Below are a few tips to save hundreds to thousands on your wedding. We hope that you look into some of these. If you haven't proposed yet, why not also check out our free marriage proposal ideas (there are over 100).
1. To save on costs, have a small ceremony with just your family and close friends and then have a much larger reception to include everyone you want to. This not only can save a lot of money depending on where you have the ceremony, but it still includes everyone as well.
2. If you want to have the ceremony at a church, check your own church or ask members of your family to see if their church would offer a free ceremony rental if one of you is a member. Often, churches will charge a huge rental fee of anywhere from $1000 to $3,000 for non-members, but they'll have greatly reduced rates (if not free) for members, even if it you're not a member and have it hosted by one.
3. If you want your ceremony or reception outside, check with your local parks and recreation department to see if you can rent a local park out for your ceremony or reception. More than often, the rental fees are very cheap (I've seen most for around $35 total), and you can have it as large as you want.
4. Check with your local state capitol building to see if you can rent it out. These are often FREE to rent out (yes, that's right, free because you're taxpayers and it's a public building), and the buildings are usually absolutely gorgeous - far better than several places you can rent for a few thousand. The only drawback is that there are sometimes limitations as to how many people you can have or how long you can rent it out. But either way, even in the worse case scenario, it'd be perfect for a quick ceremony. Just call your state capitol or the capitol police if you have them for more information.
5. On a similar note, University/College buildings are another great place to have a ceremony or reception. Several universities have very beautiful unions or other social gathering points that would be perfect for either a reception or ceremony. Often times, the rental fees are anywhere from free for members to only a few hundred dollars for non-members. Some will even cater food and set up decorations for you! I've seen some that have agreements where the rental is free, but then you have to cater through them (but then their catering, because it's a public university, is very cheap and usually has a better setup and better food than places three times its price).
6. Ask all of your friends or relatives for their input on anything involving the wedding from locations to have it to people they know who make wedding cakes or flowers. You'd be surprised at how easily it is to make some quick connections. This can not only lead to cheap wedding cakes or flowers, but it can also lead to more wedding location ideas or other cheap alternatives (just be sure it's what you want).
7. Check around for local wedding cake bakers. They usually charge half as much as normal bakeries, and they turn out just as beautiful if not better. Try a phone book for starters or ask around.
8. Instead of looking for "wedding" invitations in the wedding section, try searching for the normal invitations that could pass off as wedding ones. Often, they'll look identical, yet the wedding ones will be over twice as much just because it's a wedding!
9. For wedding decorations and the like, try going to your local hobby/craft store. You can often buy things in bulk for a fraction of the cost that you'd pay at a normal wedding place. Also be sure to shop ahead of time if you can, as you can often find very good discounts and sales at these places depending upon the time of year.
10. When you reserve a reception hall, be sure to see what they include in the rental. Often times, they'll have several decorations that they'll include for free or a minimal charge (especially at places like the university unions, which are already cheap). You can also save money on the dinners by having it buffet style instead of a plated meal brought out to them. Not only is it cheaper, but your guests won't necessarily all like the plated dish and would probably prefer to be able to pick and choose. You can also check on their alcohol policy and see if you can bring your own alcohol in (in which case, buying your own wine bottles or beer kegs can save hundreds). If they don't allow you to bring in your own, you can always buy only a set amount of wine and beer and then have guests pay for the rest if they want more (for instance, offer enough bottles for one or two glasses each, and then have a few kegs of beer that should last awhile).
Just be sure to start planning early and to try to make your reservations as early as possible. Some locations, especially the popular ones, can fill up a year or more in advance! Also be sure to ask others who have had a wedding recently for their suggestions on anything. You'd be surprised how many great deals you can find just by asking others.