By betsyla from Jacksonville, FL
Why don't you look at the Nate Berkes show website on ABC? He does things all the time for cheap, and you can buy a lot of the table decorations cheap at the dollar store.
My husband and I got married last spring at a large park in Atlanta, which was free. The minister was $150, I believe. We didn't need decorations since it was so beautiful outside.
For the reception, we chose a nearby pub in an old fire station. Since we were buying food, we got to use the large event space for free. We got married at 11am, so we had a brunch reception, which was much more affordable. We had a large buffet of all kinds of brunch items, as well as mimosas, draft beer, and non-alcoholic beverages. The entire bill for 60 people, including tip, was $1,000! We did not have a DJ, but instead just plugged in our iPods to the existing speaker system. We also spent about $200 on cupcakes, rather than getting a cake.
So our entire wedding cost under $1,500, and it was fun and sweet and perfect! Our guests said it was one of the most special and beautiful weddings they'd ever been to, and that it suited us to a tee. :)
Be creative and have fun, this wedding is about celebrating your love!
You don't mention the number of guests so it's hard to judge. If you want lots of guests just do the coffee and cake reception. For a small group of 25-30 people you probably can reserve a private room in a restaurant and have a dinner served.
Our reception hall was free, my father in law worked there. Find a friend or relative who works somewhere with a big open space. Maybe a park, school or library. Find a deal.
Do you know someone that owns a restaurant or catering company? Call around to mom and pop restaurants. Or make a deal like we did. We paid a caterer to make the main dishes (chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables) and we supplied appetizers, salad, soup and beverages from a restaurant supply store. Total was under $500. If you like, just serve cake, coffee and punch. Call local bakeries. They are more willing to work with you and your budget than the bakery departments of chain supermarkets.
Our friend is a DJ so we supplied him with CDs of our favorite songs and told him what we absolutely did not want to hear. His gift to us was free DJ service. Call local karaoke bars or DJs in your yellow pages if you can't find someone.
Do you have a skill or service you can trade? Do you babysit? Can you make a website or sell someone's collectibles on eBay for them? Offer to wrap all their Christmas presents or crochet them a blanket in exchange for what you need.
Don't worry if you can't serve filet mignon and have a string quartet. The most important thing is the commitment you are making to each other. Everything else should just be for fun and memories.
Good luck and best wishes!
We actually found a minister willing to marry us in his backyard in front of our immediate family. He was willing to meet us anywhere we wanted (within reason) and hold the ceremony.
We held a party literally in a field two days later, perhaps you could rent a shelter at a local part and have a barbecue cookout/potluck party to celebrate with friends and extended family. My original plan involved hiring a few of my brother's friends to grill burgers and hot dogs for us, but my mother got involved and vetoed that plan. If you have a connection to some teenagers (that you trust) you could pretty easily hire them for a few hours to lend a hand. What teenager would say no to cash?
As for music, we found a friend with a PA system (you could always find someone in the family with a loud stereo system that you can bring) and brought CDs to listen to, you could absolutely bring an mp3 player and just shuffle through all the songs.
Remember, no matter what you decide to do to celebrate with friends and family the only really important thing is that you and your fiance show up and get married. Your marriage will not be worth less than anyone else's just because it cost you less.
Best wishes for a happy marriage,
Kristi in Kent
Why don't you just plain go and get married. The wedding should have been planned a lot further ahead. If you have to have a reception, have it in the church fellowship hall, one of your parents homes or the home of friend. Have it at a time of day that all you have to serve is cake, coffee, tea and punch. Forget the dance, it isn't necessary. Have friends or relatives such as cousins, serve the cake, coffee, etc. Having this type of reception, the main costs would be the location and the cake. Your helpers can make the coffee, tea, and punch, with your furnishing the supplies.
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