9 Unique Ways to Save Money as a Bride

I’ve never been one to frequent the spa, but when I was younger and dreamed of my wedding, I planned on getting all the treatments so I’d look my best on the big day. Fast-forward to actually planning my wedding, and things started to add up very quickly. I ended up getting more excited about ways to save money as a bride than I did at thought of being perfectly dolled up for the big day.

Perfectly Unperfect

In fact the idea of having a “perfect wedding” was something Adam and I never really had in mind during the planning process. This was partly because we were working with a budget of 1/3 the average national wedding cost, but mostly because we just wanted our wedding to be fun and pretty. At the end of the day, all that really mattered would be that we got married to each other. This mentally not only saved us money, but saved us a lot of time and stress as well.

Bridal attire and aesthetics tend to make up one of the biggest chunks of most wedding budgets. Of course there’s the dress, but there’s also the shoes, jewelry, veil, hair, makeup, nails, undergarments – the list goes on. Though many of these don’t cost a ton on their own, couples often forget to budget for them. Many of the salon treatments tend to take place in the days leading up the wedding when you’re tired of planning and budgeting and more likely to just spend whatever.

What every woman does beauty-wise before leaving the house on any given day is very different and very personal and for your wedding day, of course you’ll want to go the extra mile! For that reason, I’m in no way saying every bride should do all of the suggestions below. This is just a compilation of ways to save money as a bride. In any case, my best advice is to budget for any beauty-related expenses well in advance of your wedding day so there’s no last-minute surprises.

Okay, enough preamble. Here’s 9 unique ways to save money as a bride:

1. Save on the dress

I saved money on my wedding dress by buying a sample size.

The dress is probably the biggest part of your “beauty” budget. And so it should be! It’s your one and only wedding dress! But you don’t need to spend $2000+ for a gorgeous dress if you don’t want to.

Buy secondhand

Consider buying second hand. Many women sell their wedding dresses online after their wedding at a discounted price. Such dresses are likely still in excellent condition as they’ve only been worn for a day or less! Sometimes, women will even buy a dress, change their mind, and then sell a never-worn dress!

Kijiji and Facebook marketplace are great places to find secondhand wedding dresses. To save even more money, make sure the dress you’re considering buying has already been dry-cleaned. There are even specialty websites such as www.oncewed.com/ www.stillwhite.com/ and www.preownedweddingdresses.com/ that have massive inventories of secondhand wedding dresses. Just be sure you are browsing options from your country.

The key here is to start the search early. It’s also helpful to narrow your search by searching for a particular designer or design. The advantage of Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji is that you can usually arrange with the seller to try the dress on before paying for it.

Another way to buy secondhand is thrift shopping. See if there are any consignment bridal shops in your area or nearby that you could make a day trip to! A friend of mine who got married last September found her dress at a consignment boutique. She looked gorgeous and it suited her perfectly! You would never have known that she got it secondhand.

Buy a sample size

Another way to save on your dress is by buying off-the-rack. Bridal boutiques will often sell previous seasons’ sample sizes at a much discounted price. This was how I found my dress! I was able to get a dress from my favourite designer for a fraction of the cost. Just know that sample sizes are usually in the range of sizes 8-12. If you find one that doesn’t quite fit, you’ll still need to pay for alterations. The same goes for buying secondhand, so make sure you budget for that! Naively, I took a bit of a risk with my dress because it was 3 sizes too big. Luckily, I found an amazing seamstress who brought it down to my size. Just to be safe, I would not recommend buying a dress more than 2 sizes too big for you.

2. Save on accessories

Buying accessories you can re-wear such as shoes is one of the ways to save money as a bride

You’ve most likely heard of the wedding tax. This is the unfortunate reality that anything associated with weddings tends to be marked up like crazy. I noticed this a lot with bridal shoes. For some reason, they were all around the $300 mark. That’s a lot of money for something you only wear once and depending on your dress, might not even be visible!

Buy things you’ll re-wear

One of the ways to save money as a bride is by buying accessories you can re-wear. Instead of buying something with Swarovski crystals in the same shade as your dress, consider getting non-bridal shoes in one of your wedding colours. They could be as neutral or as fun and bright as you want! I spent $90 on a pair of shoes that were comfortable enough to last the whole day and that I’ve since re-worn multiple times. (I was hoping to grab them on sale but didn’t quite get the timing right.)

You could also take the same approach with your bridal jewelry. If you want to keep it simple with your necklace and/or earrings, consider getting something that you would re-wear to get the best bang for your buck.

Don’t forget about Etsy

I know things on Etsy are often more expensive, but thanks to the wedding tax, Etsy prices can be pretty competitive. I was able to get a custom-made, floor-length veil for $60 on Etsy while a similar style from a bridal boutique would’ve run me $200+! If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for, consider messaging a shop owner and asking if they can customize something for you.

Another great thing with Etsy is that it makes it easy to support local and/or small businesses. Not only is Etsy great for bridal accessories, but also for wedding party gifts and wedding décor!

Don’t be afraid to go “faux”

Faux bridal jewelry can be just as pretty and can save you money

Most people who aren’t in the jewelry business can’t tell the difference between cubic zirconia and diamonds or between real and fake pearls. Do you deserve to wear the real thing for your wedding? Absolutely! Are you any less of a bride for going “faux” to save a few bucks? Absolutely not! If you’re going to buy something you’ll re-wear or use as a family heirloom, than the real thing isn’t a bad idea. All I’m saying is that it’s not necessary. I can’t even tell you what my earrings were made of, I just thought they were pretty!

Borrow or buy secondhand

Another one of the ways to save money as a bride is by borrowing or buying your accessories secondhand. This one is pretty straight-forward and is a good way of satisfying the “something old, something new” tradition if you’re into that.

3. Save on manis & pedis

A bridal mani pedi package could run you $100 or more, especially if it’s a “bridal” package. This likely wouldn’t be one of your biggest wedding expenses, but that’s a healthy chunk of money when you consider the square-footage you’re paying for. You may not want to skip out on the manicure, but you can cut back on this expense by skipping the pedicure. This kind of goes along with the shoe thing – people won’t really be looking at your feet. Consider painting your own toes the day before or entrusting the task with a skilled friend. More on that later…

You can also save money on your manicure without sacrificing professional-looking nails! Consider just getting shellac instead of the deluxe French manicure package. This is another way to incorporate your wedding colours. Once again, you can pick as neutral or as bright and fun of a colour as you want!

As for the other parts of the manicure – the lotion, massage, and cuticle oil – consider doing these at home to save money. I stole my sister-in-law’s idea of having an at-home mini spa night with my bridesmaids the night before my wedding. We all did our toes and nails in coordinating colours while having some much-needed girl time to calm the nerves.

4. Save on teeth whitening

You don’t want to neglect your smile for the big day – people will be seeing a lot of it and it’ll be in the pictures you cherish for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t mean you need to empty the bank on any professional treatments.

I’ve had a good experience with the Crest Professional Effects Whitestrips. Be sure to watch for sales on Amazon or at your local grocery or drug store. If you’ve already used this kit in the past and just want a refresh, the Crest Whitestrips Classic Vivid Kit is a good option.

Alternatively, you can use this whitening mouthwash leading up to your wedding day, to save even more money. Regardless, it’s a good idea to use your insurance for a dental cleaning a week or two before your wedding and not to skip out on any brushing or flossing.

Advice on other spa treatments

I know there’s a myriad of different salon and spa treatments you can get leading up to your wedding. From facials to hair treatments to lasers to different types of tanning, there are endless options if you’re looking to spend money on these types of services. If I could offer some advice in this area, I would say don’t feel pressured to do anything out of your ordinary. You are enough for your future spouse and that should be enough for you. Try to let go of some of the pressure to look any certain way, and just be yourself! Additionally, you will have your wedding photos for a lifetime and adhering to every beauty fad going could mean your photos might not age very well…

Additional money-saving ideas

If you’ve managed to get this far into this post, I have some extra ways to save money as a bride. You’ve got wedding planning to do so I’ll try to be brief with these last few tips.

5. Don’t jump the gun

I know once you start wedding planning, you may want to do everything right away! There’s so much excitement and lots to do, so it’s good to be proactive! With that said, there are a few purchases you may not want to make right at the beginning. I would suggest waiting to purchase your accessories until about 4 months before your wedding or at least until everything concerning your dress is finalized. Why? Because you might change your mind! And that could mean wasting money.

I originally thought I would wear gold jewelry and bought a beautiful dainty necklace many months ahead of time. I then decided that silver jewelry would match my dress and skin tone better. Then I decided I didn’t even want to wear a necklace at all! You’re likely not as indecisive as me, but you will have a better vision of your wedding in the months leading up to your wedding than you will a year in advance.

Another thing I almost wasted money on was undergarments. There’s all sorts of creative one-piece underwear-bra-hybrid things you can get to wear under your dress, and they’re not cheap. At my first dress fitting, I learned that my seamstress could sew boob cups into my dress for an extra $8. This also meant less layers for an August wedding! (Sorry to any family members if that’s TMI!)

6. Shop around

I did a lot of shopping around when it came to wedding decor, but didn’t think to do the same when it came to bridal services. Many salons don’t list prices online, but a few quick phone calls can help you save money. Just be sure to check if the lower-priced options still have good reviews online! I also recommend doing this for any bridesmaid services whether you are gifting them or not. Make sure your girls know ahead of time what they will be spending on hair or makeup and that they’re all okay with that amount. I made the mistake of not doing this for my bridesmaids’ updos and I still feel guilty.

7. Get help from family and friends

One of the ways to save money as a bride is to get your friends and family to help doll you up

One of the ways to save money as a bride is by relying on the talents of your loved ones. If you have any trusted friends or family members with talents in hair, makeup, nails, etc., see if they can help out you and/or your girls! Don’t expect them to do it for free, but they just might gift you a discount.

8. DIY

The thought of doing your own hair or makeup for your wedding day might be terrifying for some brides. However, I’ve heard of talented brides that wouldn’t trust anyone else with the task! If you are one of those brides just make sure you consider how much time you’ll have the day-of, factor-in the added nerves, and practice ahead of time. You could also play it safe and DIY something less high-stakes like a pedicure or waxing. Regardless, if there’s something you can do yourself instead of getting it professionally done, you will probably save money!

9. Keep the wedding thing hush-hush

This goes back to the wedding tax thing. I was doing some light research for this post and came across a salon that charges $37 for makeup application and $52 for bridal makeup application. To be fair, the bridal version could include lashes or something, I don’t know. But this price difference is not uncommon for hair, makeup, and nail services. I’m not advising you go around deceiving people, especially not your trusted hairstylist. But if a nail salon has a manicure package, and a bridal manicure package that is more expensive, make sure they know that you would like the “normal” option.

Just to be clear, I am firmly against lying and cheating and I know there are many people in the wedding industry who are just trying to make a living. But as a former low-budget bride, it became quite disheartening when I realized all the extra money things cost just because they were wedding-related. Sure, many brides have big budgets and won’t even notice the difference, but not every bride is in that boat. No one should ever feel like they can’t marry the person of their dreams just because they can’t afford what is “expected’ for a wedding nowadays.

Aaaaannnnddd that’s a wrap! I hope these 9 ways to save money as a bride are helpful to any future brides out there. If you liked this post, feel free to share it and subscribe to my email list for more money-saving wedding content. Thanks for being here 🙂

Photography by the lovely Loni Carroll Photography.

Don't miss a post!

Subscribe here to join the little bit better family.

Loading