How to save money on your wedding – Part 2 The big day

You have your heart set on a specific venue that is more costly than you had anticipated, or you absolutely, definitely must have a first-class menu, and now you need to look elsewhere in your budget on where to economize.

At Zion Springs, we know you want to be well-informed about the costs of your wedding, even if you don’t choose to have your wedding with us. We have some valuable suggestions on how and where to economize that will help you be better educated on budgeting for your wedding. 

If you haven’t read it yet, check out How to save money on your wedding – Part 1 Before the big day

You can check out the average prices for Northern Virginia and some recommendations on how to save your money.

4  Ways to save money at your wedding venue

Choosing an all-inclusive venue can save money and time as many of your costly items are already included in the price.  You can also look at saving money on flowers and catering, including your wedding cake.

1.  Consider an all-inclusive venue for your wedding

Average cost $30,000 (venue, food, beverages) - $80,000 (and everything else)

This is ideal if you are on a tight budget. You might have initial sticker shock until you compare the final costs to a multiple-vendor wedding.  Why this is a good idea:

  • package deals that can save a whopping amount of money
  • on-site regular staff, and eliminate the need for outside vendors and rentals
  • costs are upfront, so there are no surprises after the fact
  • the wedding coordinator can strategize with you on ways to cut costs, and seeing as they have access and knowledge to all aspects of wedding events, they are an excellent resource for ideas and suggestions
  • both ceremony and reception are in one location, saving on transport, flowers, facility fees, etc.  

If you prefer somewhere other than all-inclusive:

  • select a venue that doesn’t require additional decorating. 
  • national parks are available for a small fee and have facilities for celebrations
  • public parks, and beaches are often free or for a nominal fee
  • restaurants and bars have banqueting rooms that cater specifically to weddings and parties
  • wineries and breweries have fantastic settings

If your family or friends have a large property that lends itself to a wedding, you can save money on facility rentals, although bear in mind that you might have added costs for furniture and banqueting rentals.

You don’t have to rent the most expensive linens and flatware. Choose a less expensive design for your flatware. Your guests won’t remember you had the $5 knife and fork instead of the $7 set.

2. Get creative with your wedding flowers and decorations

Average cost $3,200

  • You can score significant savings by going to a wholesale store like Costco, Sam’s Club, or even your local grocery store. They have pre-made flower arrangements and bulk flowers. 

  • Make sure you choose flowers that are in season. Ordering a unique orchid that requires international shipping and handling adds an expense that might not be necessary if you can find a similar flower that is local and available. 

  • If you have a natural setting, you can forgo the flowers and decorations, as they are superfluous to an already beautiful scene.  

  • Historically or culturally significant facilities often need little decoration, and a few thoughtfully placed flowers should be sufficient. 

  • Get creative with your centerpieces. You can also consider going the non-floral route. A quick search on the internet for “no flowers centerpiece” garners some intriguing results. 
  • Theme-colored balloons have an impressive impact on large spaces and, with careful arrangement, are a chic arch for the ceremony or backdrop for the head table.  Balloons can also add fun as wedding favors at the end of the evening. 

  • Instead of carrying bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids, a beautifully decorated candle will add a romantic glow to the ceremony. 

  • Chat with a local farmer to gather tall grasses for a rustic wedding. Add some pine cones and feathers for a bit of flair. 

  • Augment your bouquet with greenery like ferns, eucalyptus, and cacti. You can also add fruit to save money on flowers.

3. Catering your wedding

Average cost $75 per guest

Start by cutting back on the number of guests.  While you might want to have everybody from your newborn mother’s group on through to your current coworkers join you in your celebrations, when it comes to cost-cutting, cut the list!  Decide if you can afford to have plus ones for guests who are unmarried, engaged, or in a long-term committed relationship. 


Today, catering companies are more familiar with couples wanting to personalize their menus, and many are foregoing the traditional wedding banquet. Other ideas are:

  • gourmet BBQ. Don’t forget extra napkins.
  • food trucks
  • food stations are exciting alternatives for couples into a more relaxed meal. 
  • family-style with dishes in the center of each table, and guests help themselves
  • buffet rather than a plated meal is much cheaper as fewer staff are required to serve the meal
  • appetizer stations are substantially cheaper than passed hors d'oeuvres.

Something else to consider:

  • choose food that is in season 
  • limit the number of entree options too. Keep your menu simple and delicious.
  • instead of an open bar, have a signature cocktail. If you want to party all night long, beer and wine are much easier on your budget than spirits. 
  • you no longer have to have champagne to toast the couple either.  Guests will already have a beverage in their hand to join in the toast.

4.  Save money on the wedding cake

Average cost $650

Instead of the multi-tiered wedding cake extravaganza, go for a smaller cake for display and cutting and have a classic sheet cake for serving to the guests.  Most will not notice or care, especially if it is delicious. 

Costco makes huge sheet cakes that are famously delicious. Your local grocery store has great options too. Bear in mind that some venues charge a cake-cutting fee, so see if you can get a pre-cut cake.

You can serve ice cream cake, cupcakes, or donuts instead of a cake. This way, you can serve your wedding cake as the dessert.

Naked cakes (without multiple layers of icing) have gained in popularity due to their trendy look. And go with buttercream icing instead of the more expensive fondant.

What can you do right now to save money on your wedding?

You want to know how to save money for your wedding, and the most important way is to decide what your priorities are before you plan anything.  

You can then adjust your budget to emphasize those aspects while saving money on less essential items. When you have decided on how much you are prepared to spend on each item, carefully research various vendors and venues to see which ones suit your vision for your wedding. Be prepared to make compromises and adjustments to stay within your budget.

Further reading:

Part 1 - How to save money on a wedding

Zion Springs Prices and Packages

(Note: no compensation was received for mentions and links)