So often people think that they need to spend *All The Money* on their wedding.
Call me frugal (or crazy…whatever) but I didn’t want to go into debt for my wedding.
Ross and I already had $20,000 in student loan debt before we got married (you can read about how we got rid of it in 18 months here), and we didn’t want to add any more.
My parents were going to reimburse me (up to $3000) for what I spent on the wedding after they sold their house, but I didn’t have any guarantee of when that would be.
So to determine the budget, I looked at my bank account then added what Ross’s parents were going to give us for the wedding. The total was $3,000.
We decided that $3,000 would be our entire budget and that we would not use our credit cards to pay for anything above and beyond that amount.
So in honor of Ross and my 10th wedding anniversary this month (what?!?!), I thought it would be fun to do a different type of budgeting post.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane together and I’ll show you how we planned a wonderful wedding on a shoestring budget!
1) We Determined Our Priorities
When you have a tight budget for your wedding, you have to choose your priorities. And if your budget is very tight, you can sometimes only choose one priority.
For me, I wanted professional pictures.
I know that you can cut a lot of money out of your budget by asking a family member or friend to do the pictures for you, but having professional pictures was really important to me.
And since I still have several wedding pictures on the walls today, I am very happy with the decision to spend money on the photographer.
Most of the photographers in my area were going to charge me more than my entire budget for the wedding pictures. But after calling almost every photographer I could find online, I was able to find a husband-wife team of photographers that were willing to take the pictures for $1,500!
I was ecstatic, but I knew that I had very little money to spend on anything else.
2) We Went Cheap on Everything Else
Once I had my photographer price determined, I knew that I only had $1,500 to spend on everything else.
So I sat down with my handy-dandy excel spreadsheet and started crunching numbers.
I put everything we wanted to include in our wedding on the spreadsheet and wrote an estimate of what each item would cost next to it.
Then, as I booked or purchased anything, I would put the actual amount that we spent into the spreadsheet. That way I knew if I had any wiggle room for any of the other items on the list.
Keeping track of every expense is the only way that you can stick to your wedding budget!
3) We Asked
Once we had our spreadsheet filled in, we knew that we weren’t going to be able to afford professional prices for any of the other services we wanted for the wedding.
That meant that we needed to see if friends and family would be willing to help with different parts of the wedding.
We have friends and family members who are great at making cakes, playing music, doing hair, arranging flowers, and just about everything else that we needed to pull the wedding off!
I know most people don’t like to ask for help, but the Benjamin Franklin Effect says that people actually like you more when you ask them do to something for you.
So if you want more people to like you, ask them for help!
If you aren’t sure how to ask, just ask them how much they would charge you for whatever it is that you would like their help on.
In our experience, almost everyone said they would do it as our wedding gift, and everyone else asked for very little money.
We did give everyone who was doing something as our wedding gift a gift card as a thank-you, but it was still much cheaper than paying for a professional.
4) My Aunt Made The Cake
The cost of the cake can really sneak up on you if you aren’t careful! Find a friend or family member who is good at baking and ask them to make the cake for you.
My aunt made our almond poppyseed wedding cake with raspberry filling and cream cheese frosting. And it wouldn’t have tasted any better if we had paid an arm and a leg for it.
Even if someone has never made a cake for a wedding before, don’t be afraid to ask them if you know that they make delicious cakes (or whatever dessert you are having at your wedding). My mom would have never considered herself a wedding cake maker, but several of my sister and my friends have asked her to make cakes for their weddings because they loved the taste of her gluten-free cakes.
If you don’t have a cake-maker in the family, sheet cakes from Costco are cheap and delicious!
You don’t have to have a fancy wedding cake to have a beautiful, fun wedding. And remember, it’s only going to be eaten anyway!
Ross was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to go cake-tasting for our wedding. So for our 5th anniversary, we did just that! We told the bakeries that we were already married and we would be happy to pay for the cake when I called to book the appointments, but they only charged us between $10-$20 for each place that we went.
5) My Music Teachers Played Music for the Wedding
Another area that can cost a lot of money at a wedding is music and entertainment.
But again, we asked for help!
One of my piano teachers played piano for the wedding, and my sister’s trumpet teacher (who also happened to be a long-time family friend) played the trumpet for the recessional.
For the reception, we just had an iPod with music on it playing in the background.
6) We Borrowed Chairs from our Church
Instead of playing $1.50-$2.00 per chair (which still breaks my brain) we called our church and asked if we could use their chairs.
Nope, they weren’t perfectly matched.
Yep, they held everyone in the seating position perfectly.
7) I Asked a Friend to do My Hair
Getting hair and makeup professionally done can also cost a huge amount of money.
So again, I asked for help.
I happened to have a friend who was going to beauty school at the time of my wedding, and she agreed to do my hair for the big day!
I just had to pay to go into her school and let her do the practice runs in front of her teachers a couple of times… but again, this was much cheaper than getting a professional to do it.
8) We had an Outdoor Wedding
We had some friends who had connections with a beautiful school campus.
We were able to pay only $200 for the venue and had a beautiful stetting for our wedding.
Think outside the box when you are choosing where to get married. If you choose to get married somewhere that doesn’t usually host weddings, you will generally save a lot of money.
If you can’t find an option that won’t cost you a lot of money, see if you could get married in a friend or family member’s backyard.
Backyard weddings can be beautiful, fun, and best of all…cheap!
9) We Didn’t Have a Meal
We didn’t have a full, sit-down meal at our wedding. Not because we didn’t want to, but because we just couldn’t afford it.
To be sure that our guests wouldn’t be expecting to get fed, we got married at 3:00 pm, which is not typically a mealtime.
We also put on the invitations that there would be cake, mints, and nuts at the reception. That way people knew there wouldn’t be a full meal.
10) I Didn’t Pay an Arm-And-A-Leg for my Dress
With only being able to have one large priority, and that was the photography, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on my dress.
To be sure that I would stick with my budget, I didn’t even look at or try on dresses that were too expensive for me.
And I ended up finding my dress for $800!
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