creative wedding reception ideas on a budget

Creative Wedding Ideas on a Budget

What are the most unique wedding ideas on a budget?

Putting together a beautiful wedding might seem like an impossible feat when you’re on a tight budget.

Luckily, there are a variety of simple ways you can save money on your big day without sacrificing style.

With the help of these creative wedding ideas on a budget, you can put together an amazing event without breaking the bank.

creative ways to save money on a wedding

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How Do I Save Money on My Wedding?

Hosting a wedding can be an expensive undertaking for any couple. 

So, if you’re on a tight budget, finding ways to save money on every aspect of the event is essential. 

With these wedding planning tips, you can cut back on your spending to help you save on your big day.

Create a wedding budget. 

One of the best ways to help you save money on your wedding is to start by creating a budget for your event. 

First, decide how much money you have to spend on the wedding, then work your way through each expense category to determine the amount of money you have available for each element of your wedding. 

While the budgeting categories you use for your event will vary, most wedding budgets have these common categories:

  • Venue and catering (around 40% of your overall budget)
  • Wedding attire and beauty items (around 5% of your overall budget)
  • Photography and videography (around 15% of your overall budget)
  • Music and entertainment (around 10% of your overall budget)
  • Flowers (around 10% of your overall budget)
  • Favors and gifts (around 2% of your overall budget)
  • Transportation (around 3% of your overall budget)
  • Invitations and other stationary (around 3% of your overall budget)
  • Decorations (around 10% of your overall budget)
  • Cake (around 2% of your overall budget)

If you’re looking for a ready-made budget, here’s my wedding budget spreadsheet.

It has space for all of the information, a summary and a chart so you can quickly see the big picture as well as the details.

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creative inexpensive ideas for wedding on a budget

Set the wedding date on an “off” day. 

Weddings are traditionally held on a Saturday, making this day of the week the most expensive option for popular venues. 

If you have your heart set on a certain location, see if you can save some money on the space by booking your event on a Sunday or day during the week.

You can also book your wedding on a long weekend Sunday. As people will likely have Monday off, it basically acts like a Saturday, but you pay less. 

Pick the right time. 

On top of picking the right day for your wedding, it’s also important to pick the right time for your event.

The time of day of the wedding and reception will determine the type of food and drinks you serve, which means you can save a ton of money on catering by timing the event right.

If you have a lunch wedding, it’ll likely be cheaper than a dinner wedding.

As some people don’t drink alcohol before 5pm, you’ll save money on alcoholic drinks as well. 

Look for alternative venues. 

Renting a venue for your wedding and/or reception is often one of the biggest expenses couples face while planning their event. 

But taking the time to research alternative locations can help you save big from the get-go. 

Instead of booking traditional venues, like large reception halls, look into these alternative (and budget-friendly) locations:

  • Your (or a family member’s) backyard
  • Parks and community gardens
  • Town or church halls
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Rooftop terrace

Cut down the guest list. 

The more people you invite to your wedding, the more expensive it will be. 

That’s because each guest requires seating, food, drinks, and favors. 

To help reduce the cost of your wedding, take a hard look at your guest list. 

The shorter your list, the less money you’ll end up spending on food, beverage, and favor costs on the big day.

diy wedding ideas on a budget

Consider a rental dress. 

Why spend hundreds of dollars on a wedding dress that will only be worn a few hours? 

If you’re not attached to the idea of owning your dress, think about renting one for the big day. 

You can save tons of money on buying, altering, cleaning, and storing your dress when you rent one instead.

wedding ideas on a budget

Design your own invitations. 

Ordering custom invites is a sure-fire way to go over budget. 

That means making the invitations yourself can save you tons of money! 

And the best part about this tip is that you don’t have to be creative to save money on DIY invites. 

Simply head over to Canva or Etsy to get free or cheap templates to help you create beautiful invitations on your home computer or your phone.

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Try electronic invitations. 

Another simple way to save money on wedding invitations is to skip the paper invites altogether. 

Instead, go a more casual route with the use of electronic invitations like using RSVPify

If you’re having a small wedding, RSVPify is great because the first 100 RSVPs are FREE.

You can email or text your invites to your guests instead of mailing them, saving you the costs of printing and postage.

Make your own arrangements. 

When you’re attempting to save money on your wedding, learning to DIY is a must. 

And there’s no better way to save on your wedding flowers than to make the arrangements yourself! 

Try saving money on fresh flowers by purchasing supermarket bouquets and arranging your centerpieces yourself. 

Or cut down on your flower bill by purchasing faux flowers to use in your decorations.

Create your own decorations. 

Another great DIY option for saving money on your wedding is to put together your own decor. 

On top of giving you a chance to save money on your decorations on the big day, DIYing your wedding decor will also help you personalize your event.

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Ask your friends to take photos. 

Since everyone has their phone in their pocket, you have your own built-in photographers in your audience. 

To help cut down on the hours you pay your wedding photographer, ask your friends to take their own candid shots during the ceremony and reception. 

Then, give your guests a place to upload the photos like a Google Drive folder link after the event is over so you can sort and share your favorites.

Just make sure you have ample storage capacity and you’ve set the link so that anyone can upload to it.

You can also set up a unique hashtag for the wedding day so that people can tag it for their wedding photos.

unique inexpensive wedding ideas

Arrive in a classic car. 

Booking a limo or town car to transport you to your wedding and reception venues can be expensive. 

As you’re planning your celebration, ask your friends and family members if any of them own a classic car you can borrow for the event. 

The ride will make your entrance a little more fun and you can save some money at the same time.

Make your own favors. 

Instead of skimping on the favors for your wedding guests, try saving some money by making them yourself. 

Dress up simple favors, like almonds, by creating a cute gift container. 

Or make your own personalized gifts by getting creative in the kitchen or crafty at home.

We bought mini ketchup and mini tabasco bottles and attached a homemade label to them.

Shop the dollar store. 

Finding budget-friendly decorations at the dollar store is a quick and easy way to save some cash on your wedding. 

You can find a variety of basic wedding decor staples, like candles, vases, tea lights, votives, ribbon, and faux flowers at the dollar store that are perfect for decorating your event. 

And once you mix these cheap decorations in with your other decor, no one will be able to tell they’re from the dollar store!

Get help from your friends in lieu of gifts. 

Do you have creative or handy friends? 

Put them to use while you’re planning your wedding. 

Tell your friends that you’d rather have help putting your event together instead of wedding gifts at the reception. 

Then, give your friends jobs that suit their talents.

If you have a friend with a talent for makeup or hairstyling, ask them to work their magic on the day of the wedding. 

Or if one of your friends is great at decorating, ask them to lend their creative eye to the venue on the big day.

alternative wedding reception ideas

Purchase second hand items. 

Finding decorations and other elements for your event from second hand locations is a simple way to decorate your wedding without breaking the bank. 

You can find decor at thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales that can be upcycled for the wedding. 

Or check local wedding swap groups on Facebook to look for more wedding-focused second-hand items, like flowers, linens, and signs.

How Can I Make a Cheap Wedding Look Expensive?

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean your wedding has to look cheap! 

The key to hosting an amazing wedding is to learn how to put together a budget-friendly celebration that looks expensive. 

Use these decorating tips to create a classy event with a tiny price tag.

Use your existing decor. 

Before you start buying new decorations to use in your wedding, take a look around your home. 

Take a walk through each room of your house and grab anything that would work as a decoration or accent piece for your event. 

You’ll be able to add your own personal style to the event and save money on decorations at the same time.

Choose local and seasonal flowers. 

Hiring a florist doesn’t have to break the bank if you know how to save money on your wedding flowers.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your floral bill while still having professional flower arrangements at your wedding is to ask your florist about local and seasonal flowers. 

While you’re planning your arrangements, bouquets, and boutonnieres, ask your florist what will be in season on your wedding date to help you narrow down your choices and save some money in the process.

Also, the less shipping involved in getting the flowers to the florist, the less expensive the cost will be. 

alternative wedding reception ideas

Use natural elements. 

Seasonal flowers are a great way to save money on your centerpieces, but you can also use other seasonal elements from nature to fill out your arrangements. 

Check your yard or take a hike to find some natural foliage you can use to dress up your event with the help of some seasonal items from nature.

Get creative with lighting. 

Using professional lighting for your reception might seem like a good idea, but there’s no reason to spend the extra money when there are tons of great budget friendly lighting options. 

String lights, flameless candles, and paper lanterns are all great ways to add ambient lighting and decorate the event at the same time.

Choose the right color palette. 

Creating a classy event on a budget often starts with the color palette. 

Decorating your wedding is not only easier when you use neutral tones, like white, grays, and blacks, but it also helps you save on the decor. 

Decorate with frames. 

A simple picture frame can instantly dress up any sign. 

Instead of placing signage, like your food menu or table numbers, on a stand by itself, place the page in a frame to take the style up a notch. 

You can find frames on Amazon or at the dollar store or look for vintage picture frames at yard sales and flea markets.

Creative Wedding Ideas on a Budget

Finding ways to save money on your wedding means you have to get a little creative. 

With the help of these wedding planning ideas, you can save money on your event without giving up on your wedding-day must-haves.

Check with friends and family. 

Do you have any friends or family members who have recently gotten married? 

Ask them to let you use or purchase their leftover wedding supplies. 

Extra linens, signs, faux flowers, lighting, and other decorations from past weddings can easily be incorporated into your own event.

Consider a buffet dinner. 

Serving a full sit-down meal is a popular option for your wedding reception. 

But there’s no reason to break your budget just to feed your guests! 

By serving your guests their food buffet style, you can save money on your wedding menu and cut down on the cost of hiring a service staff.

Try making food stations. 

Another fun way to save some money on your wedding menu is to create food stations instead of serving a full meal. 

You can set up a taco bar or gourmet burger station for dinner. 

Or make dessert a little more fun with a create your own sundae bar.

cheap wedding ideas

Host a cocktail party. 

Serving a full dinner is great, but if it’s not in your budget, consider hosting a cocktail party reception instead. 

In addition to serving cocktails, you can also provide your guests with budget-friendly appetizers and finger foods to snack on throughout the event.

Serve a signature cocktail. 

While having an open bar at your reception sounds like fun, it can quickly get expensive. 

One simple way to cut down on the cost of alcohol at your event is to serve one (or more) signature cocktails using a limited number of ingredients. 

On top of cutting down the cost of the alcohol itself, you can avoid the need for an expensive professional bartender by premixing the drinks before the event.

creative inexpensive wedding ideas

Have a fake cake. 

Fancy wedding cakes can be so expensive! 

But there’s no reason to order a full tiered cake for your wedding. 

Instead, ask your baker to prepare the top layer of the cake with a real cake, then decorate fake layers for the remaining tiers. 

The cake maker can then prepare more budget-friendly sheet cakes to serve the guests during the reception.

Alternatively, you can serve cupcakes which can be quite inexpensive!

Be your own DJ. 

Hiring a professional to handle your music is great if you have the extra money in your budget. 

But there’s no reason to break the bank when you have a music player in the palm of your hand! 

With the help of music streaming services, like Spotify, you can create a wedding playlist at home. 

All you need are some speakers to instantly supply the music for your wedding reception dance party.

You can also get Amazon Music for 30 days for FREE for your playlist. This gives you unlimited access to 50 million songs without ads. You can cancel it before the 30 days so you don’t pay for the subscription.

Skip the fluff. 

There are a variety of traditional wedding day items that aren’t actually necessary to create a magical event. 

Things like a fancy guest book, boutonnieres for the groomsmen, and over the top favors are often unnecessary expenses that you don’t actually need to create a beautiful wedding. 

As you’re planning your event, think about the elements of a “traditional” wedding that could be left out to help you save a little more money.

Dress in things you’ll wear again. 

There’s no reason to purchase shoes or rent a tuxedo that will only be worn once! 

To make your money stretch as you’re planning your wedding, instead, try to purchase clothing and accessories that you can use again after the wedding.

Book a vacation rental. 

Even if you’re not considering a destination wedding, you could use a vacation rental to host your wedding. 

A large venue with a picturesque outdoor space could be the perfect location for a small event. 

Just check with the rental provider to make sure that events are allowed at the location before considering it for your wedding.

creative ideas for wedding reception

Host the wedding and reception in one location. 

Finding a venue that will work for both your wedding ceremony and reception is a great way to help you save some money on your event. 

In addition to cutting down on your venue rental expenses, you can also avoid paying for transportation for you and your wedding party.

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