(Closed) Girls on a budget: HOW Did you keep your costs down AND What did things Cost?

posted 9 years ago in Money
Post # 63
15020 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

Now that you got me thinking, heres my breakdown so far for of 25k for 180 people (taxes and tips included).  It is pretty barebones and diy, but doable.  If you’re looking in MA, which would be good caues the sales tax is less than NY (and that crap adds up!)… I think the key number you’ll want to see on that menu is less than 40 for the 3 course dinner. 

Food: 11.5k (3 course dinner and 6 pieces of apps/person)
Ceremony fee: 1500
Open bar all night (Beer and Wine): 4.5k
Photography: 3kDJ: 1100
Centerpieces: 650 from a supermarket florist, awesome arrangement for the price, I showed my friend, and she thought they were like 90/piece and they were only 30!
Bouquets and Boutieneirs: DIY costco, 2 dozen roses/$15, and then 2 other bunches for more color and variety for $10 each.
Invitations: $50/100 invites – Target card kit with my own design.
Dress: Total bargain: $250 dress, $130 alterations (definitely use independant and not a store)
Hair/MU: Trial: 120, day of: 250
Cake: 500
And then the rest of the 2k is misc (200 for my accessories, 200 for tux, mani/pedi, etc)

Post # 64
64 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

My wedding is $40,000+ for 200 guests and is still growing but here are the major cut backs and deals my Fiance have found so far::

  1. Liqour- I found a liqour store to supply all alcohol for the wedding and WILL BUY BACK all un-opened liqour!! We get to keep all the open liquor. Not all caterers will allow this, so check with yours first.
  2. Cheap invitations- simple clean invites from Michaelscraftstore.com, purchased with the 40% off coupons. Coupons can be found on their website.
  4. Serving only cake for dessert
  5. No favors (who wants that junk,.. unless its edible :)) Well still debating on this, but I found a local grocery store to make and decorate sugar cookies for 60 cents. My cake lady quoted me 5.50 per cookie!!
  6. DIY Flower bouquetes
  7. Free Centerpieces- the caterer closed the deal by offering free centerpieces. Wait it out and see what you can get before you move forward and sign a contract.
  8. Haggled with the chair rental place. Saved 15% after threatening to use a different rental company.
  9. Bought my wedding dress from a bridal store a friend worked at, saved 15% plus an additional $50 since they were having a trunk sale.
  10. LOOK for groupons or livingsocial deals for savings for manicures/pedicures.
  11. hired a string duo instead of a string trio for the ceremony.

The single greatest expense is the photography, followed by food, rentals, band, venue, cinematography. Yuck!


Post # 65
966 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

Here are some ways we are saving money/cutting corners…and yes a $30,000 budget for 150 people is saving in this area.  Keep in mind we are established professionals in our 30’s.  Our friends & family have spent $40,000 to $80,000 on their weddings, so to their standards this is a budget wedding. 


– Friday night wedding saves 10% right from the get go.  Budgeted $14,725.  For a Saturday night wedding this would be $16,225.  Saving $1,500

– Venue is all-inclusive, meaning centerpieces and cake along with basic white linens, taxes & gratuity are all included.  We have no unexpected costs with the reception.

– We are not doing any upgrades.  The package is already very generous. Who cares if you only get 6 hors d’oeuvres? I know the standard in North Jersey & New York (and even Philadelphia now days) is to have a very lavish cocktail hour.  We are kicking it “old school” with a modest cocktail hour and a delicious dinner. 

– We are doing everything at one location…ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception.  This eliminates transportation & ceremony fees (church fees are exorbitant in Philadelphia). The ceremony site fee is free since we are having our cocktail hour outside as well.

– The venue is also a restaurant.  So they aren’t relying solely on weddings and other banquets for their income.  If we had gone to a standard reception place, the price per plate would have jumped a minimum of $30 per head and that would not have included taxes, gratuity, centerpieces, and cake. 


– Who remembers and keeps invitations besides the bride & groom and the parents?  No one!  So why spend $1,000 on invitations when you can spend $40.  Seriously.  I struggled with this.  I found invitations I loved on Hello! Lucky. They were $792 for invitations and response cards.  However, while strolling through Target one day I saw simple DIY invitations for $40.  I picked them up on a whim and we are totally using them.  I also got letter pressed Thank You cards from Target for cheap.

– My Save the Dates came from Vista Print and they only cost $6 which covered shipping & handling.  I designed it myself, uploaded the image, and had 100 postcards printed for free.  Score!

– We will DIY the escort cards, programs and menus. 


– We are using flowers that are in season and keeping it simple.  No one remembers particulars, just the overall feel…like oh it was a nice wedding or I remember there were no decorations. 

– I went to a bridal expo at our venue and received a coupon for a free maid of honor bouquet.  Score! 

– DIY ceremony décor.  We are getting married in a garden that will be loaded with mums, so we will not be using fresh flowers to decorate. 

– Total budget is $1,000.  $900 of which is floral…bouquets, boutonnières, and miscellaneous. 

Post # 66
1211 posts
Bumble bee

I’m in the planning and budgeting stage but I’ve kept costs down by deciding to make my own invites (ordering flat cardstock and making even the pocket folds myself). I model so my favorite photographer offered to do my wedding for me for $600 from the moment I open my eyes to the moment we go to bed so $600 for about 16 hours. I’ve looked for wholesalers online and found some great ones for favors and extras like wrappings. Decorating packages $2000 and they set up and take down venue decorations and I get to use any of their decorating supplies I want. Chair covers, sashes, backdrops, vases, feathers, blah blah blah. We are a young couple (25, and him 26) so it’s all about getting everything I want (I enjoy elegant high class/diva glam) on a shoestring budget. $20k for 150-200 ppl. This may be the one time I’m happy to live in a small city now and not in Vancouver any more.

Post # 67
1767 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

Wow, the cost of weddings other places is blowing my mind right now. $120 a head?!?! The priciest place we’ve looked at is $47, and that’s for a gormet buffet with 3 meats, a carving station, pasta, potatoes, rolls, salad, and 4 hours of premium shelf open bar. Plus, that includes all linens, and the rental fee for the hall is $1000. And I thought THAT was ridiculous!

We are having 250-300 people and our budget is $15,000. As cheap as things are around here, that’s still a crazy tight budget! To cut costs, I have a lot of “friendors,” so see if you have anyone who has a special skill who’s willing to help you out! Mine include:

Invitations- a friend from high school called “dibs” two years ago, and she’ll be doing them for a minimal cost.

Flowers- her mother is a florist, who also called “dibs” on my wedding way before I was engaged, and she is doing everything for a discounted price. We are also going to do a mixture of real and silk flowers.

Ceremony music- I was in band for 9 years. I know LOTS of musicians, and several of them have told me they will work for free booze. Which works out, since we’re having an open bar anyway. All I have to do is decide what I want, have my friend arrange the music, and decide the instrumentation!

DJ- a good friend’s long-time boyfriend interns for NASA by day and DJ’s by night. Pretty much the coolest guy ever. He used to do things for school functions, and he’s really good! He will be our first choice. If he can’t do it, we are considering getting a technology-savvy friend to emcee an ipod dj!

Cake- My grandma’s friend makes DELICIOUS cakes, so we’re going to have her make a display cake with several fake layers and a real bottom layer for cutting. Then she’s going to have sheet cakes in the back that will be served to the guests.

Dress- I want to keep my dress around $500. If I fall in love with something more expensive, I will scour the internet until I find a reasonably priced used one. The Classified ads on the Bee are great! Alterations will be done by another of grandma’s friends (hooray for well-connected grandmas!).

Makeup- I’m doing my own! I count as a friendor, right? lol. I figure I can spend the same amount of money I’d spend getting it done and buy some good makeup, and that way I have something that lasts for more than a day!

Photography- we’re not totally sure about this one, but we are considering hiring the campus photographer at my college. His pictures are wonderful, and he offers a complete all-day wedding package for $1200… but I know him fairly well, considering I also take pictures for one of the offices on campus, so we run into each other a lot. He’s such a nice man, but we can’t afford his prices. When the wedding gets closer, I’ll see if we can strike some sort of deal.

This is all I have for now… I’m sure I’ll think of some more, though!


Post # 68
641 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Within the past three or so years, the economy has greatly affected my family, so an extravagant wedding with a hefty pricetag is out of the question, and quite honestly I am more than okay with that. The wedding will be strictly a small family affair with around thirty guests, and we hope to keep the costs as small as possible. I will provide an outline of the costs I am sure of below.


Venue: Local State Park – $100

Our ceremony will take place outdoors on a beautifully landscaped lawn beneath the trees in front of an old chapel. The chapel is beautiful inside, but I did not feel comfortable having the ceremony in there, because I was raised Jewish (though I celebrate all holidays, as my mom is Jewish and dad is Christian). The reception will take place on a picnic shelter pavilion within the park. There is electricity in the shelter and well-kept picnic tables, so tables and chairs are not necessary. The best thing is that we get our $100 back after the wedding as long as we do the clean-up and ensure no damages are made.


Dress: Made By Myself – $150

As scary as this may sound, I am making my own dress. I have designed it and picked the fabric, which cost a total of $150. My friend is going to help with the sewing. I am looking forward to having a one-of-a-kind dress!


Food: Catered BBQ and Homemade Pies – Approximately $450

I was really debating whether or not to make the food entirely myself with the help of friends and family, but decided that may be a bit much, however, I have not completely ruled out having the main course catered and making the sides myself. At the moment, we are leaning toward it being completely catered for $12.00/person. The homemade pies will be made by my grandmother from family recipes, and at the moment, my fiance and I are in the midst of deciding whether or not we should make our own cake together.

Flowers and Decor – Local Market/Collected – Approximately $100-$200

I love flowers. They are just one of my favorite things in life, and I couldn’t imagine not having real flowers on my wedding day. This is not to say that fake flowers do not look beautiful, I am just very set on having real blooms. I am going to purchase certain flowers from the town grocery store and the local farmer’s market either the day before the wedding or the morning of. I am also growing white pumpkins to use in the decor. We are also decorating with vintage vases from my grandmother, mason jars that my mom has collected, and wine bottles, which will all hold blooms, in addition to candles of various sizes. Each picnic table will be adorned with a burlap runner over a small lace overlay (fabric has yet to be purchased for this).


Invitations: Made By Me – $70

I have designed my own invitations by scanning a sketch I drew into my computer and printing it on cardstock I purchased at Michael’s. I am adding color to them by hand painting the printed version with watercolors. The price above represents the cost of the cardstock, watercolor paints, and necessary brushes.


Current Total: $970


Clearly, there are still some things that need to be figured out, but at the moment, I am happy how everything is going and think the day will turn out lovely without costing an arm and a leg. I hope everyone else’s plans are coming along well also!

Post # 72
1690 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

just saved a sum of money i am proud of.

rather than pay for the hotels drinks package,  we opted for buying our own and paying the hotel corkage fees….(£8 per bottle)  !

but doing the same as the package we was having, 

1 pre dinner drink, 2 glasses of wine with dinner and 1 glass of bubby for the toast, 

buying our own wine and paying corkage,  we get 2 pre dinner drinks, half a bottle of wine per pseron with dinner,  and 1 glass of bubby for the toast. 

doing it this way we have saved £140!    which has paid for my wedding cake and favors….

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