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How to Have a Dollar Store Wedding

15 May 2010 326,779 views 32 Comments

by heather

You don't have to spend a small fortune to have a great wedding. There are so many ways to save money but still get the wedding of your dreams, including using the resources available to you at the dollar store. No, you won't buy EVERYTHING for your wedding at the dollar store, but you can buy a lot of things there and save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by doing some of it yourself!

how to have a dollar store wedding

If you haven't checked out the dollar store (in this case, Dollar Treespecifically because it's the store I'm familiar with) for its wedding section, it should be your first stop.

Best Wedding Deals at the Dollar Tree:

  • Vases: they have several styles, including the straight cylindrical ones that have a classic look
  • Vase Filler: river rocks, sand, glass marbles, moss, etc. There are lots of good, cheap choices.
  • Packaging for Favors: round tins, foldable boxes, organza bags, and many other options for packaging up your favors.
  • Favors: rose petals, favor rings, teeny doves, and a bunch of other goodies

What are your favorite wedding items at the dollar store?

Remember, you can use components from the dollar store to create what you want for your wedding. Don't be afraid to find inspiration pieces (favors, decorations) and then try to recreate them with stuff from the dollar store. Or, take what you find at the dollar store and further embellish them to give them more personality.  [these lanterns from Happy Together - check this post for some dollar store wedding favor tips]

In the photo at the top of the post, Lacey shows a cookie buffet she had as her wedding favor to her guests. The baskets came from the dollar store, and the signs are handmade. [check out Life Of Lacey for a list of all the great ways she saved money on her wedding, including getting stuff at the dollar store]

Here's my advice on how to have an affordable wedding.

Number One (remember this): The Wedding industry wants you to believe that you have to spend $30,000 on your wedding for it to be meaningful to you.

If you can't spend $30K, then they want you to spend $10,000, or any other large amount that you aren't comfortable with. Wedding magazines are not your friend. Yes, you will remember your wedding day fondly for the rest of your life. But no, the money you spent will not necessarily make it more memorable.

[image via]

[Check out Jess's advice on saving money for your reception at mad in crafts]

2. Spend money on the things you think are important.

Things that were important to me: photos, and a dress I liked.  I happened to have a friend who is a really great photographer, so I employed her to take my photos. She charged me only for the film (yes, it was before digital cameras were common!) and prints I decided to buy. The dress was about $500, which is as much as we spent on the rest of the wedding put together.

3.  Examine traditions to see if they are for you.

Does he really need a tux? Do you need a big formal dress? Do you want lots of attendants in silk gowns, or would it be all right for them to wear less formal attire? Do all the dresses have to match, or can they all be one color? Must your wedding take place in a church, or would a public park suffice (if so, check the local rules on having an event in your public park)? Could you have it in someone's yard, garden, or house (that's what we did). Do you want a big formal dinner reception, or would something more humble be more meaningful to you?

In my wedding, my husband wore a suit he already owned, and bought a tie that matched the bridesmaids' dresses (regular dresses that I found at a store*). We bought matching shirts, ties, and suspenders for the groomsmen at a discount clothing store. The guys were responsible to wear black slacks and black shoes.  Total cost to us was probably about $150-200, but you could ask your attendants to reimburse you.  We just chose to provide these things. My brother-in-law and his wife bought Hawaiian shirts and matching dresses in Hawaii (where they met and fell in love). The guys wore jeans and Converse All-Stars, and the girls went barefoot.

Basically, what is meaningful to you and your fiance? Don't worry about tradition or what other people expect. Do the things you care about, skip the things you don't care about.**

Centerpiece by Holly [art meet craft]

4.  Make whatever you can, or are inclined to.

I bought fresh flowers at Costco the day before (I didn't know this then, but you can go into Costco a week ahead and order the specific flowers you want for the same low price) and my sister (who is a confident flower arranger) made two bouquets and some corsages and boutonnières.  Total cost was about $100... waaaay cheaper than flowers from a florist. My mom made dresses for the flower girls for the cost of a pattern and a bit of fabric and ribbon.

Just for fun, here are some other things we did:

Cake: We bought two or three big sheet cakes at Costco for $14/each to serve as wedding cake. Someone ended up giving us a little cute wedding cake, but the Costco cakes tasted a lot better than the "official" wedding cake. Our parents and friends made finger foods the day of and the day before for the food at the reception. We served sparkling cider, punch, and coffee for drinks.

Location: We had our wedding in a large house, and the reception in a neighboring house (we were planning an outdoor wedding, but it hailed minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin, so we had to improvise. If you plan an outdoor wedding, I recommend a backup plan!)

Music: My aunt played classical guitar at the ceremony.

Invitations: We made our own invitations. I picked out neato triangular stamps for postage.

*Bridesmaid dresses: I only had two girls to get dresses for, and they were similar in build and coloring, so that helped. I figured they could wear the dresses again if they wanted to... not sure if they did or not!  I think that's a bridal cliché – just pick dresses you like because they will NEVER want to wear the dresses again no matter what.

**Skipped: we skipped lighting a "unity candle" and the number of groomsmen and bridesmaids didn't match. P.S. I hear that lighting a unity candle in an outdoor wedding is a bad idea... the wind can blow them out, and that's aaaawkward.

P.S. I'm starting a Dollar Store Wedding page where I can collect all our great dollar store wedding ideas. Feel free to send your ideas to me anytime!

[this photo by redcouch; it's reader heather s's wedding! hi heather!]

Other Resources:

Your dream wedding on a reality budget!

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32 Comments »

  • Natalie said:

    Great post! I’m planning a wedding, too, and doing many of these things. Costco now has complete floral packages (they arrive completely assembled in bouquets, centerpieces). I also want to splurge on pictures, but having a limo isn’t a priority for me at all.

  • Laura @ PARING DOWN said:

    My daughter was married in September with a mostly DIY outdoor wedding by a lake.

    There were a lot of home-made and hand-decorated desserts and decor.

    I have several posts, links and photos in the December archives of my blog at http://www.paringdown.com

    Cheers!
    Laura

  • amy said:

    My friend is having a destination wedding, then a big party at a park a few weeks after. Just forwarded this page to her! Great info and also great links!

    I love the wine glasses with flowers and candles, but I think the candles wouldn’t stay lit outside…what else could you put on top?

  • Andrea said:

    For another idea instead of a unity candle (especially for outdoor weddings) you can get 2 colors of sand and a vase and pour the sand in together. It combines and makes swirls and still represents the two becoming one. I have seen it done and it is really pretty.

  • J.Hill said:

    @amy – If you click the link below the picture, you will be taken to my blog where I show how we were inspired by that centerpiece idea. We used votives in glass candleholders (the kind you buy in a big package at craft stores), and they all stayed lit even on a windy evening.

  • Paula said:

    Thanks for this! I only spent $1500 or so at my wedding and I am so glad. It was perfect and meaningful for us. We always knew that spending thousands of dollars on a DAY, on a PARTY, when we had our whole lives ahead of us was just silly. I wish more brides got that in their heads.

  • LizAnderson said:

    Well done! I wish I’d had someone point this out, and I wish there’d been Dollar Tree store in 1986.

    Funny how the “business” of matrimony has us convinced we have to *Plan* the wedding, but not the marriage itseld. No wonder so few last, right? We had our marriage blessed on our first anniversary, and it was no less special than our actual wedding, but because we didn’t have the whole wedding carnival getting us caught up in details, it was spimpler, sweeter, and admittedly, less expensive. There’s no use starting a life in debt, and we were able to purchase our first home because we’d been smart instead of spendy.

  • dawnie2u said:

    Great ideas! I got this idea from a friend’s mother. She had this gorgeous ivy plant sitting on her coffee table and I commented on it. She told me it was started from the ivy in her husband’s boutonniere and her bridal bouquet. I loved that idea and did the same at my wedding. I have a beautiful ivy plant of my own now.

  • Julie said:

    Love your ideas. When I got married 3 years ago, I was on a tight budget. I was fortunate to get married in the Rose Capital of Texas. They sale a dozen fresh roses for $2. I went by the day before and ordered 25 dozen ($50) and that was enough to decorate for the entire wedding/reception. My bridesmaids and I along with a crafty aunt made the arragements the night before (after the rehersal) so they would be open for the next afternoon. Simple and elegant for $50 (plus they smelled really good).

    Also, I could not afford a DJ. My brother-in-law, my sister and I pulled all our music together and we downloaded some of the music. My BIL is very computer savvy, and he put all the music on his computer which was hooked up to speakers and a sound sound. The speakers and sound system were loaned to me by a friend that had a band. We did not have to worry about a DJ playing cheesy music and we could play what we wanted for free.

    My wedding was not over the top. It looked more expensive than it was, but the memories will be with me forever.

  • Heather S said:

    Yay! You used a picture from our wedding! We didn’t use dollar store stuff because I didn’t know about the deals you could get there at the time. We did get the bridesmaid dresses from the Gap Outlet store and they were about $30 each. Later, we had to exchange one for a smaller size and it was on clearance for around $12 or $13. Usually bridesmaid dresses are well over $100 so I took it as a bargain :)

  • Sherry said:

    One Dollar Store idea that I used myself before there was a Dollar Store! is little bottles of soap bubbles instead of throwing rice. (Rice is historically thrown to wish for fertility — we chose to not have children. Plus birds eat rice and get sick from it, and it makes a big mess.) Dollar Tree sells little bottles of bubble “juice” in six packs, and you can print your own labels commemorating the day or with a pithy saying or whatever, and decorate them as you like, as favors.

  • pam said:

    So many, many great ideas here, Heather! I will be linking soon! Got more to share from a brilliant bride!

  • Lacey said:

    Thanks for linking to my budget wedding post! I loved planning my budget wedding and it felt like such an accomplishment when I would find great deals!

  • Celebrating All Things Family said:

    […] M. presents How to Have a Dollar Store Wedding posted at Dollar Store Crafts, saying, “Here are some great ideas for saving money on your […]

  • Dollar Store Wedding? « A Bloom Affair said:

    […] Courtesy of: How to Have a Dollar Store Wedding […]

  • San Francisco Weddings said:

    Brilliant! We love it! Thanks :)

  • Issa said:

    My mom got married a few years ago and she found her jewelry at Clair’s in the mall. We had dollar store fake flowers for bouquets. Bonus: You can save your bouquet forever. She found her dress in a thrift shop. A little alteration (her waist is tiny) and some more flowers and pins in her hair and she was set. My sister and I were given a color (burgundy) but that was about it. I didn’t know what my sisters dress looked like when I got mine (thrift store again) and we still matched fairly well. And having a friend that’s good with photography is great. Also, ask those at the wedding who have digital cameras to take pics as well, and instead of presents, have them send you their pictures. It cuts down on the guests budget, as well as ensuring you don’t get three blenders. :D

  • Happy Friday! | Hello Wife said:

    […] wish this post on how to have a Dollar Store wedding had been around when we were planning our, […]

  • Heather said:

    I love your advice here! I’m also a fan of Jessica’s over at Mad In Crafts and it’s great that so many of your ideas are compiled here on this post, what a wonderful resource!
    Heather @ 500dollarwedding.blogspot.com

  • Marie said:

    My wedding cost less than $300. My mother and I bought a pattern a medieval style dress and the fabric was a closeout for $1 a yard. My hubby and the best man wore ’60’s style peasant clothing purchased at Goodwill on .99 day, and my maid of honor wore a dress that she had made for a rennisance fair.
    All the decorations were bought at Dollar tree. The serving dishes and eating utensils were also purchased there. The theme was readily available since we were being married on Halloween. Autumn colors and candles were everywhere.
    The food was rather easy. I had an advantage there, I was a chef before becoming disabled. I spent around $75 on the food, and made most of it myslef. My mother made the cake. A nice simple plain cake. The only decorations on the cake were some autumn leaves of silk around the layers from dollar tree. A valuable lesson in food, it’s not what you serve but how you serve it. Anybody can take $75 worth of food and make it into the same thing a chef or caterer will charge a $1000 for. It all in the presentation.

  • Rachael said:

    The green and white bridal bouquet is simply stunning! Great job!

  • Pat N said:

    Terrific ideas, my niece is getting married next year and she’s on a tight budget, so these ideas will come in handy.–Pat N.

  • BandMomma said:

    I’m planning my brothers wedding…it will be his 2nd and him and his bride to be want to make it low budget! I am sewing her dress, making the bouquet and boutiners and will be doing all of the decorations and cake baking and reception. I have done a few small weddings for friends and found that the Dollar Store is the best place to find things for weddings. If you can’t find it one week, go the next. Things always change! Thanks for starting the Dollar Store Wedding page! I will send pictures of the wedding!!!

  • K. Smith said:

    A family members outdoor wedding had, instead of a unity candle, a unity sand vase. It was beautiful. The groom grew up in the Hamptons and the bride grew up in Erie, PA. They each brought a vase full of sand from their home beach and during the “unity candle” portion of the wedding they poured the sand simultaneously into a larger vase, not worrying about the wind blowing out a candle. The two types of sands blended beautifully into the vase and provides them with a lovely mantle decoration and memento (I think much nicer than a dusty candle).

  • K. Smith said:

    By the way, I am from Hawai’i and my sisters’ wedding which she had in the back yard of a friends house cost only 2500.

  • fatima said:

    Hello I am also planning a dollar wedding. we bought our vases (plastic),stones,flowers,lanterns,table cloths,favor boxes,foam(for vases which we glued to the bottom of the inside of the vase and glued the flowers to the foam)all at dollar tree! very cheap! I would recommend that you print out a lot of coupons and be very aware of the cost that will be saved. this website helped out a lot.

  • Rosemary said:

    Thank you for sharing. I was planning on Costco for the cakes because they are cheap and good
    But I’m not planning on doing a bunch of flowers that Costco tip for flowers will help tons!

  • DONNA said:

    I too planned a “Dollar Store” wedding over 11 years ago. I had 21 attendants, 12 of which were children under the age of 12. I, on a whim, went to my local fabric store after Christmas and found a small amount of black fabric called Tuxedo black on clearance. I asked the lady at the counter if there was any way I could get more and she called around to some of their other stores. It turned out that a high school had ordered a whole bunch of it and never picked it up so I bought them out for less than $20. I found a classic, little black dress pattern in both kids and adults sizes and took all to the school at my church. The home ec teacher gathered up a bunch of ladies and they took that fabric, made 6 adult dresses in sizes from 10 to 24, 6 young girls dresses in variable sizes, ties for all of the men except my husband and even had some left over to put on the tables at the reception. We put Christmas lights all over the platform, cedar with pillar candles in the windows and got a friend who owned a flower shop to give us a good deal on 3 candelebras. Entire wedding and reception, INCLUDING my dress and alterations…$2000.

  • Ila said:

    One tip most brides tend to forget is that a lot of “wedding items” can be made at home from recycled things they were going to throw away/recycle. This will save a lot of money on wedding costs! Then, supplement with clearance & Dollar Tree items. I am going to make a blog post or a few posts about it. But really, the main thing to remember is that you are getting married because you want to spend your life with someone, not because of the details. On a budget, get yhe main IMPORTANT details in order, license, venue, etc. Everything else will fall in place as your budget allows.

  • T said:

    Sorry these crafts still look like crap. I think your concept is great but everything looks like a craft project not something you would want to have at your wedding

  • sherriseri said:

    Love the upside down wine glass idea!! You can have an elegant DIY wedding made from inexpensive items. Made centerpieces for my daughter’s wedding from glass vases and Dollar Tree candle bases, pebbles, tea lights or regular candles, 4-6 per table. Then had one really tall vase in center of each table, bought from Christmas Tree Shops, cost $10 each. Filled with water, glass beads from Dollar Tree, submersible candle lights, and tall stalks of fresh flowers. Everyone remarked how elegant the hall looked especially when the lights were dimmed. AND each table only cost me about $30. I live in the NYC area so this price per table is unheard of!! Especially when florists quoted a price of $200 per table for basically the same ideas.

  • Amy said:

    A shoutout to this blog on my post about how we changed the date of our wedding the day to the next day and how we saved money making things ourselves.

    http://amyzinglycreative.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/wedding-in-week-budget-shabby-chic.html