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How This Bride Cut Her Wedding Budget by $21,000

Thanks to these savvy hacks, Jane Bianchi of financial planning company LearnVest was able to cut corners—and still have a dream celebration. 

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

There can be a balance between tying the knot and tying your hands behind your back financially. Take it from this bride, who was able to trim down her expenses with these cash-saving strategies.


Don’t Be Overly Accommodating

My wedding was originally supposed to be on a Friday evening. I signed a contract with my venue coordinator, and started to spread the exciting news. The next day, she called to say she accidentally double-booked my date. I didn’t say, “Oh, that’s OK. Mistakes happen.” Instead, I firmly (but politely) told her that I was disappointed—and I might take my business elsewhere.


Sensing that I was serious, and recognizing that she was in the wrong, she offered me a Saturday evening wedding … at a Friday evening price! That meant a savings of $50 for each of the 229 invited guests. In other words, she was offering me the most desirable day and time of the week for $11,450 less than it usually costs. It was too good of an offer to pass up.


Wedding vendors juggle as many as four brides per weekend—especially between April and October—and errors may occur. If your vendor makes a mistake, they might be willing to compromise and make you a better offer.

Borrow, Don’t Buy

Before you purchase something, think about weddings that you’ve been to recently. Is there an item that a past bride wore or used that you might be able to borrow?


For example, I admired my sister-in-law’s veil; it was simple, elegant, and just the right length. And since a veil is one-size-fits-all, it can be easily reworn. That saved me about $50.


And when I started ring shopping, I wanted a basic band. My mom said, “If that’s what you’re after, I should show you my original ring. I have a newer one, so I don’t use it anymore.” As it turned out, her band was perfect. I spent $40 getting it resized and polished, still saving roughly $60.

Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate

After I booked the venue, my next priority was hiring musicians. My fiancé and I love live music, so we were willing to pay for a band instead of a DJ. I already had a band in mind that I was obsessed with—I’d seen them perform four times—but the bandleader charged a ton for a Saturday night.


I said to the bandleader, “We love you guys, but the price is steep. Is there any way you could cut it down a little?” She immediately slashed her price by $2,500. I told her that I’d think about it because it was still above our maximum. A few days later, I called back and asked, “Is that the very best price that you can give us?” She said that she could drop her price another $2,500, if we paid in cash—and she offered to throw in a cocktail hour duo for free, saving us another $800. My reply: “Deal!”


Negotiating was scary because I didn’t want to annoy the vendor and make her not want to work with me. But it was worth it for the $5,800 savings I scored. Bottom line: Never accept a vendor’s first price without trying to negotiate. More often than not, there is wiggle room.


Find Solutions to Common Wedding Vendor Etiquette Conundrums

Work With Your Venue

The wedding business is filled with partnerships. Venues refer brides to certain clients, and clients refer brides to certain venues in return. So you should always ask if a venue has a list of “preferred vendors,” and if you like them, use them, because there’s a good chance you’ll get a deal. By using my venue’s preferred hair and makeup team, I paid $200 less than normal.

​Tap Talented Friends

My fiancé and I wanted a personal ceremony, and it occurred to us that one of our closest and wittiest friends is an ordained minister who had already officiated a few weddings. He agreed to marry us at no charge. We are giving him a gift worth $250—which is $250 less than the average officient fee of $500.


We have two other friends who are talented singer-songwriters, and they agreed to play music for free during the ceremony, which will make it much more meaningful. We’re also giving them gifts, but we likely saved about $750 by not hiring pros.


See More Ways to Save Money on Wedding Entertainment

Shop Around

When you’re choosing a vendor, it helps to have context. The more websites that you visit, calls you make, and meetings that you set up, the better sense you’ll have of what prices are “low,” “average” and “high.”


I visited two florists before making a decision. I liked Florist A a lot more than Florist B. The only problem: Florist A’s estimate was $1,100 higher!


I decided to email Florist A and say, “I’d really love to work with your company, but I got an estimate from another florist that’s $1,100 less.” Guess what? Florist A matched that exact price, so I got the quality that I wanted at a much more reasonable cost. A win-win!


See More Ways to Save on Wedding Flowers

Wait for Sales

The earlier you start to plan, the more deals you’re likely to snag—because you’ll have more time to wait for sales.


My fiancé and I knew which gifts we wanted to buy for our bridal party members within a month of getting engaged. We knew that we had about a year to buy the items, so we held off on purchasing them—and signed up for an online newsletter. When December rolled around, we got an e-mail that read: “Year-end clearance sale!” That savings: $120.


I was also patient when searching for a pair of bridal shoes. I eventually found a gorgeous, sparkly Badgley Mischka pair on sale at Bloomingdale’s—marked down from $215 to $150. If you can, hold out for big holiday sales around Memorial Day, July Fourth, and Labor Day. And ask wedding gown salons for a list of their upcoming trunk shows or sample sales.


This post originally appeared on To read the full version, click here.


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About the Author

Liz Ozaist

Liz Ozaist is the editorial director of LearnVest, a program for your money, and a veteran digital and print journalist whose work has appeared in New York, More, Prevention and Time, among others. She writes about budgeting, saving, retirement and the intersection of personal finance and lifestyle.


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