(Closed) VERY small budget…HELP

posted 11 years ago in Money
Post # 3
1245 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

Wow – that is quite a challenge. It sounds like you’ve already taken some important steps toward saving money, though. Quick question: what are you doing about food and drinks?

Post # 4
1813 posts
Buzzing bee

I think your biggest savings will not be providing a meal & possibly using a house…if you really want a reception venue, can you do it on a day besides Saturday?  maybe Sunday of a holiday weekend?

Post # 5
237 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2009

We are also inviting 90-ish people and my budget – which may be a bit too wishful thinking – is around $7,000. I know you said you wanted a fun dance party, so this might not help … we are doing a restaurant reception. Neither of us care about dancing and just want to be surrounded by good friends and feed them good food.

We are using a photographer from the newspaper I work at. You could call around and ask to see samples of work from newspaper photogs and see what you think.

Would you save any money DIY-ing flowers?

Post # 6
429 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2008

Ours was about 75 people, and while I don’t know precisely how much got spent (there was a lot of whipping out the debit cards and not caring in the final few days!), if was definitely under $4,000.

The biggest thing that I can think of which will push you over budget is venue and food, and venue is NOT my expertise, so I will let someone else answer that. 🙂 As for food, think about instead of having a meal, having a hearty appetizer reception. You don’t mention what time of day it is, but for a dance party, I could see having the wedding at 6 or 7pm, then having the reception be just drinks (another budget pusher, if they’re alcoholic) and appetizers.

Is the wedding near your huge family? Because if it is, and any of them are talented at food prep, ask them if they’d be willing to contribute an appetizer to feed 90 people as your wedding gift. Get 4 or 5 people to do that, add in some vegetable trays (which you can buy in bulk from Sam’s Club or Costco), and you’ve already got a really good start. 

I’d recommend the book Priceless Weddings for Under $5,000 by Kathleen Kennedy as a resource. She includes menus and recipe ideas for a DIY reception, as well as quantity amounts. Good luck!

Post # 7
217 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

Your budget is the same as mine, and it was tough, but it’s definitely do-able.  First and foremost, enlist as much "help" as you can!  Talk to your closest friends and your family, and you’d be amazed at how many people know someone that can work with your budget.  My best friend is a closet cake maker, and she’s doing our wedding cake as her gift to us.  Same with the flowers–FI’s best friend’s sister makes floral arrangements…….for FUN!  (She’s a teacher during the week.)

Don’t be afraid to check out Craigslist in your area–my uncle lives and works in Allentown, so I know right where you are, and I also happen to know that there are some great photography students coming out of Lehigh.  Check their student boards, and don’t be afraid to call their photography/art department.  There are some very, very skilled photographers that just haven’t been out in the market for very long.  And the best advice a friend gave me was to not be afraid to tell someone that their out of your price range.  You’d be surprised how often someone will be willing to work with you.

 Another place that it’s possible to cut a LOT of costs is with the food and drinks.  The time of day determines the food that you’re serving-you can eliminate having to serve a full meal.  And if it’s something that works for you and your family, consider eliminating the alcohol factor.  

You’d be amazed how many people are willing to help you–you just have to ask.  Your friends have friends who have friends–who knows?  Maybe your best friend’s sister’s cousin is a professional photog?? Or cake maker??  Or florist??  Or DJ??

Good luck!  I have a ton more, so PM me if you need any other help!

Post # 8
23 posts
  • Wedding: September 2009

Have you picked a date?  I highly recommend non-Saturday weddings for saving money.  Vendors (like photographers or DJ’s) may offer discounts or will be more willing to negotiate to meet your budget because chances are there won’t be any other brides competing for your date.

Also consider having a brunch, lunch, hors d’oeuvres, or desserts-only reception.

Don’t feel like you have to buy all the misc. wedding "stuff". I’m cutting out things like toasting flutes, favors, save the dates, menu cards, unity candle, flower girl basket/ring bearer pillow, etc. etc.  All that stuff adds up!

It sounds like you’re off to a good start. Don’t budge on the guest list, a smaller number is key to achieving your low budget!  Good luck!

Post # 9
487 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2009 - Byodo-In Temple, Luau Reception

You should check out Deanna and Jesse’s blog, they had a wedding in Lititz, Pa for $6000. I believe they had a morning wedding at a park followed by a brunch. "The brunch menu consisted of an omelet station, citrus salmon, ham, french toast, breakfast potatoes, and lots of fresh fruit and salad, eclairs and miniature fruit tarts. Guests tend to drink less at a brunch reception than later in the day, and the limited bar of mimosas, champagne and beer helped to keep costs down." They were also featured on snippetandink.

Their ceremony music was provided by itunes, via laptop.

They collected vintage glass bottles and used them as vases for their centerpieces. They DIYed their flowers.

They DIYed all their paper stoof (invites, table numbers, programs, favors, etc.)


Post # 10
127 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2020

We are keeping ours, in theory, to $7000 WITH a venue that costs over a third of that… Our guest list is small, only 45, and we are employing many of the same strategies you are. I’m in publishing so I’m using a photographer I work with that does portraits and city shots for a couple Seattle magazines. I have friends/amatures doing flowers and DJing, DIY invites, and an awesome deal on my gown. Oh, and Fiance is making all the food. I think he’s crazy bu I’m still not sure the best route to go for a cake though… that might push us a tiny bit over since I think the amount we have set aside is a little unrealistic.

Post # 12
217 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

In my opinion, that’s about right.  And also in my opinion, those are three of the most important details, minus a DJ and photographer.  The invites and flowers and everything else can truly be DIY projects with very little expense.  If you have an Old Time Pottery near you, hit them up.  I was able to do all of my centerpieces for less than $100.  And invites can be as difficult or as easy as you make them–my good friend and coworker is a graphic designer who is doing all of my invites for me–all i have to do is buy the card stock. 

Post # 13
5282 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2009

I am actually in the exact same situation, planning a wedding on a tight budget, we’re trying to keep ours under 8K though. Your real budget buster is going to be the food & alcohol point blank. I am stubborn and don’t want to give those up, becase like you, I want my wedding to be fun & a party, which means I have to make sacrifices. So here are some cost saving initiatives that I am taking:

1. DIY flowers, which you metioned that you are doing, but to keep costs even lower, use a cheaper flower. I am using carnations and you can by them in bulk from sams (its like 150 stems for around $70)

2. Skip a cake, do cupcakes and make them yourself or have family make them. I have heard horror stories of people that let a friend or family member make their cake and since they weren’t professionals it turned out horrible. Cupcakes are much easier to make and very cheap too. In fact, im not even buying a cupcake stand, instead am building my own using different tears of square boxes that I will cover with material.

3. I am also doing a buffet to cut costs, but make sure you don’t have to hire waitstaff, even with buffets many cateres require you to hire staff with an additional set up fee. Instead look into resturants or grogery stores and rent chafers to keep the food warm, you’ll just have to hope your guests don’t overindulge since they will be serving themselves, but most people don’t want to get bloated so it shouldn’t be a problem. Also, I don’t want to use paper plates, so I’m purchasing WNA’s masterpeice plastic plates at .70 each (very nice)and buying real silverware from Sams, forks are just .15 cents and Knifes are .25.

4. Book a venu that allows you to bring your own alcohol. This is going to be our lifesaver! Buy kegs instead, and to present it from being tacky you could hide them behind a table or hidden area. We are hiring a bartender at only $20 an hour to pour our beer & wine. Also, purchase cheaper wine, most guests won’t know the difference.  

5. Like others have said use your Ipod, you can rent speakers (if needed) and a microphone and it’ll be just fine. The reason people had DJ’s back in the day was because of records, but now days you can just create your own wedding mix with no hassel you can assign one of your bridesmaids to be in charge of the Ipod to adjust volume or pause songs if needed.

One other thing you can do is have wedding "sponsors" a trend becoming popular is allowing your guests to sponsor your honeymoon vs. buying useless gifts. You could put a twist on it and offer an option for them to sponsor a specific something at your wedding. You can have multiple people sponsor one thing, and you can honor them at your wedding. It’s a good idea to tell them what specifically their sponsoship is going towards vs. just a monetary donation. For example, say your flowers cost $300 one or more family member could sponsor your flowers, and at your wedding you can personally thank Aunt so-in-so for "sponsoring your lovely flowers" people like to be recognized and honored. Just a thought 🙂  Good Luck!!

Post # 14
234 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

I LOVE when people post about small budgets because I get so many great ideas for my small budget wedding!

In my pipe dream we spend no more then $4000 but I’m allowing $5000.  I am trying to DIY as much as I possibly can and spread the costs out over time.  Right now my focus is on invitations.  I was going to get a Goco and make them, but my time is worth more then the money I may save by doing that.  As much as I really want one, I’m going to hold off and just go with the ones you can print on your home computer – they have so many options at http://www.wilton.com and at http://www.target.com that are well under $1.00 each – people just throw them away anyway, right?

My venu for the entier thing is going to be about $1,200 – because he is alumni we are getting a break (it’s at a church on campus) and that will include the church for the wedding and then the "hall" for the reception – it also includes the use of the kitchen so I’m hoping that will save money on the food.

The food is still up in the air – I’m only going to have little finger foods though, so it won’t kill us in the budget – I would love for it to be no more then $500 for the food and then $500 for beer and wine – but if I have to spend more on the food to get what I want – we will just have wine (this is all assuming they will allow beer and wine?? – no, I have yet to ask!!)

My dress I’m getting on line – it will be about $200 and then I’ll have to take it to get fitted, but there are some really great places in my area that are really good and won’t gouge me – I’m going to guess $50, but even if it’s $100 I’m good with that – $300 for a princess wedding dress?? I think I can swallow that.

Decorations, flowers, and favors….  I saw a post on here about using carnations and that is so what I’m going to do.  I’m going to price the cost of buying them in bulk at the markets in my area, Sam’s Club and Costco and see where I can get the best deal.  I’m also going to price daisys and baby’s breath – because I saw something done with that and it looks great!  I have looked and Martha Stewart and there are some really great ideas for DIY decorations and oh my goodness the things you can do with tule!! You can get it for under $1.00 a yard at Walmart and it makes everything screem wedding!  I’m making my own favors – just cookies in the shape of wedding cakes and hearts and personalized with our initials and the date put in cello bags and tied with ribbon or folded and sealed with a sticker (I print my own stickers on address lables and clip art is wonderful!)

I am truly blessed to have a co-worker who is a photragrapher who is going to give us a great deal and I’m planning on enlisting my guests to take the reception shots on their cameras and then giving me their chips so I can download the pictures and print them for myself.  Ask friends with digital cameras if they will be your extra set of eyes and I’m sure they will catch so much you never thought!

I am not hiring a DJ because between the boy, my kid, and myself we have two Ipods and two Zunes so we will be good – the site has speakers we can use for like $20 or $30 extra.

But I get a little too excited and could just go on and on about my ideas and could for hours.

Most of all remember this….

DO and have what is important to YOU!
Do NOT try to make everyone happy!
DO make a list of what  you THINK you want, what you HAVE to have, what you can live without!

Keep it simple and it will be as beautiful as if you spend $80,000!!

Post # 15
203 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2020

I live in the Lehigh Valley, I’d definitely contact local newspaper photogs or Lehigh/Moravian looking for students/people willing to cut you a deal.

I was at a Nov. wedding at Hotel Bethlehem of about 140-150 people with a cake from Easton bakery, $200 for all those people and the best I’ve ever had. Also, there’s a NJ Teader Joes about an hour and a half up I 78 where you can buy cases of Charles Shaw wine (nicknamed Two Buck Chuck). The Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc are awesome wines (stay away from the Shiraz) and you can get cases for $30 ish bucks. Hope that helps.

Post # 16
461 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2009

 I’m also on a tight budget.  I know you said Photographer and DJ are important. My photographer usually does not work weddings in my price range. But I was honest and upfront with her about my budget. Both she and our dj were willing to work with us. If i were you don’t be afraid to ask someone. Let them know you love their work but can only afford XXX , be honest and don’t be too upset if they can’t do it. The worst they can do is say no.

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