night of the wedding, discount prices for guests and parents, can use the room for free for the ceremony if not booked, etc.