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Wedding on a super small budget

24 Apr

Weddings, as you already know, are ridiculously expensive.  An average wedding in the US costs $27,000.  How does an average couple (or their parents) afford that?!?  My husband and I got married last weekend, and being on a budget like most of us are these days, we needed to keep costs to a minimum.  We managed to have a lovely wedding on a super small budget of  $638.75.  I’ll tell you how!

  • We held the wedding at our house.  This eliminated venue fees completely.  All we had to do was clean our house and rearrange our living room.  My husband spruced up our backyard including pressure washing our fence.  We rented chairs and decorated the yard ourselves.  My husband bought wood posts, painted them white, and I draped lengths of tulle between each, securing with a thumbtack.477039_10151327658196008_1262839736_o
  • We kept the guest list short.  We only invited very close family and friends who’ve been supportive of us and our family.  We did not invite acquaintances, coworkers, or family we’re not close to.  Also, most of my family lives out of state, so they were unable to attend.  This resulted in about 20 guests, about half of whom were children.
  • The entire wedding, including reception, was 3 hours long.  We saw no need for an all-day affair.  Of course, this meant skipping lots of the traditional wedding festivities, but we preferred that anyway.  In addition, this was much easier for our guests as it didn’t take up an entire Saturday for them.
  • We did not serve a meal.  Getting married does not obligate you to buy dinner for dozens of people.  It’s not that we didn’t want to; we could not afford to.  We held our wedding from 2-5pm so it was not during mealtime, and instead we served some simple snacks, drinks (no alcohol), and a wedding cake baked by my mom.
  • We did not have a traditional reception with dancing, a DJ, and alcohol, i.e. no drunk white people dancing.  While that is certainly entertaining, it is also expensive as it requires a paid venue, DJ, alcohol, and bartenders.  We also had a family friendly wedding as we have 3 children between us, and our guests had children as well.  A bunch of drunks grinding on the dance floor and falling all over the place is not great for kids to watch.  Instead, we all hung out and chatted like a regular party, and I set up a craft table for the kids.
  • We skipped the flowers.  I just could not see myself spending 4 figures on flowers.  It is such a waste of money, in my opinion.  I am also quite unusual in that I do not even like flowers.  Even my bouquet was flower-less.  I used feather butterflies instead (more on that in a future post).  And I doubt our guests even noticed the lack of flowers.920210_10151327659631008_944969226_o
  • We did not hire a photographer.  This was a difficult one, as I really appreciate well done, professional photos.  However, we could not afford it.  Fortunately, we had 2 of our guests who brought great cameras and happily took pictures for us.  And after seeing the results, I no longer regret not having a pro do them.  Additionally, with the availability of free, easy to use photo editing programs, great photos are possible for even the novices among us.
  • I bought a pre-owned dress online.  I know, how could I have skipped the joys of going to bridal shops and having my friends gasp as I walk out in wedding dress after wedding dress?  And how could I get THE perfect dress for $200 online, and have it fit without professional alterations?  Well, first, I am not as picky as some.  I knew I wanted a strapless ballgown in white with a detailed skirt.  Luckily, that is a very popular style.  Also, in order to avoid expensive alterations, I chose a corseted style which laces in the back.  All I had to do was hem it with Steam-a-Seam.  I found a gorgeous Maggie Sotero gown on http://www.preownedweddingdresses.com/.  It was a floor sample from a bridal shop, which didn’t bother me in the least.  The only difference is that the tags are removed, and a style number was written on the bodice lining.  Big deal!  It is the most beautiful dress I could’ve gotten no matter what budget I had.  I got so many compliments on it, and people were surprised to find out how little I paid for it.904732_10151327658886008_853838286_o
  • I skipped the veil.  I cannot believe how much brides are willing to pay for a $1 length of tulle sewn to a hair comb!  Also, veils, in my opinion, are a little dated.  I was going to make a fascinator with birdcage veil, but after trying it on, I decided it looked silly on me.  So, I did not wear any kind of headpiece at all.
  • A family member did my hair and makeup.  I’m sure most of us have at least one friend 905422_10151331377901008_1124413675_oor relative with a talent for hair and makeup.  I am not that person, but luckily, my husband’s aunt is.  She happily came over early to make me pretty for my wedding day.
  • I did not purchase any special accessories or shoes.  The length of my dress made my shoe choice completely inconsequential, so I wore a favorite pair of flats.  I found a pair of butterfly earrings in my jewelry box which fit perfectly with my bouquet and the sugar butterflies on the cake.  I wore a necklace from my sister that I wear every day, and my husband and I kept the rings we’ve been wearing since our engagement.  And my husband’s aunt gave me a pretty jeweled butterfly for my hair.
  • My husband skipped the tuxedo.  We decided that since it was a casual spring wedding in Florida, it would be just fine if he wore a shirt and tie instead of a formal tux.  His only expenditure was a new tie.
  • We did not have a wedding party.  I have yet to hear a valid reason to have a bunch of bridesmaids and groomsmen.  What’s the point?  Besides, my husband and I are quite busy with our family and don’t have a ton of time to be social, so we don’t have a big Friends-esque group we hang out with.  If my sister was local, I would have had her be maid of honor, but alas, she is several states away.  We did, however, have our 3 daughters as flower girls…
  • Our flower girls’ ensembles were not from a bridal shop.  It seems as though attaching the words “wedding” or “bridal” to 414178_10151327659311008_1204709312_osomething doubles the price.  This is where Ebay came in handy.  I’m a big fan of Gymboree clothing, and while it is spendy at their stores, you can buy their clothes pretty inexpensively used.  I took several hours browsing dresses on Ebay until I decided on a cotton shift style.  And since it is a popular brand, I had no trouble finding one in each girl’s size.  I paid $14, $15, and $20 for the dresses, which originally retailed for $34.75.  And since it is a casual style, they can wear them many more times.  Each girl wore a pair of pink sandals and a hair bow I made to match the dresses (having my online accessory shop, Orange Blossom Accessories,  made that simple).  Their baskets were from Ross and were spray-painted white (they were orange) with a ribbon handle added (more on that in a future post).
  • I made the programs and favors.  I’ll do a separate post on these, but in a nutshell, the programs were printed on cardstock at home for pennies.  The favors for the adults were magnets with a fun Dr. Seuss poem with our names and wedding date (i.e. something our guests may actually use and appreciate).  For the girls, they got hair bows similar to those worn by our daughters, and the boys got bottle cap zipper pulls that I also made.
  • We did not do printed invitations.  I considered them, but decided against it because they’d just be thrown out anyway.  Who keeps old wedding invitations?  We invited people via Facebook event instead.  And for those who couldn’t attend, we hooked up our webcam so they could watch it on You Tube (I’ll write a separate post on this later).

So, here is the final tally of our wedding expenses:

  • Marriage license $93.50
  • Wedding dress $220.00
  • Flower girls dresses $49.00
  • Hair bows for flower girls and girl guests $21.00
  • Butterfly wings for flower girls $14.00
  • Flower girl baskets and flower petals $25.00
  • Sandals for 2 of the flower girls $30.00
  • Chair rental $28.00
  • Outdoor decor $25.00
  • Indoor decor $4.00
  • Plates, forks, napkins, cups $7.00
  • Pitchers for drinks, serving tray $10.00
  • Favors for adults and boys $7.75
  • Bouquet $22.50
  • Groom’s tie $30.00
  • Butterflies for cake and snacks: $41.00
  • Supplies for the craft table $9.00
  • TOTAL $638.75
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