My wedding was beautiful, everything I could have wanted, and it came in at just under $10,000. I’m sure you’re thinking “how did she do that?”, and of course, you are. We all know weddings cost a mini fortune. The Knot’s most recent survey revealed the average cost of a wedding in 2017 was $33,391.
Crazy money (in my opinion) and definitely not what we were happy to spend.
Yes, this is one of the most special days of our lives, and we want it to be beautiful, fun, and filled with deliciousness… but we also didn’t want to spend the cost of a house down payment on this one day.
Let’s review how we kept our wedding on a budget….
We chose a venue that was full of character and charm. It was originally a wool mill, then became a museum, then finally a function venue. With beautiful gardens for the ceremony, quirky underground cellar for the reception and rustic spots for pictures on the property, not much decoration was required, saving time and money.
Some other great low-decoration venues could be a vineyard or winery, rustic barn or a chic rooftop.
Reconsider the Bridal Party
When we first got engaged, my sister asked if she would be a bridesmaid, and I told her “of course”. But, the more I thought about the bridal party, the more I realized I didn’t want one at all.
I’m a no-fuss sort of girl and wanted to keep everything as low key and easy as possible. I didn’t care about bridesmaids dresses, where we would all stand at the ceremony, or any of the fussy details – it just wasn’t something I wanted. She understood my decision, as did my friends, which was great. They could wear anything they wanted, and could still all help out with the wedding without all the stuffiness and formality of being bridesmaids.
The bonus to this decision is that it was also a big money saver! Most weddings I have been to have 3+ bridesmaids and groomsmen, so let’s do the math:
- Bridesmaid dresses – approximately $50-$150 each
- Bridesmaid shoes – approximately $30-$60 each
- Hair and Makeup – at least $100 each
- Bridesmaid bouquet – $40-$80
- Groomsmen suit hire – approximately $100-$200 each
- Groomsmen buttonhole flower – $15-$30
- Some brides and grooms give their bridal party members gifts or jewelery too
- Possibly beauty treatments – tans, manicures and pedicures for the bridesmaids
So on the low side of things, without all the little extras, just having a bridal party of three bridesmaids and three groomsmen dressed and made up for the day could easily cost upwards of $1,000!
All Inclusive or BYO Alcohol
Alcohol can be a big wedding expense. A wedding is an excuse to let your hair down and get a little wild, and guests will always over-indulge when it is free.
Options to reduce this cost could be choosing a venue that has an all-inclusive food and beverage per head cost, or even a cash bar. Alternatively, if you can bring your own, even better!
Buy up large during liquor store sales and keep aside for the big day.
Greenery Over Florals
Instead of vases of flowers for the reception tables, we had beautiful greenery garlands running down the tables. Lush, rustic and simple, but absolutely gorgeous. Eucalyptus and olive branches flowed down the long tables with deep red and white flowers dotted here and there for pops of color.
There are so many options for music available! A band, solo artist, DJ or even your own playlist.
We used Spotify to create our own wedding playlists – one with our ceremony music, one for background dinner songs and one party playlist. There are so many playlists already created on Spotify, so if you don’t want to make your own, there’s many to just play and go!
If you want music and aren’t interested in a show to go with it, grab your smartphone and queue up a playlist or two. Not only does this save cash (into the thousands!), but it also ensures you get to spend your evening listening and dancing to your favorites.
Electronic Save the Dates
Being a little non-traditional we decided to go electronic for our Save the Dates. After some research, we used Greenvelope. I love their slogan “Save Trees, Save Time, Save Money”.
There are hundreds of customizable designs to choose from, you can add photos or even music! You set up your guests email addresses and send away. You can track who has opened the email and your friends and family can instantly and easily RSVP directly to your inbox.
If you’re going this direction, I recommend you look at:
No “Wedding” Vehicles
We aren’t big gearheads, so losing the wedding vehicles was an easy decision. No-one would be seeing either of us arrive (the bride’s arrival spot was hidden) and with no bridal party, we didn’t think special vehicles were a necessity.
No Guest Favors
I’ve never understood wedding favors – why would the bride and groom give gifts to their guests for attending their wedding?
You are feeding, watering and entertaining them for hours, and they are supposed to be coming to celebrate your love, I don’t see why they need a silly keyring or bottle opener as a gift for coming.
I wanted a dress a little different from the standard wedding dress, so had to go custom-made. I went wedding dress shopping to get some ideas of what styles looked best on me and what I felt comfortable in which was a great starting point for deciding what I would like. Dresses easily range from $2,000-$5,000, which seems crazy for a dress you will only wear once.
I had a beautiful dusky pink silk dress made for me for $900 and it will become a great cocktail dress once shortened after the big day.
Lastly, but definitely not least, is a little DIY.
I actually really enjoyed making decorations and the centerpieces. I handmade our welcome sign, seating chart and menu board. I also picked up some mason jars for a steal from a thrift shop, with some stones, water, and a floating candle looked very pretty amongst the greenery garlands on the tables.