“Extreme” Budget Weddings

One of the hardest things for couples to say to potential vendors is “we are on a budget” or “our budget is…”. And it should not be. It should be one of the first things said because it will do 2 things. 1 – It will let the couple know how the vendor feels about what they are working with by the vendor’s reaction. 2 – It will allow the vendor to know if the couple is in their price range.

Planning a wedding is hard. They are really fun (especially if you like planning) and give couples an amazing opportunity to be creative and show their loved ones an intimate side of their relationship. But! You are essentially trying to learn 12+ different industries, understand why they are charging what they are charging and if you have the funds to get the vendor you are wanting. If you do not believe me that there are 12+ here are a few off the top of my head – Venue, Coordinator, Photographer, Videographer, Florist, Caterer, Baker, Decor, Rental Companies, Hair and Makeup Artists, Bridal Boutiques, Suit Warehouses, and the life of the party, DJ’s. I know I am missing vendors but you get the idea.

So what do you do if you are trying to get an amazing wedding on what the industry calls an “extreme budget?” You compromise. I am going to walk you through how I planned my wedding. There are definitely going to be things that I did that you may not be able to accomplish but I promise you can make it up for in other areas if you try.

The best step to planning is you and your fiancé sitting down and planning 3 things.

1 – When will you be having the wedding? For us living in Houston and having it here we decided to go the scientific route. We wanted the most moderate temperature, least amount of projected rain so we can have an outdoor wedding without too much stress, and even took the time change into consideration since we had it in March right around the “spring forward” time change.

2 – How much money do you want to spend on the total wedding? Now keep in mind you most likely will go over this. But, it is a really good guide and helps you keep as close to the budget as possible. My husband originally said $3,000-$5,000. Our wedding was about $7,000 but with family contributions spent about $6,200.

3 – What is the most important thing to you both on this special day? For my husband and I we both agreed that what we wanted the most is for it to be fun. We wanted our guests to have a good time. This is important because it will show you what your priorities will be and what you would want to make sure you have room in your budget.

Now before I get into what decisions we made to keep our budget so low I will preface, budget weddings are not for everyone. There are things you will need to sacrifice in the name of money. My husband and I did not really care to not be able to have every bell and whistle that we maybe would have if we opened up the budget. We also love diy and that helped us keep costs down. And if you do not want a budget wedding, that is just as wonderful and will be the right decision for you as if you want a budget wedding. Weddings are the start to a new chapter but they are not something to define your total relationship or project the rest of your life.

Okay let’s get started on the more fine details. We had a wedding with roughly 85 guests. The guest count is a huge factor in your budget. With each person you order more food, tables/chairs/tablecloths, entertainment, centerpieces etc.

Venue: $0 – Doing research into different lower end venues we quickly learned that the venue will make or break our budget. If you are doing an extreme budget you most likely need to look at alternate options other than your traditional wedding venues. We looked into community halls, airbnb’s and sharedspace that allowed weddings, and backyards. My husband really wanted to book an Airbnb that possibly came with tables and chairs and allowed us to stay the night. I plead the case however, that for a much lower cost we can rent our tables and chairs and have it in our own home. This would save us $2,000-$3,000, allow us to do what we wanted with our space and we would not have to pack everything up, drive, set-up and then clean-up after. We ended up doing this in our own backyard. If you do not have a large backyard, let me tell you as a florist I have delivered flowers to small backyards, houses with no backyards and also a couple’s family members yard. I did look into family and friends yards and would have absolutely offered to pay if my loved one was willing to host our wedding. But it still would have been a much lower cost than an Airbnb space. 

Day of Coordinator: $750 for 8 hours – If you want a budget wedding, chances are you are not afraid to plan your own wedding. I love to plan and research into any new chapter coming to my life and love finding out how to plan a wedding. This also really helped me in my floral company because I was able to see the other side that my couple are in. Because of this we went with a Day of Coordinator. I knew my 4 sisters would be flying down for the wedding but did not want them to have to worry about cleaning up during the wedding or help with transitions. I do think they would have been very willing to jump in and help (one sister was upset I hired someone) but it was really important to me that they would be able to enjoy the night. I knew they would be helping me already all weekend.

Tables/Chairs/Tablecloths: $415.00 – We paid the full price for tables and chairs and were gifted the tablecloths by a vendor I have worked with in the past. We had about 8 8ft tables and 80 chairs. The 8 table cloths would have been about $15 per cloth. We could have bought new or used for possibly a lower cost than the $15 each. But hunting them down and washing/steaming them was not appealing to me. Also having the table cloth after the wedding and having to resell them was not appealing to me, I would have paid full price if they were not gifted to us. 

Photographer: $785 for 4 hours – My husband and I both agreed we did not want/need getting ready photos. We did not want too many photos late into the night because they often look similar after the partying starts. We did not want too many family photos. We just wanted some professional photos to stamp the day and were happy to find someone who would take a short wedding and we love our photos. 

Videographer: $0 – We did not want a videographer. This was an expense that we chose to take off our list right off the bat.

Food: $1,100 – Because we were in our own home it was a perfect opportunity to do our own food. We went with a BBQ-carcutteri table. It was something we could prepare ahead of time and just place on the table when ready to serve. We ordered brisket that came with bread, pickles, onion and sauce for $500. And went shopping for sides, bread, other sauce, fruit for decor and other condiments. I believe that it was about $400-$600 but my lovely sisters would not let me pay for it. It was a gift from them and I truly appreciated it. We had tons of bread, and condiments left over so I would have definitely scaled back and saved quite a bit of money. But all besides the bread is shelf stable and we froze the bread to make it last longer.

Drinks: $172 – We kept it simple. I wanted minimal options. We had water, 2 choices of each; soda, wine and beer. Everything was in individual bottles besides the wine.

Dessert: $315 – I ordered a cake with a local baker that we have had their cake before and knew we loved. We also asked 2 other people to add to our spread by making some desserts. I gave them free range (as long as it wasn’t cake or cupcakes). One was from a family member that makes amazing desserts but did not want to ask her to bake a cake for my wedding as I did not know if that would be too stressful for a wedding weekend. Second was from a friend who I helped with their wedding and thought “Hey, we want more dessert, she may be willing to add to it!” It all turned out great and all was gone by the end of the night, cake included. The only sad thing about that is I love dessert and wish I could have eaten the whole spread myself.

Food/Drink Supplies: $265 – This included plates, silverware, serving utensils, serving platters, cups, and trays to hold the drinks and keep them cold. We bought disposable plates and silverware and bought enough for 2 sets each in case they were thrown out for a new set. Again they are shelf stable so they will be great for future parties and camping trips. Serving platters and utensils I went to resale shops to buy them and picked a theme when I was hunting.

 

Flowers: $856 – Now hold on! I am a florist. I did get my flowers at cost but you can still spend less money on flowers than I did. Of course I am going to go all out on my flowers. I could have done this with a fraction of the price by keeping it simply to my bouquet, husband’s boutonniere and very simple table centerpieces and possibly a backdrop. However, I took this opportunity to do things I have always wanted to do. Like a wedding photo of everyone who attended, throwing rose petals in the air. Having full centerpieces with bud vases of flowers on the tables. And a floral walkway path that had the flowers popping out of the ground. 

Décor: $1,185 – This included string lights we hung up, signs we made online and had printed out, frames for the signs, bubbles, polaroid camera with extra film, fabric to cover our very blue pool and yard games. Again you can go as minimal or extravagant as you want. We did not need all the string lights we bought but we love what we ended up with.

Invitations: $220 – This was the invites which we kept simple, the postage, the website to host our wedding RSVP’s and the domain for the website. We did not send out save the dates but chose to send out our invites early because many of our guests were from out of town and would need to plan their trips ahead of time. We went through a wedding company called withjoy.com. My husband is a web designer and actually preferred to go with this company because of how easy it was and he did not have to spend the time building the temporary site from the ground up. For the invitations we went with minted.com. We picked a simple look and hand wrote the envelopes ourselves to save the cost.

Officiant: $0 – This typically costs a couple hundred dollars. We asked a friend and offered to cover the cost of the license. He did not pass the cost along but would have been roughly $65 most likely.

Wedding Certificate: $80 – Unfortunately it costs to tie the knot legally.

Bridal Outfit: $400 – I love thrifting and chose to hunt for my dress at resale shops. My wedding dress was $25 and the added train was $50. I bought a full body spank which was $40.  I did have to adjust the train to how I wanted and I took in the dress in the shoulders to fit me better and to close the slit. I have a sister who is a seamstress but I did fly to her. The added cost is what took me to fly out to her. I reused shoes I already had as well as jewelry.

Groom Outfit: $100 – I do not remember exactly how much he spent, this is a ballpark. We went to a suit warehouse to get a nice jacket and vest and went to Walmart to get nice slacks because the suit warehouse was out of his size. They matched perfectly. He already had shoes, a white button up and tie. 

Hair and Makeup: $200 – I did my own hair and makeup and did not need to spend this amount of money. But I was getting into makeup already so I splurged at Ulta to get everything I wanted. I did a dry run to see how long it would take me and to make sure I liked the look. I could have gone without the makeup and would have been just as happy.

Music: $200 – I bought spotify for $10 a month to keep the commercials away, set up my own playlist and hooked it up to a large bluetooth speaker. The speaker was plenty loud for our wedding from start to finish and came with a microphone for the ceremony and speeches. The speaker was gifted to my husband on his birthday so we technically did not spend the money on it, but the speaker “ION Audio Sport XL” is $200 (on sale for $120 currently). 

Added thoughts:

I have made a list of anything I bought off of Amazon and added items that I found similar on it as well.

I wanted to break down the food costs per person. Average wedding per person for buffet food and open bar is $42 per person. My cost was about $21 per person for the 85 people I planned for. Even with leftover food I still only spent half the amount of money per person that the wedding industry projects.

Name change costs more than you think. If you are planning on a honeymoon and want to change your name, do not start the process until after you get back. Especially if you have passports to update, the process can take 4+ months. I bought a package from newlynamed.com that sent me every piece of document I needed, the order in which to do it and even told me what lines on each paper to fill out. It was an extra $89 in the cost that I would gladly pay again. Changing my name cost me over $300 (with passport being the bulk of the cost) – I did not keep track of these costs. 

Even if you are not trying to keep to as hard of a budget as this, it always helps to see how to save some pennies. I hope this helps you on this amazing next chapter of your lives.

View more photos on my Pinterest page.

Vendors:

Photographer @cactusflowerphotographyllc
Day of Coordinator @visionaryaffairsllc
Cake @dinkycakes2019
Tables and Chairs @aztecusa
Tablecloths @grandeventspartyplanners
Signs @redo_designs
Photobook @terraroots