helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank

There’s one thing that we all have in common since we’re reading Budget Savvy Bride. And that is, we obviously do not have Chelsea’s no-holds-barred, sky’s-the-limit, over-the-top wedding budget. We know we wouldn’t skimp on the pomp and circumstance if our parents had pockets as deep as Hilary’s and Bill’s. Since we don’t, here are some of OUR budget-savvy tips that will help to make YOUR wedding dreams a reality.

  • Budget: My fiancé and I are footing most of the wedding so it was essential to create a budget. This may fluctuate (hopefully down), but this gives you a starting point. Create a spreadsheet of every expense that may incur surrounding the wedding events. Don’t overlook odds and ends such as the cost of an officiant, venue insurance, alcohol license, bridal party gifts and transportation costs. Newlyweds do not want to start out in debt, so we started saving up early.
  • Do the math: Take your set budget limit and divide it by the months until your wedding, and that is how much both of you have to save each month.

$10,000 budget ÷ 16 months until wedding = $625 ÷ 2 = $313 each/month

Put this money in an account with a high interest return, such as a savings account, money market or CD. Remember that every little bit helps and you might have to sacrifice those monthly mani-pedis, but it will all be worth it in the end.

  • Pick one aspect: What is the one thing that takes up a chunk of your budget, but you’re not willing to skimp on? For us, it is photography. We knew what we wanted and it was set in stone. So what won’t you compromise on: florals, décor, food and/or alcohol, venue, invitation suite or entertainment?
  • DIY: Craft stores are my newest hang-out these days, and they have 40-50% off coupons. Don’t be afraid to dig through those clearance bins, and get your creative on!

What I did with fresh hydrangeas: My sweet co-worker (shout out to Tillie) brought me tons of blooms from her bush. I dried them, and then sprayed them with floral spray. The floral spray was $6 a can, but I used a coupon and got them half-off. This allows you to prepare your flowers in advance, and allows you to keep them for over a year! You can also use this method to preserve fresh flowers from your wedding day.

What I did with 50 cent letter hangers: I removed the hangers which were originally on the bottom of letters, refastened them to the top, painted them, added the sprayed hydrangeas from above and used them in my wreaths to hang on the entry doors. $6 for both wreaths

What I did with free wine/liquor bottles: My fiancé is a bartender, so I put him to work on collecting the empty bottles. I soaked the labels off of the bottles, filled them with lamp oil ($6 to fill two bottles 1/2 way) and topped them with a ceramic wick (pack of 20 for $12). This will be added to our centerpiece to create some soft, natural light. (Ours are similar to the photos below, since I don’t have a picture of these.)

What I did to make our monogram: I found a wonderful monogram from weddingchicks.com, that I used, and then modified the colors in a photo program. Voila, a nice theme to use throughout our wedding. This will go on our invitation suite and programs, and I have used them as tags on our mason jars for our vodka lemonade. (Mason jars were bought with coupons, ribbon was from Michaels ribbon sale; 3 spools for $1, white card stock was left over from my sister’s wedding, 2″ scalloped-edge circle punch from Michaels using coupon).

Inclusions: All-inclusive doesn’t always mean budget-conscious. Most all-inclusive venues require that you use their caterers and can’t provide outside food or alcohol. We picked a venue that allowed us to choose our caterer and bring in our own alcohol, saving us a boat-load of cash that we could spend elsewhere.

If we used the caterer’s bar service:

$10 per person (2 drinks ea) x 200 people = $2000 + 20% grat = $2400

Using our own kegs and paying a bartender:

$300 for 3 kegs + $150 to bartender for 3 hours = $450

HELLLLLO!!! That’s $1950 saved on just beer alone. Remember to ask what the policy is and what inclusions are provided with a vendor’s service.

  • Santa, baby: Ask that family members forego the usual birthday and Christmas gifts, and contribute to your honeymoon fund or a gift card to your favorite craft store for all of those DIY projects.
  • Got a talented friend?: “Why yes, friend of groom, we DO need a DJ for our reception.”(shout out to DJ Johnny Ka$h) Why yes, friend of bride, we DO need a day-of coordinator.” (shout out to Allison)
  • Go green: One way to go green is to reuse items from previous brides. There are tons of websites devoted to brides selling their décor and attire, so scout out the classifieds to find items that you need. These are some that I obsessively visit frequent:

(http://classifieds.weddingbee.com/ and http://www.projectwedding.com/classifieds )

Photo courtesy of gogreenpipe.com

Also, craigslist is an amazing resource because listings are by city, which eliminates shipping and reduces your cost in the end. My finds: 34 plastic mint julep cups for $10 and 250′ of café lights for $130 from newlyweds. These items would have cost me at least $345 (not including s/h), so I saved $250 on those items alone.

Know friends or family members that have recently tied the knot? I do! My sister just got married (shout out to Bryson & Samantha) and we are able to reuse a lot of her décor items such as shepard hooks, paper lanterns, silver chargers, and silver pillar candle holders.

Resale items that you won’t need after the wedding. Do I really need 250 feet of café lights on our back deck, 30 paper lanterns, and 20 tablecloths? Uhhmmm, NO. Resale!

  • Everything is negotiable: Get quotes, shop around and provide vendors with comparable quotes to get the best offer possible. Use this while shopping online classifieds also.

Remember to make your wedding fun and something that your guests will remember. Saving money doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on pretty, fancy things. It just means that you have to spend your money wisely, and be a budget savvy bride!

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About Jessica

Jessica is the creator of The Budget Savvy Bride; she launched the site in May of 2008, shortly after becoming engaged. Jessica has been recognized as a budget wedding expert by various media outlets and continues to share realistic inspiration and actionable tips to help brides save money on their weddings. Google

Connect with Jessica
  • Melissa

    Yippppeeeeeee!!! I am over-the-moon excited that you guys chose me as one of the top 5.

    I didn't include our save-the-dates because I wanted it to remain a surprise for our guests! They will look something like this template provided by weddingchicks.com: http://www.weddingchicks.com/wedding-chicks/diy-t

    • deleatherman

      Way to go, girl. Great ideas all around.

  • Megan Harvey

    MISSY! I AM SO IMPRESSED! YOU ARE SO CREATIVE…..I KNOW THIS WEEDING IS GOING TO BE SO BEAUTIFUL AND A GOOD TIME HAD BY ALL! I CANT WAIT! IF YOU NEED ANY HELP WITH ANYTHING AT ALL…JUST LET ME KNOW!

    LOVE YA
    MEGAN

  • Laura

    I love what you did with the hydrangeas. What a unique idea!

  • Ty Leatherman

    I love this entry…lots of great ideas!! I especially like the flowers and wine/liquor bottle candles.

  • Jenny Radford

    Great Job Missy!! I love the wine bottle oil lamps! So exciting to see everything coming together! – JR

  • Janet Dow

    Great idea-love the blue spray paint flowers

  • Stella Lee

    The beer and wine idea is great-we did it for a friend's wedding and saved a bundle.

  • Allison Bernauer

    Great ideas!! You are so savvy!!! I cannot wait to help you with your big day. Thanks for calling me a "talented friend" I am so excited to be a part of the wedding!! I LOVE the wreaths!! Good luck with the contest. Allison

  • C Taker

    If we ever actually find that poor sap that actually thinks he can handle me for a lifetime, you are officially hired as my wedding coordinator!! Awesome stuff here!

  • Dare

    VERY creative! I love the wine bottle idea and the flowers look great!

  • Emily Stanley

    Everything looks great. I really like the wreaths. Good luck with all the wedding planning!

  • Laken Wheatly

    Missy!! Everything looks so good!! I love the bottles!! Everything will be so beautiful!!!

  • Ceshia Davey

    The Hydrangea idea is marvelous! I'm going to attempt this myself.

  • Jason Davey

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Kat

    Great ideas! It is so hard to do it all yourself but so worth it!! ~ Kat

  • Kelly Sokolowski

    I love all your great tips and pictures on your blog. You definitely take budget savvy to the next level. Can't wait to celebrate with you!

  • Samantha

    Awesome, Melissa! I love the hydrangeas!

  • Marilyn Bernauer

    I am very impressed! Great job!

  • http://www.eyecandync.com Missy M

    Wow Missy! I'm stoked about how creative your solutions are!! You have great suggestions!!

  • Paige

    Wonderful ideas!

  • Hilary

    Looks great, Missy!!

  • Beth

    Okay…where were you when Daniel and I got married? Seriously : ) You missed your calling…should have been a columnist for a trendy magazine!!!! Come see us.

  • Philip Byrd

    Thanks for saving us money, baby! Now it all makes sense what you're doing with all of that stuff in the guest bedroom:)

  • Janice

    Awesome ideas!!

  • Jane

    Great Ideas!

  • Amber

    This is awesome, Missy! I love love love the monograms!

  • Annette Mitchum

    Melissa is so deserving of this. She works hard and is extremely thrifty in all she does. She is smart and creative and wants this special day to the best possible. I think her ideas are exceptional and ones that will make her wedding a day to remember for all.

  • Shannon

    Hollllllllaaaaaaaa. Wedding savings are tha bomb y’all!!!!

  • Cindy

    Missy….I am so very proud of you! What wonderful ideas you have…Great vision of your perfect day!

  • Erica

    Wow…you’ve got it right perfect!

  • Leigh

    This is my favorite! Can’t wait to celebrate!

  • Harrison Tisinger

    Looking good! What creative ideas!

  • Katie

    woohooo good job Melissa! hope you win!

  • Jackie

    Way to go! Good Luck!!

  • Laura

    Great ideas! you have my vote!

  • Shayna

    Missy, you are so creative! I love all of your ideas. Especially saving all that $ on alcohol! Good luck, I hope you win, you deserve it!

  • leah

    Great ideas and wonderful write-up! Good luck!

  • Katie Girl

    Missy! You are so creative! I love your ideas. You will have a beautiful wedding, just what you deserve!!

  • Sabrina Varnam

    Love it. You are so savy!!!!! I have an attic full of hydrangeas from mom's garden waiting for ya.

  • Sabrina Varnam

    I love the colors and the creative ideas you have. Especially the budget on how to save up.

  • James Soko

    Great ideas – you are SO deserving Aunt Missy!

  • Virginia

    Missy, you are so creative, I think you need to consider doing this professionally.

  • Wheatly

    Missy, all this information will be so helpful with Molly's wedding. No, she isnt dating anyone but I am trying to set her up with a friend of mine and I am pretty sure they are going to be DYNAMITE together. Plan on planning her wedding for the summer 2012.

  • http://leahsteelman.blogspot.com Leah H. S.

    HHHAAAAHHHH-LLLEEEERRRR!! Girl – This is awesome!!! :) I hope you win. :) You deserve it, girl!!! :)

  • Joella

    Great ideas! I'm sure you'll have wonderful memories of your wedding (and wedding planning) since you put so much of yourself into all the details. Congratulations!

  • rodney s.

    go girl! :) saving $ makes me happy. :)

  • Dana G

    Awesome money saving ideas, Melissa!!!

  • Cathy

    Love all the ideas and look forward to seeing it put together. How do you have time to do this AND coupons?! Love to you both
    AC and Cathy

  • Deena

    Missy, I don't think I'll ever be a wedding planner, but if I do, I know whose help to enlist!! Great job – wonderful ideas!!!

  • Teresa

    Congrats Missy, your ideas are so great !!! Can you toss some hints over to Shayna and Shannon

  • talaws

    Creative – I'm impressed!!!

  • http://www.kristinsmindinpictures.blogspot.com Kristin

    I absolutely adore your practical attitude toward this! You're still excited for your wedding, but also keep in mind that's it's one day, rather than the rest of your life. I'm not yet engaged, but my boyfriend and I are talking about within the next year or so and this definitely appeals to both of us.
    You definitely deserve to win!

  • bobby

    missy, everything you have done is super fab.

  • Pegi

    Hi Missy! Love this site and what you are doing for the wedding. Love everything and the lamps what a great idea. Good luck. Pegi

  • Erica

    I'm so happy for you Missy!! Congrats!!

  • Courtney Coddington

    Missy Thanks so much for turning me on to this website and all the loads of savvy wedding solutions! Like many have mentioned before, the flower preservation is an awesome idea! My mom is going to have her wedding at her own farm (shout out to Bill, a wonderful guy!) and we have been planning an entire section in a back field for planting fresh day and tiger lilies to cut for the event (can you say save a bundle of $$!)–and now I can see us planting other kinds too, and saving them like you are doing! Good luck with the event! PS…I hear the Sullivan Lab smokes a lot of extra Stripe Bass (delish!) wink wink.

  • Cathy McDonald

    Melissa, great practical ideas! You should be writing for a bridal magazine already with such time and money saving tips for the bride-to-be. Hope you win! My best to you and Philip.

  • Tina Guthrie

    WoW Missy!! You are doing a fabulous job!! I love the bottles, so creative!!

  • Kabel

    way to add pictures to really catch the eye!!!

  • Erin Rose

    Wow! Missy I am impressed! I know that your wedding will be beautiful and good time will be had by all! You so deserve to win! You've got my vote!

  • Stephanie McInnis

    Look at how savvy you are! Congratulations to both of you!

  • Stacy

    You are awesome! Can't wait to see everything come together on the big day!

  • Joyce

    Missy, you have certainly done a lot of work to make your day so special. Everything looks great! Can't wait to celebrate with you!

  • Anita Hardesty

    Great ideas, Missy. Anita Hardesty

  • Laura

    Good luck with everything! You have great ideas!

  • Jodie

    I love your blog Missy. You are a very talented writer – I think you should write an article for the N&O. Maybe 4 kegs???

  • Joanna

    Good Luck!

  • Julie Young

    Your wedding is going to be beautiful!!!

  • Amanda

    Missy this wedding will be fab!! plus you have a friend and family in the hair business!!

  • Mike P

    MIssy great tips!!

  • bobby mcdsilverstein

    If only they allowed gay marriagee ga

  • Lori Claffey

    Love all your ideas, you are very creative!! You are definitely going to win!

  • Samantha C

    This is great Sis. You should be a budget wedding planner. I can't wait to see it all together.

  • Mitch

    Looks good sis.

  • Matthew Moore

    Much love to you! So excited for your future happiness!!! Break a leg in the competition, or as we say in the operatic world "toi! toi! toi!"

  • Kurt

    I am really excited about that vodka lemonade. Bottom's up! Great job Missy!

  • ashlee d

    missy, i am so amazed at your budget savviness!! you are amazing and this will be one beautiful wedding!! can't wait love ya
    :)

  • Montez

    I am sure your wedding will be beautiful!!

  • Horse Teeth

    Wow, wish I was getting married.

  • Susan Hancock

    Missy- you have such great ideas! Enjoyed reading all of your post. Take care!

  • Dad

    Glad somebody's saving us some money

  • Nick

    Wow Missy, you are doing a fantastic job! Hope you have the best wedding ever!

    P.S. Dont forget my invite!

  • Sabra

    Where were you when I was planning my wedding?!?! Great ideas!!!! Your wedding will be as beautiful as the bride!

  • Dione Willis

    Beautiful job! Every idea you have is wonderful! Congratulations!

  • Cind Mintz

    Good luck Missy. Love the hydrangeas idea! I'm sure everthing will be beautiful!!!

  • Mandy Siggler

    Absolutely love the wine bottle idea. Not only is it a great idea for your wedding, but I believe some of those would look great on the tables out on my deck :) So, I'm stealing your idea! Good luck Missy, both with the contest and the wedding.

  • Matt

    If you need help emptying wine bottles, let me know. ;)

  • Tess

    I love love love the wine bottle idea!!! Where were you when I was planning my wedding?!?!?!?

  • deleatherman

    Congratulations, girl! Looks great. You get my vote too.

  • Marsha M Block

    I'm so impressed Missy! You are so creative. Your wedding will be beautiful :)

  • Dawn

    Great ideas, Missy!! LOVE the wine bottle thing – GREAT idea!!!

  • Anna

    Only a woman from Davis could work so hard and make it look so good. Best wishes.

  • Courtney

    Great job Missy!! I hope you win!! These are definitely some awesome ideas!! Good luck with the wedding girly!!

  • Vicki

    I LOVE all the GREAT ideas, Sis!!!! It is going to be BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  • kabel r

    great ideas….very impressive work!

  • Patricia W Chatman

    You go my sista . I think your ideas are wonderful! Im so excited for the wedding and im so happy for the both of you! love you pat

  • Ashley

    You are so spot on and motivting me to negotiate more strongly with my various vendors! I adore your wreath idea & hydrangeas are also my flower of choice! Southern hearts beat the same! I've already made a wreath for my front door–why not my wedding church doors too? Thanks for all your inspriration! This entry def deserves to win! Very helpful ideas!

  • Heather

    Love it!! U are the budget queen!!!!!!! Love the flowers and wine bottle too!!!!!!!

  • Shawna

    Missy, You have done a Great job!! Everything is goin to be Fabulous!!:) You have always been budget savy & creative!! Maybe one day i can use some of these tips:) You Deserve to win for SURE!!!:):)

  • Caren Guthrie

    Looks like you have really been planning and saving and being creative! My vote is for you!:) Good luck and best wishes to both of you!

  • KWu

    Definitely this post, of the 5.

  • Kelly Gann

    Wonderful ideas for HUGE savings! I think the logo is very classic and will be a great piece to tie everything together!

    Good luck – you certainly deserve to win!

  • Rhonda Owen

    Melissa, What AWESOME ideas you have for your wedding…..I'm going to use some of them for Christmas Gifts…I know you'll have a beautiful wedding….I'm a friend of Cathy W…..rhonda owen

  • LAOKV

    :) where did you get these ideas! :) i love them!
    next time kyle and i get married, we're gonna get you to help us with the decorations! :)
    until then, i'm super excited for you! :)

  • Taylor

    This is awesome! Thanks for such great suggestions!

  • krobbins

    Melissa ~ you definitely deserve to win this!

  • Cathy Williams

    I don't know where you find time to get all this done and clip coupons too. This is amazing and not surprising. You know we wish you guys all the best

  • Ann Winters

    Great ideas, may try them for my next party. I LOvE PHILIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Johnny

    This wedding is gonna be a smash, go Mama!

  • Alison Gonsoulin

    Hope you win! Love ya!

  • TA Laws

    Beautiful – very creative!

  • Amanda

    Awesome ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ann

    Everything looks like it is going to be FABULOUS!

  • Karen

    Hi Missy! Congrats on being selected as one of the top 5! Also, I love your budget savvy tips. Where were you when I got married almost ten years ago?? Congrats again being top 5 and on your upcoming wedding. May you and your husband-to-be, be blessed from now to your big day and on…!!

  • ANNE

    you are an awesome person. I have known you for a long time and you deserve the best wedding ever. GOOD LUCK AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU BOTH

  • Renee Willis

    Missy, I hope you win! With all those great ideas, you should!

  • Karen Tosto

    Looks really great!!!

  • Tracey Brinson

    Awesome ideas Missy!

  • Allison Church

    great ideas!!!

  • christy flint

    Beautiful flowers

  • Marnie Willis

    Fantastic ideas Missy…. Very creative. You deserve to win!

  • Christina

    I hope you get it. Better late than never.

  • Lisa Pittman

    Missy, You never cease to amaze me!!!

  • Paula

    You are the smartest person I know in the whole world. Your my hero.. really I like yours the best cause it was easy to follow and had pretty pictures.

  • DRS

    Very crafty! I love your ideas!

  • Beth Briley

    Great job Missy! Best of luck to you!

  • Bryson

    Can’t wait to see it all together. It’s gonna be a blast.

  • Jess

    vote!

  • Fletcher Emery

    Great Job Melissa

  • Jenny Willis

    Great ideas Missy. It's going to be beautiful! Can't wait!

  • Jacqui

    You are so crafty!

  • LaDonna

    What cute ideas!! I love the letter hanger idea!

  • Jessica vann

    Very clever, Missy. Congrats on the wedding!!

  • Siya

    Missy, you are a rock star budget savvy bride!

  • Becky G.

    Move over Martha Stewart there is a new kid in town. Great Job Melissa !!!
    Best Wishes

  • Ms. Jackie

    didn't know anything about it until now, but here it is!

  • jenny byrd

    i love it!!!cant wait to see my dress!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

  • Aly Dart

    Love it, Missy!

  • misty rodgers

    way to go aunt missy!!! love jaxson

  • Jenn Soto

    :) yay!!

  • heather_fulcher

    Melissa, I thought all of your ideas were very creative and budget friendly. With a little time and effort,your wedding will have the perfect personal touches that people pay a ton of money for!!

  • Liz D.

    You can get colored lamp oils too, if you have a hard time finding blue wine bottles.

  • Emily Nelson

    This is wonderful, Missy!

  • Cindy Brown

    Great ideas Missy! I know you are going to have a beautiful wedding. Congratulations!

  • Adam

    Looks good girl, it’s going to be a beautiful wedding.

  • Susan in Jax, FL

    Hey Missy! Really like the idea of having a friend DJ. Makes it more memorable for all your friends and family at the wedding. (:

  • Lynne Byrd

    Melissa! This is just awesome. You are so creative. When its Megan's & Jennifer's turn, I will definitely be calling for some ideas. I know this wedding will be absolutely beautiful and I can hardly wait for it to get here! We Love you guys!

  • Jenny

    Wow Missy! You’re amazing!!!

  • Angie Nguyen

    Lookin' good!

  • susan guiendon

    OMG! I love your ideas! Can't wait to see them all together at the wedding. It's going to be fabulous!!!!

  • Lacey

    Great ideas Missy!!!!! Everything is going to be BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  • Amy

    Lookin good Missy!!! Love all the GREAT ideas!!! Congratulations!!!

  • margarette

    awesome ideas!!! :) leah margarette really thinks you deserve to win!!! :) good luck, girl – and happy wedding planning!

  • Allison

    Great Ideas!! Hope you win!

  • Korey

    Hope you win the contest. Allison said I had to go on here and comment. Sorry I haven't been able to get ordained so I could marry you guys…haha

  • Aubrey

    Great Ideas, Missy!

  • Laura

    Missy! This is awesome!! I will definitely take all of your advice when it's my turn :) Good luck!!

  • Alfie

    Those are some really good ideas.

  • Abby

    Love it Missy! This has helped so much with planning I’m doing for a friend of mine!

  • Jen B.

    Hey Marissa! Ret's talk about frowers. :P
    I am getting my planting ideas together for next year.
    I may put some more yellows in the garden for you.

  • Dawna Wetzel

    Lady, You ROCK!!! I'm very impressed with your attention to detail! Wishing you ALL the best! Congratulations!

  • Jennifer

    Great ideas! Especially like the wine bottle idea!

  • Jaime

    Great ideas!

  • Crystal Emery

    Great stuff girl. Did not know you were so crafty!! Good luck! I hope you win!

  • Amber Barnes

    Wow! Very impressive!

  • Nikki Webb

    Great ideas Missy!!! I needed you last year :) Your wedding is going to be fabulous…you’re so creative!!

  • Diana

    Missy you are so creative! I love it!

  • Megan Byrd

    I love everything!! I cant wait :)

  • Chuck

    Fantastic ways to save money and still have a great wedding. Looking forward to the wedding.

  • Cindyl20

    You go girl!!! Very proud of you. Have lots of stuff you can borrow from Kari and Blair's wedding if you need to. Call if you need anything. You definitely have my vote.