Wedding costs can add up pretty quickly, between the dress, the decorations, the stationary, the vendors, the venue, the food… the list goes on and on. So where can you save money and be smart about it?

When we planned our wedding I did a lot of research in to renting, buying new, and buying second hand. Our mantra was “opulence on a budget” but we didnt want it to look like it was a budget wedding. Was it even possible to achieve such a thing?? Many times I did question myself. But I found that each had its own place and time to be appropriate and cost savings.

Here’s the pros and cons of each:


You can rent just about anything for a wedding these days, from bridesmaid dresses to bouquets, a lot of the “typical” wedding items can be rented. And while it may feel kinda skeezy to do that, when you look at your budget you need to ask yourself if the cost savings is significant enough to not buy it. Afterall, most things you are only using for this ONE DAY.

Here are some things that are a big cost savings to rent:

Bridesmaid Dresses: Check out Rent the Runway for a wide array of styles, or do a google search to find more vendors who rent dresses.

Florals: While $65 for a bridal bouquet may seem steep to you, ask a real florist the cost of the same bouquet in real flowers and you will quickly learn that the average bridal bouquet costs upwards of $150! Something Borrowed Blooms offers rentals for the entire bridal party!

Here are some things that are not a good deal to rent:

Linens: Buying in bulk from a wholesaler like Koyal Wholesale is often cheaper.

Menswear: You can often find GREAT deals at Men’s Warehouse or Joseph A Bank like Buy one get one free… Renting suits/tuxes often ends up being the same cost as buying- so ask your men if they want something they can keep after.

Tableware/Glassware: The cost of some of these things is absolutely ridiculous. Ask yourself if you even need the fancy plates or spoons, and if you don’t- ditch it all together. Many caterers have options that are included in the price you are already paying them. If you MUST, many things can be purchased in bulk for a fraction of the cost (like chargers).

Buying New:

When we first started planning, I said that I would buy everything second hand because OBVIOUSLY that would be cheaper. However, the more I started browsing flea markets, online resale sites, and Facebook groups, I found that people want a lot of money for their used stuff. And not only that, but a lot of the time, it was equal or MORE to buying it new. So something it’s just better to go new and that way if something is not up to par, you can deal with the manufacturer or a return or exchange.

Things that were better to buy new:

Tableware: We ended up buying chargers from the dollar tree (AND to make it easy, you can order by the case online and pick them up at your local store). Renting some kind of fancy charger started at $2 per (MORE than buying) and some resellers online wanted $1 per (the same cost to buy it new). So do the math with your different options before committing to something.

Small Decorations: Some decorations are a huge cost savings if you are willing to browse around and read reviews to make sure the quality is up to your snuff. We purchased tealights on Amazon for way less than typical retailers.

Buying Used:

Used can save a lot of money if you shop smart. Be ready to strike up a barter with people if it is not the price you want (some people are great about negotiating with you), but know your FIRM price, and don’t let them talk you into spending more than you think something is worth. Some people are convinced they can break even when they resell their stuff, and don’t realize, it’s USED, people don’t want to pay the full cost for USED stuff.

Things that are great to buy used:

Random Decorations: This is where the DIYer gets to really use her imagination! I found the BEST old mirror on our local Facebook resale group for $5! She was selling it because it was scratched!! It ended up being the most beautiful seating chart for our wedding- and now, I will take out the mirror and replace it so we can keep it in our home forever.

Candles: We ended up buying 100 candles off a local bride from her wedding. They were about half used, but once they are lit, no one knew they were used before. We paid $70 for the lot with the hurricanes, where if we purchased them new, it would have cost us $400.

Wedding Dress: There are some fabulous consignment shops out there these days that specialize in bridal dresses that are a FRACTION of the cost of a new wedding dress. The average bride spends $1050 on a dress- so if that’s more than you want to spend- consider a second hand shop like Love Me Two Times in Taftville, Connecticut.

Things that ended up being a bad buy used:

Wedding Dress: So this was not a traditional “used” buy. I know MANY brides who have purchased GREAT second hand dresses from consignment shops (and in this instance- it is a HUGE savings). In my case, I bought a sample dress off the rack from a boutique. And the sales gals told me how I could have it taken in here and shortened there… except that they were not seamstresses. And once I took that dress to an ACTUAL seamstress, because of the way the dress was constructed- there was no way to take it in 3 sizes, and shorted in from extra long to petite without totally changing the entire dress….

I ended up buying a new dress 5 days before my wedding because the first one was such a flop (but this is a story for another day).

No matter which route you take on your wedding day, no one will know. Your guests will not be sitting there saying “She must have purchased these candles secondhand.” So don’t sweat it! And do what works best for your budget. Don’t be afraid to shop around. And READ REVIEWS. No one likes receiving something that is not at all what they imagined.

What is your experience with buying new, used, or renting?

Got any tips or tricks?

Share with us in the comments!!

All photos captured by Simply K Studios and may not be reproduced or used elsewhere without their permission.