(Closed) Elegant wedding on a CHEAP budget!!

posted 13 years ago in Money
Post # 3
14 posts
  • Wedding: December 2009

Nina Willdorf wrote a great book "Wedding Chic" that I read.  It is all about getting more while spending less. 

Aside from that here is my advice:

1) Your dress – order a bridesmaid dress in white or ivory.

2) Do it yourself invitations – Staples has an awesome selection of different ways you can put this together.  You can go to a copy shop to have them printed and cut down to the perfect size.

3) Don’t serve a meal –

4) Use one type of flower and order them from a grocery store such as Whole Foods –

5) Since your dad is a paster (as in mine) see if he can ask for some favors for mucicians for your ceremony.

6) Don’t give favors – doesn’t matter how nice your wedding is – no one cares about the favor.  I’ve gotten M&M’s cheap picture frames, chocolates, whatever – no one will be looking around thinking, "so when do we get our favors?"

7) Don’t serve alcohol – or limit it to bear and wine.

 – I know a girl who did a wedding on a 5K budget.  It can be done, you just have to stick to your priorities and cut out the fluff.

Post # 4
2 posts
  • Wedding: June 2009

2 & 4. Cutting corners. Decide what is and isn’t important to you.

I am cutting corners on my invites…(it ends up in the trash anyway), and cake (I’m having cupcakes from Sam’s & putting them in gorgeous wrappers). I’ve heard lots of brides say they used their flowers from Costco or wholesale and they were beautiful…

Really research your venue. I think 10k will be a stretch if your family is huge. Hope this helps!

Post # 5
126 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

For ideas and inspiration, go to Style Me Pretty. She has section featuring "Budget Beautiful" real weddings. I believe they are $15K and under, most around $10K. http://www.stylemepretty.com/category/real-weddings/budget-beautiful/

I found that the food/drink was the biggest expense. Ours ate up (no pun intended) half our 10K budget because my DH insisted on a full dinner. If you want great photography, you’re going to want to spend less on food/drink than we did. If I were you, I’d do an afternoon wedding with really nice hors d’oeuvres and mimosas, which would be very elegant and less expensive.

Other cost-cutting tips: 

– Have simple, inexpensive invitations; use RSVP postcards; skip STDs. The wedding industry wants you to spend thousands on your wedding stationary to "set the theme", but you really do not need to. I did ours on a high-quality lazer copier for about $60. If you don’t want to DIY, then order the classic thermography on white/ecru cardstock. If you do want designer invites, then just order the actual invites and do maps, RSVP, etc on your own in a coordinating paper.

– Buy your dress used. Check bridal salons for samples (a great way to get a designer dress at a low cost), or look online at ebay, preownedweddingdresses.com, Brides Against Brest Cancer, etc. Also consider a white bridesmaids dress or off the rack gown; a nice veil can really dress them up.

– Consider DIY flowers. We did all the flowers for our wedding for about $250. They weren’t professional quality, I admit, but they did the job and saved us a ton of money.

– Sounds like you’re going to get a good price on the minister and church ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you don’t have an area at the church for a reception, consider private homes and yards, public parks, theater lobbies, and home owner association club houses. They are often less expensive then "wedding sites." Restaurants are often free with a per person minimum, but that usually is a full dinner.

– Skip the DJ or live mucisians and iPod your music. We actually used our computer, not an actual iPod, but you get the idea ๐Ÿ˜‰ I actually found it a huge relief to not have to interview people and to have complete control over the playlist. It worked great for us because we primarily wanted background music, not a throw-down dance party.

Post # 6
34 posts

I’m doing my wedding for 10K as well and everything is almost done. I opt out of buying a huge fancy wedding cake it’s pretty for about 2 hours than get dystroyed so I saved $500 and am getting 3 coscot sheet cakes and everyone loves costco cakes. I’m displaying to of them with Stair stepper deals from Wilton.com. I’m making my own invites real simple. People invites end up a trash can in a month anyways I don’t car what they look like. My moms friends husband is performing the wedding and for favors either skip them or tell people you forgot them LOL that way people will think well it’s the thought that counted. I’m pretty sure my cousin did that LOL. Make your own veil that will save you a few bucks and Michaels has some cute Tiares.

Post # 7
943 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2008 - Winery in the Gold Country

Consider getting married in a public park… while you sacrifice privacy, you gain a beautiful backdrop that needs virtually no decor.  I know in the bay area it costs next to nothing ($500 and under) to rent out space at places like crissy field, places in golden gate park, etc.

Post # 9
6 posts

getting  good planner helps, check around getting someone to do the leg work helps out greatly.

Post # 10
380 posts
Helper bee

1) have your wedding on a friday or sunday, or maybe even on a weekday.

2) have a brunch / lunch reception.  

3) if the timing works out for you, find a good makeup artist at a makeup counter who can do your makeup for free.  i found one at nordstrom in valley fair, san jose who did my makeup for free for my engagement pictures (twice).  i was never pressured or required to buy anything either time!  

4)  few vendor recommendations for the East Bay area:

– bebridal.com for hair and makeup 

– Bev Tanaka for cake (she wasn’t available for my wedding but i’ve heard great things about her!)

5) don’t spend thousands of dollars on a dress if it’s not a priority for you. there are many beautiful dresses that are much cheaper, and if you wear one of those, no one is going to think "omg she totally should have spent $5000 for a nicer dress".  spend the extra money on more guests, more food, or the downpayment.  

hope that helps!  congrats!

Post # 12
101 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

There’s a few way to cut corners, but my biggest money saver is this: find venue that allows outside caterers and byo alcohol!  I have a guest list of 250 and the venue will cost a little to rent, but overall we’ll be saving 15k on just food… alcohol, well that will save a ton too to BYO! ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!

Post # 13
300 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2009 - Byodo-In Temple, Luau Reception

Everyone already gave GREAT advice!
Just to add on the whole dress thing, Watters and Jenny Yoo have great bridesmaid dresses in white, ivory and cream. I tried on and found I dress I liked at a shop, but ended up purchasing it off of Ebay for $400 cheaper!

Great alternatives for centerpieces (rather than flowers), use fruit!







Post # 14
1741 posts
Bumble bee

Look for sales and look for wedding things at non-wedding shops. I’m using flower pots in my centerpieces and just bought them this week off season and 60% off from Crate and Barrel outlet.

I’m getting all of my ribbon, tulle (DIY veil), etc. from Ryco which is a ribbon factory located in RI that has a store front. Everything they sell is top quality but buying direct from the factory cuts out the mark up of craft stores. They ship everywhere (google Ryco, RI) and then just call and ask for what you want they tel me they will work with you to pt together an order and ship it anywhere.

There’s also plenty of $$ to be saved on flowers and dress by shopping around and being flexible.

 I’m plannig for 100 under 10k. For social/cultural reasons, we cannot forgo the dinner or alcohol and our buggest priority was venue then photographer is second for me but I still have a hard time spending 2k+ on this one item so we haven’t booked one yet.

Post # 15
49 posts
  • Wedding: May 2000

Since you mentioned good photography as something that’s important to you, here are my suggestions on how to save money on photography.

1) Determine realistic rates for a professional photography. Weddings are the 1st time most people hire professional photographers. Until then they associate photography costs with retail chain portrait studios or .19 prints at the drug store. Expect sticker shock – then take a breath. Remember, photography is an art and a service.

2.) Hire the most talented photographer you can afford and get the least amount of products upfront.  It doesn’t matter how many proofs, albums, etc are included if the photos are mediocre. You won’t want them. Instead focus on the creativity of the photographer and your comfort level with him/her.

3.) If you have to choose between a wedding album or a disc of photos, get the album. I know you have good intentions. You plan to print photos or make an album but you probably won’t get around to it. Your photographer, who took the time to get to know you & your desires, is the best person to create an album for you, so let them complete their job.

4.) Skip the table cameras. Many brides think they’re a good way for guests to capture photos of other guests. If they use it, they’ll take pictures of you. Or they won’t return it. Or only a few photos are taken and most frames or empty. You’ll rarely get a decent photo out of them so put that money towards the pro photographer.

5) Understand what’s included in the contract. Every photographer is different in how they work and what they include. Don’t make any assumptions. If retouching is included, understand what their definition of retouching is since everyone has different standards for minor or basic retouching. 

Good luck!


Post # 16
27 posts
  • Wedding: January 2022

My fiance and I are marrying in the Bay Area on a pretty tight budget as well!  Check out Cafe de la Paz (we were told we could have the reception there for about 80-100 people for 6-8K…that’s the out the door price, which includes set up, gratuity, food, drink, etc…)

 You might also look into marrying in a park (there are some good places in Golden Gate) or having your reception at a venue that allow you to bring in your own vendors (like the Fort Mason Center).


Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

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