The Cake Girls

  • Add finishing touches yourself. “The cost of a wedding cake is all about the labor,” says Naylor, “so forget sugar-paste flowers or matching the lace from your gown in fondant.” Instead, try using real lace or satin ribbon wrapped around each layer. It costs almost nothing; just pin it on and it looks lovely. Or use a few real flowers here and there, scattered artistically. Also, go low, says Fields: “The more height, the more money―it takes more labor to build a taller cake.”
  • Have a small cake. You can have a wonderfully decorated, yet smaller cake on display that’s used for cutting, and then have a sheet cake in the kitchen for serving.

The Flowers

  • Make your own centerpieces. This is definitely a time commitment, so consider making the centerpieces for the cocktail tables or the rehearsal dinner. “A lot of people are using and other websites to order wholesale flowers to make their own centerpieces,” says Fields. “You can order enough flowers to do 15 for about $300, then check out how-to sites for DIY instructions.” (See Wedding Flowers: How to Create Beautiful Bouquets From Supermarket Flowers.) Or go online to check out the wedding flower packages from Costco―have bouquets and centerpieces shipped to you for huge savings.
  • Choose seasonal and local flowers for your reception. “This not only brings the season into your event but it also cuts costs, because your florist won’t have to import any exotic or out-of-season blooms,” says David Tutera, an event planner. (Learn what will be blossoming on your big day with the Wedding Flower Finder Tool.)
  • Use one kind of flowers in your bouquets and arrangements. It’s a budget-friendly move because your florist will need to place only one bulk order. “This brings a chic monochromatic look to your event,” adds Tutera.
  • Avoid cascades. Like cakes, the hidden cost of flowers is the labor. “Order or make small, hand-tied bouquets for the bride and attendants―cascades require a lot of wiring, and more labor means higher cost,” says Naylor.