Wedding Planning 101: Major Budget Savers

by Ashton Cude

I hear it from so many of my brides: "Weddings are expensive!" It's true, the cost of a wedding can add up quickly. For those working on a tight budget, there is hope! If you are willing to DIY and steer clear of the "I want it all" mentality, you can have a beautiful wedding day without spending a fortune. From one tight-budget bride to another, here are the tips that helped me put together my dream day:

1. The flowers: Having live flowers was important to me. However, I simply did not have the budget to decorate with them everywhere. I opted for a combination of flower sources to save on cost. I had my bouquets and boutonnieres made by a florist because they would be photographed the most. I opted for simple stems instead of elaborate arrangements on the reception tables. I ordered garden roses and hydrangeas wholesale from Sam's Club and used an eclectic assortment of vases to display them. For the ceremony, I used fake flowers because no one was going to examine them closely enough to tell the difference. By prioritizing which flowers were most important to me and doing a little DIY, I stayed in my budget.

2. The cake: I can’t tell you how many slices of wedding cake I’ve thrown in the trash at the end of the night as a bridesmaid. I personally wasn’t willing to spend hundreds of dollars out of my limited budget for something that might go to waste. I chose to get my cake from none other than the Sam’s Club bakery. I went with white on white and added an Etsy cake topper and live flowers. The grand total was less than $150. Other money-saving options to consider: Eliminate the top tier to save and eat on your anniversary. Unless it’s important to you, it’s not worth the expense. If your heart is set on a bakery cake, ask if they offer sheet cakes for extra slices. This will keep you from having to add more tiers for your number of guests. (Note: This photo shows our cake leaning like it’s being served at the Mad Tea Party. We got married in July and our cake was placed directly in front of a window. You do the math. Learn from my mistakes, brides.)

3. The dress: Here at Meant to Be, we believe that no matter where your wedding gown came from, it was always meant to be yours! Off the rack dresses can be a great budget saver, especially if you have your eye on a designer gown that’s out of your price range. Sample and consignment gowns are discounted well below their original retail price. If you’re not in the Lexington area and are unable to shop with us, look for sample shops in your area. Keep your eye out for sample sales at special order boutiques, too. Pictured below are just a few of the beautiful brides who found their consignment or sample dress with us!

4. The décor: Unable to hire a wedding decorator? Don’t worry! Shop smart and you can create a beautiful atmosphere on your big day. Shop your house and your family’s houses for pretty décor that will work for your wedding day. I collected several vases, votive holders, photo frames, and canvases by doing this. Use your heirlooms. Our cake knife and server were my grandparents.’ Many pieces of my table décor were also heirlooms. Not only do heirlooms tell a story, they are also free! I collected décor throughout our engagement and went for an eclectic look so I didn’t have to worry about everything matching perfectly. Check thrift stores, yard sales, antique stores, and craft stores for great deals on pretty things. This centerpiece arrangement included depression glass given to me by my husband’s grandmother, antiques, and Hobby Lobby finds.

5. The stationary: Paper products are another large wedding expense. I knew I wanted beautiful, high quality invitations. I went old school and selected an invitation suite from a catalog at a local print shop. My mom and I had so much fun looking through the selection and were so pleased with how they turned out. Ordering from a print shop wasn’t cheap, but we did save by not having our invites custom designed. I really saved money on the programs. I wanted them to be pretty but also knew they would ultimately end up just littering the church pews. I used a downloadable template from and had them printed at Office Depot. They turned out great and were much less expensive than ordering from a designer.

I hope these tips will encourage you to get creative as you put your wedding day together. My biggest piece of advice is: figure out what's important to you and forget the rest. Don't sweat the little things. Honor your families, stay true to what makes you happy, and remember the point is to celebrate getting married! You’re not shooting a spread for Martha Stewart. You’re planning a day to shout your love from the rooftops. Whether you have a million-dollar budget or you’re scraping pennies together, your day will be beautiful because you’ll be married to your darling at the end of it. Let us hear from you if you'd like to see more detailed posts on any of these topics!