Could be for any category other than guests list since we got that narrowed down to 140 and unwilling to go further on that. So gimme any creative tips you have to cut down costs for flowers, decor, cake, save the dates, invitations, favors, bride accessories (veil, shoes, bras/undergarments, alterations), centerpieces, photographer, DJ, dress, food, drinks and honestly even any venue settings you find to be most affordable THANK YOU
To cut costs of invitations you could opt to just do virtual ones or print your own. You can skip favors. Look for dresses that are not designated as wedding. I got a formal gown for like $30 I used as my wedding dress. For photographer you could look for people who want to expand their portfolio so they’re either free or heavily discounted.
I think it would be helpful for us to understand your priorities and vision for the wedding so we don't cut too deep in areas that are special for your day. What are the top three things that are most important to you?
For dresses, search for a dress online! I recommend going into stores to try on dresses first so you know what you like/don't like, but you can often buy a dress someone changed their mind on online for way cheaper than buying it new from a store.
Before you buy any decorations, search Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, Google search, and craft stores and compare all pricing. Often times, I found the same item (or a very similar alternative) on a different website for cheaper. Always check reviews and make sure it's a reputable seller.
For invitations/save the dates, either send them virtually, or wait until there is a sale online. Zazzle, Etsy, Zola, etc. usually have sales frequently.
Online invitation only, unless when the guest is old and not tech savy. Order a home made cake. Look for new-freelance or student photographer or use a friend that know how. Make all little details yourself, aka dyi, if you can’t involve your spouse or google/youtube how too. Favors are not that necessary, and often thrown away. Buy second hand or borrow things. Backyard wedding instead of venue if possible. Do your own make up and hair, or ask for someone to help and do trials with them.
I bought two dresses online: one from StillWhite (donated) and the other from Poshmark ($75). MagnetStreet has a 75% off most of their online items... They have a ton of invitations, save the dates, programs, etc. I ordered 10 save the date magnet samples (same style, different colors that match my wedding) for $10.99 with shipping. I can repost their quality once they come in this week. I’ll be hand delivering them and my invitations (which I will probably get from Shutterfly, Magnet Street, Minted, or DIY at home with local printing). My fiancé has a cousin who’s a DJ and a friend who is a photographer. I have a cousin who is a makeup artist and a friend who is also a photographer. We’ll be contacting these friends and family members for pricing. As for my best tip for venues, don’t settle on the first thing you see. Look for banquet halls and restaurants for the biggest deals. I found a small newly renovated banquet hall that is all inclusive for ~$45 per person (plus 4 hours of open bar) in Chicago. I called and asked for a deal if I were to do a Monday wedding (on our 5 yr anniversary). I was able to bring the price down to $40 per person (tax and gratuity included) if I guarantee 45 people. All I really need is a cake and favor boxes with candy. Oh! I’m also skipping on the flowers... since my venue has faux floral centerpieces we can use.
I have broken my recommendations into the categories you mentioned. I have also included some inspiration photos for you.
It really depends on if you want real, fake, or a mixture. If you decide you want real flowers, pick flowers that are in season as they will be easier to get therefore cheaper. You could look into getting real flowers from online wholesalers then put the items together yourself. I have heard that fiftyflowers is a reliable website to buy real flowers from.If you don't want to DIY, then you could check out local grocery stores, but you will be limited to what they have available. You could also use a lot of greenery which would be cheaper. Another option would be very simple bouquets. The ones I picked for my bridesmaid were only 2-3 roses with baby's breath so they were a lot cheaper. As for decor, I'm not sure what all you want, but I would keep it simple and to a minimum. For centerpieces, I would pick something non floral based. Candles are very popular choices for non floral based centerpieces. Or rather than full flowers you could get just petals.
One suggestion I have would be to have a small tiered cake for cutting then a sheet cake in the same flavor to actually serve to your guests. Another option would be to check out local grocery stores to see what they offer for tiered cakes. You could also offer something other than cake for desserts.
Save the Dates/Invitations
I used Etsy to buy templates for our programs and escort cards. They offer a ton of different options for save the dates and invitations. You could purchase a template then either print the save the dates or invitations on your own or have them printed at Staple's or Office Depo. We had ours printed at Office Depo. They turned out very nice and weren't very expensive. Another option would be to look for sales. I bought our save the dates from VistaPrint during a Black Friday sale. Sites like VistaPrint, Shutterfly, or Zazzle generally always have sales going on. Currently, VistaPrint has up to 50% off almost everything until midnight tonight. I was so happy with our save the dates from them. We bought our thank you cards from Walmart and one of my friend's bought his save the dates from Walmart so that's always an option.
Favors are definitely something you could skip, but if you want to have favors pick something simple that won't cost a lot of money. Some cute ones I have seen are s'mores. I know I made s'more centerpieces/favors for my mother-in-law's 60th birthday party and they weren't really that expensive. Because they were used for centerpieces, I put the ingredients in mason jars so assembling them was rather inconvenient. I saw that Amazon has the tags like what is in the photo for the s'mores and they are $10 for 50 of them. Part of our favors were cake pops. They looked really cute and weren't very expensive. Guests always love edible wedding favors.
For my veil, I wanted something super simple so I bought my veil from Amazon. I purchased three different ones that all offered free returns. I chose to order three so I could see which one I liked best. I returned the two I didn't like. For shoes, you could wear something you already own or look for sales. I know my sister had a very tight budget so she got her bridesmaids' shoes from Amazon since she didn't like any of the shoes she already owned. She picked out shoes that offered free returns. My dress came with built in cups so I didn't need to worry about a bra. Alterations you can't really control the price on if you plan on having it altered where you purchase the dress. If you want to take it somewhere else, I would speak with several different seamstress to see what their prices are. I know you didn't mention jewelry, but one way to save on jewelry is to wear pieces that you already own. My something borrowed was my mom's diamond tennis bracelet. I wore earrings and a necklace my husband gave me for Christmas.
Photos are one of the few things you will have left to look at after your wedding day so for me this was a huge priority and I definitely wouldn't skimp on this vendor. If photos aren't as important to you then you could look for a college student or a rather new wedding photographer to take your photos. You could also have one shooter instead of two, but I highly recommend two. I know my brother-in-law and his wife picked a photographer that didn't have a ton of experience as a wedding photographer and unfortunately it was painfully obvious when they received their photos so I highly caution you to think this vendor through before making a decision.
A DJ can definitely make or break a wedding so I think it depends on the vibe you are going for. My brother-in-law and his wife also skimped on a DJ which again was very obvious. He played very old music and hardly anyone danced. It definitely wasn't a party atmosphere so if you are looking for a DJ that is going to provide a party atmosphere then you'll have to be willing to spend more.
I would recommend looking at Azazie which is an online company. They have the option to try on dresses before you buy. They also offer custom sizing for their dresses so you shouldn't need alterations. David's Bridal also has reasonably priced wedding dresses, but I've heard mixed reviews about their alterations. I got my dress from a small wedding boutique and it was only $250. It was a dress that had been discontinued and they were selling it as is so you could definitely look for dresses that have been discontinued that you could buy off the rack. I went there looking for an after party dress since I already had my wedding dress, but I fell in love with that dress. I ended up having my original wedding dress shortened to wear to the after party. Another option would be to look for a dress that isn't labelled as a wedding dress, but rather like a prom dress.
Food and Drinks
Food and drinks are honestly going to be where you spend most of your money. Normally, I would recommend buffets/stations, but with Covid those are not good options and a lot of caterers/venues aren't even offering them right now. To cut back on the cost of drinks, I would only offer beer and wine rather than hard liquors. My brother-in-law only had beer and wine at his wedding and all of his guests were totally fine with it.
There are a ton of different venue options. I think it really depends on what vibe you want. I know barn weddings are incredibly popular and in my opinion overdone, but they also come with a hefty price tag because of their popularity. We got married at a hotel, but there was a $7,000 food and beverage minimum. We ended up having to add a late night snack option because we weren't going to reach the minimum. Food and beverage minimums are pretty common. I would recommend either picking a Friday or Sunday wedding if you are really trying to save on costs or pick a non-traditional wedding venue.
Ah... forgot to mention.... Costco sells bouquet too! And Safeway is willing to make a bouquet base on the flowers you buy from them!!! I asked, I am paying ONLY the cost of the flowers I pick. So, for example 1 dozen roses is $6.99, I am getting 2 dozen and I am ordering my bridesmaids baby’s breath for -I can’t remember- but super cheap! The boutonnières is $15 each! I am super happy to pay that price.
Use Thumbtack to look for vendors. The businesses on there are usually pretty good quality but a lot offer lower pricing than ones that are plastered on wedding websites or known for weddings. I got my hair and makeup artist from thumbtack. For flowers, you can make your own or go to a local grocery store for real flowers. Ask your friends and family what kind of jewelry they have, almost all of my jewelry is borrowed from others. See how much you can get out of your venue, ours includes the cake, open bar, centerpieces, and uplighting in their very reasonable price so that is saving us a good deal of money. Don’t buy the veils at the bridal stores!!! They’re like $150 for a piece of tulle you’re probably going to want off for your reception anyways. Look at jjshouse, consignment shops, Poshmark, or stores that don’t necessarily specialize in bridal but offer bridal options (I got my veil from Macy’s at a sale for $30).
For 100+ guests, rent a church hall or community center for your reception.
To offer food, get it catered by an Italian, Mexican or BBQ restaurant for $10-$20 per person. Still too much? Have your wedding at 2 on and serve cake & punch at the reception. You can cut a one-tier cake, and serve sheet cake which will be a lot cheaper.
Make a list of 3-5 most important elements and skip the rest.
Have a restaurant cater without the wedding markup. Stock up on clear Christmas lights for decor. Not the $20 for 30 lights on a string at Michaels Get a grocery store cake. Use Peerspace.com or Eventective.com to find your venue Skip the favors, fancy transportation, fake display cake, reception dress, etc It is ok to not serve alcohol. Don't make your guests pay for it. Don't serve beer/wine only if your guests don't drink it. Keep the number of attendants on the smaller side. Research the cost of supplies for DIY and your time vs buying something custom on Etsy. Fiftyflowers.com is a great resource for DIY flowers and cheaper than many silk arrangements. Avoid plus 1s for your single guests if space or budget is an issue.
When shopping around, do NOT use the term wedding. Many vendors charge an “up charge” for weddings.
For flowers, I went to some really nice silk ones found at Michael’s on sale for bridal party. Also because our wedding is outside I need to use real rose petals. Costco & Sams have a bulk floral option for both rose petals & actual flowers that are affordable if you want real ones. Caterer-find a restaurant that you are comfortable with. That’s what we did & we are savings THOUSANDS! They are also making our cake/cupcakes. If you want a full tiered cake instead of cupcakes, get 1-2 tiers for you to cut & then have them cut sheet cakes with same icing color/design & flavor in the kitchen. They can plate it & bring it out. Keep in mind that many charge cake serving or plating fees, but some dont. Your guests won’t care that they didn’t get the cake fro the display. You could also do a cake for you to cut & cupcakes which are soooo much cheaper Congrats & best wishes to you