Planning a wedding is no small feat, especially when you’re doing it yourself with tight funds. If your dreams are big but your budget is small, don’t worry! I’m here to help you get more bling for less cha-ching! (Because “more bang for your buck” is overrated. . . Just go with it.)
Here’s the run-down on my wedding expenses, along with some insight on how I kept the entire budget (including our honeymoon suite) under $3,000. If you don’t find much of this helpful, check out this post on 9 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding. Okay, here we go:
Save the dates & invitations: ~$10
I used a template I found online (via Pinterest) to make our wedding invitations and I used PicMonkey to edit an engagement photo of ours to make our STDs (I’m talking about “save the dates,” okay!). Since we had a semi-destination wedding (it’s complicated), I also downloaded some cute free fonts and used Word to create a sheet with options for travel arrangements after I had blocked off hotel rooms for my guests and looked into flights and car rentals and everything else they’d likely need. Since our wedding was in California and we’re both from Texas, our guest list was only family and close friends. Because this was a lot smaller than most weddings, it only cost about $10 for the envelopes, stamps, and for me to print all of our invitations & STDs (I printed them at home and used cardstock + a paper slicer on the invitations).
Officiate (for ceremony & rehearsal): $275
If we had decided to wait a million years and get married in Texas (okay, maybe we only would’ve had to wait 4 more months. . .), we would have used the preacher from our hometown church as our officiate. But since that wasn’t an option, we had to actually pay an officiate for both the ceremony & the rehearsal. The woman we chose turned out to be AWESOME, and she even offered us a small military discount.
Wedding license: $76
Don’t forget this!!!! You absolutely NEED one of these to legally get married.
My husband & I got married on a gorgeous beach about 4 miles from the house we’re currently living in. It’s a public beach, but the Parks & Recreation Department of the city said we didn’t need a permit to have a ceremony there. So, boom. Free venue.
Renting chairs: $37
We chose a public beach for our ceremony, so it only made sense for us to rent chairs for our guests.
Ceremony decorations: ~$75
My husband & I went to Home Depot two days before our wedding and picked out some tropical plants and two tiki torches to make a little alter at our ceremony location. We also got some brown paper and ribbons so I could wrap the bottoms of the plants. Altogether, this cost us a little over $74, but we’re still using those plants around our house (so it was definitely worth it!).
Lucky for us, my husband’s uncle is a photographer AND he was willing to photograph our wedding for free. Always use your resources! (I talk about this more in my post on 9 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding.)
I’m a simple gal. Okay, not really. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m actually a pretty complicated person (especially my husband). But I have a simple taste in style & fashion, so it wasn’t very hard for me to find a dress I loved that was reasonably priced (for a wedding dress, that is).
Plain and simple, it was a beach wedding so I bought some white sandals from Forever 21.
I borrowed pearl earrings from one of my best friends (who was also a bridesmaid) and wore my grandmother’s pearl necklace (which my mom also wore in her wedding) and pearl bracelet.
Hair, make-up, & nails: $55
I’m also lucky to have a best friend who loves doing hair (and who’s great at it, too!). She did my hair as well as my bridesmaids’ hair (including her own) and I did my own make-up. Can you say FREE? We did splurge on our nails, though, and I got a mani/pedi the day before at a nail salon (hence the $55).
Bouquets, hairpieces, boutonnieres, & corsages: $101.48
I married a Marine, so naturally he wore his dress blues during our ceremony. His groomsmen also wore their dress blues, so I didn’t buy any boutonnieres (it’s probably out of reg, anyway). I did, however, buy corsages for my mom and my husband’s grandma (about $17 each). I only paid about $67 for the bouquets because I ordered silk flowers online (SUPER cheap!) and bought some thick white ribbon from a wedding aisle at Hobby Lobby. I then used some rubber bands & hot glue to make the bouquets myself, saving quite a bit of money. I also used some leftover flowers from the bouquets and hot-glued them to bobby pins for the hairpieces that myself & my bridesmaids wore, as you can see in the picture below. (I promise those gray clouds went away in the middle of our ceremony! Monterey weather is extremely bipolar.)
Wedding party gifts: $145.56
This is something I didn’t think I should cheap-out on. Our wedding party did a lot for us (especially the bridesmaids who came all the way to Cali for our big day!), and we wanted to show our appreciation. Even though it wasn’t much, we ended up spending more on them than I had originally planned because, hey, they deserved it (they actually deserved way more, but I’m not made of money, here!). We bought our groomsmen each a personalized pocket knife (with their name engraved on it) and our bridesmaids a make-up bag with their initial embroidered on it along with a jewelry set for them to wear on our wedding day and some other small goodies. Oh and I caught most of these items while they were on sale (score!).
Reception venue & catering: $1,123.32
We had our reception in a private room at a restaurant very close to the ceremony spot. The food was great and the huge windows in the room even offered an ocean view. Because we were spending more than 1K, the restaurant waived the room fee for us (which would have been about $400, I believe). Overall, it was perfect for the small wedding we had.
Reception decorations: less than $20
I bought some mason jars from Wal-Mart to make the centerpieces for our reception. I used the leftover silk flowers from the bouquets I made and some blue, turquoise, & white sea glass I had in my craft box to make flower centerpieces. I also used some seashells that were laying around my house and some small tan candles (which I also bought at Wal-Mart) to make candle centerpieces. I tied some twine around the tops of each of the mason jars to make them look a little prettier.
Music at reception: $0
My husband and I collaborated to make a wedding playlist on our Spotify account, which we played over the speakers in the reception room via an iPod. We also played a slideshow I had made on a big t.v. that was hanging on a wall in the room. It was just a dinner reception, so we didn’t have a dance floor (and didn’t need a DJ!).
Not a lot of guests meant we could have a small cake (which is so much cheaper!).
My grandmother wanted to get us a useful wedding gift that we would keep for the rest of our lives, so we came up with the idea of a memory book/guestbook as her gift to us. I think the book cost about $60, but it didn’t cost me anything since it was a gift (obviously).
Guest favors: $3.69
I bought some york patties at Target and placed them in a big jar with a sign on it that said “Mint to be!” We were also fortunate to get guest favors as a gift from a very special woman who threw me a bridal shower before the wedding. The favors were cookie cutters in the shape of a heart with a “Recipe for Love” on the package along with our names and wedding date. So cute!
Honeymoon suite for the weekend: $438
Our real honeymoon is coming later (when my husband gets leave in December), but we went ahead and had a little honeymoon weekend together the night of the wedding and the next night, as well. The honeymoon suite was AWESOME and totally worth the splurge (we even had a private hot tub).