(Closed) Planning a wedding with small incomes?

posted 4 years ago in Money
Post # 2
255 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

Moorea12:  My fiance and I live in California and it’s hard to get by with what we make with a combined income of around $100K.  We aren’t getting any help from family so we’re paying for the entire wedding ourselves.  We decided to have a destination wedding and it will cost us roughly $10,000 for about 30-40 guests.  Thank goodness for deposits because if we had to pay for all of our vendors up front, we would be in so much debt.  I put deposits for all of my vendors on my credit card and paid it off in 6 months and my fiance and I are also putting aside $300 a month each into our wedding account to pay for the rest of the wedding.  We also normally get back money during tax time, so I’m sure that money will go into our wedding account also.  Weddings are so expensive and I thought having a destination wedding would be cheaper, but it’s not. 

Post # 3
787 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Even though we both had decent-paying jobs, we had very little savings when we began planning our wedding. This meant extensive budgeting. We began by figuring out the range we’d be willing to commit to spending on a wedding, and selected $15,000-$30,000. Then estimated how much of that would need to come out for the major items (dress, his attire, music, flowers, applicable fees for the ceremony, etc.). What was left was what we knew we could spend on the reception. I researched about eight local venus and made a spreadsheet showing how much the cost was per guest (and therefore how many people we could afford to invite) and what exactly we got for that cost (lunch or dinner? open bar? plated or buffet-style).

Ultimately, our wedding cost about $25,000 and we were helped by our parents. We hosted 105 people for an afternoon lunch at a very lovely venue with an open bar for around $110/person. Some things we blew the budget on (my dress, the music) but we cut back in other ways (buffet-style lunch, committing to an indoor ceremony, DIYing favours).

Now, when friends ask me how we go about it, I always telling them to start by figuring out what they’re willing to spend without help from their parents. I’ve heard and read so many stories about parents who promised the moon in terms of financial help and had no follow through.

Post # 4
348 posts
Helper bee

Have you checked out the offbeat bride? Some of the weddings there were absolutely beautiful and under a few thousand dollars – some even under $1,000. I don’t know if that will help, but it’s definitely worth checking out! 

Post # 5
342 posts
Helper bee

Growing up in CA, I find $100k to be more than comfortable. $35k is going to be more of a challenge.

First questions, when is your wedding? what do hope to spend? have you put any feelers out to see what your wedding would cost?  It’s best to do backwards planning.  If your wedding is 2 years from now and you expect to spend $5k, you only have to save $200 a month to reach that goal.  $200 is a much easier # to stomach than $5,000.

Post # 6
2445 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Having less guests definitely cuts costs when it comes to food and drink. You can look into VRBO or Air BnB for weekend rentals vs. actual wedding venues. Prioritize your vendors so you know where you want to spend your money the most.

We had 50 guests and the majority of our money went to photo & video beause that was the most important to us. We got my husband’s suit from Express. Food was a taco cart that was roughly $17/person. We were able to bring our own alcohol and didn’t need a bartender so everyone helped themselves. We didn’t do flowers, just bouquets and bouts, and my dad made the centerpieces for us. It’s definitely possible to do, but just takes a little more work on your part.

Post # 7
5165 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2014

Moorea12:  We don’t have a ton of money (I’m in grad school also) and neither do our families. Honestly, even if we did, I couldn’t justify paying tens of thousands of dollars on one party. We are having our wedding at FI’s parents house and their family pastor (a family friend) is marrying us. We’re doing it on Christmas, so food is taken care of by Christmas dinner. I really don’t care about a traditional wedding though, and I don’t care that my extended family or friends won’t be there. Maybe you could do a backyard BBQ type thing with the traditional wedding part and kind of an off-beat reception. Make it a pot-luck or something easy for food to save on catering. DIY a bunch of stuff to help save money. I’m making my own tulle skirt and veil I already made my shoes. If quality pictures aren’t super important for you, consider hiring a photography student instead of a professional photographer to save a couple thousand bucks. 

Post # 8
7411 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

Start by deciding what you absolutely must have, and what you absolutely cannot do. Resist the urge to shift costs to your guests wherever possible (pot luck and certain destination weddings would not work in many social circles because your expenses are going down while your guests’ expenses are going way up— acceptable in certain circles and unacceptable in others).  Adjust your timeline; longer engagements = more time to save money.  If you or your finace have a marketable skill, contact vendors and see if they would be willing to barter. Everything from web design to home/auto repairs to dog grooming/sitting may be of interest to a hair dresser, baker, or other small business person, so long as you have the skillset to back up the offer.  Or, consider eloping then throwing a casual celebration like a BBQ, where you can still celebrate with friends and family, but the expectations of your guests would be a lot different and therefore more affordable.

Post # 9
8576 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

What we did was set a budget based on realistic prices. I knew I didn’t want to spend a TON on a dress, so I put my budget at $2000 with alterations, accessories, ect. and I made sure we didn’t go over this.

We did this with every aspect of our budget. From linens, to chaircovers, to hair & makeup.

Once we came up with a budget, we figured out how much we would be willing to contribute monthly to the wedding, and divided it up. For us, we were comfortable putting $800 a month towards the wedding, which equalled out to being around 22 months. We had a 22 month engagement, and spent $800 every month towards the wedding. As we got extra month [bonuses from work, birthday/christmas money, ect] we put that towards the wedding as well and ended up having it, and the honeymoon paid off an entire month before the wedding, with plenty of extra “slush” fund available.

The key is to be realistic with your expectations, and figure out what is most important to you. For us, it was food, photography and a beautiful ceremony location. Everything else came in second, and even our food isn’t all that exepensive. We went with fazoi’s because we LOVE it and so does the majority of our family [people from out of state haven’t had it.. but it’s italian, so what’s not to love?].

The good things about weddings is that while items can skyrocket in price.. there are ALWAYS cheaper ways of doing it. We got 20 bouquets of flowers from costco [that are actually due to be delivered today!!!] for $200. Nobody will know where we got them, and we didn’t spend TONS of money on them, either.

You can pick up suits at burlington coat factory for less than $200 each. For a cake you can do cupcakes which are much cheaper than cake.. or even have a local person who bakes cake make one [this is what we did.. we got an 8 tier cake for $500].

No prices are set in stone, the price is what YOU make it to be! Don’t get caught up in the pinterest-style wedding.. those are expensive and honestly, look very cookie cutter. Have the wedding YOU want.

Post # 10
1229 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

I’ve been to lots of lovely appetizer-only and dessert-only weddings in community centers/backyards.  One bride told me her entire cost was less than 1k, excluding rings/honeymoon/the cupcakes I gifted her.  

These ladies had DIY invites, the bride’s mom/cousin made the dress or she wore a sundress, bridesmaids wore their own dresses/Target dresses, DIY flowers or silk flowers, DIY decorations, food from Costco or homemade, homemade cakes/sheet cake, friend taking the photos, ipod music.

There’s no Saturday night banquet in a hotel ballroom with open bar and DJ on a budget, but you can still have a lovely, traditional wedding.   

(I know on Weddingbee, 5-10k weddings are often described as “budget” weddings, but it’s possible to spend much, much less than that and your guests can still have a great time)

Post # 11
1400 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

Moorea12:  we are in the same boat. We’re young, planning to buy a house and not exactly out there getting rich at this point. My parents are footing the bill but still, we are very practical people and the thought of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding doesn’t work for us. 

So we decided that it wouldn’t be expensive. Wedding is in June 2015, in my parents back yard!

Venue:  1. ceremony/ post dinner reception on 2 acres of country landscape with a giant willow tree, a creek and a white bridge. It’s perfect. Cost: Free

2. Dinner reception at a community hall literally like 200m from my parents house. I can walk it in heels and I’m terrible at that so we’re pretty much golden. It has a full kitchen, tables and chairs, a stage and bathrooms so that eliminated a few of our potential extra costs. Cost: $250 from Friday @6pm until [email protected] Reception will be Saturday evening so it gives us lots of time to set up and enough to tear down. 


Dress: I went to almost every bridal store in my little town so I could see my options. It’s a small town, it wasn’t hard haha. I ended up buying my dress from an offshoot store that sold discounted last ones, samples, off season etc. The dress I found is absolutely the best dress I could have found for me and my wedding. Cost: $140 (taxes in)


Dinner: taco bar, self catered of course. I work in the food industry, my big brother is a cook and every single woman in my family would be offended if we paid someone to cook and didn’t let them cook. Like, literally. It’s just the kind of family I come from. I haven’t actually broken down the cost yet but it’s going to be pretty reasonable I think. 


If you’re willing to think outside the box, there are a ton of ways to cut costs without sacrificing what you’re looking to accomplish for your big day! You can Pm me if you want more details about anything specific!


Post # 12
2691 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

My Fiance and I are both working in the food service industry until we can afford to get one of us back to school. Our combined income is around $42k before taxes. We are using our looooong engagment (three years by the time we actually tie the knot) to slowly pay off our wedding without breaking the bank. Most of the actual monetary work has been done this year, the previous one was spent planning and then putting it off due to cash problems. We have our photographer, venue, and DOC half paid as well as our officiant completely paid and my dress bought. I really like the strategy we are using and we are shopping around a lot and buying second hand.

Post # 13
1127 posts
Bumble bee

We live in California, working part time and making annually about 43,000 before taxes. Rent for a one bedroom apartment in our area is at least 1,200, so our income doesn’t go very far. Thankfully, we are pretty frugal and don’t have any debt. We decided we would spend no more than 5k on our wedding, and decided to do a dessert/light appetizer reception instead of a full meal. It was either that or have a very small guest list, and that just wasn’t an option for us after we discussed it thoroughly. It’s tough keeping under that budget but NOT impossible! Figure out venue and food (and photography if that’s a big priority) and count everything else as extra. Once your budget runs out, that’s it, no more spending! That’s what we decided to do, and so far so good 🙂

Post # 14
6527 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

Moorea12:  you can have a beautiful budget friendly wedding. 

I think its all about prioritizing. Figure out whats important to you (i.e. pictures, music, food), then figure out what you can afford to spend on each category/vendor. Then from there you can do your research and see who is affordable. 

There are ton of ways to save money by DIY. Those can be so much fun! If I hadn’t had the big wedding I did, I probably would have done a lot of stuff myself. I love arts and crafts. 

Post # 15
225 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Moorea12: We’re having a two year engagement. That’s helping us save a lot money. We’re also cutting down on dinning out and fast food. We moved closer to work so that we can save money on gas. But the two year engagement is giving us more time to come up with the money. 

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