21 Ideas for a Frugal (Not Cheap) Wedding on a Budget

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A reader writes in:

What advice do you have for a frugal wedding on a budget? We’re getting married this fall and want to explore as many cheap wedding ideas as we can. Since we’re both in our early twenties and don’t have a lot to spend, we were hoping to keep our wedding as small as possible. We were thinking no more than six to eight people including ourselves.

Glad you asked. My wife and I were married in the summer of 2003. Although our wedding was actually quite frugal, we recognized afterwards that there was plenty more we could have done to make it even less expensive.

Hindsight is always 20/20, so here are 21 tactics you could try to cut down the cost of your wedding without diminishing your experience or that of your guests.

21 Tips to Plan Your Wedding on a Budget

1. Avoid guest list bloat.

Although you might be tempted to throw everyone you know on your guest list, that isn’t always a great idea. With each addition you make, you’re adding additional costs while also making your wedding less intimate.

To a degree, this was a trap we fell into with our own wedding – our guest list grew and grew to the point where we invited people that we didn’t know well simply because we felt obligated.

To save as much as you can, try inviting fewer people and making the event more intimate. Start by whittling your list down by 20%, then another 20%. Then see if you’re happy with it.

2. Ask for wedding help instead of wedding gifts.

We were lucky that several of our friends and family had musical talent, so they were able to provide musical accompaniment for our ceremony. We also have a close friend who’s an extremely skilled amateur photographer, and he was willing to photograph our ceremony as our wedding gift. Then, after the ceremony, he provided high-quality digital images of everything.

Asking family and friends to offer help or services that align with their talents in lieu of a gift is a great way to keep your wedding on a budget.

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