A Wedding On A Budget : $2000

Think you have to spend a lot on you wedding day to make it special? Learn how I got the fairytale wedding on a financial budget!

Greg and I had been together over four years when we got engaged. So naturally we were ready to get married right as soon as he popped the question.

I remember one of the first conversations we had about wedding planning Greg very hesitantly said something about not wanting to have a huge wedding where we spent all our money and had to wait a long time to plan it because he just really wanted to be married.

To which I kind of laughed in his face a bit and said, "Do you even know me?"

Sure I, like most girls, had dreamed of that Pinterest wedding at some point, but once I actually got engaged I realized a few of things:

1. I didn't want to plan that wedding. (Or put off the wedding in order to plan it.)

2. I didn't want to pay for that type of wedding.

3. And because of those two things, I realized I didn’t really care that much about having that type of wedding.

What I cared the most about? Being married, like stat.

So I told him in that conversation, "Greg, I don't want that either, give me a timeline and a budget and I'll make it happen." So he said he would like to be married by July and spend around $1000. (Keep in mind it was early April and he had never even been to a wedding before and had no frame of reference for what they entail.)

In the end the total cost came to a little over $1500 but we only spent around $1000 out of our own pockets, and we were married on June 8th. So basically my first promise to him as a wife was a success! ;)

So for your perusal and just curious minds I'm going to break down how we did that.

Updated November 2018 Note: This post is one of my more popular posts so I feel the need to do a small forward to it. I once got a note about this post from someone saying how I was bragging or something about having a cheap wedding and making people feel bad? Something like that, I honestly didn’t read it all because it was clear up front there wasn’t really a purpose to the note and she had clearly taken everything the wrong way.

That being said, to all the bride to be’s who are probably in the middle of wedding planning and stressed about money: This post is just to give you encouragement, inspiration, and/or ideas on how you can use what you have at your disposal to save some money. It’s not a “I’m so great you’ll never have a cheaper wedding than me!” post.

There actually are cheaper weddings than mine, there are more expensive ones than mine and there are ones where people don’t even have the $500 of help we had from someone. The only thing I’d tell you to absolutely not do, is go into debt for your wedding. It’s just not worth it to go into your marriage with debt. Other than that, everything else I talk about in this post is how we did it and for you to take and leave what you want from it.

Don’t stress, your wedding will be great no matter if you follow exactly what someone did on the internet or not. No matter if you had a free location or not. No matter if you didn’t have the food you wanted becasue you couldn’t afford it. It’ll be great because of the person who meets you at the end of the isle. ;) Best wishes and blessings to your happy day and your future together.

Want to know more about our finances as a couple or how you can improve yours? Check out these posts below:

Our Budget Under $2000

3 Fights to Expect Your First Year of Marriage

The #1 Fight in Marriage and the Solution

4 Tips For Combining Finances & Budgeting in Marriage

 

A Wedding on a Budget: My Wedding Under $2,000

LOCATION - $0

I said ever since my sister moved into this house that I loved it so much I wanted to get married there. It was a beautiful house but the property around it was just magical. Initially I thought maybe it would happen in the barn that was on the property because once they owned it (which they were in the process of trying to do rent to own) the barn could be cleaned out. But when Greg proposed they were still renting so we ended up doing everything outside. After we got engaged I officially asked her if we could use her home and thankfully she said yes!

If I had to do it over I wouldn’t change anything. I still loved the location, the scenery, and the price.

FOOD //

DINNER - $250

I was still working in the kitchen of a retirement home at the time and had been for four years at that point. I think it had been joked around a little bit about some of the cooks getting together and doing my food (they were all relatives and cooked for family parties all the time) but I mentioned the idea to Greg who loves their food and he was all for it. So I hesitantly asked them if they would be willing to come out and do it. (My sister's house was an hour and a half away.) Luckily they said yes and charged me basically the cost of the food and not anything more!

If I had to do it over I wouldn’t change anything. The food was so great and they were so incredibly kind to do all that work for me.

CAKE - $75

I really didn't want to have some fancy cake and truly didn't think it was worth the cost of most wedding cakes. So I again asked the main baker we had in the kitchen if she would be up for it. She was super nervous because she wanted it to be perfect but she agreed. Again, I just had to buy all the supplies!

If I had to do it over I would of remembered to freeze some of the cake for our one year anniversary. I totally spaced saying anything about it to anyone so it didn’t happen.

DRINKS - $37

For drinks we had water bottles because it was a pretty hot day but we also had a couple of dispensers with Crystal Light Lemonade and Peach Tea. My favorite at the time. :)

If I had to do it over part of me thinks I’d just buy a bunch of soda for a cooler for my guests even though it would of added to the cost, but part of me thinks that I would just stick with having only water and sparkling cider for the toasts. Fun fact about me, I’m just not big on drinks. They don’t really serve a purpose (water hydrates you, soda or alcohol doesn’t do anything really for you), they cost a lot of money and really don’t matter in the grand scheme of anything. I kind of can’t stand the idea of spending money on something like that.

APPAREL //

DRESS - $18

I had a heck of a time finding a dress. I knew I didn't want your typical ballgown but was having a hard time finding the perfect mixture of special occasion and yet understated. A couple weeks before I had basically settled on a dress I had found but didn't really get butterflies with it. I was out shopping for something else with one of my bridesmaids when I came across this beautiful little number. I called my friend back into the dressing room and told her I thought this was the one. She was a little hesitant at my decision because I had sort of cried wolf a lot about this. But she loved it too and I walked away with butterflies.

Oh, and it was $17.99 from T.J. Max.

If I had to do it over I’d still pick this dress. I love it still so much.

VEIL - $7

I wanted one of those small birdcage looking veils so I bought some tool, a flower and a clip and put it all together for under $10.

If I had to do it over I’d still make this but again because of styles I might change the flower on it. My sister actually used my veil for her wedding a few years later.

SHOES - $12

I had wanted to wear lace Toms but sadly waited too long to order them and then didn't want to pay to have them rushed. It was about 2-3 days before the wedding and I still didn't have shoes. I knew what I wanted, kinda, but I hadn't actually found/bought them. Two of my bridesmaids went with me and we found a knock off pair of red Toms for $12. I ended up wearing them all throughout our honeymoon and they are probably my shoes with the most sentimental memories and adventures. I love them!

If I had to do it over I would of probably not procrastinated getting shoes and gotten real toms at least. I might now of changed the style of shoe I wore, but at the same time I sort of loved having my wedding shoes on all of my honeymoon. So who knows. But if I did it over again I for sure would not procrastinate till the last week.

TUX - approx. $100

Greg's tux was a rental for a little over $100. But his family went with him and graciously ended up covering that cost!

If I had to do it over again I’d of just gone to goodwill and found him something there to wear that he liked. But I grew up with all girls, I knew nothing about tuxes so I left it to him, which he really didn’t know either. (Again, he never had actually been to a wedding before this.))

MISC //

Music - $135 // We rented speakers and a microphone and had one of our friends "DJ" using music we had downloaded onto my Macbook.

If I had to do it over I’d choose way less songs. Why did I think I need four hours of music?! Also with what songs I did choose I’d specify groupings of when I wanted them played. So like, idle time songs, dance floor open songs, etc. Also, I’d do all this before the night before, which is what I was up doing the night before. Rookie mistake for this planner girl!

Tables & Chairs - $178 // We accidentally ended up renting way more than we needed because I put extra on hold and forgot to tell the person picking them up that we didn't need them all. So we actually would have paid a lot less had I remembered that!

If I had to do it over I’d thoroughly go through our guest list ask people if they were coming or not to get an accurate head count. Not just because we overpaid for extra chairs, but because having extra chairs made it look like not that many people came and we were expecting more. In reality we invited a small amount of people, we just picked up extra chairs. Having more chairs means people naturally spread out which tends to look a little strange in photos.

Flowers - approx. $80 // Greg's mom and aunt took care of the flowers for us and I never knew exactly how much but $80 was her estimate from memory. I know she did purchase the flowers from Fred Meyer. She picked up the bundles the day before and then put the bouquets together there for us.

If I had to do it over the only thing I’d change is style, just because styles have changed. I’d skip the roses and just go with the baby’s breath and some free greenery. Except I did love those sunflowers!

Flower Girl Basket & Pedals - $4 // Goodwill! ;)

Invitations - $30 // I designed them myself and just had them printed on white card stock.

If I had to do it over I’d just change styles is all. :)

Photography - $500 // This was pretty much the thing I was willing to fork out some cash for. Even more so than my dress because I wanted my photos to turn out lovely and I ended up getting a great deal.

If I had to do it over I would pick someone based on loving their style. I’m not saying I didn’t like my photographer’s style, but since my wedding and since being friends with photographers I’ve just learned that it’s not good to only pick photographer’s for price because whether it is cheap or not you might not like the photos in the end. But, if you love the photographer’s style then you can pretty much guarantee you’ll love all your photos. Of course price would still be apart of the decision, it just wouldn’t be the only factor.

Also I’d have better communication with my photographer. Most will ask you about specific shots you want and mine did as well, but I was just kind of nonchalant about it and assumed everything I wanted was just typical so didn’t say anything really when asked. If I had to do it over I’d just ask and communicate the shots I wanted in detail. I’d rather them think I was a little over prepared than be dissappointed that I didn’t get the picture I wanted when it was all over. So, friends, communicate.

Tablecloths & Cutlery - $39 // We used plastic for both but wrapped the cutlery in ribbon to make it look nicer. Also we used two tables cloths per table and used one as a "runner" down the middle.

If I had to do it over I actually think I might buy real table cloths and not plastic. But that is because my wedding was small and had we bought the right amount of tables, it wouldn’t be that many to buy. The look of the plastic ones actually bothered me a little more than I thought they would and they flapped around during the day more than a fabric one would of I think. If you have a bigger wedding though, plastic cost might outweigh the look.

Marriage License - $64 // The technical stuff is always no fun.

If I had to do it over I’d still get legally married. ;)

Like I said our family chipped in on a bunch of stuff but the cost to actually put our wedding on was very low overall. Now we did have a fairly small wedding. We joke that if we got married now it would be totally different due to how many people we have met and gotten closer to in the last few years. (That’s what happens when you become really involved in a church.) But at the time we had our family and close friends and we really didn't need anyone else there.

I know it can be hard to scale down your wedding both budget and size but here are a few of my tips.

  • Choose a budget, (a “what are we willing to spend” amount) and stick to it.

  • Decide ahead of time before getting numbers, what the most important things to you are, aka what you are willing to spend the most on. (Ours was photos!)

  • Remember no matter what, the bride is always beautiful no matter what the dress looks like, and your pictures are always magical no matter how expensive or inexpensive the photographer is because they are pictures of your wedding.

  • Don't invite out of guilt, ever. EVER. EVER. EVER.

  • Allow people to help or even ask them. Whether it's food, or using someone's property, or some of their canning jars for centerpieces. You'd be surprised how many people would feel honored to be even asked and to be apart of your day.

  • Invitations will be thrown away by 80% to 90% even if there is a picture with it.

  • Don’t compare your wedding to anyone else’s. As women I think we tend to compare in everything we do. Please, try to not do this for your wedding. Keep your head down and focus on what you like, what you and your partner want and not what anyone else says or is doing for their wedding.

I hope you enjoyed a peak into our day and our finances. I like being open with you all here on the blog. It makes us feel like real life friends! :)