Planning Your Wedding on a Tight Budget

If you've spent 5 minutes on Pinterest, you've seen what some very lucky and very well off husbands and wives have managed to put together, no doubt with an equally high priced wedding planner, that have made you and just about every other soon to be bride absolutely envious or maybe you are the type who barely cares about this thing called a wedding and would prefer to do it as cheaply as possible, but you don't quite want to just call it a day and head to the courthouse (although, if you do, problem solved). Now if you are the first type of future bride as much as it hurts, you are going to have to let go of the idea of hiring members of the Philidelphia Orchestra to play you down the aisle and leave behind lofty notions of lobster and cavier for a 100. When you feel thing pang of the realities of your budget, remind yourself over and over AND over again, that your wedding should first and foremost be about your union with your future husband, and everything else is just extra icing on the cake.

Planning Your Wedding on a Tight Budget

1. Flowers

Be unique and ditch real flowers by creating centerpieces out of non-living material. Origami a set, dollar store vases with tea lights or old bottles and candles, use vintage, borrowed, or thrifted pieces to create whimsical centerpieces. If the real thing is still your thing, save dramatically by ordering flowers wholesale or literally go to your local super market grocery store/Costco/Sam's club floral section, buy some pre-made floral arrangements, wrap them in decorative DIY floral tape and trim down the rest, and dunk them in dollar store glass vases for cheap. They only need to last a day or two anyway.

2. Music

Rent some speakers, and hook up your iPod for your own playlist. I would recommend however, still having someone designated to work the iPod, cut the music when need be, or start it when need be so you don't have to and can focus on your guests. You can ask a local schools or colleges for up and coming musicians who will play for free or cheap for the experience or for a gig. You can hit up Craigslist in search of wedding bands (make sure you do your homework and make sure they are legit).

3. Bridesmaids dresses/Groomsman's attire

Go off the res, and ask your groomsmen to just wear a black or navy suit, or your girls to wear (whatever color) dress of their choosing rather than go through the long process of going through a bridal shop (trust me, this will instantly make your girls happy to actually wear something they like/feel comfortable in). Of course you get final approval! Or go with them to your local department store, thrift store, or store of your choice to guide them in picking something that looks cohesive.

4. Bridal/Grooms wear

Brides try renting a gorgeous designer white gown for the day from Renttherunway.com (you can also rent the bridemaids dresses) Grooms can rent their attire at local stores or just wear a nice suit or outfit they already have. Have a good friend design your dress as a gift for you, re-purpose your mom's wedding dress via a seamstress into something new for your day. Go down to the department store and search out a white dress.

5. Food

Many popular restaurants and chain restaurants actually cater. Why not get Chik-fil-a for 100 or a taco buffet for 50 or who doesn't like a bit of KFC value pack meals for all. Your guests will be hungry and will eat what you serve up. Don't focus so much on having to serve the same plain boring braised chicken and veg dishes that your four cousins did. Everyone does that. Step out and go for that comfort food option. You can also enlist a few of your chef-y friends to make some main dishes or the desserts and only use catering for part of the meal. Drinks/Alcohol you can pick up at Sam's/Costco/Grocery store for cheap.

6. Location

Search your local area for areas that allow events in public spaces for cheap or for free. You may have to have them on an off day that's not a weekend, so that is something to consider. Or have a pop up wedding. Show up with your guests someplace meaningful or in a creative space and simply have a short sweet to the point wedding, no chairs, no decor, and then head to your house or another more budget friendly rental for the reception. Remember to ask EVERYONE you can from your boss to your next door neighbor if anyone has land, a house, a space that you can borrow for free. It never hurts to ask, and don't be ashamed to say you are on a budget. People will be willing to work with you.

7. Jewelry

Borrow it, or find it at Claire's or seek out replicas of your favorite pieces. Unless your photographer is so close you can hear them breathing, no one will really know the difference or care if your jewels are real or fake. Plus if you borrow your jewels, that takes care of your 'something borrowed."

8. Make-up/hair

DIY, ask a friend, hit up the make-up counter for a free make-over. DIY your hair or have a friend do it or rock a wig (it's hidden under a veil most of the time anyway).

9. Photography

Have guests take photos on their phones to send to a website of your choice. Ask everyone you know if they know someone who is good at photography or will give you massive discount. Craigslist or photography schools for up and coming students looking for experience.

9. Gifts for Guests

Hit up the dollar store, give each guests your favorite candy bar, or buy some dollar store frames and put your favorite quote inside, or find something themey for the date or season or simply look in the dollar store wedding section for some cheap gifts.

10. Additional Tips

Become the queen of asking for help and accepting it. Your financial situation is what it is and there is no shame in that. Do not underestimate family and friend's willingness to help you whether its through their free labor for the day or items they will lend you, or friends they know who can help you. Be frank and honest with family especially about your situation so they can stop insisting you need to have 500 guests if you truly cannot afford to do so.

Instead of a bunch of little things that quickly add up to cost, focus on that one big ticket item you want...maybe you want a professional make-up artist, or a designer gown...but save up for those with the knowledge that you will have to definitely get creative or beg, borrow, DIY, or ditch most other items on your list to make it happen.

Learn to DIY. Pinterest, youtube, friends who've done their own weddings, the DIY network...learning to make something yourself will not only make your wedding much more personal but will save you money. Just make absolutely sure you enlist a lot of help or you a lot double the time you think you'll need to complete a task just in case things go wrong or you run out of supplies last minute.

Scratch a fellow businesses back. Again with the 'it doesn't hurt to ask.' Offer free advertisements and passing out of business cards to a company, friend, or business if they'll let you use their services at steep discount or for free.


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What Guys Said 5

  • When I eventually get married,
    I'm going to elope, All that money we saved can go towards things like, a downpayment on a house, a kickass honeymoon, I guess some people would put it away for a college fund for an eventual kid but I'm never having children.
    Also me getting married is nobodies business but myself and the woman I love

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  • I got married a week ago and we spent about $2,500 on the whole thing.

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    • Bravo! People don't think it's possible, but I've seen some really amazing weddings put together for under 5 grand. You just have to get a little creative and/or know a lot of people willing to help or donate/gift things to make it happen.

    • I did all the flower arrangements, made the cake, and cooked the reception dinner myself.

    • That's awesome. Reminds me of my brother's wedding. All the women, including myself, did the flower arrangements, while the men made the feast for the rehearsal dinner, and some ladies that new my SIL's mother made 3 cakes for the wedding... and it went on and on with something that somebody did to help make that wedding happen. Truly one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever been to, and even more so, because everything and everybody there was truly there because they wanted to be there, wanted to help, and loved my brother and SIL.

  • When I got married, my wife's parents had already died and my parents were taking care of my neice with a fatal disease so it was pretty much up to me to pay for the wedding as my wife didn't earn a lot. I was just starting out on my first job, only two years in so it was a large expense. My wife, mom and my sisters planned it. They called everywhere for venues and we had it at a public golf course's club house which was very nice for a sit down wedding of 80 catered with my friend, who was a professional DJ (I paid him but got a good price as he was always booked and this was money out of pocket for him), it was catered and had an open bar (big mistake for the country club :) ).

    We then had a second reception for 200 people back at my parents house with food, bar, music, and lots of fun. We did have a professional photographer and my big ask of him was to get candid shots which turned out great. We had a big cake as well from a well known bakery and my wife had a handmade wedding dress from a wedding dress maker whi worked for a wedding dress store doing expensive weddings. She did it in the side for us so she made money and we saved money. Big fun day, people talked about that wedding for at least ten years as the most fun wedding they have been to. The people make the day.

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    • Hmmm, well I asked my wife what it cost and Inguess I didn't track the amount of checks sent as it was over close to a year of planning, but adjusted for inflation ours was in the low $30k range. Opps. Her dress was about $1300 today's money but a lot less by doing it on the side with the dress maker.

    • I wouldn't say 30K was a budget wedding. I think that's about the average cost in some areas of the country of weddings. Budget weddings are usually those considered to be under 10K, but I guess it's all relative, because in New York for example, 30K would be budget.

  • why do you need a wedding

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    • Because it is an amazing party celebrating an important moment. My wedding I didn't really care about that much and I basically just showed up to what my wife had planned. It was an amazing day that may have been the most fun day of my life.

    • The short end of it is if you feel like you personally do not want a wedding, you are more than welcome not to have one. For others who are interested or who do want a wedding, they mark the union of two people in the eyes of their God if they believe, their families, their friends, and themselves. People have celebrations for all sorts of things from birthdays to anniversaries to retirements where they choose to share their important and profound moments with those that have supported and loved them throughout their life's journey.

  • Very helpful for couples because the expense and stress of a wedding must be quite difficult.

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What Girls Said 5

  • My fiancee and I do not have much money, we both work and earn a minimal wage. We have discussed our wedding and both decided to have a ceremony, I realise that it may be rude not to feed guests, but its so expensive (even if it's cheap for the others) as we don't have much money. I am thinking of taking a loan online and maybe an afternoon tea on Sunday will be as a compromise.

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    • Avoid taking out loans. I would say ask all the friends and fam you know to help you cook/bake/make what you want for your reception. Obviously the more guests you have, your costs will rise even with their assistance. Avoid having a late night or evening wedding as people generally want a sit down or buffet style dinner which costs more. Aim for a brunch hour or breakfast hour wedding time so that you can serve either light refreshments or lighter brunch/breafast fair which tends to be cheaper. Also think about having a large or larger wedding ceremony and serving only cake and light refreshments, and then having your reception be much smaller and more intimate where you limit the number of guests and focus your budget on serving say 30 people as opposed to 150.

  • i prefer to wait until i have more money

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  • Love this!!

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  • Why don't wait to have more money?

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  • Awesome MyTake!!!

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