The average wedding in 2016 was estimated at $26,645. Throughout the years, weddings have only become more expensive.
Companies have realized that a bride and groom (and their families) will pay a small fortune to stay at their dream venue, eat good food, and dance the night away. But do you really have to get into debt to have a wedding? No, you really don’t.
You can have your dream wedding on a budget. I know because I did it!
I planned my wedding, and honeymoon, in only three weeks. No, that is not an exaggeration, and yes, it was amazing.
I may not have had the fairytale wedding with a horse-drawn carriage that some women think of, but it was a fairytale to me.
The best part? No debt. In total, I spent around $600 for my wedding and honeymoon. Let me break it down for you.
How I Had My Dream Wedding and Honeymoon for Only $600!
Marriage License: $55
Invitations: Free. We invited our close friends and family via Facebook and word of mouth.
Wedding Venue: Free. We had our ceremony at our church. Our reception was spent at Dave & Busters, and we didn’t have to pay to have the “party room”.
Food For Reception: $100. We had punch and snacks right after the ceremony, and everyone paid for their own food at the reception.
Cake: $60. My sister-in-law bakes, so she graciously made us a carrot cake wedding cake and only charged us for the supplies and ingredients.
My Wedding Dress & Accessories/Beauty: $48. I found my wedding dress at a thrift store for $13. My slip was $8. I wore a gifted blue necklace (something blue). My shoes were the best deal at only $9! I also spent $10 for my makeup. About $8 was spent on my DIY bouquet. It was made out of Dollar Tree flowers, ribbon, and a cute brooch. There was no charge for my hair because I did it myself.
My Husband’s & Daughter’s Attire: $103. We found my daughter’s dress on clearance at Old Navy for around $10. My husband’s tux was found for $53, and alterations were $40.
Photography/Videography: Free + $30 tip. My mother-in-law’s friend took our pictures and set up our video recorder for free in exchange that she could use our photos to build her portfolio.
Music: Free. We used the church’s sound system and played music from my phone.
Travel: $30 for gas to and from our place, the church, reception, and hotel.
Hotel, Fun Money, & Food: $174. We got a great deal on our hotel about three minutes from Dave & Busters for $80 (including tax). We only stayed for one night because we knew we would miss our daughter. The other $94 we spent on miscellaneous items, like food for the next morning, money for games at Dave & Busters, and other items that came up.
How to Have Your Own Dream Wedding on a Budget
Now that you’ve seen how I spent my wedding budget, here are 5 tips you can use to have your dream wedding on a budget.
1. Decide What’s Most Important
For me, the most important thing was having my two favorite people with me, my husband and daughter. Honestly, I could have gotten married at the courthouse, but I still wanted to celebrate with friends and family. Knowing that as long as I had these two, it was a lot easier to say no to added expenses.
2. DIY When You Can
My dress had an ugly pink slip under it when I bought it. But, my husband and I loved the price and the other details that the dress had.
So, I took some scissors and cut the slip out. I replaced it with a white one from target. I also created my own bouquet, did my own makeup and hair, and accessorized the church with things we already owned.
Having a dream wedding on a budget doesn’t mean you have to skimp on looking good! 🙂
3. Barter Or Ask For Help
We were able to get a deal with our photographer because she needed to build her portfolio. My sister-in-law baked our cake, and the church graciously offered their services for free because we are loyal members of the church.
I told Dave & Busters about wanting to have a fun reception there, so we were able to rent out a “party room” without paying for it. All I had to do was give them a shout-out and review. Talk about easy!
4. Use Your Wedding Gifts
Instead of asking for gifts, we asked for money and gifts cards from our guests. Although some may not consider this appropriate, we knew we didn’t have a need for gifts.
For one, we already lived together. Plus, we have a child, so we didn’t really need any housewarming presents or items to start our new lives together.
We didn’t make gifts mandatory, and we didn’t advertise a cash registry, but we still got about $500 from friends and family. We used that money to pay for part of our honeymoon. What was left over was put into savings.
5. Realize That It’s Just A Day
Here is the thing. You can have your dream wedding on a budget if you realize that your wedding is really just one day. To be honest, I don’t even remember everything about my wedding day.
I know it was filled with laughs and memories, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you all of the details if you asked.
Your wedding day is just that…a day. It isn’t going to make or break your marriage. It isn’t going to give you a lasting fulfillment, and it isn’t going to stay in your memory (without help) forever. You can always have a more extravagant vow renewal later.
My husband and I plan on doing that for our 10 year anniversary. But you don’t have to get into debt or blow through your savings just to get married.
At the end of the day, what matters is that you are with the person you love and care about the most.
5 Unique Places to Get Your Wedding Dress for Cheap
For many brides-to-be, one of the biggest decisions is choosing her wedding dress.
Choosing your wedding dress comes with a lot of emotions, but it doesn’t have to come with a giant cost.
Here are a few ideas to help you get your own unique wedding dress for cheap!
1. Vintage Stores and Flea Markets
Vintage stores and various flea markets can be an amazing place to find a unique wedding dress of your dreams. While you are there, you may find some antique wedding accessories or even decor items for the big day, too.
So, take a bunch of friends with you and start the treasure hunting at the vintage store! Just make sure you don’t buy something that needs too many repairs or is in disarray. You definitely don’t want to look shabby (unless that’s your style, of course).
2. Online Stores
Another great way to find nice wedding dress is to look for it online. This way you can ship that gown from faraway lands and make sure that it is really unique!
You can even purchase a dress made across the world and be confident that you are the only one in the your area with a dress like that. Another benefit is that shopping online can be much cheaper than shopping in bridal salons.
One of the reasons is because of online coupons and tools to help you save. Lots of online stores give amazing discounts! Plus, you can use a tool like Ebates to help you earn cash back. So, you should definitely consider shopping for your wedding dress online!
The only downside is that you won’t be able to try on your dress before you buy it, so make sure you know what size you wear and that the dress you buy has measurements included, not just a traditional size, like 10 or 12.
3. Borrow Your Mom’s or Grandmother’s Dress
As one of the wedding traditions suggest, you can borrow a dress for your mom or grandmother and have a unique and sentimental gown. My friend Cat did this and her dress was gorgeous!
Of course, you may need a lot of alterations to make it fit right. But that only will make that gift from your beloved relatives even more unique and one of a kind. So, taking advantage of the dress your mom or grandma used and redoing it to fit your style and taste is another great option.
4. Shop for it on Facebook
By putting a status update on Facebook saying that you are looking to buy a pre-owned wedding dress, you never know what you might get.
This way you might see some amazing dresses that are cheap and in an excellent condition since it was worn by one woman for one day. So, you should consider using your social media channels to get a good deal on a modern, gently used wedding dress.
5. Shop at Regular Stores
Finally, you can find some great dresses that are not technically wedding dresses. You can shop at simple brand name stores for white dresses that look modern without overpaying for the “wedding dress” label.
Browse your favorite department stores and local boutiques and find the dress of your dreams. Plus, chances are high that you will find a dress that you can wear for other occasions after the wedding, too. So it is a win-win for sure!
$1,000 Dream Wedding Budget Template
To help you have your dream wedding on a budget, I’ve created a FREE $1,000 Dream Wedding budget template.
It includes space for everything from invitations, decorations, your dress, venue, food, music, and even your marriage license. There’s also a section to help you budget for your honeymoon!
The template includes a loose suggestion for how much you can spend on each item in order to keep your wedding and honeymoon to a $1,000 budget.
Some of the amounts listed might seem low, but that’s why you can easily make changes to this spreadsheet. You can choose what’s important for you and what’s not important to spend your money on. You might even be able to DIY some things like I did to save money.
Just enter your email below to get a copy of the $1,000 Dream Wedding Budget Template so you can have your dream wedding on a budget!
So, there you have it, your dream wedding on a budget. It can be fun, silly, romantic, or even downright exhausting, but it will be whatever you make of it.
Would you rather have $30,000 in debt that you have to pay off for many years, or would you rather start off your marriage with a clean slate and money in the bank? I’d take the latter, always!