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Home » Lifestyle Finance, Live

Our Cheap Wedding: 7 Steps for an Awesome $2,500 Wedding

Last updated by on 136 Comments

Having a Cheap Wedding is Part Art, Part Discipline, & Work

I can’t believe I have not written about my super cheap wedding until now. Shameful!

A few years ago, my wife and I got married. At the time, we had little money to put towards our wedding. A lot of thought, negotiation, and even a little sacrifice (but not much) went into our wedding planning. The result? We spent a mere $2,500 on the wedding.

Why is that notable? The average wedding cost in 2012 was $26,989 – more than 10 times as much!

How did we have such an inexpensive wedding? I’ll fill you in. If you aspire to keep you wedding to similar low costs, you’re going to have to follow many, if not all, of the following steps. And you might stir up a bit of controversy along the way. But that’s OK. It’s your day. And they’ll get over it.

cheap wedding

does this look “cheap”?

1. Limit your Wedding Guest List

The first step is the hardest. It’s also the most crucial because the majority of your total expenses are going to be dependent on it.

You need to limit your guest list in order to have a cheap wedding, or at least limit the reception guest list.

How many times have you been invited to a wedding that you probably had no business being invited to? Maybe it was a distant cousin you barely knew or a friend you had grown apart from over the years. We’ve all been there.

Save those people from the shame of turning you down or the pain of being at another wedding they really don’t want to be at.

A smaller guest list cuts down on your food and drink costs and the size of the reception hall you need to rent (which also limits decoration expenses).

2. REALLY Limit your Guest List

If you really want to have a low cost wedding, you’re going to have to take it a step further.

My wife and I kept our guest list to twenty-five.

We invited:

  • our parents (4)
  • all remaining living grandparents (5)
  • our siblings (3)
  • our closest friends and their significant others (13)

That was it. No extended family. It was a difficult decision. Combined, our parents have a whopping 17 siblings. Invite them and their significant others, and we would have instantly doubled the wedding size. Invite their children, and it would have quadrupled. Our costs would have almost quadrupled as well.

Over the years, only a handful of these relatives were still close to us, however, we decided that we should either invite them all or invite none, in order to be fair. We invited none.

This was the hardest part of keeping our costs down. A few of the closer extended family members were upset, but when it was explained that we weren’t picking favorites, it helped. You could pick favorites, but be ready for some drama if you do.

In the end, neither of us regret the choice we made to leave extended family out. It made for a much more enjoyable and intimate wedding in which we were able to deeply connect with everyone vs. being pulled in dozens of different directions at once.

3. Find a Reception Hall that is Flexible

This is key to a cheap wedding, for two big reasons:

  1. Good reception halls will give you price discounts for non-weekend days. We went with a Thursday night and it cut our costs in half versus a Saturday, to just $500. Most of our guests decided to take Friday off and it gave them a nice 3-day weekend, so it worked out great. Saturdays are usually the most expensive to rent out, followed by Sunday, Friday, and then any other weekday. Some locations will even negotiate on price, so it doesn’t hurt to ask once you’ve found the one you want.
  2. Perhaps an even bigger cost saver is to find a hall that allows you to use your own caterer. Many reception halls require you to buy their food and catering or they charge you a fee to let someone else come in and do it. Find one that doesn’t.

Another potential cost saver is to find a reception hall that doesn’t have a reputation as a wedding spot. We were married in an opera house (no joke). It was as nice as any other reception location I’ve seen, with an outdoor terrace, gazebo, and spot along the river. But it wasn’t known as a wedding hotspot. It was cheaper than most of the typical wedding reception locations, who will gouge you to no end.

inexpensive wedding

We decided to have the ceremony on the gazebo and fit all the guests around us. Awesome!

4. Get your Own Wedding Caterer

I hate typical wedding reception food. You get a choice of one or two plates of generic bland food usually pre-made by a mediocre chef at best. And the couple will usually end up paying $40, 50, or 60 a head for that, plus another $10 or so for silverware plates and linen. No thanks!

We went outside the box again on this one in order to keep our wedding cheap.

We were friends with the owner (through being loyal customers) of a Middle Eastern restaurant that we frequented while in school. We asked them if they catered and they did. Not only did this restaurant make great food, but it was astonishingly cheap. For less than $7, you would eat like a king.

We decided on a few different salads, veggies, kibbie, hummus and pita, spinach pie, lentil soup, and a few offerings for more conservative eaters – chicken and rice. Everyone ate well and loved the food. And it cost us only $14 a head (linens, silverware, and plates included)! We paid an additional $50 for them to clean up everything and gave them a nice tip. Not only did we love the food, but we felt great about giving the money to our favorite restaurant.

For 100 guests, you would normally expect to pay $5,000 or more. For 25 guests, at $14 a head, we only paid $350!

It pays to think outside the box. If you go with the reception hall’s catering service, you’re likely going to get gouged. And the food will probably suck.

low cost wedding

The food was great. And super cheap!

5. Plan your Own Wedding

Planning a wedding is a lot of work. It’s also a huge cost saver and incredibly rewarding.

Planning the wedding yourself allows you to find out what all vendor costs are and get comparisons. You control the budget 100% versus relying on the input of someone else. That’s key.

It’s also very rewarding. Every aspect of the wedding – one of the most special days of your life – was decided on by you and your significant other, together. It means more to both of you.

We didn’t even consider a wedding planner, to be honest. I don’t know exactly what they cost, but I know they aren’t cheap.

6. Be your Own Wedding DJ

There are the songs that are typically played at a wedding. And then there are the songs that you wish were played at a wedding. Why not fore-go the DJ and just decide on the playlist yourself?

In this day and age, with mp3’s and playlists (based on the various parts of the wedding), do you really need a DJ? Save yourself the $300-$500+ that they would charge. A human CD flipper is no longer necessary. Any time I request a song, it never gets played anyways, so they don’t provide that value. Get an mp3 player and plug and play.

7. Track Every Wedding Expense & Prioritize What’s Important to you (& will still be in 10 or 20 years)

Perhaps I should have listed this first?

Just like with personal finance, you need to track all of your expenses if you’re not going to break the bank. Here is everything that we spend on our wedding including special notes on how we were able to keep costs down with each:

Reception:

  • Opera House (reception location): $500 (Thursday evening)
  • Décor: $100 (later sold on EBay for $50)

Food/Drink:

  • Catering: $350 (went with our favorite restaurant, which also happened to be super cheap @ $14 a head)
  • Catering Fee (Clean-up): $50 (because we only had 25 people we didn’t have to hire any servers)
  • Drinks: Free (my parents bought beer from a local brewery and wine)
  • Cakes: $80 (who needs a bland, expensive traditional cake? We bought two awesome ice cream cakes from ColdStone)

Clothing:

  • Flowers: $100
  • GE Outfit: $150
  • Wife Outfit: $100 (my wife wore her mother’s wedding dress. It needed to be tailored, but that was super cheap in comparison to buying a new one)
  • Photographer: $600 (we worked with someone I had met previously and were able to negotiate)
  • Videographer: Free (a friend voluntarily did this as our gift)

Entertainment/Services:

  • Master of Ceremony: $300
  • Flute Player: $75
  • DJ/Music: $0 (we made our playlists and hooked it up to the reception hall’s soundsystem)

Other:

  • Invitations: $3
  • Thank-You Cards: $20
  • Postage for Invitations/Thank-You’s: $20
  • Marriage License: $25
  • Best Man/Maid of Honor Gifts: $60 (we asked them to dress casually with clothes they already owned)

Total Expenses: $2,563

Final Thoughts on Planning an Inexpensive Wedding:

As I said the other day, this is your special day. Do what you want, invite who you want, plan it yourself, track all expenses, and don’t be afraid to break stodgy, boring McWedding traditions.

We had an awesome wedding, despite it being super cheap. Great food, drink, entertainment, photos, in a comfortable location. We had a number of people tell us it was the best wedding that they’ve been to. We didn’t sacrifice anything. We had the wedding we wanted. And we had ZERO DEBT to show for it. Hopefully, this inspires you to do the same.

Cheap Wedding Discussion:

  • How much did you spend on your wedding?
  • How were you able to cut costs?
  • Did you sacrifice anything you now regret? Or regret paying as much as you did?

Related Posts:


About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


136 Comments »
  • Kathryn C says:

    Nice! I love cheap weddings. I don’t understand when people drop thousands and thousands of dollars or get themselves in debt in order to have a wedding. It’s not about the wedding, it’s about the fact that you’ve met the person you want to spend your life with; that’s the hot ticket, not the wedding. But what do I know…I’m not even married!

    • Eliza says:

      i total agree with you and is all about finding the right man .

      • Rivka says:

        Yes, it’s about the marriage, not the wedding. The person you love, not the dress you’re in or the decor surounding you.

        • Olivier says:

          This is exactly how I feel! But tell this to my future wife :( . It is sad that a lot of woman feel afraid of how their friends/parents will judge them. For me, it is about being surrounded by friends and family on a beautiful day, and sharing your love for that special someone. My future wife will be as beautiful in a 100$ dress than in a 5000$ one.

    • No need says:

      Please it’s your wedding..Very tacky, the old lady is even standing up, and it so closed in. where do the bridge walk..tacky…Tacky…tacky

      • rkea says:

        the old lady is standing up next to her vacant chair. She probably just wanted a better view which you certainly wouldn’t get in a large church with ridiculously tall men

      • Andressa says:

        I totally agree with you! It is tacky! Very little decor! I appreciate all the advice but I’d rather have a 40 dollar wedding at the court house if I’m going to be this cheap! It’s sad that weddings these days cost so much but I still want the wedding of my dreams!

        • No Tolerance says:

          Wow, that is that “tackiest” comment I’ve ever seen. If you are going to be that materialistic I send prayers to your future husband that has to put up with you. It is about the marriage, getting to spend the rest of your life with the person you love, not the goddamn money. Pathetic. Spoiled rotten children make horrible adults. And to call someone else’s wedding tacky, when they were perfectly happy with it, is rude. Just because they do not view money as the most important thing in the world does not mean their wedding was tacky or ugly. You have a “tacky” and “ugly” personality. Grow up. You do not deserve to get married with that kind of attitude.

          • shelly says:

            sooooooooo agree!~!~!

          • Elly says:

            I totally agree! It is not about the money. It is how you feel about each other and your life goals that matter.
            My fiance and I have been together for 23+ years and have three grown children. Our day is about finally taking the big step. Taking care of ill parents, then losing those parents and every day life with children made getting married a back burner priority.
            We are finally going to do it. We will be married at, of all places, his hunting camp. No dress, no tux. Some of our best friends in the world, a great friend officiating, and everyone having a great time.
            Everyone has a place to sleep for free. Music for free. Making our own food; very cheap. Everyone brings their own beer. A few bottles of the good stuff to pass around the fire. Priceless.
            It is all about love. :)

          • Laney says:

            You guys think that’s tacky … Come to mine it’s going to be cheaper than that…
            I think it’s awesome…
            All I want is to be with the man I love and cherish…
            That’s just material stuff…
            It will be over in 30 minutes… Like it never happen…
            Like you said spoil people makes tacky adults…
            So who is the tacky one now …

        • Colin says:

          You obviously grew up spoiled. Just have mommy and daddy pay for it. oh and never work a day in your life

    • CMW says:

      I’m looking at a second wedding, and we want something small, intimate and not expensive. I’ve gotten some great ideas already, and since we’re not having music, etc, I expect ours will be even less expensive. I’m definitely going to keep track, and see how little we spend, which should be easy, since I’m marrying an economist, who loves great deals!

    • Debbie says:

      Yeah, I’ve never understood why people spend so much on weddings…! My parents had four girls, and they only spent $2000 to $3000 for each wedding. Mine cost around $2500. It was held in the evening, after dinner, so we only served cake, coffee, tea, and wine. No dj or dancing, just beautiful piano music playing on a cd for background music. The most expensive cost for us was the venue….a local Victorian mansion for $500. Inexpensive weddings are not difficult, they can be very lovely events, and focus solely on the couple and their guests without all the hoop-la.

    • Yolanda says:

      Well, mine was even cheaper than all this. I had said yes on the pier with a rose instead of a ring. My wedding was set and called the judge who said to go to his office and hed do it for free.
      Friends helped also: one did a Spanish rice that was only fit for heaven, another from who knows where brought a roasted pig with an apple in his mouth I had jokingly asked for that. Some one who I had been helping with college degree brought all the flowers I could ever imagine. Rose petals in every possible place. made an arch with flowers placed a table in front for us to have a toast and it looked nice. I bought fruit and watermelon basket there was since it was too hot. Salad was bought by family The one that bought the flowers also volunteered to bring his band and play for us for free. The beverages liquor beer ect. was by a friend lawyer of ours.’Since I did not want kids I did it in my 7 room house and had one room disco like for teenagers one room for totlers crayons and water color put paper on walls and had them enjoy it all Had a room for girls so they could enjoy bean bags (filled with sand) and games tele TV for entertainments..

      In all I spent more on the kids than anything else. Everyone had a good time I forgot one thing me Forgot the wedding dress so I wore a sun dress and it was so tight I hardly got in it – was pregnant and di’t know about it. That was a good surprise.

      Cleaning up was easy had trash bags sitting all over with every one helping with not leaving anything out of place. AHHH forgot I bought the cake 85.00 for a amaretto cake that was super good.
      Money spent less than 300.00

    • Gabriella says:

      Totally agree with you as well!! The only thing that matters to me is saying I do to spending the rest of my life with the man that I love. I also love the wife/husband titles :)

  • Laura says:

    Wow! Great advice. How did you get invitations for $3? Evite?

  • SarahB says:

    Almost 6 years ago, my husband and I were able to put on our wedding and reception for between $3,000-$4,000. That figure everything (clothes, invites, rings, flowers, food, photographer, and so on). We did everything we could ourselves and found inexpensive options for everything else except the food, which was half of the entire cost for the wedding/reception. There are lots of ways to cut expenses and have a nice wedding. We had ~ 160 people for our wedding and reception and got lots of complements on our simple yet elegant wedding and reception.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      $3-4k with 160 guests and a reception? I don’t believe it! How did you keep food costs that low?

      • SarahB says:

        We managed to keep food cost reasonable by

        * Only having 1 main course item. We checked ahead of time and found out there were no vegetarian or vegan guests coming, so we went with one meat for everyone. That saved us a lot of money.

        * The reception was at noon. We got married at 11 a.m. so our wedding wouldn’t take up the entire day for our family and friends and so my husband’s grandmother could then travel to the other side of the state for her granddaughter’s high school graduation. Because we chose a midday reception the per plate cost was at least $5-7 lower, even though we could have had the exact same food for an evening reception.

        * We had a buffet instead of serving everyone by plate. We wanted to everyone to be able to have as much food as they wanted and it was several dollars cheaper per plate to do buffet style. There was also a meat carving station where the caterer hand carved the meat, which people really liked.

        * The cake was free, mostly. We had been talking about doing sheet cakes for our reception when my in-laws informed us that they had the cakes lined up for us for free. A lady at their church that has her own cake business offered to make the cakes for our wedding for free. My in-laws offered to pay her, but she declined, so they made a donation to a charity in her honor. The only thing was we still needed a cake to cut at the reception. So we ordered a small, round ice cream cake and had it decorated to look like a wedding cake and cut that. I think the ice cream cake cost $12-$14.

        So between all those little things were able to feed ~160 people a nice meal and cake for right at $2,000.

    • Forex says:

      I ended up having a fairly cheap wedding with my husband, so cheap it was done at CityHall and at a VERY cheap price – guess… $150, which were basically the fees to get married. We ended up spending the rest of the money, thousands and thousands, by splitting it into 4: Small honeymoon, college fund for kids, retirement fund, and investment portfolio. Just an FYI, our original investment size for the wedding was pegged at around $50,000 USD!

      • Eliza says:

        Good i idea to that

        • Lyn Morse says:

          You missed one on your cheap wedding. Wedding gowns cost a bunch. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ONE I ever saw was at the Salvation Army store. Gorgeous lace even with pearls hanging from the sleeves. Its cost was $125 plus it would have needed a dry cleaning by someone who know what they were doing. Even if the gown is too small you can have inserts put in to broaden. It must have been a $3000 or $4000 wedding gown at least. If you have a daughter you may want to start looking for her wedding gown at the charities around the time she’s 16 or 17 and find a really good one then have it dry cleaned and properly stored in a box then box in plastic.

          And I would go my my local grocery store that sells flower and pick out a bunch of flowers and type them with a gorgeous ribbon and carry them up my arm… much cheaper than florist.

          We had ours in church reception hall so very minimal reception cost and was afternoon wedding with just wedding cake and punch.

          My son hosted a wedding on his 3 acres of property were couple set up tent. Reason gal lived in California but wanted her wedding where her college friends were on the East coast. Everyone had a great time.

          Read in online recipe collection where one gal was going to make her own wedding cake. She wanted carrot cake and tried a few different recipes and found the best tasting one.

          And regarding furniture for the newlyweds. I went to Goodwill, saw sofa there, came home. Overnight I realized it would fit perfectly in my living room and it was very very clean and nice. Dashed back to Goodwill think it’d be gone. Result.. got new and good quality sofa for $75.

          Then returned another time and got another sofa for den that needed a little RESOLVE cleaning fluid on it. Then returned and happened on a matching rug for den that looks great and matches den sofa for $12.

          Then there’s that diamond ring from the pawn shop or estate sale. I got a marquise diamond and matching wedding band for $700 that appraised for $2600.

          If you want a wad you have to be a tightwad.

    • Theo says:

      Hello,

      I hear you had a great wedding for about 160pp for not very much money. Where did you get married? I am looking at about 250-300 guests at my wedding but I am no trying to blow the bank. And I cannot cut the list as my fiance and I come from huge families. I will add those are just adults, only about 10 of the guest are children. Do you have any ideas? I want something elegant and chic just for much ,much cheaper.

      • That is tough when you come from a large family. I have the same issues. My cousin recommended the 5 yr rule. If we haven’t interacted within the last 5 yrs we didn’t invite them, even if they are family. I decided to eliminate kids, have balloons for decor instead of flowers,and use a venue that wasn’t a traditional wedding venue. Just using a nontraditional wedding venue saved us thousands alone! As for the cake, we got a 3 tier cake and had the baker make a kitchen cake for the back (that way guest could still experience the exquisite taste of a wedding cake)which fed 45 guests for $70. We got alcohol from the military base and having a bartender come out…asked guests to just leave a tip in a jar for him. We did one meat, a starch (rice goes a long way), a vegetable including a cheese and fruit tray and a salad. Oh and dinner rolls. We got a cousin to DJ and an aunt to coordinate the wedding. The benefit of having a big family is you have many resources. The only reason my relatives aren’t cooking is because we have to use the venues caters…otherwise we’d be way under. Total cost so far for 200 guests $6,000.

    • Angel says:

      How did you do it ?! One place is charging 4500 for catering and ceremony fee and the dj/photo booth is 1195!

  • MoneyIsTheRoot says:

    I love the ideas. Unfortunately I feel like my girlfriend and I are almost pressured into the traditionally more expensive wedding to keep up with what our friends did…its a shame, but it seems to be life!

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Keeping up with the Joneses is what leads to $25k weddings, but you can still keep up and just do it in a smarter way. It’s only a shame if you accept the status quo as your path.

      • Lisa says:

        My wedding was less than $1500 on the upper east side of manhattan. We had it at an intimate restaurant. We had 30 ppl. It was $30 pp for lunch (on a thursday). We had the small place to ourselves. It included wine, a great cake (choc mousse cake w strawberries – not weddingish) and tips. My brother sang a Capella as I walked down the aisle of the restaurant. The rest of the music was just what the restaurant played in the background. I bought a couple of dozen roses from a market and made the bouquets and boutineers from floral wire, tape and ribbons. I got a photographer for a couple hundred and he gave me the negatives. I used my sister’s veil. Bought my dress at a department store. Makeup done at trish mcevoy counter for free. I bought the lipstick. Hair done at a very inexpensive place too. shld mention that this was 17 yrs ago. Everyone had the most relaxing nice time! No stress.

    • tom says:

      My daughter is getting married in 3 weeks and we have spent $768.00
      We have gone and asked the local nursery to loan us potted plants for the decor. I built gazeboso we will have a park scene in the church hall. The menu is teriyaki beef assunti salad rolls and serving cupcakes. The guest list ha

      s 200 confirmed attendees. We even have all the flowers for the bridal party. It takes work but can be done. Good luck.

    • art says:

      Suuuuper jealous of all those people who were able to hold back from keeping up w/ the joneses!!! I wanted my girl to have as close as the wedding she’d always thought of and her friends had just gotten married so keeping up w/ the joneses kicked in at an all time high!! :( i ended up paying for close to 5k just for the photographer alone so you can imagine where it ended up . . . . sigh at least its in the past now! I just wanted to marry this girl no matter the cost! and as a guy young, naive and crazy in love its hard to say no, haha oh well always great to do this kinda stuff when you are young!

  • Ryan says:

    I always thought it was odd to spend so much money on one day. Sure, I realize that it’s symbolic and a special day but just imagine how that same $20k could be a down payment on a house and potentially last a lifetime.

    Great article and great breakdown. Families are another great resource to tap into when it comes to weddings, use them and abuse them!

  • Ryan says:

    We almost have as many people in our wedding party as you did in attendance! It’s going to cost a significant amount, but I like the idea of having all of our family and friends together to celebrate…sometimes there are things more important than money (sinful to say on a finance blog, I know).

    • G.E. Miller says:

      It’s not sinful – but maybe I didn’t stress this point enough – we had the wedding we wanted to have. Every purchase was made with finances in mind, however, we didn’t sacrifice anything we regretted later on. Yes, it was cheap. And, 90% of the people we really cared to have at our wedding were there.

      • SarahB says:

        Having the wedding you want to have is wonderful.

        We would have liked to had something a little smaller and in a different location, but my parents insisted we have a traditional church wedding. In the end we were happy with how it turned out, but the initial planning was little rough.

        I did enjoy being hands on and doing a lot of things for the wedding myself or with a little help from family. I made the invitations, the programs, most of the flower arrangements, and put together the table decorations

      • chrissie says:

        Why not put aside a bit of money every month for the months leading up to the wedding and invite everyone you want to be there? Spending some extra money is worth it if it means not leaving out people you love! A wedding is a rare opportunity to be surrounded by the people you care about, and just about the only occasion that old friends and family are willing to travel across the country and the world for. You only live once, and those memories will last longer than that extra thousand…

        • Katy says:

          I agree that having the ones you love there is most important, but the original poster did stress they had everyone they really cared about there. I have myself been to weddings where I hardly knew the bride and groom, and tbh my £60 meal was wasted on me as I wouldnt have been offended not to be invited.

          Add to that, with a smaller guest list, you actually spend time with each guest rather than running around 160 people. At my cousin’s wedding she didn’t even see me there as there were too many people trying to talk to her. So I may as well have saved her the money :-)

      • Diamond_girl says:

        I just love the fact that you had the wedding you wanted, regardless of what others will think or say and managed to do it within your budget. Many of the girls that I see around me getting married end up telling me before or during their own wedding: “I’m so stressed out I just can’t wait to get over with it.” It is supposed to be my day, so I don’t want to be stressed out but to have fun. I want only people that I really want to be there, and remember the day as a cozy, warm, fun party and not end up with tons of debts afterwards.

        Thanks for detailing the prices for each item of your budget. Truly helps!

  • Ron Ablang says:

    G.E. I love your articles! It’s amazing how you don’t seem to run out of stuff to write, yet always seem to come up w/ interesting ideas for writing.

    Your writing is so good it tends to stimulate comments which further my enjoyment of your articles.

  • Jason says:

    A $2,500 wedding? Wow. I’ll have to show my future fiance this!

  • Patrick Sievert says:

    Well done. My wife and I did our wedding and honeymoon for well under $2000 (I don’t remember the exact price, but the wedding itself was no more than $1000). It helped that she worked at a theatre that let us get married there for free. And we were friends with the master of ceremonies. And we didn’t hire a photographer. And all the bridesmaids and groomsmen wore their own clothing. And then my wife’s dad gave us $2000 for the wedding (after the fact), so we actually came out ahead!

  • Maureen says:

    When my husband and I married, almost 25 years ago, he had $10,000.00 saved and I had nothing in the bank. We both came from poor families and knew we would have to pay for our own wedding. He asked me if I would rather spend the $20,000.00 on a wedding or buy a house. I said BUY A HOUSE! We bought a house about a month before our wedding and my fiance moved in and did some cleaning and repairs. I sewed my wedding dress he wore a good suit he bought for the occasion that he could also wear to work later. A friend of his mother’s made our wedding cake. My mother-in-law did our flowers (silk flowers were popular back then). We were married at my church and we had our reception back at out new house. It worked out well because we had very little furniture so there was plenty of room for people to mingle. I and my mother and sister cooked most of the food for the buffet, but we also asked everyone to bring something. My husband played in a band as a second job at that time so the band played in the basement. Some of our guests jumped in and jammed with the band. Our reception was a blast and the food was delicious. We had to kick everyone out of the house around 4:00 a.m. because we were so exhausted. It may not have been an elegant wedding, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

  • ma says:

    Wow it always amazes me that people spend so much on weddings. I guess being the oldest of a very large (12 kid)family left suddenly motherless family with me at 18. At 25 I introduced my fiance to dad and the next week he handed me $2 thousand and said good luck. We did it for $500! and put the rest towards a house. We did it by calling in all the relatives and friends for help and boy was it a grand 4 day party! Starting at town hall stuffing nearly 85 close relatives and friends in the judges court room where he moved it out to the beautiful three story hall. Along with the family and frineds we had all the local peole milling aroung and up in the stairs and balconies. The court recorder took down everyones names/addresses and a local photographer took pictures and sent them to everyone, including the local paper! One of the volunteer firefighters had driven in an antique pumper for out ride to the old fire house for real ho-down BQ diner with all the fixens including homebrew from the local brewery. Music was by anyone who brought an instrament which was everything and anything including a harp. About 4 am we all collapsed in to tents the guys and set up or in the fire house. Reville was at 11am when the fire alarm went off, and half the party left for the fire call, Returning they all smelled of smoke but not to worry. Since everyone was up lets clean up NOT…lets party some more. We left on day 3 to finally get to our new house and found someone had moved ALL our old house to our new house…Thank you DAD…it was some wedding…22 years later they still talk about it when ever someone brings up weddings. But it was just a start to a family tradition as at my wedding my dad met his now wife (she was in the balconey), they too had a real explodive wedding finishing up being evacuated from their hotel on the islands to a church due to a hurricane. They spent 3 days consoling young newley weds with stories about their huge family and all the things they lived through in their marriages.

    I now have 2 girls getting a bit serious and my Dad says he’ll put up two thousand and my husband nods yup I’ll kick in the other two…yupp…best damm party we need a good rerun.

    • Kristin says:

      Wow, your story gave me chills! What an amazing set of memories, and what amazing people you must be to have so many wonderful people in your life. Your dad sounds like a kick, and so do you and your husband!

  • Jillian says:

    I’ll have to give you a great round of applause! My fiance and I are getting married in the fall of 2012; neither one of us likes warm/hot weather all that much, and with wanting to stay as far away from the cliche spring wedding as possible, we want to have the wedding indoors. We’ve checked out a few “wedding venues” so far and love what we’ve seen. Even though we’re both willing to pay what it costs (within reason), we do agree that these things are going to be really expensive to get what you want the way you want. However, we haven’t settled on a place yet. I don’t know how to search for places in Central/North Jersey without using the words “wedding,” “reception,” or “caterer.” We wouldn’t mind renting a nice, non-traditional homey/rustic venue with a nice interior and exterior if it’s gonna save us a bundle.

    Any suggestions on how to search or what to look for?

    FYI – the place we fell in love with is the Olde Mill Inn Grain House in Basking Ridge, NJ. It’s perfect for intimate weddings (they’ll book 75 on a Friday night; we’d most likely have 80-95), and after customizing stuff to our liking, would get a 5-hour open bar, cocktail hour, buffet style dinner, overnight stay for us, etc etc for $105/pp. A lot, but I’m the type of girl who sees a wedding as one of those once-in-a-lifetime expenses. I know it’s all about the marriage, but if I want my wedding to be a certain way, I’ll do whatever I can to get it that way! I’ll be “D-I-Y-ing” a bunch of stuff, including the stationary, some decorations, even some of the accessories, which I know will save tons. So I am open to suggestion for how to search for non-wedding venues, cuz saving money and still getting what I want will be worth the cuts!

    Thank you!

  • tami says:

    My husband and I eloped. With flowers the total was $35. When we got home everyone thought I was pregnant, so in order to dispel rumors, we had a church “reaffirmation of vows” mainly so my dad could walk me down the aisle.

    I was going to use my mom’s dress, but the seamstress would have charged me $250. I found a dress on clearance for $48.95. The invitations were $125.

    We had a wonderful church wedding and used the lady who does the church flowers to do ours and left the centerpieces there for a reduced fee. I bought four bouquets and 16 corsages and boutonnieres for just under $225.

    I chose flowers for the bridesmaids and myself along with corsages of simple roses and gardenias. They were fragrant and we didn’t need too many of them. The florist used a lot of ribbon to fill out the bouquets.

    Our reception was at a relative’s beautiful home with food that was catered by a local grocery store which also provided punch and cake. A liquor store provided champagne, beer, and cups. They dropped off and picked up. My Grandma’s circle group from church
    helped to set up and organize the platters of food etc.

    My uncle filmed the wedding. We had a photographer who charged a flat fee and then I paid to choose the photos we wanted for albums.

    I was pressured into inviting ALL relatives and friends of my in-laws and my folks. It was stressful not knowing how many would show up. But, it all worked out.

    Afterward, we (young people) went to a nightclub at the hotel we were staying in. We danced all night and had a wonderful time.

    Everyone we know said they enjoyed it. All totaled was $2500.
    I hope that people value the experience. But know that a wedding is for a day, but a marriage is for a lifetime.

  • wifey to be says:

    i dont want to spend more than 3,000 on my wedding and reception together but i want it to be beautiful all these comments gave me some great ideas thanks everyone

  • Jill says:

    You say you invited your siblings, which were 3. What about their significant others or kids? Sorry I don’t know much about you, just found your website, so maybe they are not married and do not have kids. For me, my siblings, plus their SOs, plus their kids comes to 20 people. Plus between the two of us we have 6 parents (including steps). And my guy is in law enforcement, and the relationship he has with his fellow deputies is very brother/family-like, and he insists they are all necessary as they are “a part of the family”. It’s frustrating trying to cut the bare minimum to less than 50!

  • Trisha says:

    I have been with my man for 6 years now, Yes we are thinking about getting married but we have yet seen a reception hall for 500 dollars anywhere here so perhaps you could tell me where I could fine such in the state of California lol.

  • emma d says:

    I’m planning to get marry next year in spring. my budget is 4,000-5,0000 to cover everything&120 people. do you know an affordable place in florida.

  • Darlene says:

    Okay, This is my story, My fiance and I live together and we want to get married in Oct. of 2012. To be perfectly honest we dont even know where to start, Or what is it that we even need to get. The only thing we do know is that we want it to be outside. How do you even plan a wedding I never even been to one. We dont have a lot of money so how do I start my low, LOW cost wedding When we have a big family.

    • Tessa says:

      I’ve been a planner for going on three years now, and my best advice would be to ask around. Family and friends are a great resource to use to call in favors or ask what amazing, affordable experience they’ve had. The internet is a great resource for finding out what you need to have. There is really no basic formula for a wedding. It would be almost impossible to make a list of what specific things you need to spend money on because they are so specific to the individual. There are tons of websites out there that can give an extraordinary amount of advice. Best of luck to you!

  • Debra says:

    All of U have such great ideas & advice,so glad I found this site! I hope I can get some ideas from all of U.My daughter & fiance are planning to get married in 2012 {end of August or in September}.We live in Wayne County,Michigan,trying for an inexpensive venue for wedding&reception.Have some DIY ideas& have already bought some decorations&favors.Guest list will probably be about 100-150.Looking for inside because of Michigan weather.Will be very happy to hear all ideas.Thank -u so much!Will be waiting for reponses.

  • Angela says:

    With a guest list of 25 people, I’m surprise your wedding cost so much. You should have been able to get away with at least everything under $1000. If you are going to pay that much, you might as well have more people there to share in the big day. I still think you over payed for what you got.

  • Shannon Robinson says:

    I have a question. What about having a reception in a school gym and decorate yourself. Also for a wedding what about having it in your yard with a white tent for the ceremony. How does that sound?

  • Lianne @ The Wise Living says:

    Such a practical advice – I love it! I’d love to do this on my wedding, too.

  • SisiL78 says:

    Awesome. WE have had a very tough time limiting our budget (who knew that just the dishes would cost so much!)
    Maybe if more people went your route then the vendors out there wouldn’t be so ready to gouge us all of that money.

  • Liz says:

    Thx GE, love the article! I was recently engaged with a small rubberband and love it! I’m 43 and never married, and the last thing I need is a ring to show another man that I’m taken. I have a voice that I can use to do that! I never understood the big wedding debt syndrome that everyone around me fell into. I have 13 siblings that all married and the weddings were lavish. 4 of the 13 have sinced divorced. Our ideal wedding – a tent in my parent’s horse pasture with a local caterer providing the meal. We’ll hire a local college student that bartends to give him a bit of cash and we can dance to our downloaded music for 10 hrs if we want – not the usual 5 at a wedding venue.

    Keep up the good work saving our personal economies!

  • Lisa Lamb says:

    Very impressive. It is tough to limit a budget and I can’t believe you were able to get the price tag down that low.

    Great job!

  • Tommy says:

    Sweet article. The only thing that seemed a little steep was the cost of the photographer–maybe you could’ve looked for an art student, kind of like how people cut back on musicians by hiring kids?

    P.S. It’s “stationery” for paper and “compliment” for a kind word. “Stationary” is still and “complement” is the part that forms a whole with an original part–like “complementary” angles. Sorry if you find my pedantry rude!

  • Ari' says:

    All great ideas! I’m not married myself, but I have planned two weddings (one for my sister this March, and one for my friend the year before that) and each one cost around $500-$800 (minus the dress for my friend, I’m not sure how much she spent on that, my sister spent $50 on hers on ebay and it fit like a dream!). I used the same venue both times (the church they attend), and the same room was first used for the ceremony, then for the dinner, and finally as a dance floor, with the assistance of men at the church moving chairs and tables for us. They both used their pastor who I don’t think charged them to officiate. Total guests probably numbered 40 for my friend and 60 for my sister; close family friends, church friends, and immediate family/grandparents only.
    I made all the flowers arrangements/table centerpieces, paying at most $50-$60 for all the supplies. Bridal party members wore their own clothes just sticking to the color the bride chose (in my sister’s wedding the only bridal party were myself, my brother-in-law’s best friend, and my brother who walked her down the aisle. Both weddings were potluck, and for my sister’s wedding I got a cake from Jewel that they decorated in two layers and made to look very wedding-ish for $35. We could have put a wedding topper on it to make it look even more traditional, but my sister preferred to have their names and the date written on the top.
    I did both bride’s make-up and hair, and my friend’s was only a little more expensive because she had really short hair and so went to sally’s to get comb-in extensions. I had never done them before but played with it till it looked good and it ended up looking great! We just had to give ourselves enough time to play with it.
    Personally I believe the photographer is the most important expense of the wedding because the pictures are the part of the wedding that will last the longest (with the exception of the marriage!) Neither one could afford a professional, even after my haggling, but each time I found a friend interested in photography /film, who came and did it for $100-$200. Both did an excellent job and I just had a list of important group photos written down ahead of time so we didn’t miss anything. For my own, eventual wedding i will probably spend the most on the photographer because for me that is what is most important.
    For music down the aisle/during the ceremony I made cds of the bride’s selections, and used the Pride and Prejudice sound track for nice dinner music. My brother brought his computer for dancing/party music afterwards.
    My sister’s wedding invites were word of mouth, I made my friend’s at meijer, they looked very elegant with a pic of the two of them on the front and I used them as postcards to save on postage.
    Final expense at my friend’s wedding was a framed picture of them with a very wide matte that I got to have guests sign instead of a guest book. Probably $30 and they see it every day in their living room.

  • Lainey says:

    I think ultimately it’s the number of people you invite that makes the difference. And the venue. My family is huge, and tight knit, and latin. The wedding was always going to have 200 people. That was the bottom line, therefore even though we got catering at $9 a head (awesome food), we still had a $20k wedding. oh well. It was absolutely phenomenal!

  • camille says:

    G.E. MILLER, may I ask what is the name of the venue you used? It is so beautiful and exactly what I been looking for (an indoor/outdoor location).

  • Armonda Charon says:

    my fiance proposed 2 weeks ago…we have 4 children betwee us i ad 2 he had 1 and we have 1 together..we own our home and are pretty stable..the ffact still remains that we have 4 children though so Wedding talk is difficult… i’m the o it yourself kinda gal…and always on a bugdet this blog gave me tons of helpful ideas…cant wait to get started…

  • angela t says:

    wow great article! I just got married August 19th this year. Luckily I had some great people to help me out. But I probably spent about $2000 on my wedding and that includes, dress, alterations and everything. It was very basic, rented 2 cabins by the lake and had everything right there. no need for decorations because of the wonderful landscape. I shouldn’t have even wasted money on food. it hardly got eaten. I would have been better off just having cake. but all in all I had probably around 20-24 ppl show up. (some left after the ceremony to go home with my dad who is sick) one MOH and best man. my Aunt was great and took some nice pictures for us

    the food i bought myself and set out as a buffet. cake i made myself which that hardly got eaten either. but in my opinion a lot of that traditional stuff is over-rated. i enjoyed my wedding and also being able to stay there the whole night made the costs worthwhile.

    now my friend wants to get married even though i dont think its a good idea. i think she was caught up in the moment. but now she is planning a wedding and i think beginning to realize how expensive it really is to do all this.

    if i could do things over, i would have rented a beach house on the east coast and got married next to the ocean with just a few ppl there. but my dad wouldnt have been able to travel for that so everything worked out ok.

    anyway, my point is, dont let ppl make you think that you have to compete or spends 10’s of thousands of dollars on a wedding. as long as its with the ppl you love and in a nice place its all good. no one really cares about all the little stuff. :)

  • Heather says:

    That is not cheap try about $600.

  • Antonio says:

    i ready want to have a cheap weedding because that will help me out lots save and budget money i want to set it on sepetmer 3rd i ready read to have this weedding became i am so much in love i trying to have people help me with this stuff so i know what to get the right things and hire people to make singht and sing from my girl friend house and i make some things to get the money help were take out to eat some were special i ready want to get merry i read and my girl friend is read i just need people help me out with this pleause i read do and good at cooking fine a good dj who play old school muic my foavorite muisc is zack and rouger that i wand to be your man I aso think thaink that some should sing computer love song at my girl friend house i really need that to her hold sing up that is good things i want to get merry so bad i really do.

  • Ricquita says:

    Hey there! I really enjoyed visiting you site. I created a site on the same topic and was really inspired by your personal story. Your tips were wonderful! Kudos!

  • Teresa says:

    Whooo!! Thats freakin awesome! But a tight guest list, ugh not gonna happen :/
    My family and friends would start some drama with that!

  • Loni says:

    I am so grateful for this advice. me and my fiance want to have a cheap wedding but we werent sure where to start and what exactly the best way to go about it was.. i mean i had a lot of ideas and stuff but just was sort of freaking out because i do that hahah. but yes very helpful!! thank you so much!

  • sonja says:

    Fantastic site. Love the tips. Best advice to make it your own. My inlaws were Catholic and my fam Methodist. We ended up with a Catholic wedding to appease them and my husband ended up converting to Methodist 5 yrs into our marriage. My folks generously paid for our wedding. Having the traditional Catholic Wedding added to the cost a lot by lengthening our reception. If I had to do over I’d redo almost everything from reduce our attendants to one person each to cutting the guest list in half. My dream wedding was always a shorter morning wedding followed by a champaign toast brunch. That would have saved so much. My dad generously offered to give us 10k and if we came in under we could keepthe rest…if I’d had this article (and mindset) then!! We spent 2x that and we had a wonderful day–but certainly no better time than anyone else who has written their story here. The amount you spend doesn’t make your day or the memories any more special. It is about the love you celebrate and the people with whom you share it!

  • Jaelle says:

    I am all for simple elegance and DIY. Unfortunately, since my parents are helping fund my wedding they are going overboard and feel entitled to invite every person who’s ever known me! On top of that, I have somebody who’s helping coordinate the wedding (free of charge) who is super traditional and extremely pushy. I so wish I could have a low key simple and elegant event. I’m going to try really hard to let my voice be heard.

  • PG says:

    Any thoughts for the San Francisco Bay Area. We have a budget of 5K, and we’re struggling. We don’t care about flowers, decor…we’re doing our own invites….but it’s venue rental and food and booze which is killing us!

    • Allison says:

      I am planning a wedding with a similar budget. I would recommend looking at uncommon venues, per G’s instructions. Have your ceremony in a public park, all you pay is the permit fee. Then, if your guest list is small enough, look into having your reception at restaurant, there are less hidden fees, for example there will be no charge for place settings. The restaurant that I am looking at has a minimum of 2500, but no rental or added fees. Hope this helps :)

    • Mira says:

      My brother got married on Stinson Beach, then had dinner at a nearby restaurant. I’d look at county and state parks – some also have indoor reception type facilities.

  • nrgilpin says:

    what is the avg cost of the minister/officiant?

  • Kelly says:

    My fiancé and I are getting married in March 2013. We have decided that as it is second marriage, we don’t need the whole “big white wedding” bit. To keep costs down (and so as we can spend the rest of our wedding day together enjoying each other’s company) we have decided to get married during the week and the ceremony is at 9am so we can have a morning tea reception. We are only inviting immediate family (about 40 in all) and are getting married at a local vintage homestead in the front garden. Once the ceremony is finished we are having a wedding picnic under the huge oak trees in the garden. I have bought wicker baskets and blankets which will be shared amongst 4 people. There is a local biscuit factory who is catering for our morning tea. (at the cost of $380 for 40 people). They are making sandwiches, wraps, slices and biscuits which they will then pack into the individual baskets which will be set out on the blankets under the trees. We are having someone to play and sing quiet and relaxing background music. Everyone I have spoken to has absolutely loved this idea as it is so simple yet so beautiful and quaint. I can’t wait till March. It’s going to be absolutely perfect.

  • Lavaria says:

    I totally agree with doing your own wedding and keeping it simple and low. I am a wedding planner/coordinator and my first conversation with all couples is for them to do their own leg work. I even provide them with a list of venues for their area to contact and give them the things to look out for. If they still want a wedding planner, I suggest they only use a wedding planner for the rehearsal and day of service. They should never pay more than $500 for a wedding planner to assist them. People must remember that the wedding is only one day; you have to live after that.

  • Jessica Ritchie says:

    I am amazed at all the idea you guys had for your wedding and it sounds like it was perfect! My fiance and I are hoping to get married April 2014 and have a very small budget. I’m looking to have the wedding outdoors, maybe in a garden, in northern virginia.

  • brigette says:

    Where is that place at? I love the scene! And how did you find a place that wasn’t known for weddings ? I don’t know what to begin to type/ look for. Everytime you search for a place everything you say to stay away from pops up haha!

  • brigette says:

    I hope this place is in northern cali!

  • Sarah says:

    We got married in 2009 for under $5K for about 80 people including a really good chargrilled sirloin, walleye and chicken buffet with lots of sides, a nice cake, and open bar. We did it by using a place that was not in the metro area, was new to having weddings (and thus reasonable), and by choosing a place that let us bring our own vendors and liquor. We had no wedding party which saved a lot of money for us and for our friends.

    My advice is that your guests’ comfort/enjoyment is paramount – after all they are your guests, not audience members to your show. Don’t serve them hot dogs and drop 5K on your photographer. But allocate what you can to what is important to you, the things you know you’ll regret if you go cheap. We wanted an open bar and we wanted good photos and were willing to put money there and save on other parts by a lot of DIY.

    It absolutely can be done, it can be fun, and it can be classy. When I think about weddings I have attended, I don’t remember the centerpieces – I remember if the ceremony was heartfelt, if the food was good and the guests having fun.

  • eloisa says:

    Do you have any suggestions for a cheap catholic wedding?

  • Julian says:

    Dude. I am printing this and saving this forever. You are a legend.

  • Molly says:

    Life doesn’t always turn out as planned.

    I was living with a man for about 13 years when we finally decided to tie the knot.

    Our weeding for approximately 80 people including kids was roughly $2750, it would have been $2500 but we had a dress snafu.

    We rented a party lodge and had a cash bar and catering done by the lodge. If you do the catering the room is free. We had bbq and sides that went with that like Potato Salad and stuff. Being that the place is primarily alcohol focused they allow outside food so we were able to bring food to supplement the appetizer trays they had. They had cheese and crackers and olives pretty much but we brought veggies and dip and nuts and candy to go with it.

    They allowed no outside drinks but my family isn’t much for drinking alcohol other than a glass of wine here or there so we did lemonade, iced tea, and water… it was cheaper than pop. We did a cash bar for the few guests that might want alcohol.

    We had a dj and limo. The limo took us from Church to the reception.

    My dress including everything I needed for it was $500 but two weeks before the wedding – the dress place didn’t get the dress in time so I had to go on a scavange hunt and as a plus size bride – a bit more difficult with two weeks, really one week plus alternation time to go which is why I ended up with a more expensive dress at $750.

    We had a flutist, soloist, and pianist at the Church and a dj at the reception.

    We did our own decorations including flowers at the reception and the place provided the linens and china. We had flowers for myself, the birdesmain, jr bridesmaid and flowergirl as well as flowers for the men and for the mothers/grandmothers.

    We also just got a couple of flower arrangements that we could bring from the Church to the reception and some potted mums that were reused at home (it was a fall wedding).

    Like I said – life doesn’t go as planned. After 15 years collectively together about a year and a half of that we were married, my husband at the time left me while I was 8 months pregnant.

    Needless to say I have a new wonderful man in my future and 2nd weddings are definitely something else and something more special in my case. We are getting married in about 2 weeks and we are spending maybe $100.

    We have 18 adults and 7 kids coming… all family. We are getting married by a Pastor friend at my parents house in their living room in front of the fireplace. We aren’t asking for gifts but we are asking for a covered dish (having a pot luck).

    We are going with blue jeans and barefeet. No wedding party. Will have music provided by ourselves via cd player/mp3 player/whatever.

    Our only costs are our wedding licenses ($50) and our cupcakes ($50). We will be able to use the rest of our money $500 on a honeymoon. B&B or lodge for two nights.

  • cheapisme says:

    You had me interested until you said your wife tailored her mothers wedding dress and wore it. My parents boned in that dress and my sister was a result of it. So i pass on that idea. I want my own dress. Other that that love your wedding ideas.

  • Jenny says:

    I’ve book marked this page for future reference. Not only was your article fantastic, but the comments (and how everyone did their weddings) are too! Thank you!

  • Melissa says:

    I have been looking for places on a budget in New York. I live in the Bronx and it has been hard. We do not want to spend a lot of money ins wedding but want to have a really nice one. I am very crafty and I can create beautiful decorations, it’s mainly finding a place for the reception.

  • lnb says:

    Thanks for the fantastic advice. Our daughter is getting married in a few months. Budgets on all sides are tight. You have given us plenty of great ideas. Thanks.

  • Danielle says:

    My partner and I are planning our wedding for next year. We have about 130 guests that will be attending. Im really trying to stick to a budge of under 3k. Our beautiful back yard will be the venue. We will have to rent a tent and a dance floor. I am atempted to cater it myself. I have some great friends that will help me. I think I will have just heavy appetizers not a full meal. Any suggestions for me?

    • Amanda says:

      Appetizers/h’dourves sound like a great way to keep cost down…or at least that is what we thought. There is more prep time and labor in creating each little h’dourves. It’s cheaper to serve and less laborious to prepare, pasta and a Greek salad.
      We’re getting married in September and doing as much ourselves as feasible. In the end it’s your wedding day and you don’t want to spend it working.

  • Christina says:

    Thank you for the helpful info. I want a small,classy, intimate,inexpensive wedding.

  • Lindsay says:

    I just came across this. I really appreciate the section on guest list. I feel obligated to invite massive amounts of extended family and I would rather have a few friends! I like how you handled the situation.

    Also, When I started reading about an opera house with a gazebo on a river, an ice cream cake from Coldstone, and middle eastern catering… Was this by any chance in Grand Ledge, MI?

  • Ruth says:

    We got married March 2, 2013 and these are our costs.
    Total: $2388.59 guests 80 open bar and large cakes.
    This was a DIY wedding. We did as much as we could.

    The break down is as follows:
    Services: 583.24
    includes officiant, dj, bartender, roomrental (I got my office where I work for $200 and used the large open rooms), linens, and marriage license.
    Pictures: $219.69
    includes cameras on tables, developing to cds, prints, formal pics, bridal portait, and albums. DIY and good coupon at sears.
    Food/Beverages: $1127.04
    includes buffett, catoring setup & cleanup, soda, open bar with 4 cases of wine 2 cases of beer and 5 bottles of hard liquor, water, tea, and lemonade
    Wedding Attire: 62.05
    Includes wedding dress, Groom’s suit, shoes (allfrom thrift shop)
    and wedding bands (Silver)
    Cakes: 159.99
    DIY -8 Layer Bride’s cake, 5 layer grooms cake, 1 vegan sugar free gluten free cake. We made these ourselves!
    items: 167.29
    includes cutlry, napkins, decorations, flowers, vases, chocolate molds and sticks, chocolate and heart puzzle. We made white chocolate roses for the centerpieces and decorations.
    invites: $69.29
    includes stamps, stationary, ink for printer

  • footsieb says:

    Our daughter is planning a very,very small wedding. We have a small family and only a handful of friends will be invited. Total about 25.

    She wants a luncheon after at a small restraunt nearby. The problem is that her father is diabetic, the groom has several allergies, some of which directly clash with the diabetis, two have severe allergies to shell fish, one to blue cheese, one very sensitive to more than a few bites of raw vegies (lettuce, etc) and a few other lesser problems (thankfully no vegetarians as we would completely rin out of menu items except water.

    Her father will get a paper thin piece of cake, but how to go about the rest of the menu has us completely stumped.

  • Drake says:

    My wife and I had a lot of the same turn offs about the McWedding industry, price gouging, and cliche traditions. There’s a lot better things to spend 20 grand on.

    We live in a moderate sized semi-major east coast city in a trendy and hip neighborhood. Since we’re not religious we were happy to simply go to city hall for the ceremony with our parents, siblings, and 2 best friends.

    For the ‘reception’ we rented out the top floor of an upscale local pub a few blocks from our house from 4 to 8:30. It had vaulted ceilings, small bathrooms, small bar w/ a sitting area, and an open seating area. Think restaurant vice banquet hall setting (which it was definitely not). We had a nice selection of appetizers, main course, and open bar that was tallied up at the end of the night.

    Desert-wise we had a small (not tiered) cake- we actually really wanted to forgo the typically lame wedding cake in its entirety but for various reasons ended up getting a small cake from a local cakestore. The main focus of the desserts was an assortment of large pies from a local pie store (apple, blueberry, and a cookie and cream based pie that was a huge hit.

    About 30 people were invited, parents, siblings (3 sisters with only one sister brining a significant other), her parents’ 5 siblings + SO’s, and my parents’ 4 siblings. To keep it small and for logistical reasons, no cousins (it was college season anyway). Basically it was close family and relatives we were close to.

    An inexpensive but pretty wedding dress, no wedding party and a simple black suit for myself (which I already owned).

    We had no interest in a DJ or music and dancing- none of that dance with her father/his mother crap and played out wedding songs (Electric Slide, YMCA, We Are Family -crap).

    I think the grand total was still probably at or under $6000 if that, including a limo to and from city hall. The ceremony at city hall was in a neat little ceremony room and the official who did it was great and did a wonderful job of making it feel special but with the generic to the point wedding vows. (We really wanted to avoid some minister rambling on about what love is).

    After the ceremony we took pictures at a pagoda in the neighborhood park, and it was during Cherry blossom season. (We decided it was pointless to have a photographer with the quality and abundance of digital cameras.) Before all heading back to the house for a bit before the ceremony. An added bonus was on the way to the reception we stopped by my neighborhood bar for a drink with our best friends and sisters.

    It was a great experience and we wouldn’t change a thing. One of the highlights was that almost everything supported a local business in our neighborhood.

    We splurged and spent the weekend at an upscale all green/eco-friendly European style Inn in our neighborhood, which isn’t included in the wedding tab.

  • Liz says:

    I’m looking for a Massachusetts, (Boston area?) venue for a fun dance party wedding for about 80 people or so. My fiancee and I are getting married in 2014, and all we want is a great dance floor; no big dinners or fancy stuff. It’s been so hard to find a place for just that, no catering, just appetizers and dancing.
    Any suggestions on venues, or even search terms to google…thanks so much!

  • Tiffany says:

    Wow all these stories ….. been with my man for 13 years have 2 beautiful boys out of it guess really never concidered marriage till now so yes the big day is in September and havent even started need help live in chicago but looking for something very cheap any suggestions ?

  • Angel says:

    My fiance and I looked at all the venues and options. We just decided to elope! Our wedding would have.cost us about $8-10K. We both have medium size families but are not very close. So we decided to elope and do something special for us. We found a lot of bed and breakfasts that do everything for you! We a great one in Williamsburg VA called a Williamsburg white house. This way our say and honeymoon will.be about us and not stressful. Its an option to think about !

  • fayedelasflores says:

    I was married in 2001, and my main wish was for it to be fun! And it was! We also paid for the whole affair ourselves.

    At the time, I was still working in the restaurant business, and somehow talked two local liquor reps into donating enough hooch that we had leftovers (from an invite list of 200 people – probably 100 showed up!)I paid a friend/colleague $100 to tend bar and he also hit play on the CD when the band took a break. Cost $100.

    The venue was for weddings, but it was already decorated with antiques and white xmas lights and nice fake flowers in the vases and whatnot. I recall it being $800.

    We’re both music nerds, so we spent a few evenings making two CD compilations of love songs which included favorite songs from artists like Nat King Cole, Bo Diddley, Louis Prima, The Ronettes, etc. You know, 50s and 60s stuff. Cost $0.

    My dress was a flowy silk floral Calvin Klein bought off season at Macys. He wore his one suit he owned. Cost $60.

    Wedding cakes (one traditional Danish layer cake, one grooms cake) Made by my grandmother. Cost $0.

    Mom and Aunt put together hors d’oeuvres. Mostly fruit, good cheese, crackers, meatballs, little sweets, etc. Cost $0.

    Wedding invites done by local printer. I did layout and bought cute printer paper with a pastel floral theme. Cost $Cheap + stamps.

    Band – very important to us. $1000.

    Southern Baptist Minister (neither of us are Baptist, but he was so darn cute) $100.

    Rings: His white gold $100 or so. Mine (an extra from grandmother’s stash served as my “engagement” ring and my vintage band we purchased for about $150)

    So what’s that? A little over $2000? Cheap! Alas, we’re no longer married, but still good friends – and that’s probably because we don’t have to continue to fight over a monster lingering debt from our wedding ;)

  • fayedelasflores says:

    Oh yeah! And we had about 20 disposable cameras laying around. GREAT pictures! As a gift, a photog friend did provide us with a contact sheet and one really nice 8 x 10.

  • Ann says:

    These all sound like lovely ideas. I’m getting married in a beautiful venue, but I am leaning more and more toward having a backyard southern hoedown afterwards in lieu of a reception.

    I’m low maintenance and I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars for what may or may not be great food, etc.

    I’m leaning toward the idea of opening the house up to family and friends, renting some tables, and putting out a buffet.

    I’ve even towed with the idea of working out a deal with a couple of local food trucks because I’m a foodie and it think it could be fun and unique.

    And, of course, there will be some tongues wagging (tacky, cheap, etc.) but my motto:

    Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.

    All the best to the soon to be weds! Keep the focus on what matters.

  • LNB says:

    Last month our daughter married a wonderful man. They are a very laid back couple with simple tastes. We told them that we could contribute $1500, but anything else would be up to them as we are retired with limited income.

    The wedding was in a small church a few blocks from their home, with their next door neighbor, an ordained minister, officiating. She wore a simple, flowered long cocktail dress (a bit too long as she is only 5’3″). Her sole attendent wore a similar type of dress out of her own closet. Flowers were from her place of employment (a major supermarket chain’s flower dept.). The Groom wore black pants and a white, lightly stripped, long sleeved casual shirt – no tie. Both mothers wore casual cocktail dresses and the father of the bride wore black pants and a white short sleeved casual shirt.

    As the pastor is also a musician, he played the wedding march and sang one of their favorite songs. There were about 35 people, counting the bridal party. The reception was at a steak and brew brewery. Everything extremely casual, but total wedding (my best friend and her grown kids drew the “just married”, etc. on the car.)

    The next day, the bride handed me $60 that they hadn’t used!!! I told her to keep it for the honeymoon which will be in February (job constraints). It was simple wedding but just as wonderful as many of the $20K on up weddings I have been to and much, much more relaxed. It’s been over a month and we all are still smiling!!!

  • tariq says:

    Here in palestine, number of guests (avg) is not less than 500 person
    Why?
    In our tradition every person should give money for groom !!
    So wedding become a business !!

  • shelby says:

    My wedding was just over 1500. Over 100 guests. Feed everyone. There was even a kegs. Dessert bar as well. Im surprised a wedding that small cost that much. Glad though you both support enjoyed it! No dj just music playing anda friend helped announce first dance bouquet toys and other things. Even had a photo vooth set up witj silly props and disposable cameras between the ceremony and reception while they waited. The only thing not included was the cosy of rings because those are payments over a few years. Also i recycled a lot of things. For centerpieces i spray painted tin cans, put tiny holes in them, covered them in lace and put flameless candles in them.gorgeous lantern s and fit the erotic them very well.

  • sarah says:

    Is this in Washington?

  • katie says:

    I think this is wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

  • GiGi says:

    Wonderful ideas and congratulations to all the newly engaged, newly married and happily married couples!
    My daughter and her fiance are on an extremely tight budget. I know my daughter would love to get married at the Motor City Casino in Detroit, MI. They don’t gamble but a friend gave them a free room she had earned &my daughter fell in love with the elegance of the ballroom. I wish I could afford to have her reception there but am dealing with a great deal of medical expenses. In fact, I don’t know if I can financially help much at all. The venue isn’t the most important element to her…getting married is. But, hearing your daughter talk about that if money wasn’t an issue, the casino ballroom is where she would love to have her wedding, you don’ get that out of your head!
    We’re from Livingston, County, MI and would truly be grateful to anyone who could give ideas for a lovely, low cost venue, etc. so I could try to help my daughter have a budget “wedding of her dreams.” Thank you!!

  • dan & melissa says:

    WOW!! So many great ideas! (Obviously with the exception of that one materialistic girl). My girlfriend & I have just started discussing our future plans. We are not engaged yet but will be soon. She’s in her 30’s & I’m in my 40’s. We’re not looking for anything fancy. We both agree that as long as we, as well as our families & close friends have fun, that is all that matters. Who cares what a centerpiece costs or how fancy the venue is? As long as we can celebrate our special day with loved ones then nothing else should matter. We are planning a 2014 wedding so that we can have plenty of time to plan & save. Reading all these great ideas, I’m sure we will have plenty of money left over to start our lives together. We are also very fortunate that my niece(by marriage) will be helping us in planning as she recently married my nephew & they had a wonderful, cost effective wedding. Plus she has also offered her wedding planning magazines as well. Thank you all for sharing such wonderful ideas & we look forward to sharing ours after our nuptials.

  • Jones85 says:

    My mother is ill so we have decided to push our wedding date sooner and have something small and private so that she doesn’t feel self conscious and so that she can feel comfortable. I absolutely loved your article. Gave me some great ideas. I am trying to keep my guest list at 50. Not an easy task but I’m motivated to do so. Thanks for the article

  • Angela Foster says:

    Well.. cheap weddings are for those who don’t have mommy and daddy paying for their wedding, OR who have parents who don’t have the money FOR a nice wedding. My wedding won’t look tacky, but these ideas really help. If my guest don’t like it, then they don’t have to come or stay. I could care less.. its MY day & I’m marrying my best friend; not everybody and their mom.

    So, let’s be realistic ladies.. who REALLY has the money for a nice wedding?

  • Elaine says:

    Hi my fiance and I are actually having our wedding this coming fall, possibly October/November. It will not be a really big wedding possibly only a total of 30-40 people. Any tips on hors’ d’oeuvres? Since it’s going to be an outside reception we both figured it would be best to just get some small finger foods. I was thinking maybe fruits, veggies, and kabobs? I’m wanting simple and vintage, we’ll be using my grandmothers doily’s and an old arch she had in her garden. This is the first time I’ll have ever even been at a wedding, except for when I was 6, but I hardly remember anything. I am very lost right now on what all I need to do to keep this simple, classy, and cheap. All tips are much appreciated and thank you for your time. (Also, I am very much into arts and crafts, if I have to make anything it may/may not be too much trouble depending what as long as it will be cost efficient in the long run.)

    • LadyC says:

      You could have an afternoon tea reception with finger sandwiches and scones! Buy clotted cream and lemon curd from the grocery store (they usually come in very cute vintage looking jars), buy some scones from a local bakery (coffee shops often do scones if your bakery doesn’t). Whole Foods has them too. You could also have a cheese and fruit platter. Just buy a bunch of good cheese from the grocery store, artfully place it on one of your grandma’s platters, and fill in the gaps with grapes, which will be in season in the Fall. Have a basket of crackers too. People can slice their own cheese with a pretty little cheese knife. I think a homemade cake would be very cute for a vintage theme. On a vintage cake plate with a cute topper, forget about it! Adorable and classy! We bought pearlescent latex helium balloons from Party City in our wedding colors and had them around the reception instead of flowers. Even if you have flowers, you can reduce your cost by filling in with balloons. Have fun planning your special day!!!

  • LadyC says:

    Our wedding cost $2500 and was very elegant! We got married at night on a pedestrian bridge in front of an art museum and had the reception at an upscale coffee shop. 50 guests. We had a dessert reception with lots of wine (from Trader Joe’s) and beer (that my husband made) and of course coffee. Our wedding cake was a croquembouche! Since the coffee shop already had art and cute decorations, we just brought in some balloons to add to the festive feel. Our friends are artists and musicians, so we got ceremony music (upright bass and violin) and photographs for free. My husband and I made a mix on my laptop for the reception. After, most people came back to the hotel bar and hung out. It was fun wearing my wedding dress ( a simple silk sheath) in public. My bouquet was a bunch of white baby tulips wrapped in ribbon. I did my own make-up and my sister did my hair. My husband wore some nice slacks from J Crew, a matching vest, and a new pair of dress shoes. The next day we had our out of town guests and musicians and photographer (about 10 people) over our apartment for a homemade brunch with mimosas!

  • This is a great post. Many people spend so much money on their weddings, and it often becomes a competition of who can having nicest party; yet, they forget that it is a single night and they are spending a fortune on it.

  • Jason says:

    My favorite idea ties into the flexible reception hall: I provided a fully stocked and open bar to about 200 guests (maybe 100 who drank) for the grand sum of $600. First, the reception hall (a church gym) had no ties to any caterer, so we were free to choose our own. Second, I found a good affordable liquor store that accepts returns on unopened bottles. They set me up with everything on my list, so all I needed to do was transport it. Our caterer provided a bartender. After paying $1,000 up front, I returned about $400 worth of unopened bottles after our honeymoon. Of course, the opened bottles kept our home bar going for nearly a year.

  • Tish says:

    My fiancé and I are planning on getting married in about a yr. second marriage for us both. Found an all inclusive package for 1800. ( for 20 guests, all we bring is a license, and our attire) feeling pretty good about it. Now if I can only convince him Saturday is not the only day to get married!!

  • Angel says:

    I absolutely love the location, but I didn’t notice a location listed for it. I was wondering if you could please let me know where that the ceremony had actually taking place. Thank you in advance, Angel

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