Clark Howard: How my daughter saved a ton of money on her wedding

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I was so touched by the response to the picture my staff posted on social media this weekend after the marriage of my oldest child on Friday.

All the warm wishes were greatly appreciated, as were all the jokes, too!

facebook comments on rebecca howard wedding

I’ve gotten hundreds of questions on how a daughter of Clark Howard gets married. Because let’s face it: As “Cheap Guy” there are a lot of assumptions that my daughter would not have a nice wedding.

I guess my reputation precedes me, and we all know the costs associated with weddings can get out of hand.

After my daughter Rebecca and her husband-to-be Travis got engaged, I sat down with them, gave them a flat amount of money and said, “Go plan whatever wedding you want.”

I told them if they spent less than their budget, they could keep the rest as a down payment for their home — they’re both in their 20s and they have the goal of buying a place of their own.

And if they spent more money on the wedding than I gave them, I told them the “more” would have to come out of their pocket as a couple.

They seemed to really appreciate both my advice and the money. I know, because they looked for every possible way to put on a nice event that was affordable.

So, here’s how they did it.


Check multiple venues

Becca and Travis looked at a lot of venues and found an event space in a public park. They got married outside and, luckily, had great weather.

Be flexible with your wedding date

The couple also got married on a cheaper day. Many event spaces have different charges by the day of week. Saturday and Sunday are typically high-priced, so they got married on Friday.

I have nephew who got married on Monday because their venue in California was cheaper on that day. When have you ever heard of somebody getting married on a Monday?!?

Buy your dress off the rack

Becca bought an off-the-rack wedding dress that was affordable. She probably could have saved even more money by renting her dress or using a hand-me-down, but that wasn’t the choice she made and who am I to argue this one?

Think of your bridesmaids’ pocketbooks, too

For her bridesmaids, Becca did not have a standard dress that they all needed to wear. She just told them the color theme of the wedding and gave them an allowance from the money I gave her and Travis.

She also told her bridesmaid that they could wear a dress they already had if it fit the color scheme. In some cases, that made sense, rather than the bridesmaids having to buy something that they’d probably only wear for this occasion.

Skip the liquor

There was no liquor at my daughter’s reception — only beer and wine, which helped keep the cost down.

Trim down the guest list

Travis and Becca had to make tough choices with their guest list. They’re both so social that they had around 400 people on the list at first pass.

They had to cull the herd and reduce that head count by about three quarters to stay within the budget they decided on — which was much less than I had given them — so they could have money for their first house.

Get a supermarket cake

The cake was a regular white icing cake from the Publix supermarket bakery. In fact, they bought four different sizes of round cakes and stacked them to dramatic effect to make one giant cake. They spent under $40 in total on the cake, I believe.


In addition to the tips above, they also used a lot of different strategies from websites that specialize in showing you how to save money on your wedding.

The thing with Becca is, nothing had to be perfect. Case in point: Her veil caught on fire about three minutes before I walked out with her! She put her veil down on the table and it was ignited by those little tea candles. It just was what it was. She didn’t let it faze her.

I do have to say it was very emotional walking her down the aisle. That really choked me up. It was an emotional experience I did not anticipate.

rebecca howard wedding

For their honeymoon, I convinced Becca and Travis to book on Priceline at a resort in Maui.

You may have heard that resorts tend to have crummy rooms for Priceline bidders. Well, the picture they sent me of the view from their hotel room is of a construction site!

Instead of a beautiful view of the Pacific or the mountains of Maui, they get to look at four earth movers and giant piles of dirt. I told her, “Just wait until you hear how loud it will be in the morning when those earth movers wake you up!”

Then I told her to smile, go down to the front desk, and ask to be moved.

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