7 ways you can save money on wedding supplies and decor

My partner and I planned our wedding on a damn budget. What that meant, in short, is that I didn’t get everything I wanted because weddings are expensive. Whether your budget is $5,000 or $50,000, it’s critical to your sanity and bank account to keep track of your expenses. I already talked about some of the ways we saved more substantial sums of money, but the little stuff adds up, too. We also had a very laid back, bohemian vibe going on, so having everything perfectly matched wasn’t our style - this worked in our favor and helped us save a lot of money. We also weren’t concerned with “how it’s always been done,” which gave us a lot of freedom to do (or not do) whatever we wanted. Here are the exact things I collected or purchased for my outdoor, mid-summer, mismatched everything, super charming, magic love fest. This obviously won’t work for everyone depending on your own vision for your wedding, but I think that the ethos can ring true for every celebration.

1. Wine! We love hosting parties, and people always bring over bottles of wine (thanks, friends!). However, my husband manages a distillery, so everyone wants to drink liquor at our parties (and I don’t blame them). We had at least 20 bottles of wine from our shindigs that we served (got rid of?) at our wedding. For the rest of the wine, we bought some well rated, decent-priced, non-2 Buck Chuck wine from Trader Joe’s. I think people were excited about the variety instead of the “chardonnay or cabernet” choice most people expect at a wedding.

2. I was really nervous it would be too hot for our guests in late August in Southern California (not unreasonable) - and lucky for us it turned out to be a perfect 78 degree day. We had our caterer put out lots of water and refreshments for guests right as they entered the venue so folks could stay hydrated. We randomly set out sunscreen. I also bought these beautiful wooden fans for folks to use while sitting during our short ceremony. Although they weren’t needed, people really loved them, especially the kids.

3. I am a sucker for candlelight and our outdoor dinner in a field necessitated LOTS. I collected cool jars that could double as candle holders then bought other standard candle holders and put them everywhere. Don’t forget the candles and lighters! I bought the fuel cell, long burn candles so they’d last for hours (make sure to double check with your venue to make sure you can have candles - many disallow them!).

4. I really feel like twinkle lights are a wedding staple, no matter your wedding theme. Whether you’re enjoying dinner al fresco or trying to find a creative way to add light to a boring hallway, twinkle lights are usually the answer. Make sure there’s a place to plug them in before buying, and bring an extension cord just in case. And for god’s sake take them home with you and hang them in your backyard (or bedroom, or patio) post-wedding.

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5. Our table arrangements were one of my favorite things from my entire wedding. I found a florist on Instagram I was obsessed with, spent months collecting and buying vases, and began madly propagating succulents to complete my vision of a wild, colorful tablescape. I planted my succulents in gorgeous teak planters I picked up from a nursery along the PCH - proud to report that all succulents are still alive and thriving in the planters to this day!

6. Before you rent anything, take into consideration the cost of delivery, set up, and strike. Most venues require you to set up and tear down within your rental period. That means that awesome peacock chairs and velvet couches and rose gold cutlery has to be picked up by someone at midnight. That is NOT inexpensive. We ended up buying our table cloths and using items that came with the venue.

7. We made our wedding favors well in advance of our wedding, which made this task fun and do-able. Both my husband and I already love creating things, so we just made extras of the things we already know how to make. I made salves and put them in these cute tins and had a friend label them. Bennett infused various alcohols (think coffee/cinnamon infused bourbon and fresh herb vodka). We didn’t want to gift our traveling friends and family with something they wouldn’t use or want - and they WANTED (and happily drank) the booze.

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Like so many things “wedding,” it’s easy to feel like you need certain things. I get it, and I felt it, and sometimes I succumbed to it. But before you hit that purchase button, make sure to take a step back, involve your partner, and remember that these little things can add up quickly, and if you’re saving for that dream honeymoon or your first house, you might want to pass on that fancy cutlery.