Borrow these five big-ticket wedding items instead of buying

Wedding costs can add up, especially when it comes to the big stuff. Save money by borrowing some things, like the canopy or decor. 

Brendan McDermid/Reuters/File
Models prepare for the 11th annual toilet paper wedding dress contest at Kleinfled's Bridal Boutique in New York (June 17, 2015).

Getting fed up with the high ticket prices on wedding items? Zero out a few fields in your wedding budget and "borrow" them instead.

1. The Altar, Arch, or Canopy

This is an item everyone wants, until they remember how it's totally useless after the wedding. Building your own structure is awesome if you're handy, but why not borrow one? Try asking your officiant, venue, or your religious institution if they already have some materials you can use. For my wedding, our Rabbi already had the elements for a simple chuppah, so we used that instead of buying or renting an expensive one.

If you are getting married outdoors, find a nearby tree. A tree is not only the perfect backdrop and canopy in one, but it's a great symbol for the family you are making.

2. The Live Band or DJ

Instead of hiring a DJ, why not make the music a fun activity for your guests in anticipation of your wedding? Make a form on your wedding site asking guests what song they want to move their bodies to on the dance floor. You (or your Best Man or Maid of Honor) can gather up all the answers to form one epic playlist. Have your coordinator hit play at the start of the reception and let the good times roll.

Really have your heart set on a live band? If you are friends with musicians, try asking them to play for a portion of your wedding as their gift to you. Of course, they are working, too, so it may not be fair to keep them from enjoying the full night of festivities. Talk to your friends and family musicians to see how they can be a part of your wedding and enjoy it, too.

3. The Table Decor

From bunting to centerpieces, this is a factor of every wedding budget that tends to spiral out of control. A few ideas to borrow...

  • Looked at the florist's quote and cried? Instead of buying their labor, try having the mothers of the family gather flowers from their homes in mismatched vases to use as table dressings.
  • Bored of flowers and want something unique? Borrow framed family photos from all sides of the family and place them as table centerpieces with a few small tealights from the Dollar Store.
  • Borrow old books from your parents' bookshelves. Pick some ones that mean a lot to you to stack as a cute, nerdy centerpiece.
  • Looking for old decor that you don't have to DIY? Try asking your local department store when they will discard their window displays. Anthropologie tends to take theirs down every month.

4. The Getaway Car

Every couple wants a cool way to leave their reception, but trying to book a Batmobile or a vintage Rolls Royce can mean the difference between being on budget and having to cut down your honeymoon. Ask around! You probably have a relative or friend of a friend with a cool ride (or a connection to one). Leave in something authentic and cool, instead of paying hundreds for a rental that someone else will have to return for you the next day.

5. The Photography

While it's awesome to have a professional photographer following you all day, it's simply not in the cards for everyone. Lots of couples are saving room in the wedding budget by going the guest-sourced photography route. All your friends and family are eager to snap photos of the big day already, so encourage them to get their Instagrams ready. A great way to include guest photography can be through a game or scavenger hunt for people or details, like with the Ceremony app. Just be clear about when it is okay to ambush the couple for photos.

The wedding goes by fast, so the most beautiful part is seeing your wedding through the eyes of all your friends and family just days later. Remember to make a Dropbox or Flickr account for everyone to add their memories.

This article first appeared at Wise Bread.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to