(Closed) Just Engaged, Small Budget, No Wedding Experience – Help!

posted 6 years ago in Logistics
Post # 2
3584 posts
Sugar bee

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jn1030:  first step figure out your budget

second figure out your must haves

third look for places in your budget

figure out a date. lean towards off seasons so they offer discounts 

DIY if it’s cheaper

find a pre-owned wedding dress or get a custom

you don’t need flowers or centerpieces.  

Save the dates are useless as well as favors

if you do more of a nontraditional wedding you can get stuff  way cheaper.

Post # 3
864 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2015 - Carmen\'s Lakeview

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jn1030:  Honestly, be prepared to make a budget and then probably double it to get what you want.

Our budget for the wedding was $8000 and that ended up only covering the whole reception. It didn’t cover flowers, my dress, the groomsmen attire, alterations, photography, hair and makeup, and all the stationery. 

I think DIYing will also help a lot. I looked at Minted and wedding paper divas (the ones featured in magazines) but they wanted $700 for an invitation suite for 100 people. Really?! I DIYed my invitations for $300, postage for the invite and RSVP included. 

Try looking for an all inlusive venue or an affordable one where you can bring in your own catering, etc.


You can save money by:

RSVPing online (1/2 amount of stamps

Nixing flowers or using something else instead

making your own stationery

buying your dress off the rack of on sale

nixing or DIYing the cake


Good luck! I know I’m DIYing A LOT of my wedding and it’s still costing me $15000 with my honeymoon.

Post # 4
99 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

I’m not sure what exactly you mean by small budget since it can mean different things for different people. Some people think 5k is a small budget. Some people think 15k is. So on and so on.

Figure out what’s important to you and prioritize that.

Ways you could lower cost: 

-Cut down the guest list.

-Throw an alternative reception (etc. a cake and punch reception, a brunch reception, potluck reception, food truck catering, etc.)

-Have it on a day other than Saturday since this tends to be more costly.

-Buy a used wedding dress off of Tradesy

-Find vendors that have expertise but are starting out on their own and therefore, more likely to offer better prices. For example: a student photographer could give you great photos at a fraction of the price.

-iPod rather than a DJ

-Fake flowers rather than real flowers or no flowers at all

-Have a different dessert than cake because wedding cake can be expensive.

There are plenty more ideas, but those are the ones off the top of my head.

Post # 5
93 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2015


When I got engaged I also had no clue, I thought I had an idea but I really didn’t. 

The first things I tried to figure out were: how much can you spend without being in debt, how many people would you like to be there, where will it be held. Fiance and I live in NYC (NYU grads) but his family is in Miami and mine in SoCal so that was a hot mess.  

Once we settled that, I went crazy on pinterest. But being able to pin things and then go back and delete pins I had rethought really helped me simplify what I wanted and honestly, finally figure out what I wanted. 

For me it came down to making lots of lists and reading other peoples lists and looking at pictures and stories of other people’s weddings. With a small budget, I knew I couldn’t afford everything that I could dream of but after a bit I started to realize that I didn’t really need nor want a lot of extravagance anyway. 

Writing things down and having visuals organized has really helped me start this process and be realistic about what we can and can’t afford. And I am a happy camper! 

Best of luck!

Post # 6
2425 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

1.First come up with a guest list of how many people you would like to attend your wedding this is very crucial because everything price wise is determined by per person.

2. After you figure that out figure out what kind of wedding you would like? A cocktail hour, brunch wedding, cake and punch reception, or the most expensive one a sit down/buffet dinner.

3. After you figure out guest list and what kind of wedding you would like to have pick a venue that will accommondate the amount of guest you will like to have. “The venue is literally one of the hardest part of wedding planning” 

4. After you pick your venue figure out what other vendors you will like at your wedding. Do you want a dj, photographer, cake, ceremony musician, videographer, florist, cater, etc. Oh and you need to book your officant also. 

5. After you do all of this your pretty much all set. Choose your bridal party and get onto ordering your dress.

6. Than all you need after this is invitations, wedding bands, outfits for bridal party, and etc.

7. Don’t forget to book your hair stylish, make up artist, nails, etc and DON’t Forget to tip all your vendors along with paying for the service fee and tax as wel.

Tips:Keep your guestlist low, have a small bridal party, consider making your own bouquets, use non floral centerpieces, make own invitations, purchase a used wedding dress instead of purchasing new, and have a wedding you want and can afford. Consider having wine and beer instead of an open bar. Have a wedding off season they tend to be cheaper and a day other than saturday also tends to be cheaper as well. 

Post # 8
3164 posts
Sugar bee

Agree budget and guest list are the first steps. And gues numbers really push up cost no matter how much you faff around with other stuff. If you want lots of flowers but aren’t attached to complex arrangements you can go to a flower market, buy a load of what you want, and DIY. I am probably only getting the bouquets and button holes created professionally and am going to DIY the rest as I like an undone, natural feel anyway! Good luck

Post # 9
106 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

We are doing ours on about 2.5k lol

We have picked a beatiful venue that we both adore with 40 guests (this was the most expensive thing) also one of the best parts

We are not having a reception party, we are having a few drinks with some buffet food and guests are free to join us for a meal later if they wish

we are having photos from guests and we have assigned then the Father-In-Law to take “proffessional photos”

I am making flowers are table cenrepieces myself

Getting my dress custom made(which is at a great price)

Fiance has an all occasion suit just need to get him matching waistcoat and tie

using our own cars

we are having ‘save the dates’ and invitaions we are making these ourselves save the dates are just having a photo of us with details around it, not looked at the invitaions yet but we are doing them in a ‘word’ document so its not really costing us much and we have both

This price is not includkng a honeymoon but we are having one.

My Fiance keeps asking me if im sure I dont want to spend more money lol. I don’t. I have the perfect chance to marry him, no fancy cars, fancy things is going to make that any different, I would rather we spent our money on something extra we can do together and have more amazing days to remember for the rest of our lives

Post # 11
999 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

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jn1030:  Step 1: Take a deep breath.

Step 2: Don’t rush. Just because you are engaged does not mean you have to start planning immediately. Take it as slowly as you can.

Step 3: Begin to talk with your fiance about 1) Priorities, and 2) Budget

Step 4: Get a budget down pat.

Step 5: Begin to look at what other people got for that budget. 

Step 6: Start looking around at stuff, with a vague understanding of what will be affordable.

.. Go from there.

Congratulations and good luck!

Post # 12
1002 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2016 - Enoch Turner Schoolhouse

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jn1030:  I guess you could say I’m somewhat newly-engaged too, and the first one getting married in my immediate family but second to my circle of friends.  My Fiance and I wanted destination but we wanted certain family members to attend, so we decided to have it at home.

Some of the ways we’re saving are:

We booked our wedding date on a weekday (half the price of a Saturday wedding and on “off-peak” season in which our venue also offered additional 20% off.  The total to rent our venue is $1000.  We’re having both the ceremony and reception there.

The venue capacity is at 150 – so we are limiting ourselves to that many people – thinking of doing “adult only” in which case we’re expecting the guestlist to drop in half!

I plan to DIY my centerpieces, invitations, bouquet, groomsmen’s boutonierres and decor – some I may buy off a previous bride from kijiji, craigslist, oncewed, etc. etc.

A friend of mine and I plan to DIY the bouquets 2 days prior to the wedding, and grabbing flowers from the grocery store, spending between $100-$150 as opposed to buying bouquets at $400 (and that’s JUST for the bride alone)  I am not crazy about flowers anyway – my friend has had experience and made 5 bouquets for under $150 herself altogether that turned out beautiful!

My brother is going to design my invitations for free – I will only send paper ones to the older guests and others I will send e-vites (most of my peers are all tech savvy anyways ๐Ÿ˜‰  For printing I will do it myself at home.

My sister is going to do my pictures for free – thank goodness that’s her profession

We will get a close friend to officiate the wedding

Our venue allows to bring our own alcohol in which the Fiance and I plan to spend between $500-$1K.  No corkage fee and the catering staff will serve it no charge.  All unused alcohol can be returned to the liquor store.  The caterer advised to go this route, to save $4k off the bat.

I’m purchasing my dress off of preownedweddingdresses or if I’m lucky, someone directly (if we live in the same city) and in cash – not credit card.

My brother’s 2 friends that have experience DJ-ing smaller events – are willing to DJ for cheap.  Worst case scenario – plug in the ipod to some speakers ๐Ÿ˜‰

Catering will be the most expensive out of all this.  We have 3 caterers to choose from right now, and all under $17k. 

At first our budget was $20k but I know it’s looking more like $25k, but it’s still way cost effective than a wedding I went to last year that cost a cool $45k!

I hope this helps ๐Ÿ™‚

Post # 13
1124 posts
Bumble bee

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You don’t HAVE to give up flowers to save money. If your top 3 things you want are flowers, fancy food, and drinks, then that’s what you put your budget toward and save on the venue and dj. If you prefer flowers, a gorgeous venue, and dancing, then put more money towards that and keep the food/drinks simple. Trade offs have to happen for most people, but especially if you’re on a lower budget! You can do it though, our wedding will be right around $6000 (originally planned on $4000 haha) and we have everything important to us. Not fancy, but it will be beautiful and we will be happy ๐Ÿ˜€ 

Post # 14
556 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

If you go on A Practical Wedding, then pick Real Weddings >> Various >> Super Budget Wedding, you might get some good ideas ๐Ÿ™‚ As other bees have said, “small budget” is definitely relative. I think as long as you’re willing to cut the things that aren’t 100% important to you vs. getting sucked into the MUST HAVE EVERYTHING wedding vortex (which is so, so easy to do… trust me haha) then you can totally pull off something beautiful and amazing! 

Post # 15
21 posts
  • Wedding: November 2015

I really appreciate this thread. I just got engaged, and a friend recommended this site to me. I have a feeling this will be a go-to site for my planning! <br />There is a lot of awesome advice and tips here; thank you!

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