(Closed) $4,000 or Less Brides – What did you cut?

posted 7 years ago in Money
Post # 3
1733 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

we are having a late cermony so no dinner just a late lunch this really cuts down thethe cost cost.

Post # 4
1446 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

We’re doing a Sunday wedding which brought our venue down from $1300 to $500. Also doing a late lunch with hors d’oeuvres and dessert. Reserved a photog for only 4 hours to cut down the price. DIYing centerpieces and Bridesmaid or Best Man bouquets.

Post # 5
7291 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011

We tried to make alternatives instead of replacing. I got married at a  private estate that had sound wired all throuought the house and the outdoor dining area , so we used and Ipod and a party radio channel, worked out fantastic. I did not think a d.j was worth the money.

I may know hundreds of people but really only family and my most close friends were who mattered – so a small guest list helps tremendously.

For food we used a mixture of local restaurants to make trays and things of our favorites- MUCH cheaper than using a caterer!

Also we didn’t care much about the silver ware and plates etc. We went to our local costco/bjs and bought fancy throw away gear, which was quick, convienant and cost nothing compared to hiring a service to set up, and take down and provide the dinner wear.

I bought a used wedding dress, which saved thousands. I only paid 38 dollars for my dress at a thrift store. It had all the tags and was a casablanca. I altered it myself as well.

I used natural and local decoration and centerpeice things. Pinceonce and spanish moss wreathes, sand from the beach, local tropical plants and flowers harvested the day of the wedding. It saved a boat load! and it was fun to make

I hate photos taken of me , so I did not hire a photog, but for some people that is the most worthy splurge. so if you love photos i reccomend having that be it.

Since we had a small party of people 50-60  and several bars on site, we just stocked them with local favorites and let people make their own. It was a big hit and was cheap. Did not need to hire a bar tender or pay open bar fees etc

Best of luck! Keep your focus on your marriage ( your vows, life spent with partner) , not the “wedding” (tablecloths, food, music etc). It will turn out great!!


Post # 6
1643 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2015

We’re diy-ing invites, bouquets, and decor, were also having an outdoor wedding and a single tier cake. But above all else we are cutting people! There will be 18 of us on our day. Thank heavens for DWs! 🙂

Post # 7
497 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

Okay, ours was a little more expensive than this, but we live in an expensive area and did make some substantial cuts….

1) While we totally loved our venue, what sealed the deal was that it it was half off for that paritucular date…. when we were looking we only looked at places offering discounts.

2)Friend photographer… was a little disappointed, not in the photography but that she came and went just to get formal pics, when what I specifically requested was more of the party/reception itself… but I got over it.

3)No flowers.  The venue was filled with candles and colored lights and it was beautiful on its own.  Had many compliments.

4)We were advised by by the venue’s planner not pay for many additional late night snacks like tea or coffee, that people tend to not have any.  We just had one round of simple snacks + cake and that was fine.

5)Fun, but not fancy favours.


Post # 8
784 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

We cut the wedding…LOL. JK. Okay really, our venue in our hometown was pushing $10k for the total. So we moved the wedding up in time and out of state. We will now be getting married in Hawaii, and our total bill after tax is running about $5,560.  MUCH better.

Other things we did: Student photographer. DIY hair and make-up. Off the rack dress without needing alterations.

Post # 9
1327 posts
Bumble bee

Not only did I cut things out I made sure things that I bought can be used for more then just the one day.

We are having are wedding at a garden location, we only have to pay the gate price for all our guests (about $13.00 each). We are only having 15 guests, no bridal party, I am making a paper flower bouquet for myself with no other flowers. My dress was bought at a used wedding store, I am doing my own makeup and bought jewelery and shoes that I can wear again. I did get a professional photographer but only for 4 hours, and we are having dinner at a restaurant, without a cake or favors. I haven’t decided what I am doing for my hair yet as to DIY or Professional.

Post # 10
868 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

We did our wedding off season (end of November) and we saved 60% off of the venue.  We also cut the guest list and decided on only immediate family and their plus ones!  I DIY’d the invitations and the favors and my mother (who did an amazing job!) DIY’ed the flowers and centerpieces!  MY dress was $500, taxes included as we got it off-the-rack at a sale at a local bridal salon.  It was STUNNING!  One of the perks of the off-season wedding package we got was that they included the honeymoon suite for free the night of our wedding!  Our photographer was a steal for $700 (just shy of $800 with taxes) for 7 hours – his normal packages START at $3500!  My brother DJ’d the music (using our pre-planned playlist which we played from my iPhone) and handled the speaker/audio setup! 

Seriously, tap into the resources around you!

Post # 12
454 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

 We got the best deal on our venue, a barn/lawn for $125. So my advice on that is look for unconventional places that aren’t usually used for weddings. They don’t have a caterer, florist, etc. that you are required to use. 

 We are doing a ham and fried chicken buffet style (we aren’t formal people) plus all the sides that my family is making and we are putting them in pretty serving dishes from Party City. 

 We are doing stacks of antique books on each table, our local habitat store has a book sale every other week where they are 25 cents each and another thrift store has them for 10 cents each. All of our mason jars came from FI’s parents. 

 We are getting a small 2 tier cake from a lady who does it as a side business, my friend is going to make 4 dozen cupcakes to supplement for the guests. 

 If you have a Jo-Anns fabric store near you many times they will take competitor coupons and you can stack coupons. If you have like a 40% off coupon from Hobby Lobby, 40% off from Michael’s, and 40% off from AC Moore you can use all three on three different items. I saved a ton on my burlap that way. 

 The only thing I’m splurging on is an $800 photographer. Fiance sees no point in paying that much but I showed him a few threads from here about how expensive they can get, that coupled with the fact that it’s coming out of my pocket, he simmered down 🙂 

 Good luck! Let us know how everything goes! If you see something you like but it’s too expensive post a pic of it on the DIY boards, people are more than willing to help you figure out how to make it!

Post # 13
2725 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

We are eloping abroad and it cut our costs in half. The other PPs have some awesome tips! 

I bought a book for super cheap (store was closing) called The DIY Wedding: Celebrate Your Day Your Way and it has WONDERFUL money saving tips and projects you can do.

Don’t buy a veil. I made mine for literally $3. Tulle is SO cheap. I found it on sale for .77/yard (it’s usually about $1.09). 

Buying a used dress is also an option. Or the limited has very beautiful dresses in their final sale. I bought one for our civil ceremony for $50. My FI’s grandma is doing the alterations for free. Right now they don’t have a lot of options but googling some department store wedding dresses can go a long way. David’s Bridal is constantly having sales plus they have a sale and outlet part on their website. 

DIY makeup and hair. There are THOUSANDS of youtube videos and you can practice to your hearts content. I’m just doing a French Twist and I found a simple tutorial here. Or if you have a friend who loves doing her own makeup she may be wiling to do yours for free. Or go to a makeup counter, have them do it and buy a $10 lipgloss. 

Centerpieces. Combine candles and flowers. You can buy glass containers at the Dollar Tree for $1 each. You can buy them by the case on their website. Or use jars. Ask people to collect jars (pickle, baby food, etc) when they’re done using them and give them to you. Then it’s free. DIYing your flowers will save tons of money. Just stick to one or two types. I found that Sam’s Club had the least expensive bulk flowers. Again, there are lots of tutorials on how to make a bouquet. 

You can do silk flowers for your bouquet/boutineers to cut costs. Hobby Lobby constantly has 50% stem sales so my silk boquet cost $35 and I used the higher quality flowers.

Cut the bridal party down. Less flowers, less boutineers, less food the day of, less gifts. 

Have your Fiance wear a suit he already has.

Location. Does anyone have beautiful property you could pop a tent up in? Does anyone for some reason have one of those tents to borrow?

Invites. Keep them simple. Buy scrapbook paper in bulk and find someone with a laser printer. Or I found a pack of 25 David Tuetera invites at JoAnne for $2.50 (they were $20). Michael’s has some nice printable invites and they always have 40% coupons. Hoard them.

Look to your friends/family for help. Who has hidden talents? Is someone an excellent baker and could gift your cake? Anyone love crafting to help with DIY projects? Someone who does photography on the side? A chef in the family? Someone who sews to alter your dress? Ask people to help man the iPod for the reception. Ask around you might be surprised what people can help with.

Post # 14
887 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

We did a Sunday in March, a wedding cake from Walmart (I think my mom about died, lol), and had Darling Husband wear a suit he already had. I got a cheap dress I really didn’t like ($100) and did all of the alterations myself. We had a family member do the photography (worst idea ever). No rehearsal dinner, no floral centerpieces, one meal option, cheap wedding bands, and a super cheap honeymoon. Total cost for the entire wedding/honeymoon/attire/gifts was around 2k. Definitely saved money, but almost two years later I still have regrets!

Post # 15
4 posts
  • Wedding: May 2012


We’re not married yet (it’s in May), but it’s going to be under $4K.

A huge part of that is that it’s in Iowa, where things are cheaper.  I’ve also lived in CO, FL, & NY, and I doubt I could have the same wedding for twice that in those states.

The most expensive part of our wedding is the location.  We’re getting married at a stone lodge at a state park.  We reserved the day before for setup, the day after for cleanup and a Sunday brunch, and a cabin (for us to stay at). It includes firewood, and limits us to 84 people total, so we’re having family only.

Second, I’m DIYing everything.  Except for the groom & best mans outfits. Yeah, I might be crazy.

Skipping save the dates and sending out invitations early.  I’ll post a how-to for our invites soon.  The short version is that I chose a floral print it yourself version from hobby lobby (bought with a 40% off coupon for $16), used a website with free printable invites to create the lettering with more professional looking fonts than I own, altered it in gimp (free software that’s a lot like photoshop) to get the exact color I wanted for the monogram, printed them using openoffice (a free word-like program), and then gilded the edges of the invites using a steady hand and a gold marker (24 K gold I think was the brand).  The part I haven’t done yet is the back because we haven’t been able to reserve a block of hotel rooms yet, so it’s hard to include maps, directions, etc.

We’re doing iTunes for the music.  This is cheaper than you think if you spend a few afternoons at the library copying music for free to your computer. We already have great speakers that will work for our small venue.  Even for the prelude I’m going nontraditional and including bluegrass and pop songs- for example, I’m going to walk down the aisle to Chantal Kreviazuk’s Feels Like Home

We’re only having one attendant each- my sister and my FI’s best friend.  We’re paying for their outfits, which is an added expense, but in our case they paid for our outfits when we were in their weddings, so if that doesn’t apply to you you can save that.

I want a fairly simple mermaid dress with a defined waist and an elaborate veil, but I’m plus sized and everything I found remotely like that was ridiculously expensive, so I’m making my dress myself by combining two patterns: The bodice from Vogue’s V8648 (which is also my bridesmade’s pattern), and the skirt from a costume pattern- B4954 (option C), which is a mermaid skirt with a short train.  I’m making a belt I’m going to sew onto the waist of the dress when I’m done hand beading it – it’s gold ribbon with a lot of hand beading in our wedding colors on top (pale pink and gold).

I’m making a cathedral length veil.  I found a ruffled lace trim at hobby lobby that I like and spent hours cutting off the edge of the trim to sew it to the edge of the veil.  I haven’t started beading the veil yet, but there will be pale pink and gold beads added to the edging.  I may do that last and make it more or less elaborate than I initially planned as time allows.

I’m printing the programs and everything else. I’m making them small, both to fit in pockets and to save on cardstock.

We can’t find beige/linen suits we like so we’re considering having the guys wear khakis with ivory shirts and brown belts & shoes instead of suits or tuxes.

We’re catering ourselves.  This is not to save money as much as that I’m allergic to wheat and it’s impossible to find allergen-free options here in Iowa.  The most expensive part of this is going to be the pork, purchased in bulk from Sam’s Club, which Fiance and his dad will smoke and freeze the weekend before.  Instead of showers, we’re having a food prep party.  A great help is that we have a discount grocery chain here called Aldi’s. I found scaled recipes by googling “cater your own wedding” or something like that.   We chose wines we could buy in bulk from Sam’s Club, and I’m thinking of opting for an assortment of bottled beers rather than getting a keg.  A keg might be less expensive, but the leftovers don’t last..

The most expensive part of the cake will be the pans, $40!, as we’ll be making a flourless chococate cake that uses beans as the main ingredient. I test made several for us already with different frosting options and recipes, and then tested a layer cake for christmas parties. It’s very rich, so we’ll be using a simple almond buttercream frosting.  We’re making multiple heights of cake stands using a guide I found on pinterest instead of stacking the layers together (I’m confident about a lot of things, but making a stacked cake with more than two layers that’s not lopsided is NOT one of them). 

Our favors will be s’mores, (enough for two each, put in cellophane bags purchased from amazon, and doubling as placecards) and we’ll end the evening by having those that wish to join us move down to the campground for a bonfire around 9 pm.

One thing I’m waffling on is the china.  We could go with disposables (almost every wedding I’ve been to in Iowa does), but I’m from the south and don’t like that very much.  We could rent, but it will cost almost as much as buying, so I think I’m going to go with buying china and inexpensive glasses & silverware from dollartree.  Recently they’ve had some gold rimmed china that I like, though it’s not availible to just order from the website. ;(  At any rate afterwards we’ll keep some for parties and either sell the rest or donate it to goodwill.  I looked around at second hand stores thinking that mismatched floral china with gold rims would be charming, but each plate costs $1.20!  I’m not sure when it became cheaper to buy new than to go with goodwill!?!

I’m skipping the bouquet/garter toss.

I found a fairly new photographer (she’s only done a few weddings, but she has a great eye) and she’s only charging $500 for the day and a cd with all the images.  We have a lot of amateur photogs in the family, so I’m sure we’ll have great shots even if our “official” photographer doesn’t do a good job.

Flowers- my future sister in law is making a heart shaped bouquet with silk tulips after one I liked on pinterest.  The centerpieces are going to be submerged orchids ordered from Sam’s club with floating candles on top, in vases from dollar tree fancied up by hotgluing glass candlesticks to the bottom. The tables at the venue are gorgeous wood, so instead of tablecloths I’m going with burlap runners as wide as placemats going across the table the short way instead of the long way.

If I have extra time after all of this I’m going to make DIY a rose runner for the aisle.

My advice?  Pinterest for design ideas and tons of DIY.

Post # 16
2725 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

I found this website through another board for some inspiration http://www.younghouselove.com/wedding-album/

For honeymoon, cruises are very economical especially if you wait until the fall. You can get a 4-5 dayer for $400/ea or less. This includes lodging, 24 hr food, entertainment and gourmet dinners. My Fiance and I love doing them because it’s so easy and stress free (AND CHEAP). The excursions you do not have to book. Usually you can hop in a cab at the port and ask them to take you to the FREE beach. That’s what we do! If you book early and then see the price go down you can call and they will give you the difference. Or call and say “I’m having a hard time deciding between you and your copetitor x. This is for our honeymoon is there any discount or upgrade you can offer us?” 

Wedding bands…ebay, the large chain stores, craigslist, blue nile. You can get nice simple ones on the cheap. 

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