I posted this here last week. It is totally possible to have a great wedding on a budget, if you don’t expect to throw a 30k wedding with a 5k budget. Look for non-traditional venues. Museums, parks, etc… The state parks in our area have a lot to offer for reception venues, including a beautiful cabin on the lake with a stone fireplace and the building we ended up using when our guest list exploded. The local science museum, ornithology lab at the local university, museum of the earth and nature center all hold events.
Just about everything we could do ourselves, we did. I had some creative help, and went in the direction of minimal simplicity instead of trying to overdo things cheaply. For instance we had two long rows of banquet tables, and used mason jars with candles wrapped in ribbon, putting three to a table. It was simple, elegant, and fit the tables well. My dad made the cake stands and place card holders out of birch trees from our property.
We did our wedding on about a 3k budget. Day time Saturday wedding. 125 guests invited, and 85 guests attended.
$150 venue. State park building. It was a beautiful, fully enclosed buildings (not just a pavillion) with tons of windows, and an awesome arched wood ceiling. Capacity for 250 people w.out dance floor.
$500 bride attire. (dress + alterations, shoes, undergarments)
$100 tux rental
$130 rental chairs for ceremony, linens for tables provided, speakers for ipod reception
$1300 Food. Dinosaur BBQ catered.
$500 drinks. soda, bottled water, bottled beer (sam adams summer ale, yuengling and miller lite), lemonade (mix) and white wine sangria.
$90 kids bags, candles + ribbon for centerpieces
$50 DIY invites, seating cards.
$250 Day of coordinator plus assistant. (OMG a HUGE lifesaver! set up everything day of, managed buffet, refilled drinks, etc…)
$200 Miscellaneous things (buffet set up, drink dispensers, serving utensils, dessert plates, etc…)
Flowers were paid for by my MIL. We had 3 bouts (groom, BM and FOB) and three bouquets (bride, BMx2). We also had several loose stem flowers purchased for aisle decorations. Our bouquets were beautiful, but I would have done our own bouquets if FMIL hadn’t literally insisted on using a florist and paying.
Cakes and desserts were made/purchased by my parents. (2 cakes came to about $40 total from a super awesome bakery in Troy, NY, The Cookie Factory). Our main cake was a homemade apple cake with cream cheese frosting. Cheesecakes (x2) were made by my brother.
Photography was free from a giveaway. This would have added about $1000 to our budget, had we found our own. It was important to us to have good photos, but we would have improvised, used students/relatives, etc…