A winter nighttime wedding doesn't have to be extravagant, but don't sacrifice style and amenities. Bargain with vendors to get the best prices and take a do-it-yourself approach with items such as decorations, music and bridal party gifts. Decide on a specific, overall budget and stick to it.
Keep the guest list small, only inviting family and close friends. Avoid the pressure to invite every co-worker or acquaintance. Your wedding will be a special, more intimate affair by keeping the guest list to those who matter most in your life. A smaller guest list will net savings in other areas, such as invitations, centerpieces and food costs.
Book your ceremony and reception at the same venue instead of separate locations. For weddings held close to the holidays, save money on decor by having a church wedding where festive holiday decorations are already in place, such as Christmas lights, wreaths and poinsettias. Shop out-of-the-ordinary venues for less expensive options, such as reception halls at museums or zoos, instead of usual wedding locations like country clubs and hotel banquet rooms. Schedule your wedding date at a less busy time, such as midweek or a Friday night for deeper vendor discounts.
Choose sophisticated attire for the bride, groom and wding party without spending a fortune. Select classic tailored suits for the groom and his attendants and brides as well as bridesmaids can choose from a variety of holiday gowns and dresses that are on sale during winter months.
Create a festive and elegant winter atmosphere by hanging strings of white lights around the reception area. Splurge on quality linens for the tables -- such as seasonal colors of reds and greens or stylish options like silver and gold with sheer overlays -- but save money by making your own centerpieces. Purchase supplies throughout the year, shopping after holiday sales and craft stores, and get together with bridesmaids near the wedding date for a do-it-yourself party to put everything together. Use large, clear bowls for centerpieces and fill with colored stones and flowers, pine cones dispersed with small, slender tree branches or fill with water and add floating tea lights to create ambient lighting. Add an elegant silver or gold placemat at each guest's seat and drape strings of clear or colored crystals around the centerpieces to complete the look.
Choose flowers and plants that are in season for the most savings, such as amaryllis, poinsettias and holly. Add extra greenery to bouquets, centerpieces and other arrangements to make them fuller without adding as much cost as adding more flowers would.
Food and Drinks
Plan a simple menu or a buffet with appetizers only to keep food costs down. Save money on alcoholic beverages by setting a limit on the time drinks will be available or serve guests bottles of wine and champagne only. Eliminate alcohol altogether -- expect for the toast -- for the most savings on drinks. Set up a candy bar for a festive dessert option instead of a spread of decadent desserts or let the wedding cake be the main treat for guests. Have a small, elaborate wedding cake to display as well as for the bride and groom to cut but have sheet cakes in the kitchen to serve guests.
Instead of hiring an expensive disk jockey or a more expensive band, make your own custom music list and play via an iPod or computer over speakers during the reception. Opt for a small band or classic pianist for other options and hire the same musician to play both the ceremony and the reception.
Based in Lake Mary, Fla., Charity Tober writes mainly on finance, career, interior decorating, parenting and weddings. Tober has also self-published two children's picture books. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from the University of Florida.