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Our $3,000 Wedding

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I’ve mentioned a few times that my sister is getting married in September. It’s caused me to pause and think back to my own wedding. Our wedding was NOT extravagant by any means…but it got the job done and I was pleased with it.  :-)

The Average Wedding Budget

I’ll admit that after a bit of research, I feel shell-shocked. It astonishes me that people spend so much on their wedding. The Knot says that the AVERAGE wedding costs $27,800. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Do you know what I could buy with that much money? It gives me heart palpitations. Our wedding budget was $3,000. Quite the contrasting number, huh? 

Having a $27,800 wedding doesn’t make you happier…and actually, it could make you less happy if you end up making payments. Payments on a wedding? Good grief.

So, I thought I’d share a little bit about how we had our church wedding for only $3,000. I know MANY of you have done it for a lot less (courthouse weddings are cheap!). It IS possible to get married without giving your Daddy a heart attack.

The Food

First, we decided to have our wedding at Barry’s parents’ church. Since they were members, we only had to pay a $50 cleanup fee. Not too shabby. A few of the other venues we looked at charged fees starting at $500. Uh, no. Moving on…

Then we decided to have a cake and punch reception. I’m astonished at the amount of people who feel like they need to serve an entire meal at their reception. Let me debunk a myth here – just because you have a wedding doesn’t mean you have to serve a meal.  If it’s in your budget, great…but if you’re going to have to stretch things and stress out about cost, forget the meal. It’s not needed.

People are just there for the cake. Really. When I hear that someone is getting married, I only think about the cake. I don’t worry if there is going to be a meal – I could care less. I want cake. Just give me the cake, baby.

We bought everything for our reception (punch, nuts, etc) and asked some of the church ladies to serve. It worked out fabulously. Our cake was done by a family friend who also agreed to serve it…so I got a great deal all the way around – except I got cheated on the eating part. I was too busy to eat cake, so I only got the bite for the picture. Barry’s family polished off all the rest of the cake while we were on our honeymoon. I felt gipped. In fact, I will be eternally bitter. Amen.

Save money on your cake by asking a friend to make it. I promise that a few years later, no one will have the slightest clue what your cake looked like…what you wore…what the bridesmaids wore…or what kind of flowers you used. They’re only going to remember that you got married – and they’re keeping tabs on your status NOW as a married couple.

Use Your Connections

We found the invitations we liked at a wedding store and then scoured the internet to find them SUPER cheap. My sister made her own invitations for very cheap and they are stinkin’ cute. We printed our own wedding programs on our computer.

The same lady who made our cake was also a wedding caterer, so she had all the chairs and decorations that we’d ever need – and she let us borrow them for FREE. I’ve had a few friends who were also able to get that type of a deal. The moral of the story is, ask around to see what your friends can offer as a gift…wouldn’t you rather have free tablecloths and decorations than some coffee maker that will likely break in two years?  This is the PERFECT time to use all the connections you have.

I bought our cake topper and my garter on the clearance table at a store. For my flowers, I chose daisies, which are a very cheap flower and just so happen to be my favorite. If you’re on a budget, calla lilies are NOT a good choice. Amen. Ask your florist what is in season during your wedding and go with that flower…if he/she is a good florist, they’ll know the cheapest and prettiest route to take.

Our photographer was a friend of Barry’s family, so I got a good rate there. Photography is expensive folks. I opted not to have one of those people that follows you around all day and gets everything on camera, including a runner in your pantyhose. Instead I asked friends to take pictures as well, so I had lots of different vantage points.

The Clothing

My bridesmaids dresses were $69 from Chadwicks. I went with something pretty simple so that they could be worn again if the girls wanted to. I did not buy the dresses for my bridal party – but I did buy them a gift. I didn’t have the budget to buy their dresses…in fact, none of the weddings that I have been in have come with a furnished dress. It’s not needed, honey. NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR BUDGET. It’s what you’re working with – if they don’t want to buy the dress, that’s cool.  They have a budget too.  They can still be your friend if they’re not in your wedding party.

My mom made my wedding dress for $100. We picked out the embellishments, pattern, and material. She also made my veil. I was very proud of it. I wanted to wear her dress, but she didn’t find it until about a year after my wedding. Bummer.

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a dress. You are wearing it for a  few hours for crying out loud! Consider buying one at Goodwill (I’ve seen some AWESOME ones there), at a consignment store, from the classifieds. Or get this…rent your dress. Yes, I totally went there. Enjoy the dress for a few hours and then take that sucker back. Then you don’t have to store it. Amen and amen.

So, that’s just a little bit about how we saved – and we had around 150 people attend the wedding. It really is possible to have a nice wedding on a small budget. I’ve had some friends get married, spending TONS of money…and then they got divorced a few years later.  It’s not about the wedding – it’s about your marriage – invest in that and you’ll never have buyer’s remorse.

*This post is linked at Finer Things Friday on Amy’s Finer Things, at Tip Me Tuesday on Tip Junkie, at Works for Me Wednesday on We Are That Family, at Proverbs 31 Thursday on Raising Mighty Arrows, at Frugal Tuesday Tip on Learning The Frugal Life, at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable, and at Frugal Friday on Life as Mom.



Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.

  • Jennifer

    My husband and I also had a 3,000.00 wedding. We had a church wedding and a reception at my parents’ house. I bought my dress from a local bridal shop that gave discounts for anything bought “off the rack.” My mom and I borrowed potted ferns from her friends and used those to decorate the chapel. We just served finger foods at the reception, which was outdoors. In June. We figured no one would be interested in eating a full meal on a 90-degree day. I wouldn’t have done it any other way and I’m so thankful that we were able to have a wedding without creating debt for us or my parents!

    • Stacy

      Debt is most certainly NOT a good way to start out. You were VERY smart! :-)

  • http://impossibleway.livejournal.com Brandy

    Our wedding cost around $1500 including food, dress, reception location, invitations, etc. Nice not to go in debt to get hitched when most of us don’t have two dimes to rub together, livin’ on love. 😉

    • Stacy

      :-) And I think your wedding photos are just lovely.

  • JD

    I think your wedding looks lovely and would have no idea that you were able to save so much. Very good. We were the cheap ones…court house. Think how tiny our budget was! Yikes.

    • Stacy

      :-) I would have done the court house….but I think some of my family would have been ticked off. LOL

  • Ruby

    Our wedding (14 yr ago yesterday) was about $5,000. For a DC wedding that is dirt cheap. We too had a Cake and punch Church Wedding/Reception. Our Biggest expense was food. We had finger foods to go with the cake. It was an 80 degree March day in DC so we ran out of punch. But all things aside, I would do it the same way again.

    • Stacy

      Happy Anniversary Ruby!!!!

  • D.

    12 years ago my Husband & I had an out of town wedding,got married in a beautiful B&B, stayed in a historic hotel for 2 days & even were taken around town at night by a horse drawn carriage. Cost….$400 total

    • Stacy

      And that sounds FABULOUS!!! I love B&Bs!!!!

  • http://stayathomefarmermom.blogspot.com Tracy

    Oooooohhhhhhh girl!!! You are one smart cookie! We had the big blowout wedding. I am an only child so my parents spoiled me….greatly…for my wedding. Hubby and I just celebrated anniversary #18 on Monday and, looking back, I wish we had done things a bit differently. Don’t get me wrong, my wedding was beautiful but I really do think simple is the way to go. You are right when you say in a few years, no one will remember the dresses or the decorations or anything. Why start off married life in debt (or worse, drag your parents into debt!)when you can have a scaled back, just as beautiful and just as meaningful, affair. Like you said, it’s about the marriage, not the wedding!

    • Stacy

      :-) I think it’s fine for parents to spend a ton of money on a wedding…if they have it. But it’s certainly not necessary. You’re right…it can be beautiful and meaningful without all the extra cash. Great comment Tracy!!

  • Amanda

    Your wedding sounds almost identical to ours….budget and all.

    • Stacy

      :-) I guess that’s why we get along so well.

  • Kay

    I had a low budget wedding too. I found a $600 wedding dress that was marked down to $150. I found the veil for $15.00. My cousin made the boutineers and bouquet out of silk flowers for me. I found a photographer who did photography as a side job for a good price. He just did photography at the wedding and I didn’t order every size. Just got a small book of 5×5 pictures. I probably spent a fourth of what everybody else spends on weddings. I got a nice cake from a bakery because I didn’t know anybody who could bake a cake but I didn’t go elaborate or anything. My mother made the groom cake. We got married in my church and they didn’t charge us a fee. Had to pay the janitor a fee to clean up. Had to play the pianist and the preacher and that was it.

    • Stacy

      That’s a GREAT deal on your dress!!! :-)

  • http://www.morethanfourwalls.wordpress.com Danielle

    This is so true!
    Our wedding, with honeymoon might was around $5,000.
    We had a friend who makes cakes do our wedding cake for very little money.
    we made our own favors and I a guy in our marketing department at work print our invitations and programs….all I did was buy the cards and paper we wanted.

    • Stacy

      It’s very easy to make your own beautiful invitations! :-) Plus, I think it’s sorta fun.

  • http://www.halleethehomemaker.com Hallee the Homemaker

    We didn’t have a photographer. But, we did buy several disposable cameras and set them out all over the reception hall. That way, everyone could take pictures. We had about 20 cameras.

    Hallee

    • Stacy

      I’ve seen people do that and I think it’s a great idea! You get so much more perspective that way….and probably some weird pictures of Grandma. 😉

  • Amanda

    I think my wedding was around 3,000 also. Just like you mentioned, I know a TON of friends that are divorced and I’m very happily married :)

    • Stacy

      It’s sad how normal it has become….congratulations on your marriage! :-)

  • http://summerdoula.com Summer

    I SOOO don’t get the idea of extravagantly expensive weddings. I felt like mine was very beautiful AND cheap. In fact, everyone who came said that it was the most beautiful and sincere/emotional/joyful wedding they’d been to. I’m pretty sure all the attendees cried with me during the service! Of course, that was because we only invited people that were either our close friends or relatives, no “just because” people.
    Anyway, we saved money by having the ceremony at my family’s farm, having a friend “officiate”, having potluck for the reception (which I know horrifies some), having another friend make the cake and more. We made a lot of the decorations or did things like bought mismatching vases at thrift stores, used a giant roll of paper for tablecloths that people could decorate and so on. I have an entire blog dedicated to my wedding planning, actually!
    http://summersgettingmarried.wordpress.com

    • Stacy

      Summer, that ROCKS! :-) Thanks for sharing!!

  • Nora

    Amen! My husband and I did the same way as you. I am so grateful for that. Now our oldest is preparing for her June 1st wedding, they have been preparing for 2 1/2 years. We keep telling them that spending all that money is not going to make their marriage perfect. The wedding does not make the marriage. We know couples that spent thousands upon thousands of $ on their wedding and it didn’t last, yet our parents who didnt spend much at all has been married like forever.

    I think alot of the gals spend so much due to commercialism, and some from pressure from others. Really sad, you are already in stress enough than to have to add financial burden on top of that.

    Great article! Wished more brides to be are able to read and let it really sink in.

    • Stacy

      Preach it….I really think it’s peer pressure. Brides feel like they need to measure up to the weddings of their friends. It’s sad. Thanks for teaching your daughter the truth!! :-)

  • Stacey

    Our wedding was $5000, and that included our honeymoon to Las Vegas (where I ended up winning $1000 playing video poker!). It was 2nd marriage for both of us, so we went simple. Rented the club house at my uncle’s condo and decorated with fake ficus trees and Christmas lights (I returned the ficus trees the day after the wedding because I really had no need to keep 8 6-foot fake trees). We did have a meal, but it was pit BBQ with baked beans, corn, slaw and potato salad. Bought all of the beer and wine at a liquor store that we knew would take back anything that was unopened. And I ordered our cake and flowers from the grocery store. It was a casual wedding, very laid-back, and I still have people telling me it was one of the most fun weddings they’ve ever been to – 10 years later! My first wedding cost over $15,000, and the marriage only lasted 2 years. Not the most worthwhile investment. But this one is still going strong, so we’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth out of this union – and then some!

    • Stacy

      See…you just have to be smart! :-)

  • Kate

    I am glad you did a post on this. Most young people don’t realize how much debt a wedding can cause. And how debt can cause so many problems in a marriage. My husband and I spent very little of our own money on our wedding. We too had a family member make the cake. My dress was $100 from David’s Bridal. Family paid for both our photos and honeymoon. Our employer paid for our food and had other employee’s serve it.

    • Stacy

      And it sounds like you had a great wedding. :-) There is a false assumption out there that you have to spend the big bucks to impress everyone – not true. They’ll be more impressed by the quality of your marriage.

  • shawn

    Borrow, borrow, borrow – anything but money!!! I had a guy-friend who got married abut 2 years before me and his wife was just my size. She was honored to lend me her dress, so for the price of cleaning, I had a gorgeous dress!!! It doesn’t hurt to ask. People really do like to help.

    Also I agree about the florist, just ask for what is in season, I love so many different flowers, it really didn’t matter what they were. My florist was astonished at how fast I decided. What’s pretty and cheap? Give me that, I told her! I am sure know one will remember the flowers unless the are either over the top or ugly. HAHA

    • Stacy

      LOL If it’s ugly, they’ll always remember. :-) That’s AWESOME about your dress!!!

  • Julia

    Daisies are my favorite flower too. We did a lot of the same things you did for our wedding. My husband and I have been married almost 16 years now! So yes, it is much better to put the investment in your marriage as opposed to the wedding.

    • Stacy

      Daisies are just so classically beautiful. :-) Congratulations on 16 years!! That’s FABULOUS!

  • http://featheringthecrownest.blogspot.com/ Kate

    My mom made my bridesmaids dresses, since they were poor college folks like myself. She was too nervous to make my own dress, so we bought it at a sample sale. It was SO CHEAP. I can’t believe what some of my friends have paid. Yikes! We did light appetizers and cake for food, so savings there. We used a local lady who still makes my girls’ birthday cakes. So great! We got our venue on a budget because someone canceled a wedding and we got their spot! Very lucky!! I think we spent 5,000 for everything. The only thing I wish we had done was gone with a different photographer. He was good, but too pricey (he was the biggest part of our budget). I constantly am telling people you can do this on a budget. It just takes a little leg work. :) Love this post!!!

    • Stacy

      Kate, I knew you were one smart cookie. :-) My Mama is currently making the bridesmaid dresses for Jamey’s wedding….at a fraction of what they would cost at the store!

  • http://www.janisecookston.com Janise

    “…ask around to see what your friends can offer as a gift…”

    I come from a Mexican family and the Latin culture really embraces this concept. For weddings it is traditional to have various members (aunts, uncles, etc.)of both sides of the family “sponsor” certain parts of the ceremony and reception. These “sponsors” are called Padrinos and Madrinos and are acknowledged in the wedding program. Sponsors typically pay for things like the bouquet, the veil, the cake, the DJ, etc. and this is in lieu of a standard gift to the bride and groom. Latinos, who typically have very large families, realize the financial burden a wedding can be even when just inviting immediate family which can amount to hundreds of people, so most are eager to “pitch in” for the party everyone will get to enjoy.

    • Stacy

      That is SO SMART!!!! :-) I love it!

  • Laura

    Our wedding was super cheap to. We closed on our home on Sptember 1st and worked our tails off to get a lot of renovating done. We were married October 27, 2007 on our back deck. My husbands best friend married us. I bought my dress from a friend of a friend for $50. My wedding cake came from Food City and my sister in laws gift to us was to have a local resturant cater for us and we set up tables in our back yard for the reception. And a friend ours did the photography. We just thought it was more important to spend the money our new home and have it ready to live in when we were able. And we enjoyed our honeymoon in our new home as well. I wouldnt have changed a thing.

    • Stacy

      You’re right – it makes WAY more “cents” to spend the money on your home….something that will go up in value. All the other cash is just gone like a vapor. :-)

  • jfred

    We did an inexpensive wedding as well. Out of our pocket was about $1500, and our parents spent maybe $500 on food. I made the bouquets and boutineres. I hate fake flowers, but found some that were lovely, and i wrapped the stems with ribbon that was twisted to give texture and a bit of oomph (thanks, martha stewart!). My parents paid $50 for my bouquet of white roses wrapped with ribbon. It was more than I would have spent, but they wanted to. We had a $350 photographer who gave us all the negatives, a $250 cake, my dress was $300. We didn’t do invites (it was a quick, he’s home on leave, kind of wedding!), but word of mouth and an invite printed on the back of the church bulletin brought most people we wanted! Fri night practice dinner was at the church, and my inlaws served lasagna, bread, salad, and cheesecake….all from sam’s. It was yum. Reception was cold cuts, cheeses, wings, a veggie platter, and cake. Tables and chairs were from the church, and it was held in the church fellowship hall. Honeymoon was cash raided from the gift envelopes! 😉

    We had a lovely time, enjoyed chattering with friends and family, and left with thankfulness and joy at being married! The rest wasn’t important. We just needed each other and someone to marry us! Knowing my parents couldn’t afford more didn’t bother me in the least. We made do with what we had, and it was perfect! I could have done the courthouse, but I did want a dress and walking the aisle with my dad and celebrating with all our friends and family.

    (we JUST celebrated 15 yrs, and I adore that man I married!)

    • Stacy

      “We made do with what we had, and it was perfect!” What a perfect quote! :-)

  • jfred

    Oh, the loveliest wedding I ever attended was a girl I knew in high school, and she and her husband had to pay for all of it. She spent the yr they were engaged baking cookies, a different kind for each month. They rented a historic house, and got married on the staircase. Everyone stood in the wide entry while they exchanged vows. The diningroom of the house was set up with platters of cookies all around the room. She baked her own cake and there were 5 round cakes, set on platters of dif heights, with in season wildflowers draped across. It was beautiful! So simple and very elegant! She had candles all over (dollar store), too. They had a dj and dancing, then a bouquet toss from the stairs. It was absolutely beautiful, and extremely frugal.

    • Stacy

      That sounds SO PRETTY!!!! :-) Thanks for sharing that story.

  • http://mobley4100.blogspot.com Julie

    Love it…we are a do it yourself kinda family and did almost everything for our wedding ourselves or with family. My parents lived on a lake, and my uncle made a beautiful pergola for us to use as a backdrop. I bought a very reasonable dress, my sister made her bridesmaid dress and we found an adorable flower girl dress for my niece. We too did daiseys which we got from a supermarket and my mom did the flowers, the cake and the food (with lots of help from family). We did brunch…so we served breakfast, a beautiful display of fruit, grits, ham, egg casserole, assorted muffins and mimosas (with cheap champagne), we did rent a tent and tables and chairs, but my mom had table cloths and all of the glassware we needed. It is amazing how much money you can save by doing things yourself instead of hiring it out (or by asking fabulous friends and family for help!)…12 years later (on Sunday) we are still going strong!

    • Stacy

      Happy Anniversary!!! Planning a wedding together and doing a lot of the work yourself really helps you work together BEFORE you get married. :-) It’s a good test. lol

  • Katie M

    You wedding sounds very similar to ours 2 years ago, and ours was just under $3,000. The one thing I wish we had done differently was I wish we had paid more for a better photographer. But our photographer was a family friend who gave us an amazing deal….9 months later when we finally got our photos, they were not good. At all. Our best pictures were from my best friend (who was one of my bridesmaids) and her dad.

    Actually, if we were to do it again I would go with the courthouse option, but thats another story.

    • Stacy

      :-) Katie, my friends took some of my favorite photos too. :-) All the ones above are from the photographer though. They weren’t the BEST in the world, but the price was right.

  • Angie W

    We had a frugal wedding, too – almost 6 years ago now! We budgeted $3000 for about 100 guests. We made priorities for what to spend our money on. For us the most important things were photographer (friend was an up and coming professional photographer so we got great pictures at a great price), wedding dress (on sale at David’s Bridal), and cake (from a local grocery store, but so good you would never know!). Everything else was gravy. :) People still talk about our outdoor wedding, in a park, with a faux-picnic meal served afterward in the hall. I loved it! :)

    • Stacy

      Ooooooh! You had gravy at your wedding? ROCK ON! I love gravy! 😉

  • http://quiverfullofblessings.com Rachel

    Amen sister! We also had a low-budget wedding, did our own flowers, had a friend make our cake, and had an outside reception under a white rented tent where we served simple picnic-type food. People LOVED it and said it was one of the most relaxing weddings they’ve ever been to. I agree–people should invest in their marriage and not go bonkers spending money on the wedding itself. You can definitely go low-budget and have a beautiful wedding. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Stacy

      That sounds just like the type of wedding I’d like to attend!

  • http://www.yourthrivingfamily.com/ Sara Shay

    I think ours was around $5000 for everything – $2200 was pictures, yes $2200. My mom’s brother did he pictures for her wedding, something got bumped on the camera – so the only pictures they have are from ones guests shot. So we were determined to get good pictures.
    We did sheet cake from costco for guests and cheesecake for us. Our friends took the top tier for us – you know, freeze it and eat it in your first anniversary. Well it got taken out to put dog food and forgotten about on top of the freezer. I was told our beautiful, creamy, ivory cheesecake was green when it was discovered. Bitter as well.

    • Stacy

      It’s nice to have company in my cake bitterness. 😉

  • Janet

    I got married about 3 years ago and cut costs everywhere we could. I think it cost us around 1000 for everything. We even fed a meal (potluck style). Wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses were home made just cost the fabric. Men wore black suits which already owned (made ties to match bridesmaids. Church donated, cake donated. Great day – no debt to begin forever. God was so with us there.

    • Stacy

      :-) And that’s what is important.

  • http://intentionalbygrace.com Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace

    I think ours was $5,000 (with 2 receptions and plenty of “fun”). My bouquet was of the Dollar Tree variety. My mom and I hit up every dollar store in a 30 mile radius. Bought them out of flowers. We made all the arrangements and such with them. No one had a clue! It was sort of like saying, “Hey ya’ll! The jokes on you.” But in a fun way, of course. :)

    • Stacy

      :-) All in good fun. lol

  • http://www.day2dayjoys.com Rachel @ day2day joys

    Luckily, my parents paid for our wedding and mom went overboard, I am more frugal minded than she is, lol! Looks like you had a beautful day!

    • Stacy

      We had a great day! :-)

  • Val

    I too had a very simple, cheap wedding. Probably less than $1500. I didn’t want anything big. I had friends at the job I had at that time. One made cakes, the other was starting out to be a wedding planner. It was perfect. My cake was only $75 and from what I heard it was wonderful, I was like you, I only got the bite for the picture and didn’t have anymore. My dress was only $300 and only had one bridesmaid and her dress was $20 at a consignment shop. My flower girls dresses came from Burlington for less than $15. The wedding planner did all my flowers and food and only charged me for the cost of everything which was around $400. I did not do invitations, I was stressed enough, I didn’t want to have to sit down and remember all my family and friends and I was afraid I’d leave someone out. So we did an “Open Wedding”. All we did was put it in the newspaper. A family member did our pictures, they weren’t wonderful, but we have pictures. That’s all that matters. We used our money we saved and money from our gifts for our honeymoon to Gatlinburg. We didn’t go far, but it was fun. I don’t understand the $20,000.00 weddings either, it’s just crazy to pay that much for that…….use it for a down payment on a house!

    • Stacy

      It’s funny that people will spend that much on a wedding and then go sooooooooooooooo far into debt buying a house immediately afterwards. Gives me the heebie jeebies.

  • Kell

    My first wedding (hubby died 9 years later) was going to be very simple — us going to Vegas. But our friends wanted to go and couldn’t afford it, so we had it in town. One couple opened their house for the wedding. We rented chairs (50??) and hired a photographer. The photographer was the only real purchase we made — the one we weren’t going to skimp or be frugal on. Now we know a professional photographer, but that’s another story. My husband and his friends were into role playing and such. So I got a dress from a renaissance store and bought material to make him a kilt. The ‘bridesmaid’ was a guy (my good friend) and the ‘best man’ was a woman (his good friend). We rented a helium tank and blew up our own balloons. We printed and hand delivered our own invitations. Oh, and we found a 14-year old VERY good bagpiper to stand on the balcony in the back yard to play our processional just as the sun went down over the mountains. After ordering photos after, I think it was all about $1200 or so. Oh, and the flowers… ha… I stopped at a grocery store THAT DAY to pick something up to hold… well, the florist asked what I needed and happened to have some lilacs and no other customers, so she made up arrangements for me and the party in about 30 minutes. It was awesome!

    Wedding number 2 was at the courthouse and NOBODY knew we were doing it. We even had to have another couple thee be our witnesses and vice versa.

    Frugal weddings rock! Why start out in debt or pay so much for a couple hours?? :)

    • Stacy

      Amen! Preach it sista!

  • http://quickeasycheaphealthy.com Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy

    Our wedding budget was $5,000 and was very similar to yours. We had a “dessert” reception with a chocolate fountain and assortment of homemade cheesecakes and stuff like that. A friend made our cake, and in retrospect, with all that other dessert, we could have gotten by with a MUCH smaller cake. As it turns out, our friend gave it to us for free, so it didn’t bother us much :) All my family and friends helped out in a zillion ways to make it happen, and it was amazing! One thing that was expensive was that we had to rent a hall (to the tune of $800!) for the reception because the church fellowship hall was not nearly large enough to accommodate our guests. most importantly, we did not go into debt!

    • Stacy

      A chocolate fountain?! I love you Anne!

  • http://frugalfarmwife.com Elise

    We did hings very similarly to you. My father-in-law actually bought bulk roses for the bouquets from Ecuador (or something like that. Sadly, none of us really knew how to make bouquets and it really shows in the pictures LOL.

    • Stacy

      Girl, I can’t do flowers either. The only thing I can do with them is…………kill them.

  • Carolyn

    Our wedding was just a smidge over $4,000. We actually did serve a meal. We had (wait for it)Panda Express. My husband wanted Chinese food and it worked out to less than $4 per person. So much cheaper than having it catered the “regular” way. We had a fake cake for pictures and Costco cake for eating. The church was free and we split the cost of the rental chairs for the outside service with my boss, whose son was getting married the next day at the same church (he was one of the elders).

    I can’t tell you how many paper cranes I folded for table decorations and all of our flowers were fake. We didn’t have to worry about any kind of water dripping anywhere. We printed out our invitations at home and they looked just as good as the ones from a professional. My dad made a pagoda that later raised into a stand for our dragon-shaped pinata. All the kids loved it.

    My dress was on markdown because they weren’t making that style anymore. It was $500. No DJ, just a CD that we had put together playing in the background. I think the most expensive thing was the photography. It wasn’t expensive, but everyone had fun.

    • Stacy

      Photography isn’t cheap….but you do always want to remember the day, so it’s nice to have a good photographer. :-) Sounds like a grand day, and I don’t even like Chinese food! :-)

  • http://www.craftdilettante.blogspot.com heather

    We hosted 125 people at our 1999 wedding and the total wedding cost $3,000 – which included honeymoon, dress, full meal, decorations, site and everything. I kept careful spreadsheets that tallied costs so I could keep within our budget. My dress cost $100 at a thrift store and $200 for significant alterations. We made our own food and hired a friend to serve it. Locations were virtually free – I joined the local land trust for $35 to access the beach for free and held the reception at my church. Family took pictures. We had flowers from friends’ gardens. We made our own invitations.

    • Stacy

      And it sounds just beautiful! :-) All it takes is a bit of resourcefulness.

  • http://www.campinandscrappin.blogspot.com Jennifer Phipps

    My daughter was married in October 2011 and our total costs we $3500! We were very blessed with friends who helped us and it was a beautiful affair! She had all she had ever dreamed of, but the important thing is that we didn’t break the bank for something that lasted less than 2 hours and could have been accomplished in a court house for about nothing!
    Thanks for always putting things in perspective!

    • Stacy

      Isn’t it nice to be able to count on our friends for things like this? :-) It’s really what it is all about…

  • http://www.gettingaheadblog.com Jennifer

    I too am appalled at how much weddings cost these days. We didn’t skimp at all and really didn’t go out of our way to save money and our wedding, reception, meal, dress, EVERYTHING was only $7000 or so. If I had been frugal and tried to save everywhere I could it would have been less.

    • Stacy

      Some people just go overboard because they’re trying to impress people. :-)

  • http://mommamadeit.blogspot.ca Emilee

    Great advice!
    I also had a “frugal” wedding it too cost $3000 or less and I loved every minute of it! It was just what I wanted and I had so many comments that our wedding screamed US! and that is just what I wanted… It might not have been perfect for everyone but it was just what i wanted and I think that is just what your wedding should be… YOURS. And you don’t have to pay a lot to make it individual. And of course as you said after a year or two most people will forget everything about your wedding and will be more concerned with your marriage as you should be as well.

    Sharing this great post with my sister in law who is planning her wedding now!

    • Stacy

      :-) Thanks Emilee!

  • http://femmefrugality.blogspot.com femmefrugality

    Wow! Almost 28k!!! That seems ridiculous! Mine was about 3k, too. That one ended in divorce. If I do it again I’m going to try to make it even cheaper.

    • Stacy

      Woohoo for cheaper! :-)

  • http://xmydearambellina.blogspot.com/ Amber

    Right now, my fiance and I are NOT working (he’s in school full time and I’m helping care for my dying Grandma), and I’ve been thinking more and more of our wedding. We’re both from close LARGE families, so either way our wedding will be bigger (I can’t leave out family or close friends-too many of my family members have passed away and I want the people I love to be there), and I know I want to be married in my church. My Mom and stepdad were married in the chapel at my church with only family in attendance, and a few months later had a pig roast in our backyard lovingly called “Hogust Fest” (held in, you guessed it, August). I’m thinking more and more this is what I’d like to do. The only REAL cost would be in the food that day, and it would be more fun to have a relaxed, casual party rather than worrying about spilling something on an expensive white gown.

    I’ve also thought about crocheting some doilies and stitching them to a dress (which I saw done before on someone’s blog) instead of spending $3000 on a dress alone.

    It always amazes me that people spend as much as they do on their wedding day, when it seems no one is ever 100% happy with the day.

    • Stacy

      Ooooooh!! I just LOVE the doilies idea!!! :-) I would love to see a photo when you’re done!

  • Amy

    Our wedding was maybe $800. That included me buying 2 dresses because I accidentally destroyed the first when I was altering it to fit me right. That was $115 down the drain. The next dress I ordered from J Crew for $69. We also bought my husband and son new suits & shoes. We had the wedding at our church and just had to clean up when we were done. We had mini cheese cakes on vanilla wafers & sparkling juice immediately after. The rest of the cost was a sit down meal for 30 of the 40ish people who came to our wedding at a local Hunan restaurant, including the beer that my BIL kept ordering even though we told him that we weren’t buying alcohol but he left before paying his tab.

    Originally we had planned to spend around $3,000 and have the wedding at the end of May. Planning while finishing graduate school got to be a bit much though and we changed the date to Leap Day. We would have been happy with a justice of the peace, but our family wanted to be there so we had the wedding for them.

    • Stacy

      Sometimes Barry and I wish we had just went somewhere and eloped….and kept the money. :-) But, we did have a nice time.

  • Lois

    We were in the same situation many years ago. My daughter got married almost a year ago, and we did it very frugally, too. But she was happy with it, and it turned out well. About 100 people, dinner, etc.
    My main comment for this is “Isn’t it amazing how much people help other people, and how important our church can be in all this!”…..

    • Stacy

      Yes! You are SO right! Just because it’s a frugal wedding doesn’t mean it won’t be fulfilling or beautiful. :-) The help of friends and family is the most beautiful thing of all.