Weddings can be really expensive; even us older guys know this. Most of the weddings I know of these days end up costing more than $10,000, and even if the newly married couple gets a lot of monetary gifts, they’re often still paying out of pocket expenses months after they’ve gotten married, if they didn’t have to pay the whole thing up front.

cutting the wedding cake

I was lucky. I got married at age 37 and my wife had been married before, so we didn’t have to pony up a lot of money. Actually, we made a profit because we were able to keep our costs down drastically.

We didn’t follow everything listed below to the letter, but we did follow 5 of these. These tips might give you ideas on how to proceed with your wedding without having to take out a bank loan.

1. Have your photographer only take pictures during the wedding ceremony and at the church

If you hire a photographer for the day, you pay for the day. If you hire for only one location, that can help keep the costs down because the photographer can plan something else for the day. There will be plenty of people at the reception taking pictures, and all of them will be willing to give you copies for free. Some photographers won’t go for this option, but it can’t hurt to ask.

We got lucky because one of my best friends was a photographer. He took our pictures as a wedding gift; if you can find someone you know well to do that for you then you’ll definitely save a lot of money.

2. Don’t rent a limousine.

Don’t ride around in the Pinto either (do they still make Pinto’s?). A nice full sized sedan, or even a roomy SUV, is fine as the source of your wedding transportation for the day. Sure, you lose a little bit of glamour, but is it worth hundreds of dollars to be driven a few miles to your locations and pay for a driver standing around doing nothing?

My new wife and I drove ourselves to where the reception was being held, so this isn’t an expense we had to deal with. You might wonder what we did about the wedding party. I’ll mention that one in #5.

3. Get married wherever you’re having your reception.

You’ll know the room is big enough, you only have to pay for one venue, no one has to travel anywhere so you cut down on travel costs, and you can start the wedding reception immediately after the nuptials; this is a win-win.

We didn’t do this one either. We ended up having our wedding at the clubhouse of an apartment complex where one of my wife’s friends lived. She was able to get the space for free, and it was large enough for everyone who came to the wedding. Why turn down free?

4. Decorate the church and reception hall yourself.

wedding ceremony

Your friend will love helping you decorate, and you save on the costs of having someone else do it. Really, how much money do you want to spend for someone to put a runner down from the front door to the front of the church anyway? Sure, it takes some time to do, but it also might help relieve some of the anxiety of getting married by having something tangible to do.

This is what my wife and her friends did. Because she knows a lot about designing at a low price, she didn’t spend an arm and a leg setting up the places where we had our wedding ceremony and reception, and she thoroughly enjoyed it. Her friends used this as the bachelorette party in a way, because my wife wouldn’t allow them to throw her a traditional shindig.

5. Have a smaller wedding party.

You’d probably like to have your bridesmaid and all your friends with you on your special day, but it’s going to cost you a lot of money for all those people. You have to buy flowers for each of them, the special wedding gift you give them for helping you and being a part of your wedding party, and other small expenses you may not have thought about.

You want to know how big our wedding party was? Two people! The best man, which was my dad, and the maid of honor; that’s it. No one felt left out because they weren’t a part of the party, we only had to buy two gifts, and because it was just the 4 of us and a very short ride to where the reception was, Dad drove over with Mom and my wife’s friend rode with her daughter.

6. Have the rehearsal dinner at someone’s house instead of taking all those people out to a restaurant.

This will save money and can be a more intimate event at the same time. Think about it; a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs with some buttered bread and maybe a cake from your favorite bakery for even a large wedding party will save you a lot of money. Of course you can have other foods as well, as I’ll touch upon at #8.

We didn’t do this because, since we only had a wedding party of 2, my wife’s rehearsal dinner was hanging with her friends decorating the place where we got married, and I spent the time alone at home… I’m so antisocial. 🙂

7. Do your wedding day makeup yourself.

The bride wants to look beautiful on the wedding day. Even though a professional will do a great job, most women already know the way they want to wear their makeup. If you as the bride wants a few extra touches, ask one of your friends to help you out.

Actually, go ahead and invite a few of your friends; the more people you have around, the less anxiety you’ll have while getting ready for the wedding. This is what my wife did, and she said it was relaxing and fun.

8. Make the wedding food yourself or hire friends to do it for you.

Remember that spaghetti and meatballs I mentioned above for the reception? If you have someone you know cooking the food and that’s what you want, you can still go that route, and it’ll cost you a lot less money putting that type of meal together.

What if that’s not what you want? My wife knew a caterer who gave us a drastically low price for a wedding meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, yams and peas, and her friends helped bring everything to the reception so he didn’t have to worry about paying someone to help him. It always pays to know someone. 😉

Using these wedding tips will save you significant amounts of money, and your day will still be special. Even if you only do a couple of these, or use these tips to come up with your own ideas, any way you can cut down the costs of your wedding will work out in the long run.

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