I planned two budget weddings for the same man. The first wedding was our big 100 person shindig that cost us exactly $6,000. Then I was diagnosed with lupus during my first semester of graduate school and lost my ability to walk long distances. I had to go through the process all over again as I was forced by my family to have a home wedding. That wedding cost us about $500. Either way, they were far, far under the usual $30,000 mark most American couples spend on their weddings. The result? Bear and I were able to buy a house!
Tip #1: Shop Local
Leveraging your community is your biggest, most important aspect of budget wedding planning. By shopping local, I was able to:
- Get specialized, custom Vegan Italian food from a local Mom & Pop restaurant for $13/head. My guests loved it!
- Bought my wedding dress for $200 from a local Quinceanera shop after explaining my health problems.
- Bought all my decorations in bulk off of Craigslist in my hometown (where my venue was) for $30 from a previous wedding which had also been held in my hometown.
- My photographer gave us 50% off because we were locals (having the venue in the same small town she was) and not forcing her to drive long distances as a new mother with small children as most of her clients did.
- My hometown venue was in a tiny small town with few hair stylists, and I got my hair done for $30.
Tip #2: Use What You Have
- Does your family have tons of heirloom china and fancy cutlery? Use that instead of buying or renting plates and silverware! It’ll be a personal touch. It doesn’t matter if everything doesn’t match.
- Does your family have heirloom crystal pieces? Hello, centerpieces!
- Does your immediate family or extended family have land or a nice house you could use as your venue?
- Christmas decorations can be repurposed for any time of year. My altar was created using tulle gifted to us and clear Christmas lights, as an example.
- If anyone in your family has antiques they’d be willing to lend, ask and let them! Another part of our altar was an heirloom grandfather clock.
Tip #3: Let Your Friends Help!
This really, really should be the most important part of making your day go smoothly. During my planning process I:
- Had my first 300 acre venue for a $60 deposit for a total of $600 for 24 hours… actually more like 48. We had been friends with the manager of the venue for 15 years.
- Speaking of the venue owners, the wife of the manager and their daughter offered to be our wedding planners and day of coordinators for FREE.
- Bear and I had wedding decorations gifted to us throughout the process.
- Many of our friends volunteered to help set up for the big wedding.
- During our small wedding, none of Bear and I’s mutual friends could make it because it was on a week day and it was short notice. But my old roommate and a family friend who were both still in college came and served food, drinks, cake, played music, and helped set up and clean up after the wedding.
- My father being a Preacher had the church to borrow white chairs from for both our big wedding and our small 20-person wedding.
- My dad being a Preacher officiated our wedding for FREE.
- My old roommate was great at makeup and did my makeup for FREE.
Tip #5: Grocery Store Florists
In Texas, grocery store florists are nothing to be sneezed at. I don’t know what it’s like in other states, but my bouquet was gorgeous and our flowers only cost around $250. They came from a grocery store called HEB.
Now I’m not saying I bought the flowers next to the check out – most grocery stores have a floral department in our state with licensed florists that can make custom arrangements that are perfectly wonderful. Check with your local grocery store to see if this is plausible for you.
Tip #6: Gentle DIY
At my house wedding, all the decor was DIY. My big wedding was going to have DIY decor too from the prepackaged Craigslist decorations.
What I really want to stress here is that I had light DIY invitations – I bought these wedding invitations from Hobby Lobby for $7.99 at the time. I also used Canva to create menus, signs to put in frames, and styling to decoupage on wood for my big wedding’s rustic theme. Canva provides prepackaged free templates for all of these things. You can change the colors of the designs to fit your theme.
I say gentle DIY because you don’t want to go too overboard and stress yourself out. I was a grad student with a chronic illness. You may be that too, or you may have a demanding job and still want to have a life outside wedding planning.
Tip #4: Buy the remainder of what you don’t have from the previous tips online.
- Did you know you can make lists on Amazon? Make an Amazon list for your wedding to get organized, and share it with your party. Add things to it, and slowly eliminate what you already have or is out of budget.
- I ordered send-off bubbles, fake succulent table decorations, napkins, picture frames… not a whole lot because I already had enough. But Amazon has pretty much everything.
- Buy in bulk from DollarTree.com. They even have a wedding blog!
Tip #5: Know EXACTLY What YOU Want
…and don’t let anyone scare you out of it or change your mind!
Not your groom.
Not your mom.
Not your MIL.
The biggest takeaway here is before you start planning or buying a dress, know your theme, know how you want the wedding to look like. Make that Pinterest board proudly. You can make that classiness happen on a low budget, girl. You can make anything happen if you stick to what you want. Your vision will guide your choices so your wedding won’t end up a huge mess – or over budget from making mistakes because you didn’t know what you wanted. Ultimately though, it’s really about marrying the love of your life.
Even if your wedding gets derailed by everyone in the whole universe, you will have your person. Remember that.
To get the details of my nuptials, see here.