Minimalist Wedding Ideas

How To Have A Minimalist Wedding
Even before I claimed the title “minimalist” I sought to have a minimalist wedding. Why? Mainly because I didn’t want the stress of a big production. Planning a big event is exhausting and I wanted to enjoy myself, not try to remember a million different things.
Besides that, we didn’t want to enter into our marriage with wedding debt – or burden our parents with wedding debt either. Brian and I were both in our mid-twenties when we got married and opted not to ask our parents to pay for anything. In the end, we spent less than $1,000 on our wedding (including the rings), which meant we could splurge on our honeymoon – total win!
With the average cost of a wedding hovering right around $30,000.00 these days, it seems like many couples just need permission to have something simple. I know there are some who want an extreme celebration, (but I bet they aren’t reading my blog!) So, if you are thinking about spending thousands of dollars on a 4 hour event, how about using that for a house downpayment and opt for some of these tips instead of glitz and glam:
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  1. Make decisions based on the couples enjoyment. Not to impress people. There is no need to invite every person your family has ever known, or have a certain style of wedding just because Aunt Shirley would be offended if we didn’t, or my friends will be mad if they’re not invited. This is for and about the couple who are tying the knot. It’s not about anyone else.
  2. Eliminate the unnecessary so you can focus on the important. That’s what minimalism is all about! So what is important to you, on your big day? Is a nice honeymoon more important than the ceremony? Each couple is going to have different priorities, expectations and desires. Talk it out- decide what each of you find important and leave the rest out of the celebration.
  3. Have a budget. After you’ve decided what is important, figure out how much each item will cost and then add everything up. Do you have enough money in the budget for it? If not, decide what steps you want to take to avoid going into debt (i.e. taking on a second job, asking family to contribute to certain things, researching cheaper options, compromising, etc.).
  4. Forgo tradition. With non-traditional options, it’s easy to simplify: email or Facebook invites, instead of printing, labeling, sending… Keep the service simple and put more work into the reception. Keep the guest list to immediate family members- or elope!
  5. Keep it simple. Dress, suit, cake, reception, decor (or none at all), flowers. Imagine everything and then scale it back times 10. Think it through: which image do you prefer?


Specific ways to go minimal:

  • Save the date/invitations. Create your invite on Facebook or send out an email. For the older generation who don’t have email, print out a simple note with all the specifics just for them. (Because, that would be maybe 2 printed invites, right?)
  • Guests. The smaller the crowd, the easier it is to plan for… and remember: This is your day. Invite people who you want to join you during this next season of your life.
  • Bridal party. You technically don’t need anyone to stand with you- you just need someone to sign the marriage license as a witness. They can sit in the audience and still “witness” it.
  • If you do want a bridal party, keep the attire basic and affordable. Perhaps get a color swatch from the fabric store and ask them to wear an outfit that has that as the main color. This allows them to get something they are comfortable wearing and they can decide how much they want to invest, rather than having a set “the dress is $200. and the shoes are $75.”
  • Location. If you are a member of a church, the member price is often cheaper, but if you want to avoid decor, nontraditional makes it easier: public parks, zoos, beaches, public or private gardens, wilderness areas, roadside chapels, vacation cabins, bed & breakfasts. If you live in the city, consider a small town nearby over the big city venues.
  • Limit the venue to one. If you have an intimate wedding in mind, consider using a banquet hall from a nice restaurant, have a quick ceremony and then sit down with your guests for a meal. Near us, there are a variety of places that can seat 20 and have a lovely fireplace at one end of the private room.
  • Time. Weeknight weddings or morning weddings can save money, as well as offering a unique reception. A 10 AM ceremony followed by brunch can be very pleasant. (If you are a morning person, that is!)
  • Service. Consider skipping a traditional ceremony, going to the Justice Of The Peace and then inviting all your guests to meet you for a reception to celebrate.
  • Bridal Attire. For the groom- go with something he’ll use again, nice slacks and a white shirt are perfect, even purchasing a nice suit is often similar in cost to renting a tuxedo, and he can use it again. A quick search on can bring up simple and elegant vintage wedding dresses and if you want something of this years style- consider renting your dress from Rent The Runway.
  • Flowers & Bouquet. There are many flowers that can be simple and elegant- consider a small bouquet of lavender, lily of the valley or carrying a single stem of your favorite flower.
  • Rings. When you look at rings, get what you want, not what is expected by family or friends. Many men feel that to prove their love they need to produce an extravagant rock to draw attention. True love means being honest with your spouse-to-be, in what you want as well as respecting each other’s desires (Guys- if she wants something simple, let her have simple!).
  • Reception. Keeping your party small means you can just make reservations at your favorite restaurant and not worry about planning a reception. If you want informal, consider a potluck or BBQ at someone’s home, or a local park.
  • Gifts. There are some pretty cool options these days with SoKind Registry, and online cash registries, people can even help cover the cost of a fabulous honeymoon, which far more fun than an extra toaster, right?!
  • Favors. To be honest, all the favors I ever picked up at weddings ended up in the landfill, so let’s save the earth a little and skip those altogether.

In the end, the wedding is about the couple getting hitched. It’s not about everyone else. It’s a celebration of your relationship with each other. If you want that celebration extravagant, go for it. If you want it simple and intimate with a handful of special people around you, give yourself permission to celebrate your relationship the way you want.
In what ways will you/did you incorporate your minimalist philosophy in your wedding?

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Jill Foley on 04/24/2015 at 1:38 pm

    Great post with great ideas!
    Our wedding 19 years ago was very simple – long before I was a minimalist. Mostly out of necessity to keep costs down, we went against so many traditions. 90% of the flowers came out of friends’ gardens, the bridesmaids dresses came from a regular store, our reception resembled a potluck more than a sit-down dinner and more.
    Just prior to reading your post I read an article about two thrifters who dressed an entire bridal party (bride, bridesmaids, mother of bride and flower girl) for a total of $20. It takes creativity and time, but the marriage is more important than the wedding. I’m hoping my own daughters embrace this philosophy when it’s time for their weddings!

    • Rachel on 04/24/2015 at 4:59 pm

      Thanks Jill! And that is seriously impressive to outfit the entire party for $20. In our small town, I don’t know that we could find as much at the thrift stores, but I visited thrift stores in Portland OR and there would be so many options there! That’s really cool.

  2. Teresa on 04/24/2015 at 2:01 pm

    Our wedding 20 years ago was simple and meaningful. We took advantage of the holidays. We had originally planned a December wedding b/c our planned venue would already be decorated beautifully for other events with no extra cost to us. Instead, we bumped up the date to Easter, after church service. We decorated with potted flowers that were then given as gifts to the bridal party after the service. My grandmother’s traditional Easter dinner doubled as our reception with closest family and friends. Our cake was gifted to us by a cousin that had just started learning to decorate cakes. My dress was an off-white, department store, Easter dress, but perfect. His suit was appropriate to wear again later. What made it special was the ceremony/tradition we added that we repeat each anniversary, the “rose ceremony.”
    I was at the hairdresser’s last weekend and a bride was having her hair done before her SURPRISE wedding. They had simply invited their friends/family to a BBQ cook-out but planned to surprise the guests with the ceremony! This way no guest felt the need to dress too fancy or bring gifts! I thought it was genius and memorable.
    Basically, figure out what is important to you at the end of the day. If I had mine to do-over I would have splurged on a budding photographer.

    • Rachel on 04/24/2015 at 4:55 pm

      That’s so nice Teresa. And I love the idea of a surprise wedding too! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Liz on 04/24/2015 at 11:13 pm

    Seven and a half years ago we met with our pastor for marriage counseling and had no plan for a wedding. 3 weeks later our wedding was planned from top to bottom and executed another 3 weeks later! Our friend owns a restaurant so we held a reception dinner in the dining room. We had one friend make cookies and cupcakes for the cost of the supplies instead of a cake and another friend took photos for us for free. The church was already decorated for Christmas (the wedding was December 23rd) so we didn’t need any flowers and I didn’t carry any down the aisle because I was holding both of my children’s hands (this was my second marriage and they gave me away). I didn’t have a DJ because I just wanted everyone to hang out and talk. The restaurant musak was sufficient. I had a second-hand wedding ring and a dress I had for years. Our entire wedding and reception for 50 people cost about $1000 total. The funny thing is that although my parents had paid for my first wedding and I was a full grown adult, my dad still wanted to help pay for dinner. He’s a gem. This was before my minimalist days but I was still frugal and I just wanted to be married! We had a beautiful time and have wonderful memories. What we don’t have is debt from our wedding! That’s the best wedding gift ever.

    • Rachel on 04/27/2015 at 2:07 pm

      That’s so great Liz!

  4. Karen on 04/25/2015 at 10:13 am

    We ended up making our own favors. We made tea bags and honey sticks that we put inside of paper boxes that we made ourselves. I can agree that most favors end up in the landfill. I thought it was more personal to make our own.

  5. jennie on 04/25/2015 at 11:54 am

    We got married in the morning and served an early lunch/brunch to our guests. The same meal was MUCH cheaper than it would have been in the evening. I agree with an earlier commentator in that we should have splurged on a photographer (especially one familiar with lighting of bright sunlight through stained glass in the morning sun.)

  6. Jill on 04/27/2015 at 2:06 pm

    My husband and I got married in a flower shop next to our house. We didn’t invite anyone, since it was just for us. My parents were totally fine with it, but my husband’s mom was really upset. My husband told her that if she wanted a big wedding for us, that she could pay for it. In the end, we were able to persuade her to some cost saving measures. We got the “wedding cake” from a local renowned bakery (we had three regular cakes on a tier display, in different signature flavors so everyone got what they liked). We had the wedding at a B&B – location and food in one. I made my own dress, and I got the flowers from the florist where we got married. I didn’t have any bridesmaids or maid of honor, though my husband did have a best man. It turned out tp be very nice, and we had a great time. And then we spent all the money that we had saved on the NICEST honeymoon!

  7. Kate (Lives Simply) on 04/30/2015 at 9:00 am

    I’m saving this for future reference! I am entirely single now, but with another round of friends getting married recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’d like to do my wedding (should I have one). I’m in favor of no attendants, inviting any of my friends who want to come along and help me get ready (so as not to miss out on the traditional bridal activities), and I’ve long been planning to do a cupcake bar with a small cake for the cutting purposes. My guest list would be minimal (family members – those by blood and those I have chosen). I wouldn’t bother with save the dates (isn’t an invitation the same thing?!), and I’ve rarely seen wedding favors that were anything exciting (although I wouldn’t be opposed to some small food item). I know my sisters will think I am insane but I don’t care – it’ll be what I want.
    So the wedding is all planned…just waiting for the groom!

  8. Betty Johnson on 06/11/2015 at 2:47 pm

    I like the idea of keeping things simple. Like you said, I don’t have to impress eveyone with my wedding, it’s just a celebration. I will admit that I would like a pretty bouquet, though. It’s important to realize what things are important to you when you’re planning a budget wedding. The bouquet doesn’t have to be super expensive either.

  9. Betty Johnson on 09/11/2015 at 11:24 am

    That’s a good idea to keep things simple. For my wedding I want to have a fun, non-fussy reception afterwards. It may not be traditional to not have a big fancy cake, but I don’t want one. No one likes eating fondant anyway. I’ve been thinking about having one of those “cakes” made out of cut watermelon with fruit decorations. It will go well with a hot summer outdoor wedding. It’s all about what you want at your party.

  10. Heidi on 12/30/2015 at 4:00 pm

    Here are a few money-saving ideas from our wedding 18 years ago. If we could do it again, we would go simpler and smaller, but at 21 we were so clueless that we let our parents plan a lot of it and it got way bigger than we had originally intended:
    The wedding flowers were hanging baskets on homemade pedestals at different heights. Later, we attached the hangers and gave them as gifts to people who had helped us with the wedding. We also kept some for an instant flowery entry to our new home.
    The bridesmaids and I carried simple wildflowers (my favourite) and some garden varieties.
    My husband bought a suit that he was able to wear in the coming years in his role as a pastor.
    No wedding cake. Instead, both our mothers made large pans of their famous black forest tortes and it was served as dessert after the dinner.
    We had the Salvation Army chef school cater the dinner. The food and service was fabulous for a fraction of the cost, and all the money went to a great cause!
    Our party favours were a variety of home-cultured tiny ivy plants in terra-cotta pots with simple raffia to dress them up. A few of our guests still have theirs. When we cleaned out my husband’s grandfather’s house after he passed, we took home his ivy from our wedding.
    LOVE this blog. I’m a year into the decluttering and getting rid of, and still have a long way to go, but I am seeing the difference it’s making in our family’s life and that and your blog keep me going.

    • Rachel on 12/31/2015 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks Heidi! Those are lovely ideas. The hanging baskets especially sound very nice.

  11. Amanda Buchanan on 03/30/2017 at 6:20 am

    Oh my goodness, yes to ALL of this! This is exactly why I started my company, and what I preach to my couples. You will be so much happier on your wedding day if you choose to make intentional, meaningful decisions while wedding planning. Pinterest and other forms of social media make it easy to get swept up in unimportant aspects of the wedding, but if you make it a point to step back and say, “okay, do I *really* need this?” you can keep things clean. <3

  12. Cathe on 08/11/2017 at 9:43 pm

    Our wedding was just another party and it was fun and low key like one! We got married in our new home with a notary and only immediate family for the legal part. No rings. And then we cracked open champagne while an amazing playlist played in the background (all our childhood memories’ songs) and just had a mini party with nice bubbly and snacks for about 2 hours. Photos happened during this time. Then our band arrived (jazz trio) and then our best friends brought the food we had pre-ordered. (Sushi and Chinese food) then the band started playing and the guests arrived. All my friends are artist’s so my photographer was my friend, my florist, my caterer, my band, my cake maker. All professionals. I paid them but they were still a part of it. We asked for no gifts, just bring a bottle of wine. And party gifts were fun items purchased at a kitchen store wrapped in clear wrap placed in a picnic basket to take as our guests would leave. We drank, ate, and had so much fun!

  13. Leo Harry on 09/27/2020 at 4:03 pm

    Hello this is Leo Harry. My super cheap wedding idea was to have a night wedding outdoors. The only real decoration you can use is light. And light makes for one amazingly dramatic decoration.

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