Use A Dummy Wedding Cake
Wedding cakes are expensive, you guys! Save money by decorating a dummy wedding cake. A pastry chefor someone you know who has icing skills worthy of a spot on a reality TV baking competitioncan decorate a stack of Styrofoam just as elaborately as a real wedding cake. Serve guests slices from a sheet cake you bought at the grocery store. Theyll never know the difference!
If youre set on the cake cutting tradition, just have a smaller cake made for you and your new spouse. You could even use it as the dummy cakes topper so it looks like the real deal!
I Dedicated Most Of My Planning Time To Finding The Right Venue And Caterer
I knew location and food would be my biggest expenses, so I spent months researching the options around me. Here’s what was important to me:
The location had to be inside. Planning a Midwest wedding meant I had to prepare for the possibility it could be perfectly sunny one day and hail-storming the next. I didn’t want to deal with the stress of a backup for bad weather, so I decided no parks or outdoor venues for me.
The venue had to look nice without decorations. I found venues that were just $100$200 to rent, but they’d require a ton of decorations on my end to make them look nice. Im not a big DIY person, so I knew I didnt want to invest the resources or time in that.
Finding caterers with reasonable food minimums. Some caterer requirements were way too expensive for me. One venue that offered their own food service had a $15,000 food minimum. Another caterer was $100/plate.
Ideally I wanted to have the ceremony and reception at the same place. This was more out of convenience, so guests didn’t have to drive to different locations. I also figured it’d be cheaper to have everything in the same area.
Not Determining Who’s Paying For What
Yes, it’s awkward, but the conversation has to happen. Talk with your families about who will pay for what: Some brides’ families still pick up the entire tab , but it’s more and more common for grooms’ families to participate too. How do you bring up the conversation? For many couples, talking to each family separately is the best way to have truly open discussions. When you do talk, here are strategies for determining your initial budget.
Ask both of your folks if they’re planning to contribute to the cost of the wedding. If so, have them commit to a specific dollar amount, and then add up all the contributions to create your budget. Alternatively, it may be easier to ask each set of parents to finance a particular aspect of the wedding instead of just committing to a dollar amount. Decide how much you two can contribute between now and the wedding. Below are some of the top considerations that can influence who pays for what.
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This Is How Much The Average Engagement Ring Now Costs
The couple read a great tip that after the wedding all you really have to show for it apart from a husband/wife, is a ring and the photos. I have at least one friend who didnt budget a proper wedding photographer and she regrets this decision, so we didnt want to make the same mistake, explains Wendy. Wendy wanted her day to be memorable and alternative, too. We tried to think outside the wedding box, which gave the day a feel of our personalities. Many guests commented on all the little things we had, like beermats, pom poms and bunting. says Wendy.
Despite a tight budget, Wendy still splashed out on a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. They made me feel special and like a princess, she smiles. She matched these with her dream 50s-style dress for just £89. One of the couples highlights was their balloon prop. We loved letting the balloon go last thing at night when the day was nearly over and making a wish together, remembers Wendy.
Consider Your Clothing Budget
Wedding dress shopping is considered a rite of passage for many women and their female family members. You are all gathered in anticipation of your special day and get to spend time trying on what is likely to be the most expensive and most beautiful garment you will ever wear.
But what if it wasnt?
Wedding dresses are beautiful and shopping for one is fun. You get to drink champagne and are complimented on how beautiful you look. But once the wedding is over your wedding dress is often just a huge garment bag taking up valuable real estate in your closet. You likely wont wear it again and selling an altered dress is difficult at best.
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Resell And Reuse Clothing
If you want to hold onto your wedding attire for sentimental reasons, we totally get it. That being said, you definitely don’t have to. Use Nearly Newlywed to resell your wedding dress, or consider sourcing a tuxedo from Rent the Runway. The same goes for all your wedding-related event outfits: there’s nothing wrong with borrowing or repurposing your piecesâsharing is caring, after all.
Take Advantage Of Free Help
Many times friends and family are glad to pitch in, and we had several amazing friends that were willing to help with centerpieces and set up and tear down. This helped us so much!
Whether its putting together decorations from the dollar store or doing some of the cooking, family, friends, or the wedding party might be willing to help to lower some of the costs.
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Example Asheville Destination Wedding Budget: $9530 For 6 Guests
Home Rental: $500/night for 4 nights $2,000Marriage License: $100Officiant: $30 when the ceremony is officiated by a family member or friend ordained via Universal Life ChurchPhotographer: $1,500 Consider specifically searching for an elopement photographer! Elopement photographers in Asheville, specifically, like to capture the moment you get married. Then they like to explore with you while continuing to capture additional photos.Flowers: $250 for a bouquet and boutonniereAttire: $2,500 Splurge on the dress of your dreams. But dont be afraid to get it dirty, especially if you decide to say We do with mountain views!Cake and Champagne: $100 Purchase a cake from a local bakery and toast with champagne post-vows!Food & Drinks $1,250 Plan to budget at least $250/day to enjoy meals at your rental home and out around town.Excursions $1,800 Find adventure! Hiking the trails is free along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but you can also kayak, tour breweries, bike around town, visit the Biltmore Estate, and even take a hot air balloon ride. We imagine your crew experiencing at least one experience each day for three days.
Capture The Day Your Way
Another big expense of a traditional wedding is hiring a professional photographer and videographer. While every couple wants to capture the memories and special moments of their wedding, thinking outside of the box for your video and photos can save you lots of room in your budget.
In the past, many couples have opted to give their wedding guests disposable cameras to capture memories of the reception. While this was a fun option before digital photography, it also relied on amateur photographers who were likely enjoying some drinks at the bar in conjunction to snapping their photos. However, its important to remember that you get one shot at this. Despite how much your closest friends may tout their services, hiring a professional photographer is often well worth the fees.
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What Expenses Make Up Your Wedding Budget
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 and our reception was spent at Dave & Busters.
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 baked 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 . 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 Husbands & Daughters Attire: $103. We found my daughters dress on clearance at Old Navy for around $10. My husbands tux was found for $53, and alterations were $40.
Music: Free. We used the churchs 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 . 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.
The Power Of Embracing Plan B
Initially, we had what Id thought was a modest idea: Wed hold our wedding in Montauk, a village in New Yorks Hamptons. We soon discovered modest and Hamptons were mutually exclusive terms, and we stumbled upon the first lesson of planning a wedding on the cheap: Embrace plan B.
Flexibility became a running theme in decision-making. The pre-reception cocktail hour costs more than our first car? OK, well do a champagne toast instead. The over-the-top centerpieces are starting to add up? Well scrap the design for something simpler. Cant bring ourselves to spend $250 on a flower crown? I can make one myself.
Without fail, the second I let go of the thing Id had my heart set on, an even better option appeared. On Memorial Day, Arran and I were enjoying a casual lunch at one of our favorite farm-to-table restaurants in New York Citys Union Square Park when one of us said, Why dont we look into getting married here?
Our new vision: a five-course sit-down dinner celebrating our loveand highlighting my second love, food.
We stumbled upon the first lesson of planning a wedding on the cheap: Embrace plan B.
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Flowers And Decor: $750
We decorated our venue primarily with fresh green garland I also made six simple pink, white, and green arrangements. My bouquet and hair flowers, as well as my husband’s boutonniere, were artificial and purchased from Etsy.
We bought a bunch of items on Amazon, too, including a cake topper, tablecloths, cake knife and lifter, and plastic plates and forks for cake. We had the text of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision printed in large poster format, and hung it on the wall with a magnetic frame from Amazon.
Decide Where You Want To Splurge
Your big day should be special, and one of the ways you can make it special is deciding where you find the most value. For you, it might be spending more on your honeymoon than on the big day. Luckily for us, we found a photographer who was 75% less than other photographers we had come across, and we saved big on the venue, the food, and my dress. But one thing we splurged on was the flowers. I found a place that did gorgeous arrangements and I was dead set on how I wanted those done. So we spent more money on those and found ways to save on the rest.
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The Wedding Budget Breakdown
First things first: Give your budget a little breathing room. Unexpected expenses will arise, so know that your budget will evolve throughout the planning process. Take those surprises into consideration by putting in a little bit of cushion. That way you have the flexibility to handle any surprise expense.
A wedding is a huge event to plan, so its helpful to know what you can get for a certain dollar amount. What does $5,000 get you? $10,000? $15,000?
Here are some budget breakdown examples for weddings ranging from $100 to $30,000 and some suggestions for how to make them happen.
Look Ravishing With Free Makeovers
While some brides go DIY, it may save a lot of stress if you get make-up done by a pro. Before you start wincing at the fees, there are sneaky ways around this.
Get your make-up done at a beauty counter in a department store, then simply buy the lipstick to ‘touch up’ .
Department stores also run beauty courses that you could attend. You can learn a new skill, do your own make-up on the day, and even help out at your friends’ weddings.
Alternatively, check out local beauty training schools. They may do your hair and make-up free on the day as part of their training. Check Beautyfinder for a directory of training schools and colleges in your area.
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Include Free Or Inexpensive Touches
Sometimes it’s the personalization of the ceremony and reception that linger in guests’ minds long after the last slice of cake is eaten. For example: a ring warming ceremony is a free and meaningful way to include guests in the ceremony. At the reception, consider letting guests put a “message in a bottle” that the couple will open on a milestone anniversary. For fun, get some inexpensive hats, eyeglasses and other props and create a DIY photo booth.
If you follow these tips, you can hold a beautiful wedding for much less than the typical wedding cost. With average wedding costs so high, you could even save enough to start married life by putting a down payment on your dream house.
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