How to plan a wedding on a small budget
We grew up with Walt Disney’s fairy tale weddings so it’s only natural to dream big about our own wedding. But nobody had to worry about a tight wedding budget in the fairy tales. In the real world, many of us are confronted with the desire for a glamorous wedding, on a budget.
Can there be such a thing? A stylish, perfect wedding on a budget of, say, $5000? In short, yes – weddings under $5000 are totally doable, even if planned in a hurry.
Let’s face it – $5000 isn’t a small amount of cash! But when it comes to weddings, there’s a common belief that there’s no better justification to splash out. We agree that it is a very special day, but we also think you should come out the other side with some financial stability!
Why weddings under $5000 are the next big thing
If you target a wedding budget of $5000 or so you are not alone. There are many reasons why keeping a rein on the overall budget to that extent makes sense.
- Your fiancé just proposed during your summer holidays, you’re short on money but you want to get married as soon as possible.
- You have kids and want to be careful with the your financial resources while still wanting a beautiful wedding.
- You want the big event to be focused on the two of you and your love and less on pleasing all the relatives that you haven’t seen in years.
- You are in love with authentic, traditional weddings – and are not interested in showing off.
Having your dream wedding on a budget shouldn’t be an issue at all, if you don’t expect to caviar and Moet champagne for the event. Planning a wedding under $5000 can be a difficult task, so to make your journey more enjoyable we have prepared a list with what you need to do, step-by-step.
Focus on quality over quantity
When planning your wedding consider money as a critical element and keep in mind these three aspects:
- The number of attendees: Generally speaking, weddings under $5000 can have up to 60 persons, but it’s safer to keep the list somewhere between 30 and 50. The great thing about having a small number of attendants is that you have the freedom to choose from a larger variety of wedding venues: bars, restaurants, discos – even the backyard of your home.
- A DIY approach: Creativity and imagination are your best tools. Don’t worry – when in need, you will discover you are able to do things you never thought possible even on a tight budget. I was very doubtful regarding my drawing skills until I was forced to paint some wedding invitations for my sister. After 50 wedding invitations, the results were absolutely astonishing.
- Designing flowers arrangement, decorations and tableware yourself or with a friend. All you need is a little bit of patience and some creative moments. I found some inspiration here: http://www.woohome.com/diy-2/30-budget-friendly-fun-and-quirky-diy-wedding-ideas and here: http://www.weddingbells.ca/planning/diy-wedding-ideas-creative-inspiration-for-every-aspect-of-your-big-day/
- Help from friends and family: Of course, you will do this anyway but, from my experience, the bride has far more many tasks to do. When the majority of tasks fall to just one person’s shoulders it can take longer or more expensive. We are trying to avoid that. Gleefully accept the help of others.
Find a great checklist
As you progress through your wedding planning, you really don’t want any surprises, especially of a financial nature. An extended wedding checklist will help, such as here: http://www.realsimple.com/weddings/weddings-planning/wedding-planning-checklist. The one I prefer is here https://www.theknot.com/wedding-checklist/start
Discuss what is really important to the two of you
Make a list with all the things you want for the wedding and decide upon the three most expensive. In many cases, the most expensive wedding items are:
- The wedding dress and other attire
- The venue
- The catering and entertainment
- The photographer
- The rest…
Finding these important items on a budget can be challenging. Many of my friends – when asked why they don’t step into marriage – insist it is due to money concerns associated with the wedding. I explain each and every time the benefits of having an authentic yet simple event instead of a big wedding day, such as:
- It’s far more simple to plan a smaller event
- It’s more pleasant, warm and relaxed to have close friends and family with you than all kind of acquaintances you might not see meet again
- It can be a great experience to contribute your talent and creativity to your own wedding, by creating the flower bouquets or bake some cookies, for example
- It’s much wiser to keep to a well-defined budget and not borrowing money from the bank just to show off; don’t pay a credit card for years just to have a special one day event, no matter how important that day
Let’s turn to our big ticket items.
1. The wedding dress and other attire
The wedding dress can be by far the most expensive single item on the big day. If you want to spend $3000 one that stunning designer dress a wedding under $5000 is probably not going to happen!.
If you, however, you prefer a wedding dress for it’s simplicity and authenticity and for soft and light fabrics, with some nice jewelry to complement the dress, – well we are back on track! Read on…
You have two options for the getting the dress of your dreams:
Renting a wedding dress
This may cost $300 or more but you can find a beautiful dress (and still have a financial future!).
You can check out https://www.renttherunway.com/all/occasions/bride. This site also offers the possibility to rent jewelry.
Buying a wedding dress from a large store
Mass market shops like Macy’s can help here and often have an extensive range, across a wide range of prices.
A good friend of mine bought her dress at Macy’s for only $200. It was simple, very pretty and beautifully elegant.
The veil can also be a problem, unless you prefer to wear a beautiful flower in your hair. If you do prefer a veil, you can find some interesting ideas here http://www.tbdress.com/Cheap-Wedding-Veils-4323/ which may cost you less than $30.
The shoes could be difficult to be found as you need them to be both trendy and comfortable. I found some nice options here http://www.bridalshoes.com/discount/
Your future husband can rent his suit for under $250.
Depending on the season, the venue will require a good deal of research. While the backyard is often a good idea for those on a budget, the colder months can make an outdoor event difficult.
Our first suggestion is to ask your friends and relatives if they have some ideas. Who knows – perhaps someone might know someone who owes them a favor. Maybe this can lead to a large dining room to host the wedding or another type of venue that wouldn’t have crossed your mind if you hand not mentioned it.
For flower centerpieces on a budget, you can always choose to do them yourself or with the help of friends or family, buying bulk flowers, ribbons and rent some vases. The operation is estimated at $350, including the flowers for the bridal bouquet and the bridesmaids’ bouquets, but it all depends on you. Depending on what flowers you’d like, the prices vary.
3. The catering and entertainment
Well, dear brides-to-be, good food and drink are part of the success for a wedding. The success of any reception event involves entertainment (listening to good music and dancing) and enjoying delicious food and good drinks. For many guests. That adds up quickly.
But let’s not forget we are talking about weddings under $5000!
For an afternoon wedding there might be no less reason consider sophisticated foods or drinks. The menu can be a delicious buffet, with your mother as the master chef, bringing the family’s recipes and preparing what we like. Prosecco is a good choice for drinks – similar to champagne but more tasty to many and less expensive) Think of the many advantages: you don’t have to pay for a big meal that people may not necessarily enjoy – and potentially deal with lots of left overs.
4. The photographer
Wedding photography can be one of the most expensive elements of a wedding. For many people the first reaction is that this is unreasonable and a “rip off”. After all, anyone can use a camera, right?
Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime memory. Capturing these special moments ISN’T as simple as taking a few snaps and getting great shots. To the contrary, a skilled photographer can make the difference between a magical, captivating record you will want to review regularly and decorating your mantelpiece, compared to a book of “snapshots” that sits in a dusty cupboard.
So, how do you find a great photographer and keep your expenses reasonable? Consider these options:
- Most photographers offer a number of photography packages, which can provide a healthy discount from their regular price.
- Limit the hours of coverage. Many brides have the photographer in attendance for the full duration of the day, which can add up to 11 hours or more. This really isn’t necessary. Consider hiring your photographer for an hour or two before your ceremony till a couple of hours after, to ensure the main elements of your special day are captured.
- Allow family and guests to pick their own photos online. Traditionally, the bride and groom have often purchased photos for at least the close family. Is this really necessary? Most guests will be comfortable browsing to select and order the photo’s they prefer.
Other opportunities to save
Stop worrying about your invitations and try http://www.evite.com/. It’s a great way to save money on what can be a pretty significant expense. The website helps you design your invitation online and then send it to your guests. Simple, stylish and good value.
If you would prefer the elegance of traditional, paper-based invitations, there are now some wonderful online companies who provide a huge range of options and will then send beautifully designed products. We recommend Wedding Paper Divas, who regularly offer great discounts on their extensive range.
Consider the rehearsal dinner very optional when you have a budget of $5000. There are clearly benefits in getting together beforehand and making sure your wedding party is aware of responsibilities and timing. But there are various ways to approach this and there’s little real need to spend good money on this.
For about 40 guests, the budget breakdown might be similar to the one below:
- Rentals: $1000 (dress, shoes, suite, tables, chairs, coffee cups + saucers, champagne glasses, plates, forks, delivery charge and tax)
- Food: $200 (ingredients for the home made sweets and cake)
- Photographer: $500
- Drink: $250
- Flowers: $350
- Invitations: $200
- Night out in the club: $1000
- Contingency: $500
You will notice that we left about $1000 aside for emergencies. The estimated time to get everything done is around 2 months if you are in a hurry, but it can be longer if you need to take your time to find the things that work for you.
Inspiration for the $5000 Wedding
Having a plan in place is essential – but inspiration is important too. Budget Savvy Bride has an awesome page, featuring real-world weddings planned with a budget of $5000. For example:
- John and Sarah enjoyed a beautiful rustic woodlands wedding and kept costs under control by asking for help from friends and family and making sensible financial decisions such as using artificial flowers (they were, after all, surrounded by nature).
- Jaimie and Justin planned a gorgeous backyard wedding, reducing costs through such ideas as borrowing tables and chairs from a local church.