A $3000 Wedding - How we did it - Budget Wedding Tips
Updated: Mar 14
Realistic tips to Plan a Budget Friendly Wedding
These tips will have you laughing all the way to the bank
The Time of Year:We married in the fall (September), choosing a non-summer wedding can save you money on venues, photographers, hotels and more. There just isn't as much competition during this time of year.Consider holding your wedding on a Sunday. Venues and photographers are more affordable. You can host a reception on another date or go for afternoon cocktails.Your guests want to support you, so you may be surprised how flexible they can be. We also chose our date to be a week following our friends wedding. This meant we could re-use multiple items from her wedding. Read more on this below.Suggestions: Get on social media, see who's hosting a wedding/event in your area to see who might want to share or sell some of there decorations/flowers etc...
The Dress:$30I shopped for my dress after prom season. Have you seen prom dresses lately? Oh my gosh they are stunning. Low and behold I found my dress on a discount rack. It was $40, I immediately ran to the change room to try it on. It couldn't have been better, but it had a small stain at the bottom (more bartering) so at the register I showed the stain and got another $10 discount. That's right my dress cost me $30.Veil: I borrowed a girlfriends Veil (Free). Alterations:You don't need a bridal shop to alter a dress. There are plenty of great local tailors. Consider asking around in a local Facebook group for referrals. I took it to my local neighborhood tailor and she altered my dress around the waist and neck for $70.Suggestions: Consider renting a dress, buying a used dress & non-wedding dresses.
The Bouquets:Free! picked all local flowers for my bouquet and wrapped them in black ribbon to contrast against my dress. My bridal party did the same. I think they photographed beautifully.Suggestions: Ask a neighbor to use a few flowers from their garden, ask a local florists for older flowers they might offer as a discount the day of your wedding or the night before. Find venues in the area that might let you buy/have used flowers.
Wedding Venue (Vows): This takes some research. Non- church wedding locations can be easy to find and fairly cheap. Think Out of the Box. Consider some of these options:Local Parks, find a nice large tree, forests, barn, cottage or lake side or a venue that could use some free press (Coffee shops, general store, restaurant)
Things to note: Ensure you get permission from the local town, venue, or owner before holding your ceremony and ensure they agree with you bringing chairs, props etc... And always leave the location as it was found. Our Location (Local Airport):We got engaged at the airport, my Dad is an airplane artist, and I even announced the birth of our first son at the airport with a 'Welcome home Dad' sign. So the airport was fitting.
Contacting your Vendor: I called the airport and proposed my idea. I suggested it would be great advertising for their location (both the hangers, runway and restaurant). It would also add another revenue stream for them. In exchange I would provide our wedding photos for them to use in marketing material & contact our local press to cover the event. Cost - Free. I chatted with the local pilots and plenty of them were happy to fly me in for free just for the experience. I flew in on in an ultra-light plane including a buzz by our seated guests. We married in front of the plane right on the runway. A huge hit among guests & made for unique photos.Don't be afraid to ask your friends & family if they have connections to someone who might have a cool venue option for you. Suggestions: Consider contacting your local news to shoot the ceremony and provide press to the vendor. Share photos with the venue. Think of ways it can benefit them in exchange for free or at a lower cost.
Photographer: 50% off I knew this would be our most expensive item, and for me it was the most important to have memories to share. This is were your bartering skills come into play the most. I contacted over 15 local photographers and requested a discount from everyone. All except 3 were willing to come up with some kind of deal. I indicated I was having an 'out of the box' type wedding at the airport and it would be great for their portfolio. They offered us close to 50% off with a price of $1800.
Suggestions: Express you're on a tight budget & what type of package they can over (less time for example). A decent photographer can gather plenty of stunning images in a short period of time. Offer portfolio incentives like unusual photo opportunities of a unique ceremony, unique entertainment - anything that might help a photographer build their portfolio. Call local schools with a photography class, there are plenty of aspiring photographers with great skills.
Bridesmaid Dresses:I kept with a traditional color pallet. I wanted photos that would stand the test of time so we went with black & white. I allowed my wedding party to pick their own dresses in any style so long as they were black. Suggestions: Used dresses, sample sales, prom dresses, & non-wedding dresses.
Reception: $300! I approached a local farm where they sell corn and had quite a large kids area with covered domes, corn mazes and often hold school BBQs. They had never hosted a wedding before but thought the idea was great. I requested to set up the night before and host the event after dinner until 1am. They were on board and supper excited again for the new revenue stream. Their cost $400. ~ Following our wedding they now host regular weddings at their location.
Food: $350 We catered our wedding ourselves we had 60 guests. Our menu included plenty of salad, bread & corn on the cob (cheapest options). We also had access to a BBQ at our venue with friends who volunteered to cook both chicken and salmon (bulk priced from a fresh fish market). We asked a few family members to make desserts and my bridesmaid made my cake. The cake topper was a DIY by me.
I consulted some 'cooking for groups' website to determine the amount we would need. In the end we ended up having way too much food but everyone was more then pleased with the options.
Drinks: $100 We bought wine for each table then had a paid bar with a friend who graciously bar tended for us.
Flowers / Decorations: Free / Borrowed / DIY Remember I mentioned our wedding was a week after our friends? Well I re-used all of her roses & flowers from her wedding the week before (I kept them in my fridge for a week). I took these stunning roses that I cut down & gently pruned for all of my center pieces along with her little vases. Check Wedding Facebook groups for brides that might be willing to do the same, or sell them to you at a discount. We also borrowed our friends lights that made for a great atmosphere. I made my own table numbers & ring pillow from wood slices.
Shoot Location: Free A few weeks before my wedding I scouted out places to shoot our wedding photos. I happened upon an old farm with a few old buildings on the property. I asked the owners if we could shoot our wedding photos there and they were over joyed with the idea. Cost to us Free. They came out great.
Hair and Makeup: $140 My hair was $140 and the girls paid for there own up do's too. We all did our own makeup.
Invitations / seating cards: $30 I made my own and printed them at home on some nice watercolor type paper.
Tux Rentals: $180 My husband rented his tux for $180.
Think out of the box
Hit social media for references & to borrow
Visit our prop shop for budget friendly rentals & Like us on Facebook for sales: www.LittleWeePropShop.com
For budget friendly decor (signage, & printables) see www.LittleWeeShop@etsy.com
Follow Little Wee Shop on Pinterest for ideas
Photos courtesy of kostelphoto.com Venue: roundsranch.com