12 Frugal Wedding Ideas from Stew

By Stew


Okay, these ideas are not really from Stew, but Stew gets some credit because he asked his wife if she had any suggestions for a frugal wedding. Here are twelve that she listed off the top of her pretty little head. She actually claims to have more, but without further adieu, here are the the twelve:

  1. Save wedding invitations that you get in the mail. Use the ideas of others. Making your own can be fun and unique. Enlist the help of your closest friends and family to help you assemble them. My invitations (including envelopes and inserts) cost around $100 for 300.
  2. Find a florist that will sell flowers to you at wholesale prices. Have a friend put bouquets and corsages together for you. Also use mixed bouquets from your local grocery store for fillers. They can be separated and used in big centerpieces or cut down for corsages. I only spent around $100-$150 for flowers and accessories, which included my bouquet. And I loved it!!
  3. Decide on your theme/style, and shop after-holiday clearance. I picked up white lights, silver candles, and silver ribbon in after-Christmas clearance, to use for our July wedding. Shop after Valentines or July 4th for red accents, after Easter for pastel accents, and after Thanksgiving for fall décor.
  4. Pinpoint the 3 most important areas to you….spend the most money in those areas, and scrimp on the rest. To me, photography, flowers and food were most important.
  5. Find out if friends or people from the church are getting married around the same time as you. Borrow or share wedding items to save money. We were able to use an arch from another wedding the weekend before-it was already decorated in our colors! Using it saved at least $50-$100, and added a unique focal point in the sanctuary.
  6. Many people are taking wedding pictures these days. Find a college student or person starting out, and pay them a flat rate, which includes the disk with all the pictures. Most people have really nice photo programs on their computers….. you can add special effects on your own for MUCH less. Then you can get them developed/printed in the sizes and styles that you like. Using a site like Snapfish is also a great option.
  7. Having an afternoon wedding will save money on food. You can get by with serving finger foods, rather than a sit-down meal.
  8. Find a friend or acquaintance to make the cake. Like photography, there are many people who know how to make beautiful cakes, but do not own a business. They will do it for a fraction of the cost. Adding fresh flowers is a cheap way to make it look elegant. We used flowers from my aunt’s garden. They looked beautiful and it added a sentimental touch that I will always remember.
  9. Having an outdoor reception will cut down on the amount of decorations needed. God’s creation does not need much improvement. We held our reception on the back lawn of the church. White tents made it look festive, and a few table decorations added color. Other than that, we did not need much else!
  10. Make the food yourself, or pay a close family friend to make it. Careful planning ahead will cut down on costs and prep time. Make food that is easy to put together, and that can even be done several days ahead. Pre-cut veggie trays from Sam’s or Costco are an easy, pretty way to go. We served tortilla pinwheels (which the whole bridal party assembled the night before the wedding ), chips/salsa (our favorite!), and fruit salad. I assigned several of my mom’s close friends the task of putting it all together the morning of the wedding.
  11. An easy way to give favors to your guests is to set up a candy buffet. Make a fun, visually-appealing display of your favorite candies, and set out little containers or bags for guests to fill. Candy and bags or paper containers are relatively cheap, your guests will have a blast choosing their own selections, and you will provide a fun way to say thanks and tell a little about yourselves. Put a personalized sticker on each container, and the guests have a one-of-a-kind (inexpensive) favor from the two of you!
  12. Always set a budget right away, so you know how much you can afford. Keep all receipts so you can return unused items. Don’t overspend on the little areas-things people won’t notice anyways. For example, buy a cheap aisle runner…everyone will be looking at the bride anyway!

Entire wedding for $2,000

If I do say so myself, Mrs. Stew did a wonderful job with our wedding. Many guests commented on how beautiful everything looked.

Neither of our parents were able to contribute much to the wedding, so the future Mrs. Stew and I paid for most of it ourselves. By the way, that is a great way to inspire your kids to have  frugal wedding – tell them they have to pay for it themselves, wait until the event is over and then write them a check for the cost of the wedding. You will have given them the gift of the wedding, but you know that every penny is spent wisely. Offering to pay for the wedding of one of your offspring is a wonderful gift, but doing so with a blank check is poor stewardship and might reinforce bad habits in your children . . . Our entire, traditional wedding cost less than $2,000 in July of 2001. That includes everything – dress, photography, food, gifts, the whole thing.

Now, to be fair, let me list a few additional factors that helped us to reduce costs:

  1. My wife is the daughter of a pastor, therefore we spent no money on the facility. However, most churches do not charge a fee to members for weddings held in the building.
  2. We did not have a live band. Personal choice, I don’t think anyone suffered and it saved us a lot of dough.
  3. There was no alcohol at our wedding. Once again, this might not be for everyone, but our respective family and friends generally don’t need to drink in order to have a good time. As an added benefit, there were no fights, no embarrassing statements made over microphones, and no hang-overs the next day – for free!

I do not want to diminish Mrs. Stew’s contribution and hard work to make our wedding a frugal success, but I think it is also important that you understand that my wife is one of those people in life that everybody likes. This factor saved us a lot of money. There were a lot of people who spent a great deal of time and energy to make the event a success – out of love for my wife. Everyone likes her because she is always helping someone whether it is convenient or not, always making sure that every need around her is cared for. A couple of years ago, she took care of all the food at an outdoor wedding for a client of mine – out of the goodness of her heart – spent all day doing it – three weeks after giving birth to our youngest child. I guess what goes around, comes around . . .

She is a giver . . . I guess that is why she is now writing my posts for me.

Photo by: Rene Ehrhardt

9 Responses (including trackbacks) to “12 Frugal Wedding Ideas from Stew”

  1. Miranda Says:

    Great ideas! My wedding was $3,000 — $3,400 if you include our airline tickets (we got married shortly after 9/11, when airplane tickets were cheap). But since my husband and I are from opposite sides of the country, we had two receptions. I didn’t think we did too badly, considering.

  2. Nicki at Domestic Cents Says:

    Great tips Mrs. Stew :) Thanks for sharing them!

  3. Amy Says:

    What a timely post! My boyfriend asked me to marry him last week (EEEE!) and this stuff has been on my mind. We are both trying to work out of $30000 in student debt so ideas on an inexpensive wedding are great! Thanks!

  4. Lisa Rae Says:

    Lovely tips!
    For me, at the end of it all, we were left with the love of our family and friends, a sweet new life, and PHOTOS. Lots and lots of photos. Those were worth the every cent we paid.

  5. Nicole Says:

    We had our wedding at our new home. My husband and I thought it would be the best way to bless our new home!

    We only spent $1500 on everything including our honeymoon to Vegas and honestly, it was a wonderfully simple, small and relatively drama free planning/ceremony.

    Also, one thing more and that is in reality, none of the “stuff” matters when getting married. It’s only important that you and the groom show up and are getting married because you really want to love each other forever.

  6. Thankful Says:

    Some great ideas here! One thing to note, though. Be careful using fresh flowers on cakes because if pesticides have been used on the plants, there’s a chance of pesticide or other chemical residue remaining on even rinsed flowers. If you’re not sure, the fresh flowers can always be used to decorate the plate and table the cake rests on!

  7. sophie Says:

    Wedding is a part of one’s life that will never be erased easily especially if done out out of true love.The use of cufflinks and other wedding accesories are just part of its elegance and art. To get wed is one of the most memorable happenings in one’s life

  8. Wedding Woman Says:

    When it comes to setting an affordable budget for a wedding each couple their will be a suitable amount they can or are willing to spend on their wedding, for us that was £5000, I know other who have spent much more and it didn’t make their day any more special.

    I saved money by having my wedding late in the day so only having to feed my wedding guests once.