For frugal-minded couples, a wedding can be a real financial challenge. There’s family to please and expectations to meet. During the planning process, you can expect your guest list to exponentially grow, your budget to inflate and have all sorts of unsolicited advice thrown your way.But don’t be peer pressured into a having a wedding that doesn’t reflect the most important thing: the happy couple. A frugal wedding doesn’t mean a less memorable or cheap looking wedding. Actually, a frugal wedding forces the budget to be spent wisely, focusing the money on the most important factors, while trimming excess and wasteful costs.

Ben Jhaisch Photography |

Learn a thing or two from these couples. Their weddings were breathtaking but they spent less than the cost of a brand new Mac Pro. Here are five valuable budgeting lessons learned from frugal weddings.

1. Can’t narrow down that guest list? Ask yourself one pivotal question.

The question is not who should be invited. Ask yourself who would actually show up, no matter the date or time of day. This eliminates guests only looking to party and mooch off the free food and open bar.

A breathtaking $100 cave wedding, featured in Offbeat Bride,  was held close at sunrise.


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The early wake up call kept the wedding small and intimate. Meaning, everyone that showed are the ones that should be there.

2. Spend the money where it counts

Many DIY sites will tell you that in order to cut costs, replace expensive services by recruiting your willing and capable friends. This may work some areas like decor and catering. However, consider skipping photography and videography as your next DIY solution.

Unless you know someone that is a professional (with professional equipment) that is willing to charge a friend’s price or donate their services, use that money you just saved by reducing your guest list and hire a professional with a decent portfolio.

Ben Jhaisch Photography |

This couple, featured in Green Wedding Shoes,  eloped to the woods. The biggest expense, other than the $1,200 Free People dress, were the photographs and videography. There were no guests. Just the bride, groom and the officiant. After you take a look at the moving video and breathtaking photographs, you’ll agree that it was money well spent.

3. Utilize what you have, especially if you have a nice living space.

Why spend all that money on a house if you’re not going to have guests over? Even if you are renting a small home or a nice apartment, your humble abode may work as your wedding venue.

Red Hook/Tribeca Wedding

Clean Plate Pictures source

This couple, featured in Intimate Weddings, had a $5,000 budget to work with. After trimming back their budget and eliminating the idea of a large wedding, they asked to use their officiant’s Tribeca apartment for their wedding ceremony. The reception was held at a local restaurant.

4. Don’t knock a city hall wedding

Before you cross a city hall wedding off your list, you may want to do some research. You truly may be missing out on a great deal of history and a spectacular ceremony backdrop.


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San Francisco city hall is one of the most popular destinations to get married. And it’s no wonder why. City hall is a great elopement or small wedding option that won’t break the bank. The cost is just $99 for the marriage license and $75 for the civil ceremony. While the location is at the discretion of the officiant, ceremonies are usually held in the Rotunda.

For those not interested in a long ceremony but want the convenience of as venue easily accessible with great photo opportunities, a wedding at San Francisco City Hall is well within the budget.

5. Add a twist to tradition.

At times, sticking with tradition can be a simple solution to budgeting. Various cultures call for a family-oriented wedding in a familiar setting with homemade food and passed down heirlooms.


Anna Kovaleva Photography source

A traditional Russian wedding usually consists of a guests meeting at a family member’s home, a meal accompanied by toasts, and a civil ceremony. This couple kept true to  tradition, but added a few frugal twists to incorporate their goth style.

6. Who says a ring has to be worth 3 months salary, anyway?

The whole three month salary is not actually a rule. It was part of a marketing campaign from back in the day that stuck. So don’t buy into that old myth.

Start a wedding off right with a frugal engagement ring. There are tons of options available on Etsy, and gemstone engagement rings are far more affordable than diamond engagement rings. But, your ring shopping has only just begun. What about the wedding bands?


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After all the guests go home and the band packs up, all that’s left of your wedding are your wedding rings. And frugal couples are opting to ditch a trip to the jewelery shop and make their own wedding bands. Why not spend some extra time hand making the one lasting symbol and daily reminder of your union?

When faced with wedding budgeting woes, just remember: your wedding, your money, your rules.

Related Stories:

Learn from My Wedding Blunders: 10 Ways I Overspent

10 Ways To Save On Wedding Travel

Planning Your Wedding on a Budget

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