I’m on a super-tight budget. My parents are paying for about 70% or 80% of the wedding and can only afford $3,000 total. Originally, they were going to cover half the reception and my fiance and planned to borrow $2,000 to cover the rest, giving us $5,000 total. Then he lost his job and was unemployed for two months, so we couldn’t qualify for a loan (my credit is terrible from my own bout of unemployment last year).
By the time the wedding’s over, we probably will have spent around $3,800 for everything. I paid for my dress, supplies for DIY projects, and we’re purchasing the rings ourselves. My parents are paying for the reception, invitations, and giving money to our friends who are officiating, DJing and doing photography for us.
The guest list has been the biggest disappointment so far. We’re inviting 60 people, but had to cut out a lot of our close friends to make room for close family. It’s my siblings, his siblings, our parents, my grandparents, a handful of extended family who we’re close with and a few of our good friends from college. If we had unlimited funds, I think our ideal guest list size would be around 110 people.
I’m still so excited for our wedding and it’s going to be a classy affair. A few tips you might want to consider:
1. David’s Bridal has some gorgeous gowns from Vera Wang, etc. at affordable prices, and they have sales a few times a year. Alternatively, if there’s a designer gown you really love but can’t afford, try it on in the store then buy it pre-owned from a site like PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. (Side note: If you go the David’s Bridal route, do not get your dress altered by them. They quoted me $300 for just a hem and a bustle. Search Yelp for local seamstresses instead. I saved myseld $200 that way.)
2. Pare down your guest list. This was the hardest part for my fiance and me. But the plus side to a small guest list is that you’ll be surrounded by people you really know and really love, not random relatives from both sides that neither of you have seen since that Christmas when you were 4 years old.
3. Contact restaurants to rent out space for your reception instead of looking at typical wedding venues. We lucked out and found a restaurant with a small banquet room in a converted barn with huge windows and gorgeous wood beams that doesn’t need any additional decorating besides centerpieces. You’ll also save money on tables, chairs, table linens and dinnerware, since all those things should be provided by the restaurant.
4. Try non-floral bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces. I’m building “trees” in mason jars for my centerpieces with branches my dad’s been collecting from the back yard all year. Try wood or paper flowers or brooches from a second-hand store for your bouquets. Use fresh herbs from the grocery store as fillers. If you really want floral bouquets, Whole Foods always has a nice selection of in-season flowers that you could mix and match to build your own bouquet for much cheaper than using a florist or buying flowers in bulk online.
5. Ask friends and family for help. Do you have a friend who’s great at doing makeup? Ask if she’d be willing to do your makeup on your wedding day. Does your cousin love photography? Ask if he’d work with your budget restrictions to do your wedding photos. Know someone who’s a natural entertainer? Get him a mic and enlist him as the iPod DJ for the reception. When one of my sisters got married last year, my other sisters and I went out a few days early to bake her wedding cake. One of our good friends from college is doing our photos, and my sister plays guitar and agreed to do the ceremony music for us. Ask people close to you if they’d mind sharing their skills on your wedding day – and compensate them with something, whether it’s money (whatever you can afford), a special gift, a dinner date, etc.
Feel free to message me if you want more ideas. I’ve been planning our tight-budget wedding for almost a year now!
[edited for a few typos :P]