wedding on a TIGHT budget?

Codie - posted on 01/19/2011 ( 27 moms have responded )




i'm planning a wedding in aug of this year. my parents and his are both giving us $1000 to help pay for it but i want to leave as little as possible for us to be responsible for. i plan to use the $2000 from our parents for the big things: booking the church, reception facility, food, alcohol, dj, and hopefully the cake and invites. i got my dress a few months back and we aren't figuring that into the budget. we sat down and estimated that we're at $2750 for things i mentioned previously, which leaves us paying for the wedding bands, license, bouquets, all decorations, wedding favors and gifts for the bridal party, and the photographer. i thought about doing either the ceremy or reception or both outside but since aug is the hottest month of the year here in indiana and i don't like flies or mosquitos, that doesnt seem like a good idea. i have yet to decide on ceremony and receptions venues for fear that i'd later find something cheaper.

i need to be sure that mine and fiance's part is as little as possible bc he just received word that he got a job requiring us to travel often. which means he looses his company vehicle at his current job and we'd have to rent an apartment near the job site. so we'll have to buy a $1500 junker car for him to back and forth to work instead of putting tons of miles on our 09 impala, and we'd also still be responsible for our house payment here in our home town. we got the first time home buyers tax credit and rules say we can't sell or rent the house out for the first 3 years or we have to pay the federal government $8100 back.

we're in a real pickle here and any thought and advice on how to make a CHEAP wedding look like a million bucks are greatly needed! thanks so much :)


Julie - posted on 02/09/2011




our wedding was in august in 2009 and the cost was very low we had our wedding in the local park so no venue costs we set up in one of those shelters all the decorations cost about 20 dollars for like the table clothes and bows and runners and the plates and napkins and forks all of that we got at dollars tree for about 20 the overall look was very elegant with the green outside we had 170 guests and the food for all of them was about 250 got it all at walmart and cooked and chopped and put in bowls myself the cake was made by a bakery friend my brother is a dj so he did all our music our colors were white pale purple and pale green (iris colors) so we asked the wedding party to come dressed in pale green and the flower girl and maid of honor and best man wore pale purple the girls wore dressy but not prom style dresses of their choice (in green) and the guys wore button down green shirts and jeans my hubby wore a black button down with jeans and a pale purple tux jacket borrowed from my brother i wore a traditional long white dress wedding dress and veil i fell in love with at davids bridal during their 99$ sale and got all my jewelry from my moms wedding in 1965 my MOH and i made all the bouquets and flowers for the wedding and i made all the invitation thank yous and programs on my computer and my nieces made the favors (a thankyou note with a monogrammed pen (also made by me with those sticker papers you can print now )a bow and an individual bag of candy rose petals made by my baker friend in a purple box with a light green ribbon and a small clear thing of bubbles on top) and we my husbands cousin to do video and photos for free

the break down was

dress 130

tux 0

rings got by my MIL for 100 for both stearling silver cause im allergic to gold

wedding party clothes 20 (had to get my flower girl a white and purple dress at peebles)

wedding party gifts 50 i got the girls each a necklace for 10 each

food and drink 250

cake 0

venue 0

decorations 20

flowers 25

plates and such 20

video 0

photos 0

licence 95

favors 30

our wedding was very beautiful and the total cost was about 750 we had budgeted 1000 and 500 for our honeymoon and had enough to get a hotel in gatlinburg tn for two weeks and got to go to dollywood too it was our perfect day!

Rosa - posted on 01/23/2011




Im reading your story and I can see how much your really want a wedding. However, I dont think you guys can afford one right now. Or you need to get married at the courthouse and have a dinner at your home. You are moving with a car payment, junker car, rent and house payment back home. Im telling you unless you guys have a nice emergency fund put away in the event something happen or you plan on getting a job to replace the money lost. Small and cheap is best. If his car broke down that is money lost, if the apartment you rent is now costing more than you plan. Remember you can always plan a wedding, but when you calculating money this hard that mean you cant afford it. Sorry, but im telling you from experience. Good luck either way.

Christy - posted on 01/20/2011




Enlist your FRIENDS!! The great thing about weddings these days is that you can do just about anything you want.
Photography: These days, chances are you have a friend or two that has a great camera and knows how to work it. These days it is very possible to take professional quality photos with personal cameras. Ask around. And get a couple people to do it for you. (I'd ask to see some of their 'work' first)
Video~Again, have a friend do it.
Decorations~ Do you have a 'Freecycle' in your area? If so, post 'wanted' ads for decorations. There are always people giving away stuff even in my relatively small town.
Site~Find something free if you don't have your heart set on a church. Lots of parks just require a cheap permit if anything. Do the wedding outside to save some $ and the reception inside somewhere.
Flowers~go with casual boquets and pick them up from the farmer's market and tie a ribbon around the stems.
Alcohol~Get a keg or two and then have a cash bar for the rest. Totally acceptable.
Food~Again, inlist your friends. It's doable. Food is a HUGE wedding expense if it's catered. HUGE.
Well, good luck with your plans!

Loretta - posted on 02/09/2011




We had a VERY inexpensive wedding due to no money. We asked friends and family to take part in doing things--they loved being part of the celebration. The two very artistic friends we asked to decorate the sanctuary had only $35 from us to work with. Someone had loaned us an archway from a previous wedding and we had old candelabras that belonged to the church. These friends bought white Christmas lights and wide gold gauzy ribbon and wound them through the archway and the candelabras and it ended up looking so beautiful and fancy for so cheap. My brother found out where the florists get their wholesale flowers and went down the day before at 5am just to get them and did arrangements for us. My mom was in charge of food, a hair dresser cousin of mine did my hair and makeup, and I am a musician, so my friends did the wedding and reception music for free. A friend w/professional photography experience took the pictures, and my sister helped me tie the homemade programs--printed on silver paper--w/ribbon to darker card stock to match the wedding colors. For guest gifts, we were able to get bulk tulip bulbs and give out 3 bulbs wrapped in netting with ribbon and tags w/our name and date that we made ourselves. We paid only $15 for each 100 bulbs. It was a really fun and beautiful wedding and all total--including my dress, his tux, invitations, etc we only spent about $1,500. I think doing it the low-budget way made the focus more on where it belonged--a community coming together to celebrate our marriage.


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Erin - posted on 03/11/2011




Oh yeah, and I recently read an article in Costo Connection, and you can buy pretty much everything you need right there at the store! You can have an amazing wedding on the cheap!

Erin - posted on 03/11/2011




I'm not sure if you like this idea, but this is what my sister is doing. She's having a very private wedding (at a court house, I think) and I think at a courthouse, you can have a small amount of people to see it. Instead of having the reception immediately following the wedding, she's having an open house party for her and her husband at their home. Maybe you could look into a community center or something like that for the reception? Just giving ideas that I've seen. Also, you might want to think about not including alcohol just because it's so expensive. Or at least a cash bar?

Annalee - posted on 03/05/2011




we were also on a tight budget and i managed to do my wedding for just under €2000. I live in ireland. It can be done. I got my invites from a I ordered our food from a local shop and also a restuarant. We had a buffet as it was cheaper. we had chicken, salads, pasta dishes, savoury rice, fish. a friend of mine did our desserts as a wedding gift. they made meringues with cream and fresh fruit, cheese cake, choc cake. I got a 3-tier wedding cake made by a local woman who does weddnig cakes....she charged me €150 for all 3 layers...i displayed 2 layers at the wedding and had the 1 layer cut and put into favour mini cake boxes. I hired the ballroom at a local hotel for €150. i did my own bouquest with calla lillies from a friends garden. i got a florist to do a centre piece for the main table and all the buttonhole flowers for the groom, our son and 2 dress was from a retail store i got it on sale for €30 i paid another 50 to hve it revamped a bit with pearls and to hve it taken in. for alcohol we decided to provide the "first drink" ordered 10 bottles of white wine and 10 red....we also bought sparkling wine for toasting tht was in a champagne looking bottle from the cash and carry...they were 1.5 litre bottles @ €35 for 6 bottles. dj and cameraman were the most expensive @ €300. it was a lovely wedding...i looked lovely!!:)

it can be done.

Marci - posted on 03/03/2011





First, Congratulations! I spent right at $3,000 total on our October wedding in Ohio almost 2 years ago. I had the reception and ceremony at the same location to save money and add time with our guests.

We had a caterer, 2 photographers, wedding cake, dj, and everything else you would expect to see at a wedding.

Be creative, use Michael's printable coupons and use mother nature. I would suggest a park like setting. Look around online and use for suggestions on where you can have such a wedding.

If you would like any more information I've got ways to save on my site at,

Samantha - posted on 03/02/2011




Print your own invites or print them through an ebay seller. I got tons of things on ebay for mine! Also, if you are doing CDs for your gifts to the guests go to They are VERY inexpensive there!

Cathrina - posted on 03/01/2011




My wedding was also on a tight budget. I got married July 24, 2010. Wedding was in a church and the reception was in my backyard. MIL and friends did the cooking. We had about 70 guests, chair and table rental was 375, food cost was about 250. We had liquor and some friends brought bottles so that was about 200. The cake was 300. My mom gifted me the dress and some decorating costs(cutlery bought at party city,table cloths,6 sheer panels to cover the wall, my contribution to the decorations (which included fresh flowers) 1000. My MIL paid for our honeymoon 3 days. I was 6mths pregnant at the time and had a 23mth old so couldn't stay away longer. It was so much fun. I wouldn't have done it any other way. Oh and since it was at my home, my close friends actually cleaned up without me even asking. I didn't spend alot of money but it sure looked that way.

Bottom line use family and friends. Micheal's is a good craft store to utilize (that is where i bought my invitations and assembled them with my sisters help). They also have fairly inexpensive decorations.

Whitney - posted on 02/25/2011




Hi Codie!
I'm in the same boat as you - we are planning our wedding for late this summer, and I have the best suggestion - DO A DESTINATION WEDDING! We are going to Mexico, and the resorts down there offer awesome packages - most of them offer a free wedding if you book for a week at the all-inclusive resorts! And you don't have to worry about a thing - they take care of it all - from flowers, to music to the officient to the chairs and's all included! And since all of your guests will be paying their own way and it's all inclusive, food and drink is already all taken care of! Not as many people will be able to come, and I don't know how large of a wedding you want or are planning, but we have about 40 people coming! Most would have to travel to our city for a wedding anyway, so they are making this a vacation!
You pick the date, pick the resort, pay a deposit (usually about $500), get all the necessary paperwork together before you go (passports, birth certificates, etc) and in Mexico you have to be in the country for 3 days prior to getting married and get a blood test, unless you get married legally before you go, and they take care of the rest! I say look into it - we can't wait! And it's going to cost us, with airfare and our deluxe rooms for a week (and don't forget all you can eat and drink, and the wedding, plus all kinds of sweet perks!) about $4000. And you can do it for less!

Jennifer - posted on 02/01/2011




I would call every venue in your area to get will likely save money by doing ceremony/reception all in one place. You can forget about table favors (huge expense for little pieces of candy that probably won't even be eaten) Trust me..nobody will notice. As for the wedding party, these should be your closest most trusted friends so they should understand your situation and not expect elaborate gifts. Something homemade or a pic of you and each individual in a nice frame. And you can do very simple bouquets with a few flowers that have very large blooms. Decorations aren't a necessity but if you have to have them: Buy a bunch of white tulle ( you can usually get 40yd bolts for about $35) and white string lights and start wrapping everything you see in it. Lots of candles in groupings at your tables!! has really reasonable wholesale prices and if you go to there is 10% disc code. And setting them on mirrors will help maximize the effect. You can also buy silk rose petals and toss them around the tables. Another good website is And don't forget to ask at your venue if they have decoration rentals. Most of them do and it's pretty reasonable. And if all else fails ebay and craigslist are a godsend when you're searching for cheap vases and such

Rebecca - posted on 01/31/2011




My husband and I paid very little for our wedding. I think it was just around 2500. We had 35 people total. Here is how I did it...

*bought a sample dress. alterations were $75 and included a veil. I bought the veil material for $3 at Joann Fabrics. the shoes i wore were ones that i wore in my bf wedding. they were chocolate brown. my girls wore chocolate brown dresses so it looked really nice.

*my husbands suit was one that he already owned. it was navy and looked really sharp with the brown my girls wore. he just bought a tie for like $25 to make it special.

*gifts for bridal party and others-find something creative to make them. sometimes that personal touch is special.

*Flowers-went to the local grocery store and picked out what I wanted. My bridal party helped put them together the morning of the wedding. i bought a spool of ribbon and some of that green tape from a craft store. Use coupons! i think i spent under 30 total!

*Venue-we found and awesome restaraunt that had an outdoor area. They didn't charge us to rent the space at all.

*Cake-didn't do a cake...did an awesome dessert that the resaurant made.

*Decorations-the restaurant was already decorated.

*Music-we used our ipod and loaded all of our fav music

*photography-had a friend of a friend who was starting a business. we paid half in cash and the rest in trade. i am a yoga teacher so i gave her three private classes.

*Video-my husbands friend did that for us for free. he even edited it.

*Hair-i looked on craigslist to find someone who would come to me for a good price.

*make up-did my own

*nails-splurgged on this a lttle. i found an aveda salon near the venue.

*wedding favors-i chose to give out reusable grocery bags. my mom found them at the dollar store. they were perfect!

*i am a graphic designer so i made my own invites, maps and thank yous. you can buy some kits that will help you with all that.

Hope that helps!

[deleted account]

I planned a wedding in 7 weeks, and all expenses (didnt have to pay for venue got married in a "party barn" instead of church and seperate reception hall) We had friends help with food, bought most of it at sams club, we got some decorations from Dollar Tree (sounds tacky but it really worked) use white christmas lights always pretty and classy), tulle is cheap and can be used many different ways, our gifts were wine classes and mugs to our party only had one bridesmaid and 2 groomsmen that keeps it small, there is (in my opininion) nothing wrong with saying party pays for own clothing or only paying for half , we did our own flowers, hobby lobby has beautiful flowers and if you watch you can get them very cheap, our license in MO is only 50$ we found a photographer who jut does pics on the side for a lil extra money and find a friend who can dj, try mht not have the wedding youve always dreamed of (I always dreamed of big beautiful outside spring wedding and got a small winter wedding) but we as a couple decided that in 10 years we are going to have a vow renewal giving me the spring wedding I always dreamed of!
and last but not least the wedding is fun and important and what every girl dreams of but as my dad toldme every day for 7 weeks "the wedding doesn't make your marriage, if your truely marrying the man of your dreams and the man God put o earth for you then you would be happy giving up those "little" details and would get married in a potatoe sack" (I wanted to hit him everytime but I now see he was very smart"
oh and try, craigslist,and ebay for cheap decorations as well

Melissa - posted on 01/27/2011




There are tons of ways to do this but they will add stress. My husband and I were married at my mothers home (she lives on a lake front property) Kodak disposable camara's were used and to make the isle we had shepard hooks decorated holding tea lights. We rented a large tent and decorated that with white Christmas lights. My friends and I catered and it was a wonderful time. We did a "handfasting" ceremony and since our friend is a Reverend we could make it legal at any point but have not had the chance as of yet. My suggestion is this: cater yourself. find someone with a big beautiful backyard and have plenty of bug repelling candles etc. You can make this an amazing day no matter what because what's most important is that the two of you have a good time :)

Sarah - posted on 01/27/2011




I have to concur-enlist your friends. I am lucky, I have a friend who just started her own cake business, I have another friend who was an interior decorator for years. I have another friend who has a big backyard (reception site). Start putting the word out. We are doing a potlatch and I heard some great ideas just from this posting. Thank you. ;) Good luck. Let me know how it goes. When is the big day?

Alicia - posted on 01/26/2011




I am also planning a budget wedding - here are some of the things we're doing to keep the cost down... We are getting married and having the reception at the same site which thankfully is free... We are buying wholesale flowers to do the very simple bouquets, and only having very simple table decorations... wholesale places like costco have really nice white paper table cloths that can be dressed up with a splash of color...

Good luck and congrats!

Robin - posted on 01/25/2011




Well when I got married we where on a real tight budget we had a surprise wedding and to this day everyone talks about our wedding my husbands aunt got married 2 months before us and spent large people dont even mention her wedding we had a small good freind and family only had the people we loved and we got married in our backyard just as the sun went down i put tealights in baby food jars in the grass it looked awesome we used teaky lamps as our islewe made our own invites inviting people to a bbq as we wanted noone to know we had bbq as dinner a pig roast and salads I did all the food I got a few freinds to bring salads because they asked and finger foods i did my own flowers our wedding was on friday night we partied till sunday and it was the best wedding i ever been too lots of food lots to drink lots of fun with the people we most loved total cost 3200 and i would never of had it any other way we hired a dj and I did the cold platters we bought all the booze plus people brought there own got the pig done local and delivered had steaks ribs hired a guy to just come and do the bbq he ended up staying and giving us our money back great guy we had everyone bring there cameras we have great pics and I had candles and flowers everywhere we did it all it only took me 3 hours day of wedding to get everything done no stress and we had the paster come to our home Good luck

Amy - posted on 01/24/2011




if you don't have dress

i had two friends get them from there. only a hundred bucks for a dress. I wish I'd known for my wedding. for photographer, we contacted two college students and looked through portfolios. hiring both was cheaper than one, so we hired both and took the best pictures. around here, if you belong to the church, it's free to have your wedding. or you could pick a public place not a church. we did not do alcohol beyond the allotted amount that came with the hall.when it was gone, it was gone. invites can be done quite cheaply now. especially if you have an awesome printer! or if you're crafty, many people buy cards blank, print them, then put one of those film papers over it with a ribbon. done deal. if you aren't catering..way cheaper, but you have to have family willing to get it all around. i'd google like mad for ideas if i were you. that's not easy to do with a tiny bit of money.

Meaghan - posted on 01/24/2011




My husband and I were married in April. Our wedding cost 5500. We had friends take pictures (which turned out great), found a great reception/ceremony spot at a bed and breaskfast. My mom made all the boquets/arraingements etc (this cost $580 they were gorgeous), My grandpa married us. We made all the food (we did finger foods, sausage balls, chicken salad rolls, fresh fruit trays, crackers and cheese, mini cheesecakes, punch), A lady in my church made the cake. Found a great deal on tables/chairs/linens (I looked around for a long time though), I made our invitations(took FOREVER but got soo many compliments), hired a DJ for 450, Bought beer,champagne and wine for around 400 at costco, bought my dress online for 150, groom and groomsmen wore jeans and button down shirts (we had an outdoor/country wedding) Decorations were minimal because we were outdoors, I did buy an aisle runner and 50,000 rose petals for 200 that looked amazing! We didnt do wedding favors(I never keep wedding favor so I figured that was a dumb expense). If you want a cheap wedding you have to ask for help!!! I couldnt have done it for the price i did withou help for sure. good luck

Kasey - posted on 01/23/2011




Depending on how many people come, I don’t think you could do everything you mentioned for that price, how did you come up with that $2750.00? i think that is GOOD, lol!!

Maybe get a d.j. instead of a band. don’t pay for the drinks, for a small wedding that alone can cost $500.00. Everyone enjoys taking pictures, have a friend do it. For bridal presents order from Avon or Wal-Mart. I would make my own invitations and for food do a appetizer. If you do have a wedding with everything you want and you do it for $2000 to $3000 dollars let us know how you did it!!!

[deleted account]

Codie I hate to burst your bubble but the wedding you want will probably cost closer to $10,000+

My husband and I got married when I was 5 months pregnant with our twins. There was no way we could afford a big wedding nor did we even want one. I got my dress online through target,just a cute white maternity dress, for $40, dressy thong sandles for $50,my feet were too fat for regular shoes, stainless steel wedding bands through walmart on line for $40 for both, he wore his suit which he already owned, bought shoes for him at Target $20, got married by a JP in his office for $100. We had the "reception" the following day at a real nice Italian restaurant. I booked their banquet room for nothing and they made up a menu of three entrees to choose from and we chose two appetizers. Soda and such was included with the meals but those who wanted booze had to buy their own. We also bought our cake at walmart which I think was $30 for a 1/4 or 1/2 sheet(can't remember) I do know we ordered it through the wedding cakes book they have. Dinner came to around $500 for 21 immediate family members. Which my mom paid for.Nice surprise I had the money saved up for it already.

Cindy - posted on 01/20/2011




I saved a lot of money on my wedding favors. I bought tulle, mints, & ribbon & made almost 200 little favors for under 20 bucks! I homemade my invites too. Takes some time but hey you save a lot:)

Mimi - posted on 01/20/2011




I made my own bouquets,decorations from silk flowers, lace and ribbon and for favors I made shaped chocolates and wrapped them in lace squares, its time consuming but saves you alot and you dont have to worry about the flowers wilting

Louise - posted on 01/20/2011




I think if I was in your shoes I would go away and get married parents only and then have a party to celebrate when you got back for all your friends and family. I would wear the dress and make out that it was the wedding breakfast all over again. Small weddings are more intimate and you can have the ceremony you want and at what price you have to pay. lots of English couples are doing this now and nobody minds as long as there is a party when they come back so every one can celebrate. Parties do not have to be formal affairs clear your furniture out of your downstairs hire a DJ and get some friends to help you do the catering yourself. In this day and age nobody minds as money is tight. If you feel you really want to do the church things then have a wedding blessing when you have the spare cash.

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