Cheap Wedding Challenge

Photo: Courtesy of Abaeté

Look for a discounted designer gown at sample sales (save up to 80 percent; see upcoming sales on page 140); at high-end consignment shops like Michael’s, The Consignment Shop for Women (1041 Madison Ave.; 212-737-7273) and Ina’s (several locations; Or, get a lovely, re-wearable dress off the rack (Abaeté dress, $475 by special order; 212-334-4755).

Photo: Courtesy of B.T. Elements

Send ready-made invitations. Choose a brand like b.t.elements (at Kate’s Paperie, 72 Spring St.; 212-941-9816). Or hire a designer to create a save-the-date, invite, and RSVP, and print them yourself (try Justin van Deursen at Sketchbook Design Solutions, from $500;

Find a fledgling photographer looking to beef up his portfolio on Craigslist. If that’s too risky, ask a known wedding photographer if he’ll accept an hourly rate, or if one of his assistants will shoot for less. Otherwise, negotiate a flat half-day rate. Michael Kirby charges $750 for four hours, including a high-resolution DVD of un-retouched images; 512-468-3107;

Skip the officiant fees (up to $1,500) and house of worship costs (up to $3,000). Get married at City Hall (marriage license, $35), and later create a ceremony of your own design.

Hire conservatory grads—preferably a group that’s performed together before. Contact the Juilliard School (212-799-5000 ext. 313,, Manhattan School of Music (917-493-4486;, and Mannes College of Music at the New School (212-580-0210 ext.4811;

Photo: iStockphoto

Choose seasonal blooms, obviously. TaraSimone Powell of Barbara’s Flowers charges $3,200 for two bouquets, a boutonniere, a few ceremony arrangements, and fifteen centerpieces for the reception (2522 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; 212-234-3211;

At $65 per person (well below the city’s $350 average), Spoonbread Catering offers a full buffet, plus hors d’oeuvre, dessert, and staff (364 Cathedral Parkway; 212-865-0700; Baked customizes tiered, buttercream confections from $6 per serving (359 Van Brunt St., Red Hook; 718-222-0345;

Photo: iStockphoto

Hire a D.J.: They start at $1,500 while most bands start at $5,000. Planner Ellen Kostman likes The Rhythm Dogs ($1,500 for four hours; 212-206-7924;

Have a daytime wedding. Planner Xochitl Gonzalez suggests booking the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture on a Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Serve cocktails in the garden and a light buffet in the parlor ($650 an hour, includes tables and chairs; 53 Prospect Park West, Prospect Heights; 718-768-2972;

A Saturday night party can be affordable; just keep it short and sweet. Kostman recommends a 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. cocktail soirée at the Cue Art Foundation. The low rental fee for the glass-front, all-white gallery includes built-in décor (art!), but you have to bring your own caterer ($3,000 for six hours, includes some tables and chairs; 511 W. 25th St.; 212-206-3583;
NB: If you’re willing to celebrate on Friday or Sunday instead, you’ll save 30 percent.

The Average Cost of a Wedding
Nationwide: $28,704
Here: $46,229

Cheap Wedding Challenge