Author Topic: Ways to cut costs on a non 'stashian wedding  (Read 16910 times)


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 198
Re: Ways to cut costs on a non 'stashian wedding
« Reply #50 on: December 10, 2014, 06:19:31 AM »
OP, do you have any connections to a catering company or a venue?

My wife and I worked at a catering company to work our way through school (she did it 3 years and I did it for 1). Because we had this connection our coworkers donated their time, the company waived the fee for the venue, the cake person gifted us a cake for the wedding, and my grandfather plays the piano professionally (so no DJ needed). We only had to pay for food, the dress, my suit, etc.

Total cost for a fancy wedding that included hors d'oeuvres, great location (all glass room at the top of a building nestled in the mountains), all-day photographer, great music, and a custom-made dress was only about $2,500.

So my primary tip is to use your connections! Also, for food, heavy hors d'oeuvres is also a great tip.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Ways to cut costs on a non 'stashian wedding
« Reply #51 on: December 10, 2014, 07:07:44 AM »
The easiest way to look at wedding expenses is that, legally, all you need for a wedding is 2 witnesses, a marriage license, and someone qualified to marry you.  Everything else is a detail that you can opt into or out of.  We had a full wedding and reception with 130 guests, catered meal and alcohol, so ours was probably not very mustachian, but I think that we did a good job of keeping it reasonable.  It was less than half of what people who had similar weddings spent in my area, and we didn't go into any debt for it.

We cut costs in the following ways:

- Sold my dress on consignment after the wedding.  Would have been smarter to have bought on consignment and then resold on consignment afterwards, but I did not have that foresight.  If this is something that your bride is interested in, she should make sure that the dress that she chooses is less than 1 or 2 years old.  Most bridal consignment shops will not accept a dress that is more than a couple of years old to re-sell.  In the end, my out of pocket costs for wedding dress and accessories was about $500, and if I had been smarter I could have done much better than that. 

- We bought flowers at the grocery store and assembled our bouquets ourselves.  Boutonnieres were not floral (there are many ideas online for non-floral bouts if you want one).  Centerpieces were mainly floating candles in glass jars with a few flowers.

- Found a photographer who was still fairly new at the time, but who was super talented.  The photography industry is totally saturated now, so you can find a photographer for any budget.  But it depends on how important it is to you - if it's not super important, you could hire a student or "new" photographer for a few hundred dollars.  I photographed my first wedding for $500!

- We provided alcohol, but only 2 brands of beer and 3 types of wine that we made at a facility.  We were able to return unopened beer cases after the wedding, and we had TONS of wine left over.  An obvious cost cutter here would be not to provide free alcohol.

- Look at non-traditional venues.  We chose a venue that had virtually no restrictions and no additional fees - no corking fee, no cake cutting fee, nothing.  It was a summer music camp.  Our venue wasn't particularly cheap, but I loved it so much.  A very cheap option would have been a Legion or similar.

- We bought very inexpensive rings, both engagement rings and wedding bands.  I think my engagement ring is what is often called a "promise ring".  The three rings combined cost less than $500.  Jewelry is not important to us, so it was an obvious place to cut costs.  DH has already lost his wedding band, so good thing it was cheap!

- We didn't have a honeymoon.

- An obvious way to cut costs is in catering.  Our meal was by far the most expensive aspect of our wedding.  We provided a full catered meal, but you could easily cut costs here by having an afternoon wedding with no meal, or opting for a cheaper meal.  My sister in law had an afternoon wedding and provided light sandwiches and snacks that her family made (no alcohol), which I'm sure saved her thousands!

- We had a friend make a cake for us as a gift.  It was delicious!  You could forego the cake altogether if you wanted.

- We shopped around for a DJ on online classifieds.  It paid off well; he did an awesome job.

- Officiant was a friend of my father's and gave us a deal.

- Made our own edible favours.  You can skip these entirely, no one really cares about favours.

- Our location did not really require much in the way of decor, and we kept it pretty simple.

Unkempt Stash

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 46
Re: Ways to cut costs on a non 'stashian wedding
« Reply #52 on: December 11, 2014, 09:49:10 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback! It's been a whirlwind over the past month and change...

I love reading all the suggestions, and while some do not work for me I hope that a later mustachian finds this :)

I know that my fiancÚ is not super frugal, but she has saved up for her wedding for the past decade so she gets a big say in it. No facepunches at her :)

I have no connections that are of use to getting discounts on weddings, and the bride is opposed to the areas where we could use them otherwise. For example, she is unwilling to use a wedding location that is a friend/family's residence for the wedding.

I love the idea of the consignment dress. I told her about it and maybe she'll look into it.

We just signed a contact on the venue.
We went to a half dozen and got information on dozens more in the area. It was very difficult to find a location that let's you bring in your own alcohol and nearly as difficult to find one that let's any caterer provide food. One year out in the Midwest and flexible to a 6 month range on the date, and we still had venues that were unsuitable on date alone.
In our search I found only ONE that allowed alcohol of choice. Most venues required a minimum food and drink bill and charged a percentage of it as a fee.
In the end, we went with a venue through the local park service. It was one of the cheaper indoor options, their cost for alcohol with liquor was cheaper than the beer cost at many of their competitors and they let us tell them the number of drinkers, so Grams doesn't cost me extra! There will be very little decorating needed as the venue is beautiful and green. The require the use of a caterer from a list and charge a fee. The fee is about hand what the others were charging and the list is long enough to have some negotiating room. It isn't perfect and there are tons of fees (chair and table rentals).

Current estimate: $5300. That includes chairs, tables, linens, space, and all alcohol. Its not growing my stach, but it's not shabby compared to normal in the area. FWIW, the no required caterer option was $3500 for just the space, so I think we are equivolent on that.

I just found a wedding ring for myself. It's $50 after shipping. The bride's ring will be a different story. Both of her grandmothers have provided their rings and she wants to get some diamonds from both reset into a band. Any ideas of where/how much is reasonable for that? We are going to a jewelry event where I bought the engagement ring in January and may have that done there.

I'm looking into a DJ recommended to me by private message on this forum! We shall see if they are available on our date.

We are talking to out first caterer now. We want a Mexican buffet wedding, and it appears to be very inexpensive to go that route online. Our quote should arrive soon and we'll see how that works out. This one doesn't have cake cutting fees so they are already at the top of my list.

Whew! Tired of typing! Thanks for all the tips and anecdotes, please keep them coming and I'll continue to update with where we are in the process :)


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 107
Re: Ways to cut costs on a non 'stashian wedding
« Reply #53 on: December 12, 2014, 02:52:40 AM »

Got married a couple of years ago in Australia but some ideas work regardless of where you are...

Dress - if it needs alterations do not get it done by a bridal store. Ask friends for recommendations for a dressmaker and have them do it. Thankfully my mother is a fantastic sewer so saved me $80 the store quoted just to do the hem. Thankfully it needed no other alterations.
Save the Dates - we found a free image online used a program to overlay our save the date wording and them printed them out at a photo store - 10c each. We picked an image that went with our theme.
Theme/colour - choose these and then don't change your mind. Every changed decision will cost.
Postage - this will add up quickly with your proposed guest list. Make sure the stationery you select is a standard size that you don't need to pay extra.
Centrepieces - don't go overboard and choose something besides flowers. We had a beach theme and we had a large vase, sand, shells and a candle with a ribbon in our colour. Anything excessive just gets in the way of your guests.
Favours - we bought sets of four glass drink coasters and broke them down in to pairs instead. The website we bought from actually suggested this. I got asked many times where we got them.
Car- the bridal car was one of our splurges, but we got great value, it transported me, Dad and bridesmaids to the wedding and was big enough for the whole wedding party AND the photographer for offsite photos.

See if you can come up with something memorable that doesn't cost much. For us it was the cake cutting. We recreated my parents' cake cutting and borrowed a military officer's ceremonial sword, with gold and ivory hilt. It cost us a bottle of wine and was posted by so many guests online. You would be amazed at the cheeky grin you have when cutting a cake with a sword, it makes for a great photo.

Don't let it take over your life, either set specific times to discuss plans or designate certain days/times as a wedding free zone. Above all enjoy yourself.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Ways to cut costs on a non 'stashian wedding
« Reply #54 on: December 12, 2014, 06:03:27 AM »
Oh, that reminds me about postage!  We sent out our Save the Dates in our Christmas cards.  When we sent out our wedding invitations, we had people RSVP via phone or email instead of mailing back an RSVP card.

We also made our own invitations and printed them at home.  I made my brother's for his wedding as well, but he had them printed on linen paper at a printing shop so his looked much nicer than mine did.  But I didn't care much about what the invitations looked like.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 190
Re: Ways to cut costs on a non 'stashian wedding
« Reply #55 on: December 12, 2014, 07:48:26 AM »
We skipped groom tuxedos and bridesmaid dresses, opting instead to just tell the bridesmaids to wear something nice in the red-pink-orange range and the ushers to wear a suit or pants/jacket combo that was more towards light than dark (summer morning wedding).  We didn't have to pay for the outfits and they had the option to either use something already in their closets or buy something that would be useful later on.  I also got married in a nice suit, which I used for events and even work for many years after.

The "reception" was a barbecue in my parent's yard.  I cooked the steaks myself.  I guess a litmus test for whether we should invite someone to a wedding was whether we would invite them to our house for a barbecue or not. 


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2386
Re: Ways to cut costs on a non 'stashian wedding
« Reply #56 on: December 12, 2014, 09:56:40 AM »
Dress - if it needs alterations do not get it done by a bridal store. Ask friends for recommendations for a dressmaker and have them do it. Thankfully my mother is a fantastic sewer so saved me $80 the store quoted just to do the hem. Thankfully it needed no other alterations.

Just be careful with this one because I've heard of a bunch of horror stories.  Leave a LOT of time.
We have a beautiful set of wooden napkin holders made from ships planks (of a historic Coast Guard ship, Eagle), a gift from someone working on that ship when they were removed, because my mom *very last minute* altered her wedding dress after it had gotten royally screwed up by the seamstress.  (Mom was her gymnastics coach, but she's a fantastic sewer.)
My friend went with a paid-friend, and I discovered years after her wedding that the alterations weren't finished until the day of the wedding, she had to be partially sewn into the dress as a result, and many other issues (not things you want to be dealing with the week of the wedding).  They thought the woman (a friend of her mom's) was reliable.  She wasn't obviously.

That said, when they altered my dress and cut the train shorter, they removed a lot of the lace/pearl pattern and didn't sew much back on.  Mom added a bunch back on for me.  Even though it cost a chunk of change, she was glad I didn't try to have her alter it, because it was complicated so would have taken her a lot of time to do, so she figured I had gotten a pretty good price on the alterations.