Ideas for Throwing an All-Thrifty Wedding

Collage of Wedding photos

It’s common knowledge that weddings are expensive. But until I began planning my own, I didn’t realize how expensive. Stunned by the ridiculous sums I was facing, I proclaimed almost immediately that Ryan’s and my wedding would be thrifty and do-it-yourself. There is so much to think about from big things like location and menu to the little things that are easily overlooked (but can be surprisingly pricey) like tablecloths, ceremony programs and even cake cutting fees! Goodwill® to the rescue!

Goodwill wedding centerpieces

Having floral displays put together is costly. I definitely wanted to include some blooms on our tables, but I kept them limited and filled the rest of the table space with a mixture of thrifted items like books, tins, and candles. What really distinguished our centerpieces were the family wedding photos that we displayed in mismatched picture frames and mason jars. Everyone loved seeing our family histories and it made the day a celebration of commitment and unity not just for Ryan and me, but for many of our wedding guests too!

Wedding drinks
Photo by Jack Pollner

If you choose an established wedding venue you probably won’t have this problem, but to save costs we had our wedding reception at a farm. Although the farm owners made us delicious food, they had nothing to serve it on! So we went out in search of dishes. Goodwill always has lots of reasonably priced dishes and glassware that will save you money and give your wedding an eclectic feel. After your thrifted wedding, you can either pass on the collection to another bride (I shared mine!) or donate everything back. When you donate to Goodwill, that donation has the potential to help people find a job and support their families.




 We wanted a guestbook that would become an interactive part of our home décor instead of getting hidden away on a bookshelf. With this thrifted box, vintage postcards and some handmade envelopes (download a template here!), I created this conversation piece. The postcards were fun to collect and our guests had a great time choosing one to write on.

Wedding Guestbook Cards
Photo by Liz Pettengill

Even something as simple as a cardholder can be needlessly expensive, so we made our own from a suitcase that we inherited from Ryan’s uncle. He purchased it decades ago from a Goodwill in Colorado when he bought more souvenirs on a trip than he had planned to and needed something to send them home in! Twine, wooden letters and gold glitter spray can be purchased at a craft store and easily assembled. Similar items are selling for between $50 and $100 on Etsy, why not just do it yourself?

Photo by Jack Pollner

The thrifting didn’t stop there! We also turned white sheets into table runners, found a basket for our flower girl to carry, fabric for the above handmade ring box, and turned an easel and chalkboard into our ceremony “program.” This helped us dramatically reduce the cost of our wedding and added whimsy. If you have a wedding (or party!) to plan, I’d definitely recommend stopping by Goodwill ASAP.

Happy planning!

xx, Julia