(Closed) How to have a wedding for less than $5k

posted 8 years ago in Money
Post # 3
541 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I’ve been scouring eBay for deals on decorations and accessories, since they seem to add up. So far I have found toasting flutes that I got for 50% of retail, 1000 flower petals for the centerpeices for 99 cents (I think 200 at the crafts store were almost 8 dollars) and crinoline for my dress for 20.00. I’m also not going nuts on my flowers since they can be expensive and they die in a few days. Some of my biggest finds, believe it or not, have been in the crafts section of Wal-Mart in the clearance.

Post # 4
3866 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

Honestly?  It sounds as though either 1) you need a larger budget (if possible) or 2) change either catering, photographer, or dj. 

Perhaps this would help: if this were NOT your wedding and was a project from your job, what would you suggest and/or do? 

If those three things are putting you at your budget, something needs to change. 

Of course, that’s just my personal opinion…. 

good luck!!

and don’t forget to check out Goodwill, thrift stores, and second hand stores.  as well as yard sales…

Post # 5
214 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

It can definitely be done, but its all about the priorities. Stake out what matters, what you can afford to spend on those items and then MAKE the other items fit in the budget.

We’re getting married for $3,500

Venue – $245

Chairs – $2 each for a total of $160

Reception venue – “Free” with $500 in food but requires $100 set up fee

Food – Hors d’oeuvres for approximately $650

Dress and alterations – $670

Tuxedo – Free with the other rentals

Cake – $145 (she works out of her home)

Officiant – $50 (we’re writing our own ceremony and skipping a rehearsal)

Photographer – $200 (we’re using an amateur, but she’s done a several weddings and the pictures are quite good)

Videographer – $75 (ceremony only)

All stationary was DIY – $150 including postage

Flowers – $60 (Found a private garden, $30/bucket of flowers)

Decorations – About $120 total including centerpieces

Violinist for ceremony – $150

Music – iPod

Favors – Skipped

Plus whatever I missed 🙂 


It CAN be done!! You just have to be willing to work. No taking the easy way out. Keep researching vendors and stores and don’t stop until you’ve found what you want at a price that works for you. Good luck!


eta: We totally skipped a limo and all that jazz. And we’re having it dry. Liquor, the permits, bartenders, etc is just soo out of range for us!

Post # 6
5497 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

We’ve managed. Is there a family member with a place big enough for you to have it there? Would you consider doing an iPod wedding and just doing a PA system rental? People won’t notice misssing favors, or you can make cookies! DIY your invites with an invitation kit. @ Men’s wearhouse if you have 5 rentals the 6th is free…they usually give that to the groom! Is there a church that will lend you tables and chairs if a family memeber CAN host the wedding? Do you have to have catering or can you buy the food and have a family member make it? Have a Potluck rehearsal dinner. You can try DIYing your flowers through http://www.growersbox.com

These are just a few things we are doing. You should look into it!

Post # 7
3866 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

@Ms_Charisma: That’s actually OUR total budget! 

We’re actually having a friend who’s a photographer do the pictures (all of ’em! engagement, bridals, wedding) and another who’s going to do the video (he’s an indy film maker and REALLY good).  A family member is doing the ceremomy, and we’re asking another friend to be our dj (actually, he IS a dj! lol). 

The most expensive thing will be the venue followed by food.  We’re telling everyone it’s byob (they sell it at the venue, which is actually a resort of sorts).

Also, if you want favors, you can do DIY favors.  There’s plenty of ideas on here, around the web, and at Martha Stewart’s site. 


Post # 8
1701 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

This is tough but not impossible.  Try a lunch reception. Ipod dancing (beggars can’t be choosers), no alcohol (sorry FI), used/sample dress (this is not nearly as bad as it sounds–lots of great options here), artificial flowers, no limo, no favors (nobody will miss them).

Everybody has to compromise with their priorities.  However, 5K is still a lot of money so don’t scrimp on photographer–that and a dirty white dress are the only thing you will have left the next day.


Post # 9
1765 posts
Buzzing bee


Are you having the reception at FI’s family restaurant?  Is there somebody that plays music there on the weekends that you like that would give you a deal? It sounds like you’ve already chosen your photographer?-So that seems to be non-negotiable. Does the restaurant already have vases and candle holders that you can use?  If you are already using the restaurant as your venue, can you offer beer, wine and a signature cocktail to cut down on costs for liquor, or can you give out 2 tickets for drinks, and then follow with a cash bar? Do you know someone who has a nice car, instead of a limo? Can you diy  seasonal flowers and or favors, invitations, etc. You have a lot of good ideas given to you here.  I hope this helps. 🙂

Post # 10
3601 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 1992

Here’s what our budget looks like so far:

Venues: both free

my dress (including crinoline and veil): $100

His attire:  $70

my shoes: $25

linens: $450

reception entertainment: $300

ceremony decor: $95

reception decor (includes centerpieces): $50

Photography: $700

Officiant (not required, but he’s making a trip): $150

Not yet paid for:

rings: ~$300

flowers for bridal party: ~$100

food: ~$600

alterations for my dress: ~$150

bridal party gifts: ~$300

stationery + postage: $~200




That’s for a 150 person wedding on a Friday afternoon in June. (The reception is not a “meal”, but there will be plenty of food)




Post # 11
1046 posts
Bumble bee

We tried to set our budget at $5,000 but honestly it just didn’t happen..

We ended up spending closer to $12,000 (for around 50 people)… that being said, my parents set the budget low because they knew more would end up being spent and that if the budget had been set at $20,000 it would have been a $30,000 wedding.. and the spending wasn’t me.. it was my mom. She insisted on a full meal, unlimited beer and wine and the best photographer in Houston. I personally think it could have been done for less, but I’m sure it is going to be fantastic and beautiful which makes me happy!

There were a few things that I wouldn’t have paid so much for, but I am essentially doing a destination wedding since I live in NC and the wedding is in TX… I think it could have been a lot cheaper had I have been able to do more DIY work.

The best advice I can give is DIY as much as possible! If you want a great photographer you are going to have to pay a huge amount of money.. Ours ended up costing around 2 grand… yeah, that is a lot of money especially on a small budget. A DJ probably won’t be a possibility and flowers are really expensive… I think you will have to settle on things, and that may or may not work for you.

Best of luck and well wishes your way!

Post # 12
794 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

I think you need to prioritize what is most important and what can be skimped on without being dissapointed.

For example:

I loved our venue and wanted a really great menu but we couldn’t afford it for 150 people.  Instead, we decided to have a really intimate wedding for 50 of our closest friends and family with a great venue, food, etc.  Honestly nobody got extremly upset for not being invited because you always had the “we are having a really small inimate wedding” . For us cutting the guest list wasn’t a big deal.  However, you may feel like the guest list is most important.  In that case, I would find a less expensive venue and catering options.

Post # 13
505 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

@Akennedy01:  I am having my wedding in Louisville, KY.  I originally had a budget of $2000 (which is impossible with what I wanted) but thanks to friends and family that budget has been pushed to $6000 and the budget is working out perfectly even with splurging in a couple of areas.

Photographer:  Photos are VERY important to me because that is how you remember the day for years to come and I wanted a professional that was very good at it.  I searched Craigslist for months for photographers that were less than $1000 for what I wanted, and studied their pictures.  I finally found one I loved that looked like she should be charging the $2000 that most photographers charge.  She was only $580!  (included 6 hours, engagement session, high res photos on disc, dvd of wedding photos set to music, and edited photos)

Food:  Hopefully if you are going with family you are getting a deal anyway.  I decided to go with an appetizer reception because I love appetizers and I wanted more of a mingling reception so their isn’t a seat for everyone to sit down at once.  We are having it at a restaurant with a great reception room and they don’t charge a room fee.  It looks like the food is going to come out to about $2000

DJ:  I also kept an eye on Craigslist for this and ended up contacting the first 5 DJ’s I saw on Craigslist and on one of the wedding site lists.  I got a quote back for $250 for 4 hours and that includes lights.  They only charge $25 for each additional hour.

So for me, these three things combined come out to $2,830 which for you would still leave $2000 for everything else.

Flowers:  I bought my flowers (Calla Lilies) at Hobby Lobby for $1 each during a 50% off sale and I am making all of the bouquets out of those.  I am using a total of around 70 flowers.  Other than that, unless there is some money left over right before the wedding, I will not be purchasing any real flower arrangements.  Total $70

Hair and Makeup:  I am paying for my 5 bridesmaids and my flower girl to get their hair done and also the makeup for my Maid/Matron of Honor.  The total cost including tip will be $380

Ceremony Venue:  This is where I splurged.  There were many much cheaper options and really the only reason I looked at this place is because they had another room that was half the price and while I was there I just took a look at this one because I loved it.  One of my bridesmaids came with me and when she saw it she was like “You have to have it!”  So she paid the difference from what I could afford.  The total cost was $1280

Wedding Dress:  I went to Davids Bridal and tried on dresses until I found one that I loved.  I then went searching online for the same dress in the same size that someone else might be selling.  I lucked out and found the exact same dress in the right size with tags still on it, and it included the slip and a veil.  At David’s Bridal the dress by itself was $649, but I paid $160

I am not doing centerpieces because of the restaurant style seating and the beauty of the room on its own.  It doesn’t need it so I am just going to set out some votive candles.  I am still debating on a limo just to get the wedding party around for pictures, it would be $72/hr but I would only need it for 2 hours.  Another thing to consider is to find a limo company that offers transfers.  That way they will charge you one price to take you from point A to point B instead of renting it by the hour.

I hope this helps!

Post # 15
962 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

We got married for under $5K and for us… it wasn’t just deciding what was most important to us, but how to also get those specific items at super cheap prices.  It took a lot of bargain hunting – and sacrifice. 

Post # 16
371 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

We are still in the middle of getting planning off the ground, but what seems to be our biggest potential saver is having the ceremony and reception at the same place. We will save on transportation, and venue fees. The three locations we are trying to decide on are all inns. So, we are paying to book the entire inn and that will take care of sleeping for all of our guests (20), the ceremony, the reception, and the breakfast (which is included in the price of 2 of the venues).


Also, luckily for us, we wanted a winter wedding and having a winter wedding in the Northeast really saves.

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