My fiance and I are planning to get hitched at the end of next year and I was wondering if I could get some pointers on how to keep our wedding as cheap as possible, seeing as at this time, both my fiance and I are very strapped for cash, as we are both jobless. We are hoping to keep the wedding to $2,000-3,000, including wedding, reception, photography, honeymoon, etc. you know, the whole kit and caboodle.
Look like the usual plea? Well, here's the kicker, we're both 17, turning 18 before December. Her parents, though poor, are willing to help pay for whatever they can, thing is, I'm not sure if my family will be on board with the whole idea, so quite possibly we are looking at even less than the hoped for budget. Also, church, Justice Of the Peace, and backyard weddings are no go's, as she's dead set against them. Outdoors will also not work, seeing as in winter it's about 20 or so degrees at high noon here.
With that said I'd like to know every trick in the book for having a good wedding with a budget that is even more thrifty than most requests on here. Thanks so much for your help.
Benjamin from Show Low, AZ
By Linda K.
My husband and I were in the same boat. I found my wedding dress at a shop that was going out of business, and spent $225 for the normally $900 dress, and he threw in the shoes. I've seen wedding dresses at thrift shops as well. Here in Texas, quincenera celebrations are popular, and I've seen racks with multiple dresses hanging there, leftovers from some young girl's dream party. The only problem is that they may not fit your attendants. My mother made my veil (we got lucky and found the exact lace to match my dress).
Our reception was at the local Lion's Club, it wasn't fancy, but the people were what we were interested in. We made a tape of the music we wanted ahead of time and it was played over the stereo. A friend of mine donated the groom's cake for our wedding present, another sang at the wedding, and yet another managed the reception for me (that was the best present of all). The bride's cake was from the local grocery store. The bridesmaid's flowers became centerpieces at the reception. My sister bought a bunch of one-use cameras for her reception and left them out for people to take pictures.
Congratulations, be creative, and think outside the box. (01/06/2009)
When some of the young people from our church were married and money was very tight, they had the usual church wedding, followed by all the friends, etc. having morning or afternoon tea in the adjacent hall. Some of the ladies from the choir organized the tea, coffee, etc. in exchange for a donation to the choir. The teas usually consisted of mixed sandwiches, scones, small cream cakes, sausage rolls, etc.
The wedding cakes were usually purchased from the local cake shop as a normal cake and then the bridesmaid flowers or some other decoration was added. At the end of the tea, the couple would cut the cake, there would be several speeches and the couple could do the bridal waltz around the hall. The immediate family would then go on to a more expensive restaurant for dinner.
When my cousin was married and money was tight, she bought her dress and the bridesmaids from a hire place that was getting rid of old stock. She had a church wedding, she used a computer program and coloured paper for the invitations and orders of service.
For the flowers, her mum went down to the local florist and bought several bunches of flowers, put wet paper around the bottoms of the flowers and covered in plastic, she then covered the plastic in a layer of coloured tissue paper and wrapped a large bow around them. They bought 2 mud cakes from the local cake shop and some small supporting pillars from a cake decorating shop.
At the reception, they assembled the 2 tier cake and cut up the fresh flowers to use as decoration. The dinner was held at a local pub, that had a private room, but which had folding doors that opened into the main part of the bar where the band played. There was no alcohol, only Coke, lemonade, and orange squash. Champagne was used for the toasts only. We only had one course, as the appetizers were various plates of cheese etc. left on a table for people to help themselves, as the bride and groom had pictures taken with everyone by a family friend.
When they cut the cake, which served as dessert, they opened the doors and we all danced to the band along with everyone else. My uncle only had to pay half the hiring fee of the band and they did play several favourite pieces of music and the rest was jazz.
They did a house swap with someone for their honeymoon. It turned out a very inexpensive wedding; my uncle is the ultimate money saver. (01/07/2009)
You can check out my previous post "Unique Wedding Dress from a Vintage Pantsuit" for one idea. I'm sure that sounds weird, but it was really cheap and turned out great.
Anyway, what I didn't mention with that was we did an incredibly cheap wedding, also. A family friend who was fairly good with cakes gave us the cake as a present. I went to her house and helped make an extra cake for backup (just in case we had invited a starving hoard of cake fiends), and we did the food like this: Potluck. OK, seriously, if you are having a gathering of close friends, why not treat it like a gathering? Most folks are happy to bring a food item. My dad did the photos. Myself and my mother in law to be bought bulk flowers, some floral tape and a few pins and made all the corsages, boutonnieres and the bouquets ourselves. Much cheaper, and you can grab a few stems of fake flowers at the dollar store to practice on so you know what you're doing when the day rolls around. It ain't rocket science.
Also, just like dim light disguises the signs of wear and tear and general high mileage on us older folks, candlelight is so romantic and the ambiance will help disguise possible budgetary shortcuts. And candles are cheap. Did I mention that evening weddings are terribly sophisticated?
Good luck. Start now. (01/07/2009)
By Gina J.
You have a year, so that's good. Set your must haves now and start shopping sales and using things like those 40% off coupons at the craft stores.
Do you have a friend or relative who's home you admire? They may be willing to let you use their home as a setting for the ceremony/reception. If you are getting married in December, they will already have their home decorated for the holidays. Offer to provide some potted poinsettias (they come in all colors and you can add glitter or those spiral twigs that you can find decorated in the craft stores), greenery, lights (borrowed). Tulle always looks beautiful and comes in a variety of colors or whatever other special decorations you'd like.
Ask a friend or relative to officiate the ceremony. Check with your town to see what the rules are as to who has to perform the ceremony. If you aren't religious, you can ask anyone to coordinate the ceremony.
Keep food simple. Hearty soups with fresh homemade breads and salad make a great winter meal. Lemonade iced tea or punch is less expensive than soda.
Don't be afraid to ask. Borrow serving dishes, decorations, tables, and chairs, etc. Just be sure to mark the person's name on the donation or keep a master list so that everything can be returned promptly.
Invest in a decent digital camera. Have fun with your pictures and many online photo developers offer free prints when you sign up with them. You can use their websites to enhance the pictures before printing (cropping, removing red eyes, adding borders and captions). You can even get your photos printed in a book.
Shop after holiday sales for deals on party goods and stock up. Doing a little bit over time is a lot easier on the budget than trying to do it all at once. Be flexible, creative, and have fun.
I'm sure it goes without saying that if you plan on getting married, you both need to find work asap and make sure you talk together about your expectations for your future life. Do you plan to go to college? Where will you live? Who will be doing the bulk of the housework, how will you handle money, etc.? Do you want kids? Be sure this is what you want long term before you make a serious commitment. Sorry, the Mom in me just jumped out.
Good luck. (01/08/2009)
Your location requirements definitely limit you. I'd look into borrowing a friend's home, or if this isn't possible, check into how much it would be to rent a historic home (which is what we did for $250 for both ceremony and reception. They let us use the kitchen for free). Another option might be a conference room at a hotel, set up half the room as the wedding, and the other half as the reception area, and work with the hotel color scheme. For example, if they have burgundy carpet, try to coordinate instead of clash. Ask if your rental site has any decorations you may borrow, too. Some spots keep seasonal centerpieces that they change out throughout the year.
If your fiancee can't borrow a gown, hit the after-prom and after-homecoming sales in search of a white formal dress for the wedding gown (the styles are very similar). My dress came from eBay for $56, but this option is only good if you know someone who can do alterations inexpensively (even a simple hem can really add up). Craft stores have very simple, low-cost veils pre-made, or you could sew one up in about 5 minutes with tulle fabric and a plastic comb (my mom made mine, for $3.71).
Goodwill is another good spot to look for not only dresses, but also candle holders, baskets for flower girl, small pillows for ring bearer, vases for decoration, etc. Another spot to check is Dollar Tree, which is where I bought all my silk wedding flowers and arranged them into bouquets myself to save $. Dollar Tree also has ring bearer pillows, guest books, fancy plastic trays for serving reception food, petals, items for making favors, colored glass marbles and candles for centerpieces, and decorations for wedding day and reception, too.
Our wedding cakes were a gift and I decorated them with silk flowers to match my bouquets. However, before these cakes were offered to us for free, my plan was to make a few dozen cupcakes and arrange them in a "cupcake tower" for a less costly alternative. You can bake the cupcakes in plain white paper liners and then put them (liner and all) into a more decorative liner to add color. Our reception hors d'oevres came from Sam's Club frozen and were basically heat and eat.
We had an inexpensive wedding, but as a tip I'll tell you my biggest regret. We invited too many people. The more people you have, the larger the space needed, the more food, chairs, etc. I wanted to have our wedding at a lovely historical home, but due to pressure from family, our guest list grew and we ended up having to use a (more expensive and not as pretty) VFW hall. Before you do anything else, figure out who you really want to have there to share your day. Once you have a real number of guests, you can choose where to have the ceremony. I've attended weddings and receptions at VFW halls, senior citizen's centers, historical homes, the art museum. Also, our city parks have lodges you can rent, some are quite pretty.
The two things we did right were food and flowers. We had a regular cake made by a friend and decorated with white icing and fresh flowers and sheet cakes decorated the same way. We also served cookies (my mom had everyone we know baking them) and veggie and cheese trays. Drink choices were homemade punch, water or iced tea.
All our flowers were fresh. I found a store that would sell to us wholesale roses. The day before the wedding, we got together and made up bouquets and boutonnieres. Again, limit the number of flowers. I had a large bouquet, my bridesmaids had slightly smaller ones, mothers had a single rose. We used roses because they are fairly sturdy and easy to come by. The boutonnieres held up well. We had two vases of roses, one on our food table and one on the table with our guest book. (01/08/2009)
We were married in my parents home. The only ones invited were parents, grandparents, and siblings along with their families, other than the ones in the wedding. We kept the wedding party to the matron of honor and the best man. The cake was $50, the preacher got $20, the flowers were $50 and my sister took the pictures. I wore a nice Sunday dress as did the Matron of honor and Sunday suits for the men. The only other cost was gas money and a motel room for a couple of nights. Simple, but beautiful. (01/08/2009)
For candle holders and snack dishes: Take a 2 liter pop bottle and cut around where the indented seam is. There is one below the label and one above. Decorate the bottom part with lace and ribbon, using hot glue to keep in place, for candy dishes. The top part with the spout is perfect for holding long tapered candles. Decorate around the neck with matching ribbon and lace. We did this for our wedding and they were elegant. Great way to recycle too. (01/09/2009)
For your Thank You cards. Make a sign that says "THANK YOU" big enough for both of you to hold. Holding the sign take a picture of you in your wedding attire, so when you send out your cards family and friends not only get a thank you, they get a picture of the both of you. And you have something to use at your 50th Anniversary.
I was a major budget bride and we did our wedding for $4,500 (back in 2007). There are lots of ways to save without giving up the big stuff.
Ceremony site: Since you mentioned a church or backyard wedding was out, why not look for a historic building, park, or landmark? Or, consider using your reception location as your ceremony location (will save guests the horror of getting lost too). We were married in a church, but had our reception at the local Elks Lodge. It was very hands-on, but worth it.
Flowers: I've photographed budget weddings where the bride or her family put together the flower arrangements using grocery store flowers. Or consider having the bridesmaids and mothers carry a rose (or flower that works with your theme). Or some brides choose to use artificial flowers to keep them for longevity.
Photos: I had lots of family offer to do my pictures, but think about if saving the money is really worth having photos that aren't done with a pro's eye. I found a photographer who fit within my budget (this was when film was still huge) and it prevented the catastrophe of, if a family member's camera malfunctioned. There are lots of ways to save with a pro. Consider having her shoot just the ceremony and group shots, or forgo proofs in lieu of a digital disk. The amount of time you hire your pro for is a significant cost.
Favors: Oriental Trader is awesome for favors. We bought pencils (I'm a writer too) with our names and wedding date on them for $20 for 200 pencils. We also made bookmarks with our wedding date and a saying on them. Cost was maybe 20 cents each.
Transportation: Should you have your reception where your ceremony is, no transportation needed.
Attire: One of the unique things I noticed lately is that for the guys attire, a solid color button up with a tie (all the same) is an affordable option. Some grooms also purchase a suit (think of the re-wear capacity). For brides, see if you have a discount or second-hand bridal shop available where you can get a next-to-new (or new) dress for really cheap. Bangor, ME has two shops where you can get a new dress that's been discontinued for under $100. Ebay may also be an option. And brides, let your girls get a dress that they can wear again. I know one bride who chose a color scheme and let her girls buy their own dress within that scheme. We all know what happens to bridesmaid's dresses when the wedding's done. I made my own veil using a kit and my mom did my alterations because she's a great seamstress.
Invites and programs: Desktop publishing has come a long way. DIY kits are available at most department stores. But please, spell check before you send out the invites. You can also provide postcards as reply cards. It saves you significant postage.
Food: If you're getting married in the morning, consider a tea or light brunch for guests to enjoy. Potluck is another way to help ease the burden, but please don't require that to come to the wedding, people bring food. That's like saying you expect your guests to prepare a dish and here's what it's going to be.
Cake: We saved big bucks by not going with a commercial bake shop, but a smaller independent baker and honestly, it's the best decision we made. His cakes are delicious. We also saved by making our own cake topper.
There are lots more ways to save, but those were our biggies. Best of luck on your wedding and your life together. (01/28/2009)
We are in the process of planning a May wedding and we are on a tight budget as well. We're doing it all for less than $2000. Here's some tips that we have found helpful.
Hope it helps. (02/23/2009)
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