Celebrity-style wedding on a budget

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

Who says only the rich and famous get to have the fancy weddings? You, too, can get married like a star — without the Hollywood price tag!

The trick is to get inspiration from celebrity weddings and execute their ideas with creativity and thrift in mind.

“Celebrity weddings are a great source of ideas and trends that you can incorporate into your affair for much less money,” says Sasha Souza, a well-known wedding consultant to the rich and famous.

For her lavish wedding, “Extra” television host Dayna Devon had handmade monogrammed velveteen cones trimmed with satin and filled with rose petals hung from every chair so guests could shower the bride and groom with petals after the ceremony.

“You can copy that look relatively inexpensively by being crafty,” says Souza who planned the Devon nuptials.

“Use velum that can be purchased at any fabric store to make the cones, stamp on your monogram and trim with ribbon or inexpensive rope to hang from the chairs. Ask your florist to save the exterior rose petals and use those. Exterior petals are often thrown in the garbage by the florist. Instead of spending $800, you can copy the look for $50.”

From your wedding cake to gown, there are many ways to re-create that spectacular celebrity style on a shoestring budget.

Star-style wedding

It may not be in an Italian castle a la the Holmes and Cruise nuptials or in a Scottish castle as in the case of Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s 2000 ceremony, but jet-setting weddings have heated up even with the budget set.

“Destination weddings are definitely a big trend with celebrities and it’s one that’s being followed by regular people as well,” says weddingchannel.com senior editor, Marilyn Oliveira.

“For regular people it often tends to be more affordable as 400 people probably won’t show up — just the people closest to you and who can take the time off of work will be there. You actually have a much smaller headcount so it’s much more affordable,” she says.

To save money hosting a wedding abroad, combine the honeymoon with the ceremony. Save on airfare and planning expenses by combing the two events and spend more time with the guests and wedding party.

Wedding gown

Celebrities often call upon world-renowned designers to create their wedding dresses. You can find reasonably priced designers who offer similar gowns at a fraction of the cost — do your window shopping on the Web at sites such as weddingchannel.com, which lets brides and grooms to-be search through a vast database of every kind of wedding paraphernalia, including a collection of over 30,000 wedding dresses.

“Once you know the details of the celebrity’s gown you can do a search based on those criteria and find gowns that look similar but are by different designers and are in a different price range,” says Oliveira.

For instance, if someone wanted to copy Britney Spear’s Monique Lhullier gown from her 2004 wedding to Kevin Federline, they could search for a strapless, A-line gown with a flare at the knees and recreate her look for a lot less money.

Some bespoke touches on an inexpensive gown can be another way to imitate a celebrity look with the addition of a splash of color. “Monique Lhuillier is famous for having these colored sashes on her gowns and many celebrities use her as their designer,” says Oliveira. “So, you could buy a plainer gown that doesn’t have a sash and then have a seamstress add one and use a fabric that is perhaps less expensive.”

The wedding cake

A few celebrity clients of wedding consultant Souza opted for miniature wedding cakes for each of their guests over the traditional large wedding cake.

“It’s an elegant, but expensive, statement,” says Souza.

“Instead of serving individual cakes you might have one centerpiece wedding cake for each table. It serves each guest at the table and doubles as a centerpiece. It’s very cool and unexpected. It’s also an interactive and fun thing — each table could cut their own cake as the bride and groom cuts theirs. It’s a classy touch that solves two separate issues — the wedding cake and the flowers for the centerpiece,” says Souza, who was one of the Top 25 wedding industry trendsetters in 2004.

Carmen Electra had a towering multi-tiered white wedding Oreo cookie cheesecake decorated with fresh red roses and 50 to 60 Swarovski crystals suspended on wires shooting out from each layer. The cake cost more than $5,000.

Budget weddings can still feature extravagant cakes. “Usually cakes are priced by the slice so if you’re feeding 600 people, that’s a really huge cake,” says Oliveira. “Chances are, you aren’t having 600 people at your wedding, so if you want to copy a celebrity cake you can do it on a smaller scale.”

For even more savings with the same elegant appearance, a little serving trickery goes a long way. “Display a much smaller cake and supplement that cake with a sheet cake kept in the back that nobody sees. Let’s say you copied Eva Longoria’s wedding cake. You can get a cake that serves 100 people and serve everyone else from a cake in the back. No one will be able to tell how many people a cake will serve just from looking at it,” Oliveira says.


Celebrities often get jewels worth thousands of dollars on loan from famous jewelry designers such as Neil Lane, Fred Leighton and Harry Winston. Jennifer Lopez borrowed a diamond bracelet and necklace for her wedding to Marc Anthony from Neil Lane. Tori Spelling borrowed a beautiful vintage floral brooch for her hair.

Jewelers may not beat down the door to loan you a diamond tiara but friends and family might. Wearing a family heirloom in your wedding could make it all the more special and add to a unique, personal look.

Reception touches

You can add unique personal touches to your wedding that cost very little money. Take a clue from these celebrity touches:

“I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” star Adam Sandler handed out Krispy Kreme doughnuts — his favorite — at his wedding. Another celebrity groom had waiters carrying great silver chafing dishes filled with McDonald’s hamburgers. “Bachelorette” Trista Rehn had personalized heart candies.

Take these celebrity ideas and personalize them to fit your style.

And if the groom also loves McDonald’s, it’s a fun hors d’oeuvre that isn’t at all expensive to add.

Instead of a full bar, you can pick a signature drink. One celebrity couple’s favorite cocktail was a pomegranate martini. They served a nice white wine at the table and champagne for the toast, but at the bar it was only pomegranate martinis. It was their drink.

“It was the biggest hit at the reception,” says celebrity wedding planner Souza.

“It wasn’t terribly expensive but it was a personal touch that was memorable,” she adds.

Favors for guests

On a tight budget, wedding favors are the first thing to go. But if you really want to give a favor, select something that’s very personal.

“One very wealthy client had handmade silk boxes. On the inside was the story of the couple’s romance as well as their wedding invitation. They cost $400 each,” Souza says.

But sharing a little bit of your love story is a beautiful touch that could easily be done inexpensively in a variety of ways. You could add your story to the “Save the Date” card and print it yourself on your computer. Or, you could have it printed. You could put your wedding story inside an inexpensive picture frame to use as a favor or even use the frames as place cards, suggests Souza.

Bottles of wine often serve as generous wedding favors, but buying enough bottles of wine nice enough to double as a gift could break the bank of a non-celebrity couple. Personalizing a less expensive bottle of wine gives guests a keepsake and copies a more extravagant gesture.

“You can have labels made up and then put them on other bottles on wine that are in your price range,” says Oliveira. Weddingchannel.com offers the service, but computer-savvy couples could make their own on a home computer.


“Candlelight creates ambience,” says Souza.

Instead of expensive candle holders, you can buy really cheap juice glasses and put candles in them. You can hit the stores after Christmas and buy jewel-toned candle holders on sale. You can also buy red cut-glass dishes in Target’s kitchen section and put water in them and float candles. Don’t be afraid to spray paint votive cups in your chosen color either.


With a sky’s-the-limit budget, heaps of gorgeous flowers are available year round. Most people, however, are unable or unwilling to spend a small fortune on exotic garlands to bedeck their wedding hall. That doesn’t mean flowers must be absent from the ceremony and reception, it does mean scaling back according to what’s in-season or in your price range.

“If the flowers are not in-season and locally grown, the cost can triple,” says Oliveira. “If you love peonies, they’re in-season in May so that’s the best time to have your wedding. Or you can have masses and masses of a less expensive flower that looks similar to what you like. For instance, dahlias are a lush flower but much less expensive than say roses, and tulips are cheaper than peonies. If you’re trying to recreate a celebrity look, like if your celebrity had masses and masses of white flowers, you can choose a dahlia or a daisy that are virtually pennies on the dollar as compared to the higher end flower, so you’re getting the same look — millions of white flowers — for pennies.”


Some of the celebrity brides add expensive crystals to the wedding bouquets they carry down the aisle. Tori Spelling carried a bouquet of lilies of the valley with antique lace wrapping the stem of the bouquet as well as Swarovski crystals.

Brides can do something similar for much less by purchasing a special fabric or snipping a piece of lace from the underskirt of their mother’s wedding dress.

“It’s a special touch that can double as something borrowed and something old,” says the wedding expert.

When Melania Knauss married Donald Trump on Palm Beach, Fla., she chose not to carry a bouquet and instead walked down the aisle carrying a family rosary.

Bridesmaid dresses

Custom-created bridesmaid dresses might be in the budget for celebrities, but can be too pricey for the average bridal couple and their court. Experts suggest checking out the better department stores such as Macy’s, Nordstrom and Hecht’s that stock bridesmaid dresses.

“You can save a lot of money by buying bridesmaid dresses off the rack and off season,” advises Souza. After prom season, summer and Christmas, you can find real bargains.

Instead of spending $500, you might spend $50. Many brides are choosing shorter-length cocktail dresses that are also less expensive.

“One California bride had a friend fly back East after Christmas to a Hecht’s where she found Ralph Lauren dresses in silver and gun metal at huge savings. She bought the dresses right off the rack at $50 apiece and even bought a few extra dresses and still saved really big,” says the wedding event coordinator.

Or, instead of choosing the identical dress for your bridesmaids, choose the same color dress but different styles that flatter each figure. “By mimicking the colors of a celebrity wedding you can get the same look by having different styles of dresses all in the same shade,” says Oliveira.

Wedding planner

Most celebrities hire a wedding consultant to help plan their dream wedding and coordinate all the details. But consultants can be expensive — some charge as much as 15 percent of the total cost of the wedding or a flat fee that can sometimes hit six figures.

“If you can afford to do so, it’s a great option. But if you can’t hire a wedding planner for the whole affair you might consider hiring someone for the day of the affair just to help out and deal with any problems that might arise.

Bridal party gifts

Tori Spelling and Britney Spears each gave their attendants pink Juicy Couture jumpsuits that cost $99.

But you don’t have to give an elaborate keepsake — just something fun and trendy. If you can’t afford a $99 jumpsuit you can buy tank tops or thongs. They can even say “bridesmaid” on them.

“Regardless of how much money they spend, whether the affair is formal or casual, the celebrities I’ve worked with make the event something about them and something they really love,” says Souza.

“You can do the same, whether it is the colors you choose, that special drink or a fabulous wedding cake. You can focus on one thing and make it memorable that will have your guests talking about your wedding for months to come.”