Planning a Great Wedding for Less than $4000


If you’ve ever watched one of those wedding shows on TV, you’ve probably seen couples spending tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding. For couples that have that much money to spend on a wedding, setting that kind of standard is fine. For couples that are trying to save to buy a house or just to start their lives together without a mountain of debt, a great wedding doesn’t have to cost tens of thousands of dollars.

How many people you invite really dictates how much money you end up spending. However, there are plenty of ways you can cut costs and plan a great wedding, without having to cut anyone off of your guest list. Here’s how to plan a great wedding for less than $4000.

Your Relatives Don’t Have to Chip In

Many people who plan their weddings on the cheap are lucky enough to have friends or family members with design skills, cooking skills, dressmaking skills, etc. If your family doesn’t have any of these talents or they don’t have time to dedicate to helping with your wedding—do not worry. That’s one of the major “tips” that you’ll see around the internet: getting your best friend to design the invites or your brother to make your centerpieces.

For some couples, that’s realistic to ask of a family member of friend. For others, it’s not. If you can take advantage, do. But don’t feel like you have to in order to plan a great wedding without breaking the bank.

What You’ll Have to Sacrifice

It’s true, you might have to cut some details out of your big day in order to keep it under budget. That’s just a reality of being frugal. You can’t rent the $20,000 ballroom for your wedding if you want to keep your budget low. You might not be able to buy that $2000 dress from your favorite designer.

You shouldn’t settle when it comes to spouses, but you might have to settle on some less expensive, but still awesome details when it comes to your wedding. If you’re the kind of couple that would be just as happy running off to Vegas and getting married at a drive-through chapel as you would be getting married at the Plaza in New York, then letting go a few things won’t be that big of a deal.

Finding a Venue

The dress and the venue are usually the two most expensive parts of a wedding. The most popular venues are likely going to be wildly out of your budget. However, especially for a spring or summer wedding, outdoor venues like beautiful parks or lakesides or even campgrounds are going to be less expensive (and more idyllic). Look for sites in your area that are offering specials or that have low hourly rates.

Florists, Caterers, Bakers, oh my!

Florists are rarely the most expensive part of your big day (unless Martha Stewart herself is your florist), but cutting back on just how many flowers you need can be seriously helpful if you’re trying to stick to a low budget. Centerpieces can make a room or rental tent—you don’t also need flowers to adorn the walls, gazebos, chairs, etc. If you stick to centerpieces and bouquets, you won’t overpower your budget just by purchasing flowers.

When it comes to finding a photographer, the best way to find someone willing to work with your budget is to have a very reduced picture schedule. While you might want to have pictures of the entire ceremony, retaining a photographer for the entire day can be wildly expensive. Instead, if you schedule her for just an hour, to take pictures before the ceremony, and then leave the rest of the picture-taking up to your guests or to a parent equipped with a great camera, you’ll still get plenty of beautiful pictures, without spending your entire budget just on a photographer.

The best way to cut down your food budget is to do just appetizers or just desserts. Aside from the wedding cake (which you can probably get for fairly cheap from any bakery), having a selection of cupcakes or a candy bar is a good way to provide snacks that keep your guests energized, without having to bay $50 a head for beef, chicken, or fish plates.

The Dress

If you watch those wedding shows, you have probably seen women walk into a wedding dress store with a dress budge of at least $4000. To someone trying to save money, this can be a little daunting. The truth is that there are plenty of places you can buy a beautiful dress—the perfect dress—for less than $1000. If you are crafty or have a friend or relative that is a master of design or alternations, you can pick up some fabric or an old dress at a thrift store and make something totally unique and beautiful.

The Extras

Some “tip” lists will recommend buying your plates, cups, knives, forks, etc. for your wedding day. That is going to be far more expensive than renting. Especially if you don’t need full place settings for every guest, renting is the best way to go. You can also rent chairs, tables, tablecloths, and even decorations, which is much more cost effective than actually going out and purchasing everything. And because the vendor comes and takes it away when the wedding is over, you don’t have to worry about where to store it—you just get to jet off on your frugal honeymoon and start your lives together!


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