How To Plan A Frugal Wedding Without the Stress Factor

The following is a guest post by Timothy, a personal finance writer and blogger for Balance Transfer Card. I’ll continue the wedding theme tomorrow on Thrifty Threads, with a bride whose wedding dress was thrifted.

Frugal weddings are all the rage now. More and more brides and grooms are subscribing to the idea that their biggest day in life should be one to enjoy – and not remember with remorse because the in-laws were arguing about something insignificant.

Common problem – major stress and tears

Weddings need not be a stressful affair. A wedding is about commitment and love, and it should be enjoyed by the bride and groom. Sadly, too many weddings turn sour because they become blown-out-of-proportion events for hundreds of people, leaving the lovebirds in tears by the end of the day. This isn’t exactly how you’d imagine your wedding day to turn out, is it?

Solution – go frugal

A frugal wedding can be a lot more fun than the traditional affair because it is usually more intimate and toned down, therefore more enjoyable by those who attend. Frugal doesn’t necessarily mean you have to skimp on every luxury; you could decide to invite fewer people but make it an event to remember by spoiling everyone to your heart’s content.

On the contrary, wedding vows can also be exchanged if you are budget-conscious while still keeping the fun factor high. Below are some tips and suggestions to help you do just that.

The venue

The venue is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a successful wedding. If the venue is too flash, your budget could take a brutal nose dive. If you don’t want to eat bread and butter for the next 12 months you might want to consider a somewhat more affordable venue to celebrate with your guests. Don’t overlook friends or family with homes or backyards they might be willing to share.

The dress

Who needs an Armani wedding dress that is only ever worn once? If you want to go frugal, think vintage dress. They are easily repurposed by a whiz with a sewing machine and can save you hundreds of dollars in the process.

Wedding invitation

A great way to go frugal is right from the start – make your own affordable wedding invitations. Think scrapbooking mementos, homemade cards, etc. There is so much one can do with a bit of paper, pen and imagination. Try it!


Instead of having your guests pig out on a sumptuous buffet that only goes to waste, why not consider a sit-down dinner instead? You’d be surprised how many food is wasted on buffet style dinners.Sit-down dinner menus are much nicer anyway because you get to enjoy your guests one-on-one without them having to fetch food from the buffet every 15 minutes.


Cut down on the cost of hiring a photographer by booking one for a couple of hours only instead of the whole day. Present your wedding attendees with disposable cameras to grab some more fun moments while keeping the cost low. You will most likely end up with some wonderful pictures seen through the eyes of your guests.

If all else fails – elope

Eloping is a common trend for frugal couples. You can save thousands by eloping to a tropical island paradise with a couple of your closest friends. Then upon returning as a married couple, you simply throw a party for the family and start the celebration.

It’s your day – make the most of it!

Readers, feel free to leave YOUR best frugal wedding ideas in the Comments section.


  1. Mary says

    I'm always amazed how much is spent on weddings considering half end up in divorce court within a few years.

    Our wedding cost about $300 and my husband and I will be celebrating our 30th anniversary next month. Geesh, I never even got an official diamond ring! I don't know how we've survived this long!!! 😉

  2. Amber says

    We probably could have afforded a big wedding, but the thought of putting down that much cash for a party was completely wrong to us. So we went to Vegas. *Everything* we needed to tie the knot (paperwork, photographer, limos, bouquet, video tape, minister) was covered for around $1200, and that was one of the nicer packages.

    We invited our immediate families and best friends. Others might have been a bit offended, but they saw our reasoning.

    I highly recommend Vegas for a destination wedding. There is a wedding for every budget there. Plus, when it's over, Vegas is a rockin' fun town. You can blow some of the money you would have spent on prime rib (or Costco lasagna, as it were for us) on Delmonico's and a suite at the Venetian.

  3. RobbieKay says

    Sounds like someone beat me to the punch. I have been meaning to send you a photo of my Compact-y wedding dress.

    I loved amber's comment about "Costco lasagna". We had a small, simple wedding on the coast about two hours from where we live. Since people would be coming in from out of town, we rented two beach houses (one for the bride's family and one for the groom's family) within blocks of each other. Cheaper than getting a bunch of hotel rooms and cozier, too, as we got to be closer to our loved ones over the weekend (we were married on a Saturday and rented them for Friday and Saturday nights so our guests wouldn't have to rush back to their homes after the reception). Anyway, getting back to Costco lasagna…We didn't do the traditional rehearsal dinner (we didn't have attendants), but instead had stocked the fridges with large frozen items–including lasagna from Costco–that our guests could easily heat up whenever they felt like cooking. "Rehearsal dinner" was hanging out with my parents, my brother's family, my groom, and the pastor and his daughter who I have been friends with since she and I were in second grade (my husband's family had yet to arrive). From my rambling, I obviously found it to be a satisfying choice!

    I will say, though, the disposable camera idea turned out to be a big WASTE of money for us. We maybe only got one or two usable photographs from them.

  4. Hiptobeme says

    We had a fairly frugal wedding. I say fairly because I spent money on a few things that were most important to me. The venue, which were cabins at a fishing resort and photography took the lion's share of the budget as did the rings. My family doesn't get together very often so my wedding was like a family reunion as well. We all camped at the resort for three nights, even my 86 yr old grandmother and my 80 something yr old great aunt and my husband's family from Quebec, over 4000 miles away. Everyone said our wedding was the best they'd ever been to and it was my dream come true. It was soooo fun! Like summer camp. All the other stuff, dress, invites, decorations, guest book and wedding cupcakes were homemade by me, and delegated to different family members. Except for the catered lunch. I didn't want my mother to lift a finger, so we paid a local guy with fantastic food. All in all, it was worth every cent and if I had it to do over, I'd do it the exact same way.

  5. Shelayna says

    My husband and I had a "surprise" wedding at a birthday party. The only people who knew about it was the judge and us. When we announced during the cake cutting that we were going to get married there was a lot of shock and awe. I ran upstairs and moments later, we began! We made sure that we got our parents there with lots of prodding. It was super cheap and lots of fun!!

  6. Angela says

    Mary- My grandfather loves to say that he and my grandmother were married for $5 and their marriage lasted 70 years, a lot longer than most of these "fancy affairs."

    Amber- It sounds like you were able to find a solution that you were both happy with and have a great wedding. I think the main point is to do what makes you as a couple happy.

    RobbieKay- I would still love to get a photo from you. And your wedding celebration sounds absolutely perfect. I just love having an excuse to spend lots of quality time with your favorite people. In India, I understand a wedding is a 3 day affair.

    Sandy- That sounds like so much fun. If I had "gotten it together" a little better, summer camp is what I would have loved to have done for our wedding.

    Shelayna- Love the spontaneous and fun element – it sounds great.

    What's true of most things is true for weddings: to each his own.

    Thanks for all your comments!

  7. Jenna says

    Since the bride's family "traditionally" pays for most of the wedding costs, my dad told me that when I get married, if I don't spend $30,000 for a giant fancy wedding, he will give me some money for a down payment on a house. Or maybe a duplex or rental house since I already bought a house.

    I like the idea of not having all the expensive wedding things and starting a marriage off with some good old fashioned community property :)

    It seems that our consumer-driven culture has really affected our wedding traditions, too.

    I like the ideas!

  8. Suzanne says

    Choosing a frugal venue can be one of the biggest ways to save money, for sure. Not only do the fancy places charge an arm and a leg for renting the space, but many of them only allow you to use certain caterers, bar service, etc., jacking up your budget in other areas, too!

    Some of the most fun rehearsal dinners and receptions that I've been to were held in family or friends' backyards with home cooking or bbq for food. Everyone could relax and enjoy!

    Robbiekay, I *love* the idea of renting beach houses instead individual hotel rooms for guests!

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