A Few "Weddings on a Budget" Tips!

I wanted to post some tips I had for doing a wedding on a budget. I’ve been meaning to do this post for SO long, but I finally have gotten around to it!

I just read that the average wedding now is around $30,000! Call me crazy, but I cannot fathom spending that much on a WEDDING! Yes, it is an important and special day, but there is no reason to have to spend that much, unless of course you have a huge pile of money just lying around. If you’re Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes, ok. Fine. Spend however many millions you’d like, but for me, no thank you!

My “expertise” for this comes from Luke & my own wedding. I think our grand total (correct me if I’m wrong, mom & dad!) was somewhere around $3,000. That’s a difference from the “average” wedding of $27,000!

So here are my tips for doing a wedding on a budget. It doesn’t have to be cheap-looking, though. I think our wedding was very classy and elegant – maybe just my opinion but you can see for yourself!

Buy your dress on sale, or make it yourself.
I went to three different local wedding shops, found a few I liked, all from the sale rack. Even David’s Bridal (probably the biggest chain of bridal stores) has $99 sale wedding gowns. These aren’t yucky ugly gowns by any means! I paid a grand total of $99 for my gown and I have to say, it was my dream dress! The tailoring did cost a bit more, since the gown was a bit too big and WAY too long, but had it not been beaded at the bottom I think I would have even tackled that myself. (And btw, my sister made the bridesmaids dresses. I think they were around $20 for BOTH dresses!)

Scout around for inexpensive wedding locations.
We had our hearts set on a cute little country church. And guess what? Renting the church only cost us $125! We held the reception at another local church, I think we paid around $200 for that hall. Look around. Use your connections! Chances are you’ll find something inexpensive! Do you or your parents have a pretty backyard? That’s FREE. Try state parks, churches that don’t hold services anymore.

Simple, but elegant.
We went for really simple decorations, sticking with peach roses, greenery cut from my grandmother’s bushes that needed to be trimmed anyway, candles and ribbon. I went to our local grocery store for the roses, had them special ordered and got a discount because I ordered in bulk. I made the bouquets myself, my mom made the gentlemen’s corsages. The greenery was all FREE, the ribbon was around $10 total on clearance (and I still have a TON left over), the roses cost around $70 for 12 dozen.

Bake it yourself!
I made all my cakes. And guess what? They were box mixes. Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone! I spent the few weeks before my wedding buying box cake mixes and frosting on sale. I spent $20 total on all the cake and frosting. I baked all the cakes in 9-inch round pans. Each cake got three layers, and I baked them all weeks before the wedding, froze them in Ziplock bags and thawed them two days before. I was able to mix up the flavors and colors the way I wanted and ALL the guests were happy with the flavors! They got to choose! I had everything from carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, to chocolate cake with chocolate frosting! I kept the colors of the cakes in my theme, chocolate brown, cream and peach. They weren’t perfect, but it made for a pretty table spread and they tasted really good! I used lots of cake stands my great-grandmother found for me at yard sales to perch them on and boxes underneath the table clothes to make them different heights. You can frost them the day before the wedding – the frosting will seal up the cakes so they won’t get stale.

Cheap (almost free) music
I bet you have an iPod. Make a special playlist with music that means something to you and your spouse-to-be or that’s just plain romantic and set it to shuffle hooked up to some speakers or a dock. My friend had a Bose iPod dock she let me borrow for the reception.

Fun, easy, reception food.
We started out with a coffee-bar theme, but ended up doing a full meal. But we had a fun plan – potluck! We got a few friends to make trays of appetizers to bring, and we provided a few main-course things that were simple (like meatballs). If you ask them to bring it on trays that are all the same color (just provide your own trays if you’re really keeping on top of colors and styles) to make everything unified. Super simple, super cheap!

Pick one thing to “splurge” on.
Finally, pick just one thing that you just HAVE to have at your wedding to splurge on. For us, it was the photography. Luke’s family couldn’t be at our wedding and we wanted some great pictures to be able to show them. I had a family friend that hadn’t shot a wedding before but I already knew she was a great photographer. This album has some of my favorite photographs she took from our wedding and I loved that we chose her. =) If you still read my blog, Jody, thank you!

Do you guys have tips to share? Leave them in the comments! I’d love for future brides I have the honor of shooting to have a great resource to visit, so I’ll probably add to this post as I think of things, with links, etc!

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1 Comment

  1. Hey Jo! Great post! I think you’re pretty close on the cost! My only Mom suggestion would be having just a little bit more time… but we did it!

    Kate’s seriously thinking of doing a picnic-style wedding with brown bag lunches! Honest.

    Some day.

    Mom :-)

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