- Have a ,000 Wedding on a ,000 Budget: 8 Great Secrets to a Hip and Affordable Wedding
- Weddingmoon: A Great Budget Alternative to Traditional Weddings
- Unique and memorable experience
- The honeymoon starts early
- It’s cost effective
- It’s one-in-a-lifetime reunion opportunity
- It’s virtually stress-free
- Alternative Wedding Ideas for Big Savings
- The Ring
- The Dress
- The Shoes
- The Registry
- The Ceremony
- The Centerpieces and Favors
- The Entertainment
- The Banquet
- The Honeymoon
- this article? Pin it!
- Our Cheap Wedding: 7 Steps for an Awesome 2,500 Wedding
- 1. Limit your Wedding Guest List
- 2. REALLY Limit your Guest List
- 3. Find a Reception Hall that is Flexible
- 4. Get your Own Wedding Caterer
- 5. Plan your Own Wedding
- 6. Be your Own Wedding DJ
- 7. Track Every Wedding Expense & Prioritize What’s Important to you (& will still be in 10 or 20 years)
- Final Thoughts on Planning an Inexpensive Wedding:
- Cheap Wedding Discussion:
Have a $50,000 Wedding on a $3,000 Budget: 8 Great Secrets to a Hip and Affordable Wedding
Pick up any wedding magazine these days and you will surely think that you need to find a money tree to shake to be able to afford a nice wedding. How about Mr. and Mrs. Kanye West? If you have a spare $14-$20 million, sure you can have a wedding of the century. Let's be honest though. How many of us can afford something as grand, and is it even necessary?
Does the sound of a “budget” wedding make you cringe? For me, it conjures up images of dollies, chocolate covered almonds, bubbles, and food that should be used as doorstops instead of being consumed by humans.
I was recently married in November, in what I consider my dream wedding. We had an ocean view, beautiful music, amazing food, and a signature drink to knock your socks off. I will let you in on a little secret… we had all of that and more for 70 people for a jaw-dropping $3,000. Yes, you read that right. Just $3,000.
You simply don't need to bankrupt yourself or your parents to have a hip and affordable wedding. Actually, it's quite silly to do so, even if you have the money. Think of all the things you could do with $50,000:
● Feed many small nations ● Down payment for a new house ● Pay off your student loans ● Take a round-the-world trip of a lifetime ● Start a new business
● …and so much more
Your wedding should be about your marriage and not about the wedding, but I do understand the pressures to create an amazing event. After all, it should be one of the best days in your life.
Ready, Set, Let's Get Wed:
Rule number one to bring your wedding in on budget is to actually have a budget! This shouldn't come as a shock to you, but you would be surprised at the amount of people that simply forget this important step. Know your numbers — know what you can spend, and where it is coming from, where it is going, and be as detailed as possible.
1. Location, Location, Location — You are no stranger to those words in real estate, but this is where you can save massive amounts of money for your wedding.
Does a friend have a killer backyard you could borrow? Are you friends with a restaurant owner and you could use the space on their day off? Do you have a special skill or talent that you could barter for a free or reduced cost wedding venue.
Look at who and what is around you and I guarantee you can find an amazing venue for next to nothing.
Price Tag: $0
2. The Dress — Girls, this one is for you. I know that when you pick up your copy of Martha Stewart weddings you drool with desire over the designer gowns. Pish Posh! You can do just as good, without the crazy price tag. Look for a dress hanging on the rack that fits you. Offer a cash payment to drop the price even lower.
Another great idea is to either rent your dress, or if you have a friend that wore a killer dress, ask if you can buy it from her. You would be amazed at what a little altering can do!
3. Vacation on My Mind 0- Do you suffer from wanderlust — an endless desire to travel? If you are my husband and me, skip the wedding gifts that you will probably return anyway, and register for something super special.
We used honeymoonwishes for our wedding honeymoon registry, and were able to go on an amazing trip to Paris instead of receiving the traditional household gifts. You can register for a trip anywhere in the world and give your guests a special code to login and make a contribution.
The money gets deposited in a banking or savings account that you specify in a matter of days.
Price Tag: $0
4. Ready For My Close Up — Pictures is another place where you are ly to demolish your budget if you don't be careful. However, with the advances in technology and the amazing cameras on cellphones, you have no excuses anymore.
Companies Eversnap are your wedding budget's best friend. Guests can snap pictures all night long and upload them to your custom site. You can have the advantage of many different photographers. Then, hire a professional photographer for a few hours to fill in and round out your pictures.
5. Let's Eat — Ah, back to the stale food. Not at our wedding, and you shouldn't suffer as well. Don't be afraid to go against the grain here.
We hired an amazing wood burning pizza truck to make gourmet pizzas at half the price of a caterer, but double the hip factor. To round this out we had an amazing neighbor who made all the gourmet appetizers at cost.
Honestly, if you put your mind to it, you can be both inventive and budget conscious without your guests even knowing. Trust me, their bellies will thank you!
6. Twistin' The Night Away — I promise that you don't need to spend thousands on a band or a DJ to have an awesome dance party at your wedding.
Here's what you need: good speakers, a mixing deck if you can get access to it, and an IPod loaded with some great dance songs. Pay a friend to be your DJ.
The important focus should be on your guests having a good time, and after a few cocktails, they won't notice if you had a six-piece band or a great playlist.
7. Let's Accentuate — Everyone loves the smell of fresh flowers at a wedding, but gone are the days of needing a flower to cover every service at your wedding. Think of flowers and decor as “accentuaters,” not the main feature.
One of the best secrets is to set aside some money and go to a local flower shop, flower mart, or even the local grocery store the day of your wedding. You may not get exactly what you have your heart set on, but I guarantee you will have plenty of options at a fraction of the price.
Plus, if you choose a great backyard for a wedding the chances are you won't need many flowers all.
Some of the best wedding accessories such as candles, candle holders, and vases can be found at the 99-Cent store. I swear by it! No one would even know that you only spent $50 and were able to adorn every table with sweet smelling candles and funky vases.
Price Tag: $250
8. Put a Ring on It — Yes, I know, this is where I may lose you. Wedding rings are the symbol of marriage and they come in every shape and size. Some shinier than others. Being creative with your cash doesn't stop here. There are so many deals and opportunities to get a “good” ring for decent price.
If you've been paying attention at all the last few years, the price of gold is very high. Right now it is jumping up and down around $1300 per ounce! What does this mean to you? If you have any old gold jewelry laying around this is your lucky day.
Gather up all your pieces and take them to a reputable jewelry store and ask them how much you could get for your pieces. Chances are you might be able to sell your old pieces, if you care to part with them, and have enough money to get a shiny new ring.
Maybe even the whole wedding set.
It is quite possible to stun your guests with a hip and stylish wedding that is affordable at the same time. There are no prizes for the most money spent on a wedding.
You won't get your picture in a fancy magazine either. All you are left with is an empty bank account.
Hopefully with these simple strategies you can start imagining your wedding, with all the glitz and glamour, at a fraction the price.
Best Ways To Save On Your Wedding Budget
Weddingmoon: A Great Budget Alternative to Traditional Weddings
For couples who don’t want to deal with the pomp and circumstance of traditional weddings, a ‘Weddingmoon’ may be a great alternative.
A perfect combination of eloping, destination wedding, and a romantic honeymoon escape, it is usually a very rewarding experience for those who wish to have an intimate celebration without overwhelming themselves with details. Here are some reasons to say “I Do” the non-traditional way.
Unique and memorable experience
Tying the knot at a far off location allows the couple to display their creativity and reflect their taste and style. You can choose to get married at an exotic tropical paradise or snowy mountain peak, the choice is yours! Did we say a unique wedding location will have your guests talking for years to come?
The honeymoon starts early
Your honeymoon begins as soon as you say “I Do”. When your guests leave the venue, you can settle in for a romantic honeymoon escape. And as you are already there, you can count the expenses (at least travel and transportation) already paid for. Now it’ all about taking views and relaxing!
It’s cost effective
While a destination wedding may sound an expensive affair at the outset, in most cases it is much affordable than the traditional weddings. As fewer guests tend to show up, there are few people to feed and buy favors for.
Also, most locations offer discounted tariffs for all-inclusive wedding packages. And depending upon the destination, you can contact the airlines for group booking which is significantly cheaper than individual bookings.
So, do we have you in yet?
It’s one-in-a-lifetime reunion opportunity
Imagine having your loved ones at one magical place for the purpose of celebrating your love. Coming from all parts of the world, your wedding will not only be an occasion, but a vacation for many and a reunion for everyone. After all, how often do you get an opportunity to spend no-rush quality time with far-flung family and friends? This is your chance.
It’s virtually stress-free
This is perhaps the most important reason why weddingmoons rule. Since most locations have full time wedding planners on staff who are reliable and familiar with local marriage laws and customs, it means less stress and limited responsibility for you.
And yes, the packages also include all your ceremony essentials such as cake, photographers, decorations and more.
So, you step off the plane, sign the papers and spend your time relaxing and enjoying spa treatments while the experts handle all the minute details for you.
Weddingmoon is not for everyone; however it’s an inspiring alternative to traditional weddings. It allows the bride and groom to celebrate with their loved ones in an intimate, picturesque location, while keeping the budget in check and having a memorable experience!
Anchal Bhatia is an animal lover, Blogger, writer, and a creative entrepreneur. After graduating in English (Literature) from Delhi University, Anchal dabbled briefly into the corporate sector.
Soon she realized that entrepreneurship was her true calling and started her own network of lifestyle blogs.
Just her if you are crazy about all things wedding or looking for some inspiring wedding ideas connect with her on her wedding blog.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Alternative Wedding Ideas for Big Savings
I got married in May and I couldn't have been happier with how the day went. At first, there were things I really wanted (or thought I really wanted, what I knew weddings were supposed to be ) that would have cost us much more money.
But we decided on some frugal alternatives that ended up making the day better than I could have imagined.
Yes, those other things would have been nice, too, but considering neither of us are made of money, the alternatives made me just as happy and made the day just as perfect, without spending the fortune. Here's how we saved loads of money by opting for alternatives over tradition.
Those who know me already know why I didn't get a diamond engagement ring. I did research eco jewelry and synthetic diamonds, but decided I really didn't want an engagement ring at all.
At the first store I walked into, I tried on a dress I thought I loved. It was a bit above my price range and the lady was a little pushy, so I decided to browse another store.
I ended up taking the floor sample of another dress, one I really loved, and because it was the floor sample (50% off), it met my budget! Don't get sucked into buying a dress that's more than you can afford.
Just because it's your wedding dress doesn't mean it's a free pass to overspend. You still have to pay for it, and once the day is over, you'll wonder why it was so important for you to get that dress. Take your time and look around.
Be open to used wedding dresses or floor samples, as well as renting. Don't bother looking at dresses beyond your price range — sooner or later you'll find a dress that you'll absolutely love. There is a “perfect” dress at any price range.
I know someone who spent thousands on a pair of Manolo Blahniks to wear on her wedding day. Even if you have a dress that doesn't cover your feet, it'll still be overshadowed by your hair, makeup, and dress.
Unless you're loaded and have the money to burn, it's not worth spending a fortune just for the shoes. If you're willing to spend that much on shoes, go ahead and get a pair that you'd wear down the streets of New York City, a la Carrie Bradshaw.
For your wedding, a cheap pair of strappy sandals (I did flip flops), would truly make little difference.
It was a no brainer for us to not register for gifts.
Cash is what most Chinese guests to give (we're practical that), and for any friends who asked, we confirmed that we weren't registered anywhere and asked for cash gifts if they felt inclined to give something. Cash means we don't get anything we don't really need. Saves us the hassle of having to return anything.
We skipped the “walk down the aisle” production. That saved several thousand for space rental and decorations. Instead, we took a weekend trip to San Francisco and got married at their beautiful City Hall.
On the wedding day, we went to Caltech to shoot pretty photos.
Skipping the ceremony also means I didn't need bridesmaids, and all the costs associated with it (and my friends didn't have to “work” at my wedding either!).
The Centerpieces and Favors
We skipped the fancy centerpieces. Flowers and vases are expensive — even if you try to DIY. I bought 20 baskets from downtown for $2 each, and filled it up with candy and cookies for the guests to snack on while waiting for the food.
We also skipped the favors. We decided guests don't really want or need to bring something back with them that has our name and wedding date on it.
Instead, we placed note cards with markers and stickers for guests to write us a note, so we can have keepsakes from each of the guests.
We skipped the DJ, and asked two of our friends to be MC's to faciliate a game that involved audience participation. Traditionally, the guests request a bride and groom kiss by tapping their chopsticks against their plates (it makes quite a racket).
We made it into a kissing raffle — everytime the guests started tapping on the plates, we picked a couple's name a bowl and that couple had to go up on stage and kiss. Then we would imitate them. It lasted throughout the evening and everyone was entertained.
There's no beating the price for a Chinese wedding banquet, and the food is delicious. They provide the seat covers, free. They provide a sound system and microphones, free. They provide a screen (for slide shows), free.
There is no corkage fee (we brought Two-Buck Chucks from Trader Joe's). There is no cake cutting fee. It's not necessary to put up a lot of decorations because it's a restaurant — it's already decorated (un most banquet halls in hotels).
Our menu: 10 course meal plus dessert.
We skipped the honeymoon. We both to travel and know that we'll plan a trip for the two of us when it's a good time (and a good deal). Granted, we dated for 8 years before getting married, so we don't necessarily need that time away.
The most important thing to remember is to not make the wedding bigger than the marriage. I'm very proud that my wedding didn't cost a fortune, yet I thought it was a perfect day. There's nothing I was left wanting for, nothing I felt I sacrificed.
this article? Pin it!
Our Cheap Wedding: 7 Steps for an Awesome $2,500 Wedding
It’s a nice day for a cheap wedding (nod to Billy Idol, couldn’t resist). I can’t believe I have not written about my super cheap wedding until now. Maybe “cheap wedding” isn’t the best terminology. “Inexpensive wedding” or “humble wedding” sounds better – so feel free to call yours either.
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 2018 was $38,700 – easily more than 10 times as much! Furthermore, recent data shows that high wedding expenses can lead to lower marriage success rates (more “show” than “substance”, perhaps?). Having an expensive wedding can start your marriage off on the wrong financial footing – leaving you and your spouse with mounds of financial debt and the stress that comes with that.
How did we have such a cheap 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.
My “cheap wedding” venue. 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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 hot spot.
It was cheaper than most of the typical wedding reception locations, who will gouge you to no end.
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 a king.
We decided on a few different salads, veggies, kibbeh, 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 per 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 ly going to get gouged. And the food will probably suck.
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 ( 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 (probably your phone) 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 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:
- Opera House (reception location): $500 (Thursday evening)
- Décor: $100 (later sold on EBay for $50)
- 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)
- 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)
- Master of Ceremony: $300
- Flute Player: $75
- DJ/Music: $0 (we made our playlists and hooked it up to the reception hall’s soundsystem)
- 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?