Author Topic: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding  (Read 4900 times)

Raenia

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Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« on: December 27, 2017, 12:57:29 PM »
Update: The wedding is over, thank you all for your suggestions.  It went swimmingly, everyone was very happy with the venue and no one missed the things we left out.  More details are in a reply further down the thread for the interested.

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My partner proposed over the holiday (eeeee!) so we are now working on planning a wedding to be as low budget as possible.  We will not be having a church ceremony, but do want to have a reception for our family and friends to come celebrate.  My goal is to keep the whole thing 5-6k.  Any suggestions, anecdotes, or resources you all might have will be greatly appreciated!

So far, we have:
 - Rings: My engagement ring is my grandmother's, my wedding band will be his grandmother's.  We are currently on the fence between buying him a band that matches mine, or him hand-turning one out of wood.
 - Guest List: Will definitely be under 80, trying to pare it down to 50 without offending anyone
 - Ceremony: None.  We're planning on getting a self-uniting marriage license (PA) and having our parents serve as the witnesses
 - Reception Venue: Unfortunately neither of our parents have a large enough place to host the reception.  Currently researching venues, we have a list to check out further.  Aiming for <2k.
 - Catering: This will be the big one, since most venues have exclusive deals with catering companies.  Paring down the guest list will help the most, as will choosing the venue carefully.
 - Music: If possible, will have our siblings set up an iTunes playlist rather than hiring a DJ.  If that doesn't work, I have a coworker who moonlights as a DJ, I'll find out what his rates would be.
 - Photography: Hoping to ask a friend of ours that does amateur photography to do the photos for us.  If not, will have to do some research.
 - Wedding Dress: Might use a dress I already have, if not, will buy secondhand.
 - Suit - He needs a new suit anyway, so we'll use this opportunity to get one of his existing ones tailored properly, or acquire a new one if tailoring isn't cost-effective.
 - Cake: Uncertain, haven't researched yet
 - Invitations: Uncertain, no research yet
 - Flowers - Do we really need flowers?
 - Booze - Most of the low-cost venues/caterers are BYO, so we'll need to provide the champagne and anything else we want to have available.

Is there anything I've left off the list that should be on there?  Anything I have listed that you don't think is necessary?
« Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 01:18:26 PM by Raenia »

rubybeth

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2017, 01:09:37 PM »
Congratulations! We had our wedding for 50 in 2008 for around the same budget. A few notes:

A ring for him need not be expensive--seriously, my DH's band was a few hundred dollars on e-weddingbands, it's this one (his is 18k white gold, but 14k is fine): https://www.e-weddingbands.com/store/product169249.html

For reception and food, we found a nice restaurant that was willing to do both for the cost of food. Seriously! We paid nothing for the space, and just bought the food/drinks for our guests. It's worth looking into if there's a restaurant you like.

Wedding dress--wear whatever you like! I found a dress on final sale from J.Crew that was amazing. You could wear a "bridesmaid" dress. ModCloth also has wedding dresses for fairly reasonable prices. https://www.jcrew.com/wedding/Wedding_Bridesmaid/allbridesmaid.jsp and https://www.modcloth.com/shop/dresses-bridal

For flowers, I really wanted ivory roses with some red berries, and we ordered a number of bouquets for fairly cheap from Fifty Flowers: https://www.fiftyflowers.com/ I have also heard of brides just making a few boutonnieres and little hand-held bouquets from a local grocery stores.

A cake isn't really necessary--we had tiramisu as our dessert at our venue. Just get whatever you like! I have been to weddings with cheesecake, cupcakes, pies, etc. and I think my favorites were the non-cake options.

For invitations, there are lots of options, but I can wholeheartedly recommend Minted.com for printed items. We have had many holiday cards from them and they are beautiful and inexpensive.

The one area I would not scrimp on is photography--wedding photography is different than other types. If your friend has experience in this, I think that's fine, but we had our photos printed and we look at many of them daily. Everything else is just for that day, but photos last a lifetime.

Also, I have a huge family and so does DH--I'm sure we did offend people by not inviting them, but so what? We just kept to our line, "We just want a really small, simple wedding" and that's exactly what we had.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2017, 01:48:42 PM »
Traditional weddings are expensive. If you go non-traditional, you can do it super cheap.

Wife's grandfather got married at sunrise (6:00 a.m.)  and served coffee and donuts. Probably cost him $100. 
Lots of variability on food cost.
 
Most catering associated with a venue means a paid wait staff to serve the food. That will be expensive.

To get a venue really cheap, rent a park and a tent. Have your friends set it up. Have your friends pick up food from a restaurant and help serve it.

In 2011, I got married at a hotel in Denver for $95/person with 4 hours of beer and wine. Add 8% sales tax and 18% gratuity and we were at $120/person. We had to pay for the cost of a photographer and DJ. Everything else was pretty much included. We had 95 people. This totals $11,500. Another $300 for the DJ (family friend) and $900 for photographer. Wife's dress cost $500 with alterations, rings cost $600 for both. Another $200 for my tux rental.

I think we were all-in at $14,000. got 2 free nights at the hotel. 

SmallCheese

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2017, 01:49:43 PM »
Congratulations!

My SO and I just tied the knot last month- backyard wedding with a small group of family. We did the decorations ourselves (enslaving both of our families) and my mom is a former florist so we bought all of the flowers from the grocery stores and she arranged them so we didn't have to pay florist prices.

The biggest budget item for us was the photographer. I'm a picture snob and I knew if these pictures didn't come out just right I was going to be upset about it forever, so we splashed out the cash for a professional. We had a very short ceremony and only hired 1 shooter so we got a substantial discount off of his usual price. It was still on the pricey side, but we saved in other areas and it was worth every penny to me. Hiring an amateur has so much potential for disappointment and resentment, especially if they are a friend, so if you care at all about what your photos look like keep this in mind.

My father in law told us a story while we were planning that a friend once asked him to photograph their wedding. He was not a professional and in his words, 40 years later he still feels bad about it.

nexus

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2017, 02:16:21 PM »
Congrats!

There's a show on Netflix that is about couples having nice weddings on a budget. I have it saved to My List, but have yet to watch any episodes. You might be able to piece together some nice ideas from the show. It's called Cheapest Weddings.

Summary:  Couples on a tiny budget try to ensure that the day of their wedding turns out to be the magical experience they always dreamed it would be.

Best of luck!

Update: Also, if you're sporty you could snag a silicone wedding band for  ~$30. If I ever get married, I'll probably have a traditional band for fancy occasions and then just wear the silicone one on the daily since it is waaay more comfortable.
https://ensorings.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiApo3SBRA4EiwAty8i-ltnB-trhVdWNDMun3T6XDSG6uZbKIRlkALF19Svlj2VQDddgvnS0xoCV0IQAvD_BwE
« Last Edit: December 27, 2017, 02:19:32 PM by nexus »

ysette9

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2017, 02:28:36 PM »
Congrats!
We got married at the county offices with our immediate family and then went to a restaurant. A month later we had the big dinner bash at a restaurant. It was far, far more affordable than separately renting a space and then caterers, plus the food was far better.   We don’t dance and do didn’t have (too loud) music or w DJ. No cake because I didn’t care. I got married in a bridesmaid dress.

neil

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2017, 04:44:57 PM »
If it were solely up to me, I'd probably find some way to do a small budget ceremony at a "free" local with a couple key people, then do dinner at a restaurant.  Even though the restaurant is high $/pp for food and drink, you don't have to pay for a venue directly and spend a lot of effort organizing.

But, SO's mom only has one daughter, is retired and on the older side, so she paid for all of it.  Having said that, we paid essentially 0 for most big ticket items:

- Fall wedding: decorations were all thrift store/garage sale finds over the last six months.  Venue was a small standalone restaurant property in the countryside and already decorated appropriately.  The owner was very generous in helping us sort out the finer details that we were winging.
- Dress was thrift store with mom's tailoring.  SO really enjoyed the shopping aspect.  However, I was concerned we would not find a good fit in time as it took a while to find something close enough to her body type.  Suit, I owned already.  I agree if the groom wants a suit for future use, getting one tailored for future use is a good route to go.
- Music was a mobile speaker her brother bought at Costco (~$100) and a one month subscription to Amazon unlimited ($10).  We set up a playlist and people could request if it came up.  In reality, no one really danced except us.  This was very effective indoors with a room for 40 and a full DJ setup would have been overload.
- Food, drink and cake can be whatever and I honestly don't care about spending dollars here.  Consumables will largely be forgotten over time, though a few snobby relatives might complain the day after.  (We had a full sit-down dinner, but I don't feel it added anything to the event.)  Time of day can help - a friend did an afternoon wedding recently and self-catered with appetizers, with help from her parents.  It was perfect and almost certainly under $10/pp.
- Photography is the only area I would insist spending if on a budget.  My SO is an amateur photographer and sometimes spends minutes sorting out a picture.  An experienced one will be set up before you know it and be ready for the key moments when they happen.  I also want my friends and family to enjoy the day and not hand out jobs for them to do.  I might consider an acquaintance that would otherwise not be invited if I knew what they were doing or find a less experienced professional to give them some opportunity to flesh out their portfolio on a budget.  For our couples photos, ours directed us in ways that resulted in some nice organic shots that really captured us in a way neither of us have before.  I don't think ours was necessarily cheap but we only had her for a couple hours for the ceremony and reception, nothing extra.

Keep in mind if you are starting at $6K/80 = $75/pp, every fixed item you add will cut into that and whatever is left will dictate what you can spend on consumables, and you'll need some reasonable number here to take care of your guests.  But I would still focus on what makes you happy and starts your future in the right direction and not on the items people expect to see at a wedding.  If your needs are low, then sub-$5K is completely realistic.  If you're worried about family drama because you didn't do it a certain way, it's your day to be the drama and own it! :)

We were complemented several times on how low-stress we were during the reception by the restaurant staff.  I honestly believe the fact that we were not invested in having every detail just so made it easier for us to enjoy the moment.  As long as someone is assigned for any task you choose to in-source ahead of time, you should be fine.  As bride and groom, don't assume you can help much the day of - let someone else help with decoration, catering, etc.

Blackeagle

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2017, 05:45:37 PM »
My cousin got married last year.  His parents are High School teachers, they arranged for kids from the school's vocational programs to handle both the catering and photograpy.

Miss Piggy

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2017, 06:03:02 PM »
My cousin got married last year.  His parents are High School teachers, they arranged for kids from the school's vocational programs to handle both the catering and photograpy.

What a cool idea! Win-win.

RetirementDreaming

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2017, 06:17:03 PM »
+1 to everything Rubybeth said.

I married in 2004 budget was 6K but we went to 7.5k.  This included bridesmaid dresses and all hair and makeup for me and 2 bridesmaids plus a practice run for me (didn't use that person so grateful I did a practice run!).   We increased the budget because I really wanted engagement pictures and professional wedding pictures.  The pictures are the best thing we did.  The day comes and goes but the pictures bring back the memories.   We married in South Lake Tahoe and my pictures are beautiful.

Restaurant for the reception.  Forget the idea of "catering".  It will be too costly.  This way there is no paying for tables to be set up, table clothes, chairs, etc.  This saved us the most money.  We didn't advertise it but we paid for any booze at the reception.   Most of my family doesn't drink but guests who ordered drinks we paid.  Again we didn't advertise it.  I think most people assumed it was cash bar.   We did have a champagne toast.

My husband's ring is titanium and cost $75.

I printed our own invitations.  I bought some wedding stationary.

My dress was $700 and I love it to this day!

lbmustache

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2017, 06:25:37 PM »
My partner proposed over the holiday (eeeee!) so we are now working on planning a wedding to be as low budget as possible.  We will not be having a church ceremony, but do want to have a reception for our family and friends to come celebrate.  My goal is to keep the whole thing 5-6k.  Any suggestions, anecdotes, or resources you all might have will be greatly appreciated!

So far, we have:
 - Rings: My engagement ring is my grandmother's, my wedding band will be his grandmother's.  We are currently on the fence between buying him a band that matches mine, or him hand-turning one out of wood.
 - Guest List: Will definitely be under 80, trying to pare it down to 50 without offending anyone
 - Ceremony: None.  We're planning on getting a self-uniting marriage license (PA) and having our parents serve as the witnesses
 - Reception Venue: Unfortunately neither of our parents have a large enough place to host the reception.  Currently researching venues, we have a list to check out further.  Aiming for <2k.
 - Catering: This will be the big one, since most venues have exclusive deals with catering companies.  Paring down the guest list will help the most, as will choosing the venue carefully.
 - Music: If possible, will have our siblings set up an iTunes playlist rather than hiring a DJ.  If that doesn't work, I have a coworker who moonlights as a DJ, I'll find out what his rates would be.
 - Photography: Hoping to ask a friend of ours that does amateur photography to do the photos for us.  If not, will have to do some research.
 - Wedding Dress: Might use a dress I already have, if not, will buy secondhand.
 - Suit - He needs a new suit anyway, so we'll use this opportunity to get one of his existing ones tailored properly, or acquire a new one if tailoring isn't cost-effective.
 - Cake: Uncertain, haven't researched yet
 - Invitations: Uncertain, no research yet
 - Flowers - Do we really need flowers?
 - Booze - Most of the low-cost venues/caterers are BYO, so we'll need to provide the champagne and anything else we want to have available.

Is there anything I've left off the list that should be on there?  Anything I have listed that you don't think is necessary?

The biggest expenses will likely be the venue and catering. Possibly booze, depending on who/what you go with. A "BYOB" caterer is best because you can likely get the alcohol cheaper yourself especially if you have a Costco membership. Beer and wine only can make it ultra cheap because you may be able to get away with no bartender for those. Definitely ask the venue and/or caterer for details (some have stipulations that only servers can pour wine, and so on).

For food, buffet style usually ends up being the cheapest, and will be very easy to navigate for a small guestlist! Also makes it easier for anyone with dietary restrictions to pick and choose what they want, rather than having to have a special plate for them.

A pre-made playlist is a great idea. You may want to have a sibling around to check on it occasionally (e.g. pause it if someone wants to speak) and/or handle "emcee" duties if the venue has poor acoustics and you want someone to (loudly) announce toasts and stuff. If the venue has decent sound you can probably get away with a louder voice only - no need for a mic. :)

If a friend doesn't work out, you may be able to find someone at a local college/university who would be willing to do photography for cheap.

Invitations - definitely paper!!! Sometimes people think e-vites are the way to go, however people don't get them/don't read them/delete them/don't respond, etc. They might work for save the dates but I do not recommend them for the formal invite. Sites like vista print, minted, etc. will be relatively cheap to print invites. (ETA: just checked and these sites are NOT that cheap for a small guestlist. May be better to DYI this too.)

Flowers... maybe, maybe not. Depends on the space but I do think flowers make it look a bit more festive. DYI florals will be much, much cheaper. It would be very easy to just pick up a few small vases at IKEA/thrift store/any cheap place, buy a few flowers and place them at each table.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2017, 06:32:30 PM by lbmustache »

Raenia

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2017, 08:18:12 PM »
Thanks for all the comments, everyone!  I'll try to address most of them.

I appreciate the insight echoed by several of you that a pro photographer is worth the money, I'll definitely have to do some research into my options but now leaning away from asking my friend.

I'm mulling over the idea of using a restaurant instead of a 'proper' wedding venue - the cost savings would be nice, but I did want to have dancing...  How do you go about finding a restaurant that can seat a party of 60 people?

I will probably wear the dress I already have, I have no desire to spend hundreds on a dress I'll wear once.  I won't have bridesmaids or a bridal party at all, since we're not having a ceremony.

I don't want to put too much stress on my close friends and family to be coordinating things instead of enjoying the party, and I know I won't be able to be keeping track of anything day of, which was part of why I was leaning toward a venue and catering with experience with events.  Will need more consideration on that.

I'll discuss non-cake options with my partner and see how he feels about it, maybe we can come up with something else that will be just as nice.

Thanks for the recommendations on invitations, I'll check out those sites.

The biggest expenses will likely be the venue and catering. Possibly booze, depending on who/what you go with. A "BYOB" caterer is best because you can likely get the alcohol cheaper yourself especially if you have a Costco membership. Beer and wine only can make it ultra cheap because you may be able to get away with no bartender for those. Definitely ask the venue and/or caterer for details (some have stipulations that only servers can pour wine, and so on).

This is PA, so no Costco booze available :(  State Liquor stores only, and even with BYO we'd need the caterer to have a bartender and liquor license in order to serve at all.  Was planning on wine only, though.

Quote
For food, buffet style usually ends up being the cheapest, and will be very easy to navigate for a small guestlist! Also makes it easier for anyone with dietary restrictions to pick and choose what they want, rather than having to have a special plate for them.

Interesting, from the few caterers I'd priced out, the buffet was the more expensive option, compared to a 2-course plated meal, and similar in price to a 3-course meal.  I'll have to keep an eye and see if that is consistent or not.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2017, 08:21:56 PM by Raenia »

Syonyk

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2017, 08:38:19 PM »
- Ceremony: None.  We're planning on getting a self-uniting marriage license (PA) and having our parents serve as the witnesses

I... uh, might know some people who did a courthouse wedding before the main ceremony, and just sort of faked it during the main wedding.  Some people knew, some people didn't, and it was supposedly a bunch simpler, though it was an out of state wedding.  As long as it's legal and gets signed off, you're good.

Quote
- Music: If possible, will have our siblings set up an iTunes playlist rather than hiring a DJ.  If that doesn't work, I have a coworker who moonlights as a DJ, I'll find out what his rates would be.

If you're planning to have dancing, and want people to actually dance, spend the money on a proper DJ.  The difference between a wedding party where everyone sits around at the tables and where everyone is up dancing having a blast is often down to the DJ.  I've been to weddings with good DJs, and weddings with bad or no DJs, and it's obvious which one people have more fun at.  You can offer some song suggestions and such, but... really, hire a DJ that does weddings, let them do their thing, and everyone should have a blast.

Quote
- Photography: Hoping to ask a friend of ours that does amateur photography to do the photos for us.  If not, will have to do some research.

Do you care about your wedding photos?  Will you care about them 30 years from now?  If yes, get someone who has done wedding photography before.  If not, then hire whoever.

One thing we did at ours was to get a bunch of cheap 2GB USB sticks and some padded mailers, with the proper postage and addressing back to our place.  We told people, "Hey, if you take photos at the wedding, awesome.  Please send us a copy on a USB stick."  We got some good stuff that way.

Quote
- Flowers - Do we really need flowers?

Do you?  Up to you!

Quote
- Booze - Most of the low-cost venues/caterers are BYO, so we'll need to provide the champagne and anything else we want to have available.

You've said you want dancing, which pretty much implies some basic level of alcohol service.  I don't know how your state works, though.

With our wedding, it was fairly cheap (IIRC it was around $3500-4000 for the venue for about 30 people), but it was out of state (partly centered between families, mostly stuck somewhere we really liked that wasn't comically inconvenient for everyone).  We pretty much told the venue what we were looking for, and went with their recommendations.  We used their flower vendor, a friend of mine was the officiant, I bribed another friend to do wedding photography by paying for his travel and fishing trip out in Colorado (and tossed him some as well, but pretty much I gave him an excuse to do a week long fishing trip), and everything went very well.

One thing I'd suggest: Be very clear, up front, on who is paying for stuff.  I don't know how your families are with regards to weddings, but since we were paying for ours pretty much entirely out of pocket, any suggestions of "Oh, you have to have..." were met with a "Great, are you paying for that?"  :)  It wasn't a big deal, but I've heard it can get out of hand if other people get to offer suggestions without being told that they're on the hook for the costs.

No clue what your husband does, but I know a lot of people have been moving to the silicone bands for a "daily wear" band as opposed to a metal band.  I don't wear my (tungsten carbide) wedding band because I work with battery packs, and a couple hundred amps through a wedding ring is the sort of excitement I don't need.  Ever.  I keep meaning to order one of the silicone ones, just haven't gotten around to it yet.

rubybeth

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2017, 09:30:51 AM »
I'm mulling over the idea of using a restaurant instead of a 'proper' wedding venue - the cost savings would be nice, but I did want to have dancing...  How do you go about finding a restaurant that can seat a party of 60 people?

The restaurant we picked had a private room for parties that could be reserved for just the cost of food/drink, so if we'd wanted to dance, we could have. They were also willing to shut down the restaurant for a night for us, if we'd had a bigger party--the restaurant could probably hold 300+ people fairly easily. Seriously, we paid like $20/plate for food (likely less since many went with the vegetarian pasta option), and they had the liquor license and charged us a nominal corkage fee for the wine we brought in (DH's family has a winery so we wanted to use that wine). Most of my family are not drinkers, so it was just the toast/glass of wine with dinner. It's worth it to call around and see what restaurants are willing to do for you!

chouchouu

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2017, 07:15:01 PM »
Have you thought about doing a cocktail service reception? Your parents place might not be big enough to seat so many people for a sit down service but a cocktail service reception gets guests mingling and can be a lot of fun. I would consider finding a home caterer or local restaurant that can have platters of food for you and setting up tables with food and hire chairs. Another idea is brunch which brings costs down significantly, baskets of pastries from a local bakery, platters of fruit, cheese board, some fancy food such as oysters (cover a tray with rock salt and serve au natural with lemon)  and another table set up with a bar tender serving bellinis and champagne. You can hire staff from a company or advertise at a local college and vet them yourself. Just some ideas on how to do an at home reception. 

I bought my wedding dress from eBay,  it was jcrew and cost $120 and spent a tiny amount more on alterations.  Our big splurge was on a jazz band because from my experience as a caterer music makes such a difference to enjoyment. We bought flowers from the market and did them ourselves, I have experience in this but if I didn't I'd get short vases (short stems are cheaper) and fill with roses.

You can get nice invites from etsy for around $20 and then get them printed locally from the digital file or online printing service.

zeli2033

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2017, 11:42:11 PM »
Congratulations!! I got married earlier this year so here's a few thoughts I've shared with others here on the topic plus a few additions based on your specifics:

1. Before you continue planning, sit down with your fiance and write out a wedding mission statement. What does this event truly mean to you both? What are your three non-negotiables? Is this the time for you to feed everyone you love really amazing food? Is it about dancing the night away? Or do you want to actually spend time with the people you invited? Cull down each of your lists to 3 only, then share with each other and get on the same page. It will make planning MUCH easier if you know what you're not interested in and will help you maintain a clear vision without getting swept up in someone else's expectations.

2. As you've already mentioned, be very deliberate about your guest list. It might feel challenging to make the cuts but at the end of the day, it's about who you truly want present when you take this step. Not about placating those who invited you to their wedding. Or that weird uncle you never see who your mom expects you to invite despite his tendency to overindulge and call you by the wrong name.

3. Choose an off day/off time/off season. Makes it way cheaper. We did late morning ceremony, brunch reception. Best thing ever.

4. I know you said you weren't having a ceremony but if you choose to add it in, don't be lulled into thinking it needs to be at a traditional venue. We got married in the restaurant we held our reception in (during their closed hours, which meant the amount we paid was just bonus for them and was very affordable). It was quirky and awesome. Plus there was no stress getting from ceremony to reception since it was in the next room.

5. I printed out "save-the-date", postcard sized invitations from Instaprint. It was super casual and was the perfect solution. Having full blown paper invitations was never something on our list and our invites absolutely got the job done.

6. For music, we played a Spotify playlist from one of our phones over the restaurant system. It was perfect and people danced in the open space when they felt moved to. Although dancing wasn't a thing we wanted to make sure happened so for us, it was just bonus.

7. As for flowers, I don't think you need them at all. My mother felt entirely differently about it, however. So after agreeing on an aesthetic, she paid out of her pocket for a few floral touches. I didn't notice them on the day at all. While it looks nice in the pictures, it doesn't look nearly as nice as my husband and I as we're giggling in excitement and gazing adoringly at each other and isn't that the point? :)

Don't forget to enjoy being engaged for a bit, too!

rubybeth

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2017, 07:08:09 AM »
I will also add: we did a Friday evening ceremony/reception and I know that other "off" times can help you save on photography, etc. (really anything that you are hiring someone to do on NOT A SATURDAY IN THE SUMMER will help you save money). Also, if you are calling around for venues, etc. you don't have to tell them it's a wedding--you can tell them it's a party. Somehow the word "wedding" will make things increase in price. :)

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2017, 07:44:00 AM »
PTF ;)

We got engaged in August and are working with a similar budget when the time comes.

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2017, 12:21:24 PM »
Brides to be check out www.jjshouse.com


Raenia

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2018, 08:34:32 AM »
Alright, after further discussion and research, my fiance is on board with a restaurant reception.  We decided that there aren't enough people who would actually want to dance to justify a venue with a dance floor + DJ.  We just need to pick the restaurant, and we're waiting on my mom's visit next week to finalize that and the date and guest list.

We also agreed to spend the money for a proper photographer.  Plan is to have our 'ceremony' with just the immediate family to sign as witnesses, then go to a park or our old college campus for photos, then on to the reception.

He has a good idea of what he wants for his ring, so we're going to a local jewelry store this evening to look around, have him try on a few things to see how they look/feel, get sized properly, and send mine for resizing.  We'll probably buy his ring online once we've confirmed all that.

Checking into Vistaprint, Minted, and other options for the invites, I want to be able to send them out as soon as we have a date confirmed, since we're planning this on relatively short notice.  They're not cheap, but not awful, and I like some of the designs.

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2018, 01:12:21 PM »
Re: offending people, don't worry about it. Because someone will be offended, promise.

We did our wedding with 35 people in my parents (beautiful) back yard for $1,500 all in and it was everything we ever wanted. Then we quit our jobs and traveled because we could afford it.

A close friend just had a wedding with 300 and her parents and the couple spent....... a LOT.

We both had people offended that they weren't there.

It's about you, do what you want.

On other things you mention:

We had a friend officiate a ceremony and were glad we did.
Food we did a directed pot luck which worked out perfect.
Invitations - vistaprint does a great job and wasn't expensive.
We got an elopement shoot from a photographer. She was there for the first look, ceremony and some portraits and then peaced out. I loved not having a flash in my face all night.

Overall, I'd talk to your fiance (eep!) about what is important to YOU not what you think of when you think of a traditional wedding and focus on that.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2018, 01:15:27 PM by nurseart »

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2018, 04:11:53 AM »
We had a friend officiate ours as well! She was ordained for her sister in law's wedding and offered to do ours. It made it really special to have it be someone we cared about instead of a "rent-a-rev".

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2018, 01:58:34 PM »
Congrats! I just got married last summer. Although our wedding in general was quite large and over the top, there were some things we majorly cheaped out on:

1. Venue. We chose a community hall that had no rental fee as long as they provided the catering ($18pp) and cash bar. Another option was the fire hall in our community which had a $500 rental fee but allowed outside catering. Church halls are another popular choice in our area for cheaper reception venues and some do their own catering. I once attended one that was a self-serve buffet. Family members had made all the dishes.
2. Vistaprint wedding invitations were the cheapest that I found online. However, I randomly stopped by a locally owned print shop and they made our invitations for the same price as vistaprint with higher quality envelopes, and they custom designed ours similar to some examples I found on pinterest.
3. You don't really need a cake. I didn't want a cake, my husband wanted a cake, we got a cake. It was $400. We got one photo cutting the cake, and then forgot to eat it. I believe it is still sitting in my aunt's deep freeze.
4. I would recommend an actual dj. My friend had an iPod playing at her wedding and it was awful.

Raenia

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2018, 01:36:06 PM »
Updates!  Progress is being made:

 - His ring is ordered, and mine sent out for sizing.  Total cost, <$400, including custom engraving.
 - Mom approved the removal of a few people from my list, and didn't have anyone to add, so we're well within the plan on size.
 - We checked out the restaurant we were thinking of (brought my sister, his sister, and both our moms to try out a bunch of dishes).  We like the space, and the food was excellent.  We've settled on doing a Sunday brunch instead of a dinner, and set down a rough idea of menu and alcohol options which keeps us well within budget for venue/food.  Just need to call and ask one or two more questions, and ensure availability.  This will also allow us to finalize the date.  Total cost, est +/- $1500
 - Did some dress shopping with my family.  As anticipated, my mom wants to pay, so I'll let that go.  David's Bridal was thoroughly disappointing (as expected), both in cost, available styles, and service.  Going to a smaller place later today, and if that's no good, my sister and I will be setting up an appointment a third place next week that had some good options online.
 - The 'bridesmaids' and MOB/MOG agreed on a color family for their dresses, and aren't required to match other than that.  Hopefully they all have something in that color already, or will get something they can use again.
 - We talked a bit about music, and my mom volunteered to take point on the playlist.  Cost, $100 for the equipment rental.
 - Fiance tried on his suits for me, and I think we may go the route of getting him a new one made to measure rather than trying to get his altered.  He's got a bit odd body proportions (long torso, short legs), so off-the-rack suits just don't look right on him.  Leaning toward BIFL on this one.

brycedoula

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2018, 12:13:47 PM »
We got married in September 2014, with a total guest list of 44 people (ourselves included). Here's what we did:

-booked a local restaurant (well, fancy pub actually) where both the civil ceremony & dinner were held. In between the ceremony & dinner our guests were downstairs having cocktails & appetizers while the room was changed around. The "fee" was $2500, or total drink/food bill, whichever was lower - included with the venue was set-up/re-arranging/take down of private room & table linens (tablecloths & napkins) in colours of our choice (depending on what was available from their linen supplier). Also included were private servers for our dinner. We paid a "civil service" fee of $25 as well as a $25 ASCAP fee for playing non-classical music. My drunk dad surprised us at the end of the evening by footing the bill, but I believe the cost for apps/drinks/dinner including gratuity was around $4000 CAD (also included $5/person plating fee for wedding cake)
-wedding cake was from a local bakery, $400, worth every damn penny. Restaurant would have also done dessert if desired, but costs would have been comparable.
-be ruthless with your guest list. We invited only our closest friends & family. Friends who were not married/in a LTR did not get a +1.
-got a tea-length dress @ David's Bridal for $150 CAD. Husband & 2/3 brothers chose to rent tuxes ($200 each), 1/3 brother & fathers wore already-owned suits. SIL wore a dress she already had, not sure what mothers did.
-wanted flowers & mother wanted to pay so hired a co-worker would does flowers as a side gig. Was $700, I think they bought them @ Costco.
-my oldest friend wanted to officiate so he paid a fee to legally do it one time only. Not sure what he paid; marriage license was $100.
-hired an acquaintance who was starting a photography business for formal photos. They were nice but not awesome, $250.
-bought invitations @ local party supply store & husband printed them @ home. Largest cost there was postage!
-husband's ring belong to my grandfather; we paid to have it re-sized & engraved with wedding date. My wedding band was $100, 10K white gold, bought online.

I spent money on other various & sundry things (shoes, pre-wedding manicures for myself & mother), Star Wars figurines for wedding cake, etc, but the costs were likely very minimal. I did not have a bridal shower or a bachelorette party.

rubybeth

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2018, 07:44:13 AM »
Updates!  Progress is being made:

 - His ring is ordered, and mine sent out for sizing.  Total cost, <$400, including custom engraving.
 - Mom approved the removal of a few people from my list, and didn't have anyone to add, so we're well within the plan on size.
 - We checked out the restaurant we were thinking of (brought my sister, his sister, and both our moms to try out a bunch of dishes).  We like the space, and the food was excellent.  We've settled on doing a Sunday brunch instead of a dinner, and set down a rough idea of menu and alcohol options which keeps us well within budget for venue/food.  Just need to call and ask one or two more questions, and ensure availability.  This will also allow us to finalize the date.  Total cost, est +/- $1500
 - Did some dress shopping with my family.  As anticipated, my mom wants to pay, so I'll let that go.  David's Bridal was thoroughly disappointing (as expected), both in cost, available styles, and service.  Going to a smaller place later today, and if that's no good, my sister and I will be setting up an appointment a third place next week that had some good options online.
 - The 'bridesmaids' and MOB/MOG agreed on a color family for their dresses, and aren't required to match other than that.  Hopefully they all have something in that color already, or will get something they can use again.
 - We talked a bit about music, and my mom volunteered to take point on the playlist.  Cost, $100 for the equipment rental.
 - Fiance tried on his suits for me, and I think we may go the route of getting him a new one made to measure rather than trying to get his altered.  He's got a bit odd body proportions (long torso, short legs), so off-the-rack suits just don't look right on him.  Leaning toward BIFL on this one.

This is such great progress! I hope you find a dress you love. I have heard of women either not buying white, or later dyeing their dress a different color so it could be worn again (if a longer dress, have also heard of people having them made into a short party dress). Or just sell the dress later on one of those bride sites--have heard good things. Having a nice suit for your fiance is a good idea--it can be worn again quite easily, and attire for photos that will last a lifetime does make a difference.

zygote

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2018, 11:54:35 AM »
Congrats! Sounds like you're well on your way!

One thing about the guest list that I haven't seen come up...When I got married, we invited 80 people and only about 50 came. I wasn't expecting everyone to come, but I was surprised that some of the people I thought would be guarantees weren't. People had other stuff going on, illness, couldn't travel, etc. So even if your guest list is still longer than you want, you're likely going to be under in the end. This will either really help your budget or give you the ability to invite some of the people who were maybes.

I'm glad you found a restaurant you like! We also got married in a restaurant and it was great. We hooked up an iPod, and everybody danced all night. As long as you put thought into the playlist ahead of time, it can work really well. Main tip: go for crowd pleasers, not necessarily your favorite songs. Google popular wedding songs, etc. Think back to any weddings you've been to recently. What songs got everyone out on the dance floor? We attended a wedding where the RSVP asked for a song suggestion and put everyone's choices in a shuffled spotify playlist. It was nice in theory, but not great in practice. There were too many slow songs, too many old songs from their older relatives, very random order, etc.

You can preload an iPod with a brunch playlist and a dancing playlist that have been planned out ahead of time, and just have your mom press play on the day. It'll be great!

Raenia

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2018, 09:09:15 AM »
One step forward, one step back.

 - The restaurant we liked has been vetoed, apparently my sister got food poisoning that night!  We checked out another place this weekend, and the food was incredibly disappointing.  Two more places on our list to check out, hopefully the next one will be acceptable.
 - Dress shopping was successful!  $200, though I still need to check out any accessories (shoes, veil).  Will need minimal, if any, alterations, possibly just a hem which shouldn't be expensive.  I highly recommend BHLDN, especially their "little white dress" and "city hall bride" collections.

A few follow ups for this week:
 - Make reservations at the next restaurant on the list
 - Get fiance to make an appt at the tailor to get his suit ordered
 
rubybeth - Thanks!  I am hoping to be able to dye the dress a different color after the wedding, I think it will make a lovely evening gown in a nice jewel tone, for going to the opera.  If a test dye with a scrap (from alterations) doesn't work out, I may look into selling it instead.

zygote - Yes, I am anticipating that only 50-60 people might actually make it out of the 80ish invite list, but my fiance isn't comfortable planning on that, so we can't, say, book a place that has a max capacity of 70, because what if Grandma actually decides to travel for us?  I don't really want to argue with him, though.

I really hope this restaurant works out, so much of the planning is held up because we can't set the date for sure.  I just want the invites to go out!  I hate all the planning and stress, but I want everyone to have a good time, too.

rubybeth

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2018, 10:38:39 AM »
As per common wedding etiquette, invitations do not need to be sent out until 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding. If you want people to save the date, you could just email your guest list to let them know you're planning on a date in whatever month it is, but things aren't finalized yet. That way, people don't plan a vacation, etc. during that time.

MrSal

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2018, 04:13:09 PM »
Regarding photography I can help with that if you are interested. I am also in PA and I am starting out so my prices are cheaper. Although starting out, I can assure you my pictures are better than 90% of wedding photographers out there, at least that's what I am told.

I am doing it as a side business as of now and have had about 8 weddings already ... if interested shoot me a PM and I'll direct you to my gallery. /shamefulplug

Regarding what you can do, there are a lot of things... use websites for design like Vistaprint and such for invitations and any other stationary you can rthink of. Use their coupons. There is always 50% off available! You can get nice invitations for like 20$ per 100 or so - I remember my SIL did magnet invitations for like 35$ per 100.

And I agree with others regarding pictures, at least if you value them. Pictures is what you'll fall back on 10-20 years down the line. Food goes, booze goes, but pictures... they stay. I have seen a lot of photographers that do this full time and I think their pictures are subpar. It all depends on what you value really, and if you or your SO are in agreement.

My wife and I eloped, and to be honest while we do have great pictures because I took them myself, with a tripod and such... it's not the same or at least I would have liked nowadays to look back on a full day of wedding and have pictures of my gorgeous wife and not just have the 10-20 pictures that we posed for ...
« Last Edit: November 25, 2018, 04:22:33 PM by MrSal »

Raenia

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #30 on: November 25, 2018, 05:45:14 PM »
Regarding photography I can help with that if you are interested. I am also in PA and I am starting out so my prices are cheaper. Although starting out, I can assure you my pictures are better than 90% of wedding photographers out there, at least that's what I am told.

I am doing it as a side business as of now and have had about 8 weddings already ... if interested shoot me a PM and I'll direct you to my gallery. /shamefulplug

Regarding what you can do, there are a lot of things... use websites for design like Vistaprint and such for invitations and any other stationary you can rthink of. Use their coupons. There is always 50% off available! You can get nice invitations for like 20$ per 100 or so - I remember my SIL did magnet invitations for like 35$ per 100.

And I agree with others regarding pictures, at least if you value them. Pictures is what you'll fall back on 10-20 years down the line. Food goes, booze goes, but pictures... they stay. I have seen a lot of photographers that do this full time and I think their pictures are subpar. It all depends on what you value really, and if you or your SO are in agreement.

My wife and I eloped, and to be honest while we do have great pictures because I took them myself, with a tripod and such... it's not the same or at least I would have liked nowadays to look back on a full day of wedding and have pictures of my gorgeous wife and not just have the 10-20 pictures that we posed for ...

Bit of a necro-post, sadly.  My wedding was in June, so I won't be taking you up on the photography, but thanks for the offer.  My FIL paid for the photographer as his wedding gift, he has a friend who does it as a side hustle.
 We are very happy with the quality, just still need to find a good print shop to print up physical copies of the ones we want to display.  We have digital copies and full rights to the whole set.

For those interested, we had the ceremony at a local university with a pretty campus, just the close family + photographers.  Got very lucky with the weather - called for rain, got just a light mist.  Reception at the restaurant was fantastic, they handled everything from the music to the cake (cupcakes ftw!), plus they were very accommodating about dietary needs (multiple guests with either gluten-free, lactose-free, or vegetarian needs.)  The restaurant wound up being a bit over my original budget, but my dad surprised us by covering it.  MIL hosted the 'rehearsal dinner', Mom handled the Sunday Brunch.

A few notes:
 - Quaker-style marriage certificate with our vows on it for our guests to sign ($100) - totally worth it, can't wait to have it framed
 - Went with Vistaprint for the invites and place cards
 - Got DH's suit tailored instead of buying new - ~$90
 - Rings <$400
 - Dress $200 + Shoes $30 (paid by Mom)
 - Borrowed jewelry from my sister, sister did my hair, SIL did my makeup.
 - Clear umbrella in case of rain <$15 - though we didn't wind up needing it at the ceremony, the photographer loved having some props to work with
 - Flowers $100 - I actually wish the bouquet had been smaller, they apparently have a minimum price for bridal bouquets, and then when I said I didn't want roses they short-circuited and had to make it huge to make up for the cheaper flowers.  This is why I tried to avoid the word 'wedding' but my sister let it slip while we were talking with the florist.  Honestly, I probably could have done without flowers entirely, though again the photographer liked having it as a prop.

Thanks everyone!

rubybeth

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #31 on: November 27, 2018, 01:10:14 PM »
Yay, glad to hear it went well! My uncle owns a photofinishing business in Minnesota and did a lovely job printing our wedding photos. I can send you the website via PM. We have a number of 5x7 prints in inexpensive frames and I enjoy looking at them every day. We also gave copies of some photos to our parents, grandparents, etc. for gifts (in frames from Target) for our first holiday season together. They loved the gift of photos.

robartsd

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #32 on: November 27, 2018, 03:26:49 PM »
We had a very low cost wedding. No dinner, no booze, open invite. Our main interest was having dancing at our reception. We designed our own invitations and hired out to a small print shop to print them. Postage was a fairly large expense as we tried to send paper invites to everyone. Friends/family chipped in to help with the reception in lieu of gifts (my sister's husband DJ'd, a friend made the cheesecake, her brother headed catering hors d'oeuvres, her uncle was our official photographer). Our church has a lay ministry and never charges for ceremony and typically allows use of the rec hall without a fee as well (if there were a fee, it would be limited to a nominal fee to offset cost of utilities - set up and clean up was done by family and friends). We got some decent photos, but I think we would have been happier with the efficiency of a professional wedding photographer.

We had friends who didn't like cake, so they had cookies at their wedding instead. The packed the cookies into hat boxes and stacked them to resemble a tiered wedding cake.


carolina822

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #33 on: November 27, 2018, 09:23:32 PM »


Invitations - definitely paper!!! Sometimes people think e-vites are the way to go, however people don't get them/don't read them/delete them/don't respond, etc. They might work for save the dates but I do not recommend them for the formal invite. Sites like vista print, minted, etc. will be relatively cheap to print invites. (ETA: just checked and these sites are NOT that cheap for a small guestlist. May be better to DYI this too.)


We had a 50th anniversary party for my parents this summer, and for the invites, I paid ten bucks for a downloadable template on Etsy (probably could have done this myself for free, but I am decidedly not artistic and I was in a hurry) and had Office Max print them. It was less than $15 for 100 invitations on card stock, and they even cut them out since they were printed four to a page. I got a few boxes of dollar store Christmas cards just for the envelopes (again, in a hurry, but also cheaper than ordering a box of them in the right size). Easy peasy.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2018, 09:26:40 PM by carolina822 »

SwordGuy

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #34 on: November 27, 2018, 10:38:39 PM »
Want a low budget wedding with food, etc.?

Rent a pavilion at a public park.  Probably cost you about $80.

Grill hamburgers and hotdogs.   Go for picnic food.   It's inexpensive and filling.  Get a few friends to volunteer to be the grillmeisters.

A potluck really gets the cost down, but no need to do that if your budget was $5k to $6k.

Skip the cheesy photographer shots.  Just get several friends to take pictures.

Make the wedding cake yourself.  Doesnt have to be fancy.

Your cost will be between $500 and $1000, less if it's a potluck.


We did something similar except we were so poor at the time we couldn't afford to rent a pavillion so we just did the wedding in our apartment.   People had so much fun they asked if they really had to leave or if they could stay.  We had friends over for 3 days.

Total cost for everything: $50 in 1983 dollars.   We went the potluck route because $50 was a HUGE amount of money to us.

FindingFI

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #35 on: November 28, 2018, 05:24:40 AM »
The single biggest thing that saved us a boatload was skipping the traditional, wedding factory venues with their exclusive catering and vendors lists. We rented a summer camp used all their tables and chairs, brought in catering from a local BBQ spot and bought all the alcohol ourselves.  We were still able to have a fantastic meal and open bar for around $25 a head, and we got to keep all the leftovers.  A similar meal and alcohol plan at a traditional venue would have run us 3 or 4 times that much easily.

Hibernaculum

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #36 on: November 28, 2018, 04:13:30 PM »
Sounds like you're on the right track. We found a place where we lived that was a historic house that was in some nice park/gardens, right in the city. We rented the venue for about $850 or $900. We held the wedding itself outside in the gardens, and then had a reception following. Catering was the biggest expense. It ended up being a little under $4000, including food, labor, rentals, bar set up, tax, service charges etc. We had 41 people. Other expenses- a variety of alcohol, dinner the evening before for a smaller group of family. We did go for flowers, which was nice in the setting. No bridesmaids or groomsmen. We had a couple of friends take pictures. One did a great job and the other did not. In retrospect, it sort of makes sense. Being "into" photography and having equipment doesn't make you a good photographer- being a good photographer does! Anyway, I forget what we spent all-in. Something around $6k-8k. Best thing was that it was relaxing. On the morning of the wedding, my uncle stopped by. I was weeding the garden.
Uncle: "Don't you have stuff you need to be doing?!"
Me: "Other than this? Nope."
That was very nice.

rubybeth

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Re: Planning a Low-Budget Wedding
« Reply #37 on: November 30, 2018, 09:28:37 AM »
Note: this is an old thread that OP recently revived with an update. :)