How to Plan a Frugal Fall Wedding


Saving Money
Wedding costs can get out of hand quickly, but you don't need a lot of money to have a fabulous celebration. Here's how to plan a frugal fall wedding.

Planning a wedding has become a rite of passage for new brides. It’s fun to browse wedding ideas in magazines and on Pinterest, and that makes it so easy to get caught up in the wedding madness. It happens to the best of us.

With the average wedding coming in at over $25,000 today, wedding costs can quickly get out of hand. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend $25,000 on a down payment for a house instead of an overpriced party that lasts for one night.

When I got married in October of 2009, I didn’t have a huge budget for our fall wedding. I knew I wanted to throw a nice soiree of some sort, but with limited funds, there was only so much I could do, and I wasn’t about to go into debt for a party.

I had $3,500 to get everything — the rings, the dress, the food, you name it, and I was on a mission to have a fabulous wedding. Want to do the same? Here’s how to plan a frugal fall wedding that won’t break the bank.

Accept Help Where You Can

So many people will offer their help if they know you’re trying to throw a frugal wedding on a budget. Let them help you! If anyone offers to help in any way, your answer should be a resounding, “Yes, thank you!”

The Venue

When a friend of ours offered to let us use their lake front property for our nuptials, after about 14 seconds of discussion, we gladly accepted. We felt like we had hit the wedding jackpot. Although we would still need to pay for a tent rental, the cost of that paled in comparison to what we would have spent on an actual indoor wedding venue.

Because fall can be seasonably warm, outside is still a great place to host a fall wedding. We got married in early October, and our guests were perfectly comfortable outside the entire time. I wore a strapless gown and I still remember being warm.

Some outside venues can even be free or low-cost, such as a park, the outside of a church, or even your parents’ backyard. Depending on where it is, you may just need to rent a tent.

The Food

Another set of friends offered to cook for our wedding for the cost of the food only. They used to own a catering business and wanted to help us. They were happy to do it, and we were happy to accept their gracious offer. We served heavy hors d’oeuvres, and everyone loved the abundant finger foods.

Even though we had an evening wedding, we didn’t do a full sit down meal, and no one left hungry. If that doesn’t suit you, you could always opt for a 2:00 wedding, which means no one expects lunch or dinner to be served. Wedding cake, nuts, and mints used to be the norm for feeding people at a wedding, so don’t feel like you have to serve steak at yours. (You don’t.)

Save on Flowers

I’m not sure what the obsession is with wedding flowers. They’re expensive, they die quickly, and I’ve never been to a wedding where I left and said, “Wow, did you see those flowers?!?” (It’s always about the dress, let’s be honest.)

To save money at my wedding, I only had one bridesmaid, and I made both of our bouquets. I got my flowers from the grocery store the night before (I took my chances there, but you can get them from a flower market), and had an absolute ball using floral wire and florist tape to wrap my bouquets, something I had never done before.

I’m particularly bad at floral arranging, so I watched a video on YouTube on how to make bouquets and found it was really fun and a great way to relax the night before my wedding. (Just make sure to refrigerate your flowers overnight so they don’t wilt.)

I didn’t have floral centerpieces on my tables, either. I hate it when you can’t talk to the person on the other side of the table because a gigantic lily is blocking your view. Instead, I filled some pink pitchers from Hobby Lobby that I could reuse after the wedding (and still have to this day).

Spend Where It Counts


At the end of the night, after all your money is spent and your guests have left, you will have one thing left– memories and pictures. If you splurge on one area of your wedding, let it be the photography.

Six years after my wedding, I remember I didn’t sample any of the food (though I heard it was great), but I do still have my wedding album that I love to go through. I did choose a newer photographer who needed the experience for his portfolio. I was able to see work he had done previously, but he was far cheaper than more established wedding photographers, so it served us both well.

Save On Your Attire

The Dress

Although I purchased a new, lacy, beaded dress for $800, in hindsight, I wish I had purchased a vintage gown on Etsy. (I have no plans of ever getting remarried, but I do love to tell my husband that my next wedding dress will be vintage.) ;)

There is nothing wrong with going secondhand for your wedding day, and I love to see brides wearing vintage. Even if a used dress isn’t exactly a fit for you (no dress is ever going to be, even a new one), you will still save money by having a secondhand dress altered over purchasing a new one.

The Shoes

As for wedding shoes, since no one will even see them (provided you choose a long gown), wear something affordable and comfy. I wore white, beaded flip-flops, because I had an outdoor wedding, and I wanted to be comfortable. I didn’t want to worry about expensive, flawless white heels digging into the ground outside, and I also knew I would never wear them again.

I ended up being so thankful I wore comfortable flip-flops to my wedding. My feet never suffered, the shoes were trashed by the end of the night, no one ever saw them, and I tossed them after that night. It was a great decision.

The Jewels

I’ve never understood why brides choose to purchase new jewelry for their wedding. Your dress is going to be the star of the show, so let it shine.

I’m a nostalgic person, so I loved the idea of wearing jewelry that belonged to my mother and grandmother, which also doubled as my something borrowed. What’s more special than that? It’s also free to borrow, which makes it frugal.

Just because you have a low budget for your wedding doesn’t mean it can’t be fabulous as well. Just remember to spend your money where it really counts and don’t be afraid to accept any and all help when it’s offered.

What budget friendly wedding ideas would you consider? Would you wear a secondhand wedding dress? Where do you think it’s important to splurge for your wedding? 

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