(Closed) Needing advice from couples who paid for everything themselves

posted 3 years ago in Money
Post # 2
66 posts
Worker bee

loverofcatsandwine:  We had a budget of $3,000 so we got creative and didn’t have a “traditional wedding.” We got married at the courthouse on a Friday afternoon. I know that isn’t everybody’s style, but it TOTALLY worked for us as a couple! Our parents all live in town, so that evening we took them all out for a fancy dinner to celebrate. Then a month and a half later we had a party to celebrate with our extended family and friends (180 person guest list). We did it at a city park. The venue was indoor/outdoor with a kitchen and tables and chairs included for under $700 to rent for the whole day. We served BBQ and picnic-style foods. The food and drink used up the biggest chunk of our budget. We also rented lawn games and a music system, plus extra tents which came in handy! We decorated with balloons. They are inexpensive and festive. All of the floral decorations came from our garden so they were FREE and extra special to me.

My advice for budget brides is to keep things casual, laid-back. It will save you money and also keep you relatively stress-free! 


Post # 3
2606 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2017 - Valleybrook Country Club

Easisest way to make a budget wedding work, is a smaller guest list. There are plenty of options for you so don’t be discouraged! As far as saving money to pay for the wedding, you can do small things that will add up over time. So your phone bill, how many gigs of data do you use vs what you pay for. you can easily save $20 that way. If you buy lunch at work, start bringing lunch and save the money you would be spedning on lunch at work. If you can afford to, take $50 from each paycheck and stash it away in savings. If you get paid every two weeks, you will have $1300 in a year. So in 2 years, you will have $2600 plus however much you’ve saved through bringing lunch, etc. You can make a $3k budget work. Have you thought about moving in together so that you only have 1 rent/utilities/cable payment instead of 2?

  • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by  MrsSapphire.
Post # 5
368 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2017

loverofcatsandwine:  could you put it off for another year? I say that purely so that you reduce the financial and emotional pressure on yourself.

Weddings are meant to be a celebration of your relationship and future together. Set a reasonable budget, decide how you want to prioritise your money and stick to it. Loads of bees on these boards seem to have really good DIY and budgeting ideas too 🙂 I’d say it never hurts to start researching early (eg venues, church/registrar costs etc) so you have an idea of what you are facing.

Post # 6
90 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

Hey! My Fiance and I are paying for ALMOST everything completely by ourselves. I’m saying almost because we aren’t doing traditional catering (my uncle who owns a restaurant and aunts insisted they wanted to cook and serve; we’re doing a family buffet style; my dad paid the amount for that but it was under 1000). Then my mom gave a small amount to contribute to our road trip honeymoon. I’m 21, almost 22 and my Fiance is almost 25. We’ve been engaged since September and our wedding is in 2 weeks. I also just graduated college. It is aboslutely possible to pay for everything yourself if you do alot of research and don’t make rash decisions. Decide what is the most important for you at your wedding and go from there. We also slowly bought things. One or two decorations per paycheck etc. Find a venue you don’t have to use a lot of decorations to make pretty! We also stopped eating out a lot because we realized how much we were spending on that, and knew we could use the money we were spending for that to get things for the wedding. In the end, I just had to come to the realization that the wedding day is about marrying the one you love, not about the decorations or impressing people. A small down to earth wedding can be just as and sometimes even more beautiful than an extravagent affair!! 

Post # 7
7002 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

loverofcatsandwine:   2018 is still quite a while away, far enough away that you’ve got a year before you even really NEED to start planning. Spend the next year saving aggressively. It’s all about managing your expectations. I think too often brides go into the planning process with unrealistic expectations, wanting everything they want but not having the budget for it and not willing to give up their wants. There has to be some comprimise and knowing you likely won’t have ALLLLL the stuff you want….and that’s ok. The first way to save is a small guest list. The best small budget weddings I’ve been to have been casual, outside, BBQ, etc.

My brother planned his wedding for around $5k. They did not want to spend a lot and it was a great wedding. Here’s how they did it:

  • Venue ($500) – They picked a vineyard that was new to the wedding scene and got a steal on the rental (ceremony & reception space, tables, chairs, linens). 
  • They kept the guest list small to around 40 people. It was going to be just immediate family and a few close relatives, but they ended up inviting a handful of close friends.
  • No bridal party
  • Dinner ($500) – They did BBQ for dinner from one of our favorite spots that also does a lot of event catering, and as a family we handled apps for cocktail hour – things that would be easy to prep early and serve cold (fruit/cheese display, pasta salad, burchetta, etc). Alochol had to be purchased through the venue but they provided sweet & unsweet tea for everyone.
  • They purchased their centerpieces and had the flowers arranged in them from the florist department at a local grocery store that does a great job. Can’t remember the price but I bet it was under $300 total. The inside for reception was already really pretty so aside from some personal photos and centerpieces they didn’t really do much decor.
  • Our mom did a small cutting cake and cupcakes.
  • Officiant ($300) – Usually runs 300-600 so it’s fairly standard unless you have someone marry you for free.
  • Musician ($600) – This one pulled double duty. She played for the ceremony, and then transitioned to the reception where she played/sang for the reception. They didn’t have dancing though, their reception was mostly just dinner and mingling with everyone.
  • Photography (free) – This was their big savings, because I’m a wedding photographer and did it as my gift. I had to mark out a prime date, and normally would never shoot a family wedding like that because I want to enjoy myself….but I knew it would be so low-key it wasn’t a problem. My second shooter was there so I could get in family formals and once dinner started we really didn’t have much to shoot. That being said had they hired someone they likely wouldn’t have needed more than 3-4 hours so somewhere in the $1500-2000 range.



Post # 8
90 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

To add, my FI’s family is pretty low income and wasn’t able to contribute financially but was able to help do desserts and that sort of thing. And I come from a family of 8 in a low income family so my family couldn’t contribute much financially either but they wanted to help out as much as they could, so my stepdad built lawn games for us, my mom actually MADE our invitations (that was incredible and way more than I ever wanted to ask from her). People have been really generous in their help/helping us research even though they coudn’t contribute financially. 

Post # 9
329 posts
Helper bee

I think the two of you should look at your own personal budget and be honest about what you can set aside each month as savings for the wedding. I didn’t know I was going to get proposed to at the time, but I was participating in a work program that allows me to take one year off and set aside 20% of my pay to pay for that year off. On top of that, I set aside about $200-300 a month to build up a savings for travel. Half of that savings is now for the wedding. 

So yeah, figure out what you can set aside and then plan your wedding according to your budget. And definitely limit the guest list if budget is an issue. 

Post # 10
9828 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State


Start by getting together a rough budget and guestlist. Generally, the less people you invite the less you spend. Don’t look at “wedding venues”, anything with the word “wedding” associated with it usually means the price is marked up. Get creative! DIY everything you can! Use your contacts or the contacts of friends and family!

Post # 11
2318 posts
Buzzing bee

I would suggest a two-year engagement, but start planning right away.  Start saving now.  Most vendors will want an initial deposit and then you can make smaller payments over the next two years.  Plan for all your payments to end two months before your wedding date.  You will have some last minute expenses that you have not planned for.  Things to book first and make small payments on: Venue, DJ & Entertainment, Photo/video.  Do everything yourself and get day of coordination.  

You suggested getting a roommate.  That would be a great way to free up some cash. If you are planning on moving in together after the wedding, it could be a plus.  I would make sure to find a good, stress-free roommate.  The last thing you want is to have a roommate that is a bunch of drama while you are wedding planning.  Just start cutting back you spending and increase your savings.  

The easiest way to save money is to cut the guest list!  

What would you describe as your dream wedding?

Post # 12
1005 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

loverofcatsandwine:  oh yes, I was the same way! I started with a modest budget…then realized how expensive everything is! I am lucky to have my parents on both sides contributing, but I am saving a chunk of money each month as well.

I took a good long hard look at my finances and where I could save. I went through my bank statesments and looked at everything I spent that I didn’t need. I put all my expenses in an excel sheet, then compared it to my net income each month. That’s where I found a good number to put away each month.

Best of luck!!

Post # 13
1387 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Just a word of warning, but a smaller guest list doesn’t always equal an inexpensive budget. I’ve known people who have pulled off 100 guest weddings on 3k and those with 50 guests who spent 20k budget. It is really what you find important to you and what you are willing to not have on your special day. You have plenty of time to save up and see what you want. 

Intimate Weddings is a great website to browse for ideas and suggestions.

Post # 14
2146 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2017

getting married ONLY costs as much as your local legal fees (£115 here in england) everything else is pomp and circumstance… which is nice and perfectly fine to ‘want’ but people need to understand it is just a ‘want’ not a need

the average wedding is £28,000 here apparently which makes me wonder what the hell they spent the extra £27,885 on since you can easily have a party for under £100

biggest tip set your budget first then break it up into ‘important’ things (for some people rings are important, other are all about the dress and some people want the best food, its just about prioritising) break your budget down giving the most money to the ‘important’ items and the least to stuff that doesnt matter to you (doesnt matter if people say you NEED something because its tradition, only have iit if you really want it)

my other tip is avoid anything ‘wedding’ or buy it second hand – non wedding venues are often cheap or free (and WAY more interesting) and prom/bridesmaid dresses are way cheaper than ‘wedding’ dresses, a plain band ring is cheaper than a plain ‘wedding’ ring and celebration cake is 1/5th the cost of a ‘wedding’ cake and so on

sample sales or second hand dresses make complete sense too, never understood why someone would pay 10x as much for the same thing

Post # 15
1254 posts
Bumble bee

Long answer short: You either don’t have an expensive wedding or you wait to get married. 

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