even a budget wedding can add up… and up… and up. generally i know what i want for the wedding – and how to keep costs down – but sometimes i have moments like, “i want ALL the fairy lights in the world! all of them.” so it’s a fine line to balance, and scouring wedding websites or pinterest boards either helps a lot or doesn’t help at all. so i thought i’d share some of the cost-cutting ideas i’ve found online with you, in case you’re in the same boat.

you can see more wedding ideas as i collect them over at my pinterest.

1. Get a vintage dress. I have been swoooooning over the dresses over at Dear Golden’s bridal shop. she had one gorgeous number from the 30s which is now unfortunately sold (of course, boo). but the shop gets updated all the time, so just keep checking in. note this cute bride wearing Dear Golden vintage.

Thoughts on a Wedding

2. Jazz up your hair. there are lots of people on Etsy who sell nice lookin’ veils and cool things for your hair – at reasonable prices. check out this veil (left) and this Grecian headpiece (right). see more of my posts about doing your hair here and here.

Thoughts on a Wedding

3. Wear sandals! if you’re wearing a long dress why not just wear some comfortable, beautiful sandals – no one’s going to see your feet anyway. hell, wear sandals even if you’re wearing a short dress. that way you can wear them again, and again, and again… left: Veronique Branquinho sandals and right: Ancient Greek sandals.

Thoughts on a Wedding

4. Simple Invites. there are some great resources online to design your own simple invites – A Subtle Revelry has an entire series dedicated to rad fonts you can use. i like the look of these simple invites by Seaborn Press.

Thoughts on a Wedding

5. Use Technology. we’re not actually having invitations printed at all – but going for a wedding website instead. it’s the tech side of me coming out, plus it can work out cheaper if you do it yourself. there are some wedding websites that offer this service, but i find most of them pretty naff. i’d suggest going with Squarespace and using a beautiful theme like Beatrice (this couple actually used it for their wedding website!)

also, if you can’t afford a wedding photographer (or if you just want all the photos of your wedding in existence) – get the Wedding Party App and invite your friends to take & share photos on the day.

Thoughts on a Wedding

6. DIY wreaths & garlands. you can save a ton by not involving a florist – so if you’re inclined to do some floral styling, get some local & seasonal flowers and greenery and make your own wreaths or floral garlands.

Thoughts on a Wedding

7. While you’re at it make some floral name tags. left: by Dietland Wolf and right: mini wreaths by {frolic!} (obviously write people’s names on there… unless you want to wish them a happy holiday. in which case, go forth!)

Thoughts on a Wedding

8. Keep your tables simple. forget themes and colour palettes and wedding favours and all that jazz – just make your tables simple and beautiful. maybe do a DIY table runner or just tie some herbs to your paper menus.

Thoughts on a Wedding

9. Two birds, one stone. print your menus on paper bags and throw a snack (or fries) in there. if you’re going to have wine on the tables, double the bottles up as table numbers.

Thoughts on a Wedding

10. Serve pizza! i LOVE this idea. seen at Andrew & Savanah’s wedding photographed by Lad and Lass.

Thoughts on a Wedding

do you have any DIY / cost-cutting tips to share from your own wedding?


  1. we’re running away next month. everybody thinks it’s just vacation but we’re going to get married in Copenhagen in 3 weeks. We made a reservation in a nice restaurant and I bought a little bracelet with a medallion showing the moon phase of the night as a special gift but that’s it. We want it simple and just with each other. 4 days in a little B&B and 1 week in a beautiful little hut by the sea, then back home by car. Next week we’re getting our rings, 1 with one notch, one with two. When you put the rings together you see a little heart. (o:
    We want to make photopostcards of it and send them to our family and friends… and in summer we’ll have a little party in our garden. Let’s see if that’s allowed, we just moved into the nice little appartment under the roof of this house but the garden is giant and directly by the river, so I just hope it’s possible.
    Simple and private and only invite family and friends we like and we’re in contact with… not like the catastrophal wedding of my cousin last year, hadn’t seen him for 30 years and it was stupid going…

    • Wow Ina. That sounds just like what my fiancee and I had in mind. How did it turn out? Were you happy with your elopement? No regrets? Any photos to share please? The after party with friends/family in garden sounds gorgeous. A wedding is such a personal event and choice. Thanks for posting this.

  2. I have been married nearly four years. It is so easy to be swayed by ideas from everyone else on what you need to do, should do and what is expected. We decided to call ours a sweet celebration instead of a wedding, setting the tone for a great party with people we cared about, I made all the invites, dress was made by my sister in law and best friend, picked flowers from my parents garden and had guest come stay at the place we got married at. perfect, relaxed, lovely. I know you will do something so beautiful. wedding photos here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=147850806424&set=a.115213856424.123868.736136424&type=3&theater

  3. We’re doing something similar to Ina- having a city hall wedding in Paris, just the two of us. The idea of a wedding just felt so stressful and burdensome, and not really like us at all! In the end we decided to get married by ourselves, have a nice dinner, and then go off for the big vacation we take every year. We’ll call our close family members the day of & everyone else will receive some kind of announcement + photo later on.

  4. i’d love to do something like this,, and i’d definitely get a vintage dress of etsy! right up my alley.

  5. We got married last July and I was determined to have a budget wedding (even though my dad hadnt limited the spend).

    Here’s a crazy idea that actually worked: We submitted our tax returns the day the tax submissions opened (2 weeks before our wedding and honeymoon) and we got a MASSIVE payout from the tax man because I have a travel allowance through work and we own property. When I say it funded our entire honeymoon, Im not exagerating. If you’re strapped for cash – give it a try! every cent counts.

    > I bought my dress in the UK for R200 – I found it on the high street while there on a business trip, and because I get given an allowance when I travel, I didn’t even use my personal money to buy it!
    > We did the invites ourselves – we sketched what we wanted and got them printed by a printer friend. My husby works in marketing and I am in fashion so we know our way around Creative Suite.
    > We got married in a barn during the day so the costs were quite low: people drink less during the day than at an evening wedding, and we didnt need extra lighting as the wedding reception was over by 7pm (good thing because we caught a plane to Paris the next day – so we were fresh for our big honeymoon)
    > My husby is in a band, so we got the band members to provide music during the ceremony and while our pictures were being taken. For the rest of it, we made our own playlist and used the band’s existing sound system – no one noticed we didnt have a DJ
    > We did everything else DIY (from table arrangements to dessert etc)
    > My husby and groomsmen wore things they already owned – and looked GREAT. Why spends thousands on suits they dont feel comfortable in and wont wear again? We live in Durban, so suits are SOOOO not necessary EVER.
    > My bridesmaids wore new dresses we bought especially for the occasion, but dresses they wanted to wear again and again so it wasn’t a sunk cost
    > The pastor was my husby’s dad – he’s married thousands of people and (obviously) knew us which was great
    > My friend is a professional photographer and gave us a great rate
    > My mom has been arranging flowers for years and did it all for us

    Roping in friends and family who have specific skills you need is a great way to save money. Also having a wedding on a sunday or weekday cuts the costs. But a day time or breakfast wedding is ultimately the best way to save on cash: your bar tab is low and not much food is consumed either.

  6. Ina – congratulations! That sounds fabulous, have a wonderful trip!

    Loads of thoughts on this will comment in more detail when am not at office and have all my wedding notes from my own wedding, two years ago :) Ours was a garden wedding in October, beautiful in every way (until I drank too many gin fizzies in the Arizona sunshine)

  7. We had so limited funds for our wedding, we ended up doing a lot of it ourselves as well. We actually sewed all of our flowers by hand, which took a long time but was kind of a fun thing. Every night we’d come home, eat dinner, then get out the ginormous basket of flowers we were sewing. It made the whole thing that much more special and home-brewed, and everyone was able to keep their boutonnieres and bouquets. By the time our wedding was over, we were less stressed because we weren’t relying on anyone else to get things done (the only thing we outsourced were a bunch of pies instead of cake).

  8. My mister and I still have a couple of years before we get married, but every time we try to plan anything out we get so stressed by the prices of everything! These ideas are all so perfect! I will definitely be getting a vintage dress, and I adore the DIY garland idea!!

  9. Hello Miss Moss!
    Thank-you for all of your great tips! It’s incredibly difficult planning a wedding with a small amount of funding. I’m getting married this summer on a very, and I mean very tight budget, so I found a lovely dress online. I’m sure you are already aware of BHLDN but I wanted to share my findings with everyone. While their regular wedding dresses are average prices, their reception dresses are much less expensive. I purchased mine for only $220. They are just as beautiful however they are typically shorter and less detailed. This has become a major cut to the costs of my wedding.
    Thanks for always posting such lovely content.

  10. all of these are such brilliant tips. im definitely going to file them away for the future!

  11. I think we’re in the same boat!
    We’re trying to plan our wedding in SA from Amsterdam with a tight budget. The most frustrating thing has been trying to find a venue that doesn’t churn out weddings every weekend, but we’ve managed to find a sweet red barn where the owners will let us take care of everything.
    If your venue allows, sorting out all your own drinks is a massive cash saver – and whatever is left over can be returned to the liquor store!
    I found a pretty cream crocheted midi dress from Zara last season which I grabbed in the sale and it’s perfect wedding dress material – saved me some bucks, which will go toward some badass shoes I’ll wear more often.
    If you’re having bridesmaids, how about getting them to buy whatever dress they want and rather shelling out for some rad jewels for them which they can all wear on the day and then keep forever? Just a thought!
    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!
    Good luck and keep calm…

  12. My husband and I had a very small wedding (30 people) and spend pretty much all of our budget on the venue and photography… the rest we did ourselves with help from talented friends and family… cake, decor, flowers, bouquet, invitations, music (iTunes playlist + speakers) We picked a venue we loved and it was beautiful anyway, so didn’t need much extra in the decor department (Groot Constantia) and then basically just organised the day as if it was a dinner party with a small garden ceremony to start everything off. It was perfect… laid back, stress-free, no seating plan, no protocols…it was such a fabulous day, I wish we could do it again!

  13. Such great ideas. They hit all the right notes. Thanks for the inspiration!! Keep the ideas coming !! :)

  14. My husband and I had a small wedding and we took all the financial responsibilities for it. I wore a 1950s Ballerina Dress with peter pan collar. My husband and I made all the floral pieces: boutonnieres, bouquet, floral crown. We made them all the night before the wedding. It was actually something that was very relaxing and bonding: a memory I will always cherish. We used vintage photographs from other weddings that took place in our family to decorate.

    I can’t resist sharing the link to our special day: http://jademsheldonphotographyblog.com/2012/07/02/all-you-need-is-love/

  15. you have some seriously fantastic tips there, and i would have loved to implement them in my own wedding, had i had the chance. what was initially a very private ceremony with immediate family has turned into a circus with all the bells and whistles thanks to my parents’ browbeating. so my partner and i are getting married just the two of us on the amalfi coast then coming home to do the legal ceremony in front of our friends and family. i wish more than anything we could have had it our way but according to my parents, weddings aren’t all about “us”, so i hope you have the wedding you truly desire – you deserve it!

  16. Second finding a place that let’s you bring your own liquor. It’s the only reason we had g&ts flowing all night!

    Second tip: small bridal party, or none at all. We each had one attendant, and paid for their hair, makeup, dresses (both were girls), and they wore whatever shoes and jewellery they wanted.

    Forget about floral arrangements on the table. They’re lovely (I am one of people who buys flowers weekly, I raelllly love flowers) but no one is going to think less of you for not having flowers on the table. We saved empty jars, bought a pack of 100 tealights, and had those everywhere instead.

    If you can give up the idea of a tiered cake with fondant icing, regular cakes are much, much cheaper. We bought three fabulous cakes from a local bakery and asked them to ice them in white, and put them on different siZe cake stands for $110. The cheapest ‘wedding cake’ quote I got was $500.

  17. I’m Savanah from Andrew and Savanah’s wedding! A friend just sent me this link and I am SO happy that you loved our pizza idea!! I had so many people give me strange looks when I told them the idea and had a few people seriously try to talk me out of it. I almost folded but decided to stick to my guns in the end. The pizza was a huge hit and I’m so glad I did it. :) My best advice for budget weddings: If you come up with a fun idea that will save costs and showcase your personality, go for it! Don’t let anyone talk you into a cookie cutter wedding… unless that is exactly what you want. :)

  18. We really need more websites like yours. Very informatine with lots of great articles for the couples to explore and cut costs.
    Good luck and looking forward to more brilliant ideas.

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