How I Spent Less Than $2,000 on my Wedding

August 3, 2009 by Sophie Scripter  
Published in Planning

What it takes to put on a nice wedding without going into debt.

Do you have a dream wedding you’ve been planning since you were 8?   On average, couples in the United States spend about $20,000 for their wedding! But for many of us getting married in our late twenties (and beyond), we don’t feel the need for all the expensive frills. Here how I managed to spend just one-tenth of the average wedding cost

Church Decorations: Free

One big caveat, this depends on when you get married. If you get married soon after Christmas or soon after Easter, the church will already be heavily decorated.

Reception: Less than $400

Our location was in the church’s basement – totally free. Did a buffet-style food service with a local barbeque restaurant (they provided plastic plates and silverware) and we bought several bottles of wine on the day of the week the liquor stores offers 20% off wine. We bought disposable wine glasses at a party supply store. We did not have a DJ or a dance. Instead, we rented a Cello player to play nice, ambient music during the service and reception.

Cake: About $100

My advice, don’t pick the big-name cake makers in town. We found a small (and new) caterer that charged us less, but the cake was still beautiful and delicious.

Dress: $190

My town has a locally owned shop that sold prom dresses…and although most people aren’t aware of this, they also sell wedding dresses. Unless you have a dream dress in mind, or you’re planning to make your dress an heirloom to pass down, I see no reason in spending nearly a thousand dollars (or more). I almost got a very traditional looking (and gorgeous) wedding dress at a local resale shop for $60, but it was nearly 2 sizes too small and I wasn’t that motivated to lose that much weight so quickly. I spent about $15 dollars on white shoes at Payless. They weren’t my favorite style and were given to Goodwill immediately after the wedding. But with a long wedding gown, no one even saw my shoes!

Photographer: Just under $300

This was the one cost I still feel we could have gotten cheaper. We picked the smallest package the company offered, which covered more than we really needed.

Honeymoon: About $350

Everyone deserves a fabulous honeymoon vacation. For us that meant relaxation in the woods. We rented a cabin in a nearby state for 4 nights ($65/night). We drove there, so only had to pay for fuel (instead of plane tickets). Check the internet for privately-owned cabins. They’ll be cheaper than those at a resort. Some State Parks also have affordable cabins, but many can be very “rugged”, so be sure to see photos before making reservations. A  cabin means you’ve got a kitchen, so we made most of our own meals instead of spending money on restaurants 3 times a day.


About $20 was spent at a local florist for flowers that my maid-of-honor craftily tied together with a ribbon for my bouquet. Spent about $80 for invitations from a local Hallmarks store. Also, we had to pay a donation/fee to the priest marrying us ($150).

Our wedding was small and intimate. We had no bridesmaids or groomsmen (beyond the maid-of-honor and the best man). We spent about $150 total for our gifts to them. I let my maid-of-honor pick out her own dress, which she found on sale at JCPennys for about $20. We planned for our reception to accommodate up to 75 people, but since only about 50 came we had lots of wine and BBQ left over (which helped cut down food expenses on our honeymoon).

Now years later, I don’t wish I had a bigger cake or more glamorous dress.  When I look back at my wedding, I don’t regret a thing.

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4 Responses to “How I Spent Less Than $2,000 on my Wedding”
  1. dalia4world Says:

    … or you can think about something alternative and non-traditional. I am aware that in US wedding etiquette and customs are quite inflexible, but for you world citizens and open-minded people, here goes a handful of advices.

    - Do you really need a white wedding dress? Buy a beautiful dress from a regular store, a dress that fits you perfectly, makes you look like princess of the 21st century, and that you can use on various occasions later.

    - Ask your girlfriends to help you with hair, makeup, flower bucket, etc.

    - You probably have family out there in the country with a big house and a garden. Alternatively, you can rent a house that is nowhere near the sea, but has beautiful surroungings, and can accommodate the guests (they will bring the sleeping bags, mattresses, etc).

    - Ask a few friends-of-friends, or acquaintances, that are good in photography, bbq, and can help with shopping, decorations, etc., to participate in your wedding as volunteer helpers – most likely, they will happily agree. You probably also have friends that are funny and can entertain guests, be DJs, etc. These should not be your closest friends – those deserve just to have fun on your day. Unless they wish to help as a present for you, of course.

    - For wedding presents, ask donations for your honeymoon. This is where you deserve more – visit a new country, climb the mountains, travel around the world, explore the beauty of nature, do what you were dreaming of for a long time.

  2. dalia4world Says:

    I think, I should write an article about that :)

  3. simplyoj Says:

    That’s a great deal sharing for those are planning their wedding. Planning is not an easy task.

  4. Rosettaartist1 Says:

    I’ve been married 3 times and did all my own catering, dress making, floral arrangements etc., and when my daughter got married she wanted the same! Why spend loads when it’s the romance and the company that day which make the day special?

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