(Closed) Okay..10k or less brides – lets talk budget weddings :)

posted 9 years ago in Money
Post # 3
5472 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

I think the biggest money saver for us is that we are getting married earlier in the day and hosting a lunch reception.  The prices for lunch were about half that of dinner!  Also, we decided against a huge fancy cake & went with cupcakes instead.  It actually only ends up being a few hundred less, but we get to pick as many flavors as we want, instead of just one flavor for a cake or one flavor per layer.

We had also planned to host only beer and wine, but FI’s parents have generously offered to pick up our bar tab so we can have a full open bar.  YAY!

I bought my dress off the rack, and took it to a local seamstress for alterations.  Saved myself over $500 that way πŸ™‚

Our DJ is a friend of the family, our photog is an acquaintance, so major discounts there.  We also have a dear friend who does photography on the side, so she has offered to gift us some additional photography as well πŸ™‚

Our venue is a country club, so things like tables, chairs, linens, plates, silverware, glasses, etc… are already included.  No need to go find a rental company!  We can also get married in the garden or under a covered patio, and then have the reception in the main clubhouse so we don’t need to pay two separate location fees.


Post # 4
1715 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Our budget is around $10-13k (the fluctuation in price is the # of guests we might have).

Venue: We saved money on the reception by going with a Chinese-style wedding reception which allows us to BYOB.  (FYI.  I’m Vietnamese American and the beau is white.) 

Dress: My dress was a bargain because it was a floor sample; and, I’m the stock size.  I did a lot of price comparison and research for our DJ and our photographer. 

Flowers/Decor: I’m doing my own flowers; fresh flowers for bouquets and silk for the pomanders (which will be used to decorate the pew and then, as the centerpieces for the reception). 

Cake: We’re having cupcakes instead of a cake.   

I’m actually DIY-ing a lot of other things to save money.  i.e. guestbook, boutenneires, etc. 

Post # 5
747 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

We mainly saved a lot of money with the help of friends and family (had a lot of help with setting up the space on the day of and DIY projects). We also did a lot of shopping around to find the best possible deals from different vendors. In addition, we ended up getting married in our original home town instead of Indianapolis (where we currently live due to work) because it ended up being way more affordable.

What we saved on:

Venue: We ended up having the ceremony and reception in the same building and because of this, we got a bit of a discount on top of it already being a very affordable venue. It was a lovely, historical building with a lot of character and they do weddings all the time so it turned out beautifully. It only cost $750.

Cake: My husband’s relative made the wedding cake for us. She’s a professional baker but was able to make the cake for far less than most bakers around here. It was a big four tier cake and had enough servings for over 160 people and ended up costing only $300.

Flowers: Our centerpiece flowers were DIY. I purchased bouquets, boutineers, and corsages from sellers on Etsy and they were very affordable. I was also able to get discounts from Etsy sellers for placing custom orders. Always ask a seller if they offer a discount in a private message before purchasing! The worst they can do is say no. πŸ˜› For centerpiece flowers, I had dried lavender bunches purchased from Etsy, babies breath purchased from save-on-crafts.com, and 100 bulk peach and white roses from Sam’s Club. Total flower cost was $300.

Decor: I ended up using hardback books (with the sleeves removed) I already owned and different vintage/eclectic style vases from numerous Goodwill trips for centerpieces. I also had tea light candle holders that I found in the Target dollar section and they looked super pretty. Total cost on decor was around $200 or so.

Photography: I found our photographer through my sister’s friend (who had had her shoot at her wedding last year). She was very affordable because she is trying to build up her portfolio right now. That said, I think the pictures she took (that I’ve seen so far) turned out beautifully! I mostly found her by just doing my research and asking around. We had two shooters on the day of the wedding and get all of the edited images on a high resolution cd copyright free. She also included an engagement shoot and a bridal shoot in the cost. Total cost was $700.

Biggest Costs:

The things that ended up costing the most were food ($2,500 for a buffet for 150 people), my dress ($900 total including alterations), and the DJ ($600 total for ceremony and reception coverage, and a fabulous light show during the reception). Even then, I’d say we saved a decent amount on those things as well. πŸ™‚

Altogether, the whole wedding ended up costing right around $9,560 if I did my math right. Yay!

And now, some pictures (mostly non professional) from the big day to help show how some things turned out! Wish I had more right now but that will come in a few weeks. πŸ™‚

A Professional Sneak Peek Picture:

You can see a bit of the reception space here (we are very cheesy dancers :P):

A Small Flower Sample:


Post # 6
1068 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2013

Dress: 750

Shoes/Accessories: 300


     Food: 3000

     Room Fee: 400

     Entertainment: 850

Photographer: 1700

Tuxedo: 750 (He bought it)

Flowers: No Flowers

Cake: 70 Macroons from local French Pastry Shop

Ceremony: 750


All equals almost 8K, but we’ve already paid for some of it (dress/tux) and put some money to deposits for reception and photographer.

Post # 7
112 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

Not to insult any bees with bigger budgets but Fiance and I just couldn’t waste all that money (of course, we don’t have it to waste either lol). The only part of a wedding that truly lasts is the marriage and that’s just the cost of the wedding license and person marrying you. And it’s just one day – neither of us could wrap our heads around debt or $100 plates for one day. 

Our budget has and still is around $3K in NYC. If we’re blessed enough to go on even a mini-moon (FI is unemployed and whether or not/when he gets a job/can take off, etc), things may go just a bit over. 

The dress was $200 from a Chinese knockoff site (originally went with an Etsy seller who couldn’t accommodate this time of year), the rings were $200 (actually, they were $1,300 but we traded in gold to knock down the price), the ceremony/reception are the same space (with no rental fee – only catering costs; were originally booked in NYC but found a gorgeous venue that was the same cost about an hour outside the city -$25/plate), the invites were designed by me and used 100% recycled card stock (at a cost of postage basically so $35), the bridesmaid gifts and groomsmen gifts are small tokens of our appreciation, we’re having silk flowers and vases bought from a wholesale distributor (the vases are $3 each….flowers are a TBD with a $50 budget) and our photog will be $300 (originally $1,200 but was willing to barter services).

Here’s to hoping it all works out for us! 

Post # 8
3696 posts
Sugar bee

– Gown came from a Brides Against Breast Cancer event and fit like a glove, so no alterations were needed

– Veil was a small splurge in the sense that I ended up getting two veils from Light In The Box and sewing them together to get exactly what I wanted; ended up costing about $160, but I have a four-tier lace-edged cathedral veil, and no way could I have gotten one for that much in a retail bridal shop.

– wearing one grandmother’s earrings and the other grandmother’s pearl necklace. They are both deceased, so it’s really special to be able to wear those, and it isn’t costing a thing.

– I am not a fan of diamonds and don’t really care for rings in general, so we opted to only buy me a wedding band (which I’m currently wearing as an “engagement” ring). Since we weren’t buying a traditional e-ring, we decided to spend a little more to get a really great pair of custom-designed wedding rings. I am so happy with this decision!

– we are getting married in a gorgeous church where we are active members of the parish. I arranged to “pay” the cost of the church through volunteer work, and we are limiting our flowers to just bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages because the place doesn’t need any extra decoration.

– the flowers are coming from a local farmer’s market vendor. We gave her guidelines and colors, and are letting her have free rein to use whatever is most affordable the week of our wedding.

– bridal party gifts came from Tuesday Morning. If you have one of those stores in your area, they are a great source for affordable gifts (& more … that place is dangerous!)

– we have no desire for a limo, and I see no need for pro makeup or hairstyling. I know my own colors best, and I have enough of a theatre background that I know what is needed, makeup-wise, for not washing out under lights.

– A buddy of mine is a photographer and is working with us to make that aspect affordable.

– I am blessed to come from a musical family and I have lots of musician friends who will be playing and singing for our ceremony. We are choosing to still make a monetary contribution because this is such an important priority for us, but we are going to be getting way more than what we’re technically “paying” for, musically speaking.

– my mom and FI’s grandma will for sure want a video, but it’s definitely not something we feel the need to have done professionally, so we asked two people (for insurance!) to film the ceremony for us and they were happy to do so.

– good friend and former roommate is making our cake. She grew up working in an Italian bakery and does awesome decorating! We will supplement it with a sheet cake from a grocery store if necessary.

– we hired a friend-of-a-friend as DJ, and the friend who introduced us agreed to emcee the reception. They are buddies and enjoy working together, so we are looking forward to that!

– working with a local print shop to do inexpensive invites. Fiance and I are both amateur artists, so we are doing our own graphics. We also skipped paper STDs (just did an email for that) and we’re doing postcard Rsvps, which saves the cost of envelopes and allows slightly cheaper postage.

– centerpieces will be framed family photos (that we already have! Most of the frames are “recycled” from my sister’s wedding a few years ago) and little potted ivy plants from a local greenhouse ($2-3 each) that we will invite guests to take home as a keepsake.

– favors will be little gourmet chocolates that I scored at a discount from a local fair-trade shop when they were on clearance.

– there is a family heirloom cake cutting set that my aunt will be bringing to the wedding, so no need to buy that. Fiance is going to try to make our cake topper.

lots of kids on our guest list, which is perfectly fine with us: our venue has a very affordable children’s menu option. We also chose reasonably-priced entrees for the adults; it’s going to come out to around $30-32 per plate with the taxes and mandatory service upcharge (grrr… oh well. You do what you can.)

– Bar will be part hosted, part cash bar. We are payng for beer & wine up to a predetermined amount; other drinks are available on a cash basis, and when/if the prepaid beer & wine run out, that will also roll over to the cash bar.

– With most things, having an attitude of “less is more” and rehearsing the phrase “that’s not a priority for us” whenever someone questions why we’re not doing X, is really helpful. Charivari chairs or fancy chair covers? Can’t for the life of me see the point. They will be under people’s butts the entire time! Elaborate invitations? they end up in the trash or, best case scenario, the recycling. Fireworks? Photobooth? Eh … superfluous. I’m sure they’re great for people who are excited about them, but for us the important thing is to bring our families and friends together, and we are happy to cut corners for the sake of including more people on the guest list.

Post # 9
1445 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

This was our budget breakdown for 75 guests:

Dress and veil: $1600

Photographer: $1300

Venue: $500

Food: $800

Flowers: $400

Decorations: $300

Officiant: $300

Hair/Makeup: $300

Invitations and postage: $130

Plus miscelleanous expenses it ended up being around $6000. The biggest way we saved money was by having a Sunday afternoon wedding with desserts and hors d’oeuvres instead of a dinner or lunch. The venue was normally $1500 but by having it on a Sunday we saved $1000. Also, we went about an hour outside the city I live in because prices were so much cheaper.

Another way we saved money was by hiring a great photographer hourly. Since it was an afternoon wedding, I didn’t need a package with 8 hours of photography. We paid for 4 hours and got plenty of beautiful, high quality pictures.

We bought plain invitations from Hobby Lobby at one of their half price sales ($30 for 150 invites) and printed them at home and then dressed them up with our own ribbon. 

We hired a caterer to provide basic hors d’ouevres and drinks, and then myself and various family members pitched in and brought a dish each to make the food more sustantial.

We had a florist do our wedding party flowers and then I bought all of the centerpiece flowers from a wholesale florist and arranged them myself. I found pretty mismatched vases at thrift stores for super cheap and just filled them with different types of yellow flowers.

You can totally do a gorgeous wedding for under 10k!


Post # 10
1253 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

We are on a tight budget, we are having a small wedding with only 70 guest. Our budget is around $10k. $8,000 for the wedding and $2k for the honeymoon. I have to thank ebay, CL, VistaPrint and pre own wedding stuff to help keep us in and under our budget. 


Dress: it was pre own a Reem Arca cost $4,000 but I found on ebay for only $175

Shoes/Accessories: I had a pair of black satin shoes that I never worn and I treated myself to a $250 sash but on ebay I won it for only $90


Food: 3000 ($50 a plate but it came with a lot of extras). Plus we have $1200 towards 3 signature cocktails. I managed to talk to venue into suppling water, ice tea, champagne toast, breakfast for me and the girls the morning of the wedding, a free open bar cocktail hour and we are allowed to bring in our own candy station and outside cake (we are having it at the Hyatt Hotel- thought it would be out of our budget but the are so working with us.)

Room Fee: free (we are having ceremony and reception in the same space) just will convert them once ceremony is done. 

Entertainment: we are hiring a Harpist which is only $100 for 1.5-2 hours. And mybrother is a DJ back home so all we had to do was rent his equipment because we will be traveling in for the wedding. Equpiment rental was only $250

Photographer: Found a great deal of only $700 for 4 hours of photo and 2.5 hours of video. I will get the semi raw footage after the wedding and a blue ray dvd of all pics as well. 

Tuxedo: My Fiance won a free tux from NM Dream Wedding (we also won a free 2 hour limo ride which I may use for the bacholerette party and we also won lunch/dinner for 6 at a local sports bar (I think my Fiance may take the guys there the afternoon before our wedding as a last meal, lol). 

Flowers: We found an amazing florist, we are only getting the basics. wedding party and 6 tall vases filled with water, lights and flowers to put at each entry door. Our venue has 3 steps of doors. Our flower total was only $350 (this included step up and a free tossing flowers)

Cake: $200 for a cupcake cake to feed 70 guest. The vendor is across the street from the hotel so she is setting up and delivering for free.

Favors- the candy station which in the end may cost $100 for everything. I already found the dishes from Michaels, TJ Maxx and the Dollar store. We also got his and her cock screw sets which was from a leftover bride on ebay- I got 32 sets for only $25. I may need to buy 8 more but that shouln’t cost no more then $15 extra dollars.

Invites- DIY costed about $35 to make 100. 

Decoration- Costing close to $100 (i bought the chair sashes off another bee (100 for $40) and I found the chair covers from CL for $25 for 100 (yup, $25 for 100 cotton white chair covers). 

Honeymoon- 6 days all inclusive to Mexico. We used our timeshare so it was super cheap. Then our airfare went on sale so round trip for 2 was only $925. So in all our Honeymoon is costing us $1600 we budgeted $2k so I am hoping to use that $400 saving towards the wedding. 

DIY- I am making a great deal of stuff. STD, invites, non flower centerpieces, peta aisle runner, card box and I may even drape my venues windows. I found a place that rents the curtains and myself and one of the groomsman knows how to do it. 

At this point our wedding is on track and everytime we go over on one budget we cut back on another. 

My dress, veil and sash. Dress $175, veil (free from another bride), sash- $90. 

Centerpieces cost about $7.50 per table

Card box- hand made costed about $10 in material

Petal aisle runner- still a work in progress but cost about $60 so far in materials. (21,000 petals bought off a bride on the bee because she didn’t have time to make her runner)


wedding favors bought off ebay. 



wedding cake, we will do mini cupcakes instead of large ones but this was our inspiration. 


These are our ceremony boxs- it will have tears of joy packets and bubbles. I made them all. Cost about .75 cents per box set. 

Post # 11
12 posts
  • Wedding: August 2012

What a great thread.

My budget for EVERYTHING (including our week long honeymoon which we put as a top priority) ~ 12,000

Honeymoon ~4800 (all inclusive w/ flights etc…) that leaves us well, not a lot for the rest!

Reception ~ we got really lucky and are doing it at a great diner in our town. They don’t do a lot of business at night (but they have AMAZING food – go figure) so they arn’t charging us for the venue. Only the food/drink. Open bar – well as open as champagne, 2 types of red, 2 whites, local beer. With ~50 guests it comes to under $2,000!

Dress @ davids on sale ~650 (haven’t done alterations yet so that may be the killer)

Veil online (occanesy – not sure of the spelling) – custom and its perfect ~100 (3 layers!)

Shoes ~70 (amazon!)

Makeup and hair will be a handful but thats something i want to go all out on ~ 300.

Obviously I’m not including everything but I think our huge saver was the reception location. (rehearsal at my moms – bbq!). We’ve been going there for a while and just love it, the owner has been great – giving us free dinner/drinks and whatnot since planning started. I think he is just excited to have such a big group for the evening.

best of luck to all other budget planners!

Post # 12
2721 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

We eloped and did our honeymoon at the same time. This saved us quite a bit. We also had a couple family members who contributed.

Dress: $1250 (paid for by my grandma, I would have bought used otherwise)

Bouquet: $30 (DIY silk flowers)

Hair/Makeup: Free (DIY)

DH’s suit: $250 (Jos A Bank sale)

Photographer: $1000 

Transportation: $200 

Officiant: $100

Venue: Free (outdoor location)

Dinner: $500 

Honeymoon (including flights) ~$4,500

Rings: $1500

I contacted several photographers for pricing. Instead of hiring someone in Paris to plan the wedding, I did it all myself. I scoured the internet for deals on our honeymoon (hotesl/flights). I did some DIY too. Plus, many items I was able to sell and recoop the costs. Since we did it this way, we were able to put more into the honeymoon and had a fan-freakintastic time!

Post # 13
5089 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

The main ways we saved:

  • Small guest list
  • Held wedding at my mom’s home
  • No bridal party (saved money on gifts, flowers, etc)
  • Eliminated all the details we didn’t care about – no favors, limo, dj, decorative details
  • Gave the florist free rein to use what was local and in seasn
  • Friendors did the invites, photography, my dress, my jewelry, and our chuppah

Post # 14
416 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

We just had our wedding the end total was a little over 5k (excluding honeymoon and my ring) for 75 people and it was perfect. How we saved:

Dress & Veil: $300.00

Flowers: $300.00 (DIY)

Hair/Makeup: Free (DIY)

DH’s suit: $350.00

Photographer: Free (friend)

Transportation:  Free (brother picked me up)

Officiant & marriage counseling: 700

Venue: $600

Dinner: $2,000

His Rings: $200

No bridal party

cupcakes: $250


Post # 15
302 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2014 - Barn

I love this thread – it’s great seeing where other bees decided to cut up and where to spend.

Orignally I had dreamed of doing a tented wedding just outside out city. With an idea of what I wanted, and their catering costs, I figured out it would be roughly $20,000. Since we were paying for it ourselves, that was more than I wanted to go for and I knew if i tried saving I would regret a lot of things.

I looked around, and luckily I had some stranger send me information for a barn outside the city (no website or anything for it so was very thankful). We went to check it out, and it was just amazingly gorgeous. It was a great price to have it for the entire weekend and when I budgeted this venue out, it came to $10,000. Perfect.

For my dress, I had wanted a black lace dress and I love the Enzoani line, however those are $3,000 – ouch. I found a company online that will make it for $300!!

Our cake was priced to be $7-8 per slice, so we were looking at roughly $700-$800. We aren’t huge cake people so Fiance wanted to completely cut it out until I remembered an old co-worker that makes awesome cakes. I messaged her and found out she could do it for $150!

Our DJ, basically we just looked around and found the cheapest person – he also lives out by the barn so no travelling costs or whatnot.

Our photographer is where I’m planning to spend quite a bit. However the budget for this was $3500 and am currently looking at one that is $2000, so would be some saving there.

For the wedding bands, he can’t wear jewelry at work so doesn’t care to have a ring, so his will be a basic cheap ring for show at the wedding. My ring is “supposed” to get a custom made wedding band for $1,000 but it bothered me how much it cost (especially considering my engagement ring is several thousands of dollars – eek). After looking around on here, I’ve decided I want a mismatch band and I’d like to keep that around $200.

For flowers, I plan on DIY them all: all three bouquets, the men’s boutinerres, the women’s corsages, all the centrepieces for $600 – this also includes candles, vases, and etc.

Our catering costs is unknown since our wedding date is in ther future but I’m not concerned about that.

Since our venue is a private property, we are able to bring in our own appetizers, dessert bar, cookie bar, late night snack, alcohol, etc. So that will save us LOTS.

I’m not planning to get my hair and makeup done the day of. I’m a hairdresser so can either do it myself or my friends will end up being there for me.

For our inviations, I plan on doing those myself and hope to keep it under $150-$200.


Post # 16
359 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Dress: $350

Alterations: $80

Shoes: $25

Hair accessories: FREE (repurposed old brooch of my grandmother’s)

Other accessories: FREE (using a necklace and earring set I already own, and satin clutch that was my other grandmother’s)

His suit: $350

Both rings: $550

Venue: FREE (gift from the venue owners)

Officiant: $100

Food: $500-$700 (dependant on RSVPs…half pick-up catering, half in-law cooking awesomeness)

Beverages: $1200-$1500 (dependant on RSVPs)

Cupcakes: $150-$375 (dependant on RSVPs and whether we make them ourselves)

Photographer: $250

Entertainment: FREE (we are playing music all day, most of our guests are musicians so they are playing with us)

Floral: $60

Decor: FREE (repurposed materials/DIY)

Post-reception transportation: $60 (several family members chipping in to rent a limo)

Wedding night hotel: $120

ETA: invitations: $100


So, we’re in under $4K, and initially set ourselves a budget of $5K.

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