(Closed) Elegant wedding on a CHEAP budget!!

posted 13 years ago in Money
Post # 17
1 posts
  • Wedding: May 2009

My fiance and I are on a tight budget also.  I just don’t feel right about spending massive amounts of money on one day!

We are using silk flowers for our wedding.  We got everything that we needed for a little under $200.  I don’t know if you are open to this or not but it is pretty common practice in the south where I live.  Not only did it save us money but we were able to have everything completed months in advance, they won’t die on us, and we will be able to re-use or donate them afterwards. 

As far as a wedding cake- my aunt is making ours but I have a friend who ordered hers from Wal-Mart and payed only $125.  It was simple but beautiful!  Another idea that we considered is using cake as centerpieces..  You could make them at home and ice them yourself.  Slap a flower on the top and you’re done.  You have your centerpieces and you don’t have to splurge on a big wedding cake!  (cake stands can be cheaply made with an upside down glass and a plate!)

Invitations- I bought ours at Target.  50 for $25.  We will print them on our home computer probably.

Also- I bought my veil at Big Lots for 3 dollars!  All I had to do was sew a a little comb on to the end and I was done!

 That is all that I can come up with for now!

Post # 18
380 posts
Helper bee

btw, i used Costco for invitations – super cheap and easy to customize!  websites like mywedding.com let you manage online rsvps for free so you can cut costs on stamps, envelopes, etc. for your invites. 

Post # 19
38 posts
  • Wedding: July 2009

I’ve found that the best way (for us) to save money has been to DIY most of the things. From invitations to flowers, guestbook, save the dates, ring pillow. Anything we can do ourselves, we do it!

 Sure it takes a lot of time but you are saving money! and at the end of the day, you will be very proud of yourself for giving your wedding that personal touch! That’s MHO

Post # 20
36 posts
  • Wedding: December 2009


I am putting on a wedding that I am head over heels in love with for (drumroll) $4,ooo.  Here is what I did:

I learned what I wanted to spluge on, and what I wanted to hold off on. Both my fiance and I wanted to give everyone a good time, so we focused on the food and alcohol and music.

here is what cut budget BIG TIME:

-I had my dress hand made to my specifications for $500. Danielle Marie Designs on Etsy.com is an AMAZING lady to work with, especially if you are shipping the dress back and forth across the country like  I did. 

– We are doing our flowers ourself. Look up Mrs. Lime’s centerpieces, we are ordering bright red carnations from Fiftyflowers.com (the highest rated and lowest priced flower wholesaler) and I bought bowls from ikea for $2.99 to arrange them in. Our flowers for 21 tables and 4 bouquets will cost $400.

– We had our invitations custom designed by a graphic designer : pinkdesignevents.com she is incredibly cheap, and you can get your BEAUTIFUL invites printed at kinkos or vistaprint.com and come up under $100 for all your inserts, printing and a design that is yours. Plus she is a great lady to work with! ( you can find our christmas themed wedding invites on her site!)

– We are a young, fun couple so we wanted to serve Fazoli’s for our dinner. We have a lot of vegetarians who love pasta so it seemed natural to us. We are serving 150 guests a full pasta bar and garden salad with breadsticks, along with 3 waiters for $1,400. Buffet style. 

– Beer and wine were our biggest splurges. We wanted exceptional wine from a local winery and a variety of beers from a local brewery. What was ESSENTIAL for us is finding a venue that allows you to get your own alcohol. That saves a ton. Plus we cut out the hard stuff, which eliminates the surprises of running an open bar. AND we have an old college friend (who’s not too close to us) who is a bartender and is doing our wedding for $50 plus tips all night.

-Some good things come locally. We found a historic hotel’s ballroom for $400 for the whole night, including their china, water glasses, silverware, and (since we are doing a christmas wedding) the whole place will already be decorated for the holidays.

-Ipods are a lifesaver for music. We have two loquacious friends who offered to be the emcees and man the playlists. PLUS you get full control of whats played.

-Once again, for luck, my fiance is best friends with our pastor, so we get an officiant and a church scott free. And, another dash of luck, there is a coffee shop upstairs so instead of cocktail hour, we are doing an open coffee bar with lattes and mochas for everyone!

I have more and more and more ideas. I love our wedding and what it is becoming. I don’t know if you set a date or not, but we gave ourselves 2 years to plan this, so I haven’t had a chance to stress out yet!!! I ordered early, watched for sales, and cut out any room for mistakes. I just feel great that I can focus on marrying the love of my life, rather than getting wrapped up in details. JUST REFUSE TO SAY NO!!

I told my friends I was doing a $4,000 wedding for 150, feeding them, having a custom dress and graphic designer, having flower centerpieces, and a full range of good wine and beer. They laughed. SEE WHOS LAUGHING NOW!! lol

Good luck. Don’t forget to keep your eyes on your fiance and it will be beautiful no matter what. 

Post # 21
1148 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

@scheerintraining:  Im so impressed! Lot of really great ideas and cost-cutters.  Wish I would’ve been reading this website before I booked our reception venue which allows no outside ANYTHING (drinks, food, even chocolate fountain!!

Good luck budget planning.  I have a 10k budget too, but I am planning to chip in about another 3k of my own to make sure I don’t have to skimp on the important things.

Post # 22
58 posts
Worker bee

Another piece of advice is also realizing that there isn’t much you can do sometimes about certain things that are area-specific. For example, I’m in NYC, and the average for weddings here are upwards of $20K easy.

 I’m almost pretty much done at getting everything I need at about $17K. That includes full sit down dinner, 3 wedding ceremonies, Bridesmaid or Best Man dresses, open bar, wedding dress, hair and makeup and photography! So that said, its a steal for NYC prices. There was a lot of negotiation and budgeting.

So do the best that you can but keep in mind that in some areas, it’s just really hard for things like the reception. Good luck!! 

Post # 23
2639 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

For a photographer check out: http://www.kellinicolephoto.com/  If I had heard from her before Mrs. Avocado posted about her I would have probably booked her as well.

For wedding gowns, check Craigslist.org because they have some great deals on there.  Or you could check the boards on here.  

Check out this blog: http://vintageglamblog.com/  I believe she did her GORGEOUS vintage wedding for 10K.  

Post # 24
67 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2022 - Auberge du Soleil

Congrats on your engagement! I think it is great that you are trying to save money for a house too!

I second the idea of doing a lunch or brunch. We did this and saved a TON of money that way – we also got to see each other all day instead of just in the evening.

Skip favors – nobody will notice and they are usually a little wasteful.

Buy a used dress or a bridesmaid dress. And don’t spend much on your shoes since nobody will see them. I bought mine at goodwill for $15!

Good luck and have fun!

Mrs. Pinot Noir

Post # 25
4 posts



tim’s just starting out and he’s fantastic. he did our engagement pictures and they turned out w o n d e r f u l. i think he’s based in san jo but should be able to travel?  


moraga valley pres church. my friend had her wedding there and it was soooo beautiful, stained glass and everything. and it was cheap! def under $1000. (at least at sept of last year). it’s kinda in the middle of nowhere so finding a reception hall might be far/hard. but it’s soooo pretty. and cheap.

good luck!

Post # 26
110 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2022 - Hotel Vitale

Hi, I am in the Bay Area as well, and while my budget isn’t as tight, I do have a few suggestions (most have been posted above already).

1.  Lunch or Brunch. Or if you really want to do an evening reception:do a champagne cocktail hour with appitizers.

2. Photography, not cheap, but very affordable for the Bay Area: Cathryn Lovecraft.  And I loved meeting her. Also search Craigslist- I found a few very beginning photographers there. And you can easily DIY a photo book- don’t worry about paying 1K for a proffesional one.

3. Music- ipod and check out UC Berkeley music students for ceremony music.

4. Invites- you could DIY or check out weddingpaperdivas. I think they have amazing invites at a great price.

5. Have your dress made- or check out Bella Bridesmaid and get a dress in white or ivory. 

6. Make-up- go to a counter!! Or Aveda and Paul Mitchell both have schools in the area. 

7. Cupcakes.

8. Location- chose a site that includes rentals and everything else. 

Hopefully that helps.

Post # 28
129 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

There have been so many really great suggestions, I feel like this one is just a drop in the bucket.  Since your cupcakes will be so cute in their lovely little wrappers, why not create some sort of elevated display at the center of each table, instead of a centerpiece (or perhaps arrange them around the base of a very simple DIY floral arrangement for a little something extra)?

Good luck!

Post # 30
2 posts

If you’re not shy about asking for certain gifts that you can use IN your wedding, then you might want to try out the WishList option on KismetGiftShop.com. It may already be too late for you if you’ve already had your engagement party or bridal shower, but if not, you can browse  the site for all the wedding accessories you’d like for your wedding ceremony and reception and add them to your wishlist. Then you can send the list to your shower guests and voila–you get to save a whole line item on your budget! Some people are not comfortable with this but hey, if we’re already registering for gifts, why not "register" for stuff that we actually need for the wedding itself! This will save almost $1,000 if you were looking to get the works (personalized guest books, flower girl baskets, etc.)

Post # 31
13 posts
  • Wedding: June 2008

Keep it simple!  Don’t worry about all of the little details that most guests don’t notice anyway.  Forget about fancy linens, etc.  These might sound the same as others, but here are some suggestions that may help…

 ~ Try and find an outdoor venue (if that’s what you want).  It may be a lot less expensive than having it in a hotel, ballroom, etc.

~ Pick a date that is not on a Friday or a Saturday.  Most places double in price just because it is on a weekend.  Sunday is a good option too!

~ Have an afternoon affair right after your ceremony.  You could have your ceremony and reception in the same location to cut costs as well. 

~ Don’t have a dinner!  I know that others have said this too, but that takes a huge chunk of your money.  Instead of appetizers, you could have a desert bar.  That way you take care of your cake (or cupcakes) and can have other small treats as well. 

~ We opted to have a candy bar.  We didn’t use fancy candies, but used classic favorites that everyone loves (i.e. m&m’s, mike and ike, hot tamales, twizzlers, etc).  That ended out being our favor and it was the biggest hit of the night!  We had 210 people & spent about $100-150 on candy.  BTW- people don’t care about favors.  They are basically a waste of money unless you plan on spending $8-10 on each favor.  Nobody takes them and nobody will be offended if they don’t get something.

~ Instead of floral centerpieces or accents, use lots of candles or even willow sticks in small cylinder vases (depending on the time of year you choose).  You can buy willow sticks at Michael’s and even Pier One for really cheap. 

~ Buy a sample gown.  You will want to feel beautiful on your wedding day, so I wouldn’t settle on an evening dress or bridesmaid dress.  You can find designer sample gowns (meaning they’ve been worn once or are overstock) for $300-$500.  Check out this sight!  They have every designer and are highly recommended.  My girlfriend bought her Amsale gown from here and spent $300!  And it’s not a fraud.  Here’s the sight:


~ You can also find great photography for a reasonable price.  Do your research.  You will find somebody just as great as those celeb photographers!

~ Have a friend do your hair and make-up, or do it yourself if you can!  You will save bigtime!

~ If you have a friend or family member that has a video camera and would be willing to shoot your wedding for you, go for it!  You’ll want a recap of your day because it’ll be the only way that you can remember it!  It goes by so quickly! 

~ DIY!  Do it all yourself!  Have some friends over to help you tie ribbons or hot glue things together.  Make it a party!  It will be a fun way to hang out with all of your girlfriends!  Even if you aren’t crafty, you can do it!

~ Check out all of the budget friendly websites that the others have written about.  That can also help you a lot.

**Trust me.  Having a small budget is workable.  Just don’t go crazy on the details!  Good luck on your planning process!  I’m sure everything will be beautiful!

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