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How Much Does an (Average) Wedding Cost?

The average wedding costs $30,000. That’s incredible but understandable when you start adding up all the “standard” wedding costs. After paying for a venue, rings, a wedding dress, food and alcohol, and all the other things that make up a wedding, it’s pretty hard to stay frugal.

How Much Does an (Average) Wedding Cost-The average American wedding costs $30,000, according to The Knot, a popular wedding planning website. $30,000! That money could buy a nice new car or be a 20% down payment on a $150,000 home. It’s also more than many Americans earn in a year. How do wedding costs get so out-of-hand? And what can you do to keep costs down when it’s your turn to tie the knot? I’m getting hitched in less than three months, so I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. Here’s what I’ve found.

It’s ironic that most people I know (my fiancee and I included) always say things like “we don’t want a big wedding” and “it doesn’t have to cost much”. Still, as soon as you begin planning the big day, the costs add up. Some people call this hypocrisy, but the fact is, in many cases, many aspects of planning a wedding (and its costs) are out of the bride- and groom-to-bes’ hands. There’s the old saying that the wedding is not about you. It’s about everybody else. Therefore, even if you don’t want to spend money on a fancy reception site/music/food/alcohol/etc., somebody involved may influence these decisions anyway.

Even if you maintain tight control over wedding decisions and costs, they add up. Unless you get married at city hall, you’ll probably want to add rings, clothes, and an officiant. Add a photographer, food for even a small number of guests, and a party, and your costs will be well over $1,000. And for every guest on the list, the costs add up.

My fiancee and I are fortunate enough to have families that are footing the largest of our wedding costs. That’s good, because the majority of our 160—yes 160—guests are extended family members. (If we had to foot the bill alone, chances are the wedding would be for 40 close family and friends). Still, our costs are not insignificant. We’re paying for our rings, clothes, invitations, our band, and our photographer. (The latter two we considered optional, but were important to us). Undoubtedtly, there will be more costs down the road.

In our research and planning, it’s easy to see why $29,000 is the average wedding cost. Consider, for example, the below example of wedding costs. (This isn’t a model of our wedding, and it falls short of the average $30,000 wedding cost, but you’ll see how it adds up).

  • Church/Officiant Fee: $500
  • Reception Site Rental: $2,500
  • Food: $40/plate x 100 = $4,000
  • Photographer: $2,000
  • DJ or Band: $1,500
  • Flowers: $750
  • Cake: $500
  • Rings: $5,000 (Read more: How much should an engagement ring cost?)
  • Dress/Tux: $500
  • Open Bar: $3,500
  • Total: $20,750

Obviously, this example isn’t for a cheap wedding, but for 100 people, it’s probably a modest one. Any of the above costs can vary greatly based upon your choices, and could easily skyrocket. Some brides spend thousands on their dress alone. (On an aside, that’s one expense, of any, I don’t understand, for something you’ll wear once). I’d rather splurge on a ring that at least you’ll wear for a lifetime.

And you can always save by trimming the guest list. Since we can’t do that, here are a few ways we are saving on our wedding:

  • My fiancee got her dress at a major chain; it cost less than $300
  • I’m buying my wedding ring from a reputable online jeweler for half of what it costs at a retail jeweler
  • We have a relative making our wedding cake
  • I’m buying a suit that I can wear again rather than renting a tux; my groomsmen will most likely be able to wear outfits they already own
  • We’re holding our wedding reception in the early afternoon and following it up with a BYOB after-party, which should dramatically reduce alcohol costs

I’m working on some more specific wedding-related posts. Did you get married recently or are you planning a wedding? Are you pulling off a super-frugal wedding or did costs quickly get out of hand? Please share your story!

Published or updated on June 2, 2009

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Esther Thomas says:

    I was married December 28th, 2011.

    Weddings AND rings do NOT have to cost anywhere near as much as 30k.

    Our wedding itself cost just under $3,000.

    My dress, I bought online from a website that took specific measurements which eliminated alteration costs including shipping was $200. I did not pay anyone to do my hair or makeup, though I did pay to get my nails done. I found inexpensive dresses for 3 bridesmaids for about $60 apiece and one of them paid for theirs. They wore black shoes they already owned.

    My husband’s attire was a mix between borrowed and rented, about $100 and groomsmen were responsible for their own attire.

    The cake was $100, made by my parent’s pastor’s wife.

    A friend of mine took charge of the reception food, we planned the menu together and several other lady friends of the families pitched in to pull off the food and to clean up.

    Just bought a few decorations, table cloths and serving dishes borrowed from church and other individuals.

    Food and deore was maybe $800-$1000 from regular grocery stores and Michael’s.

    Music was compiled by a lady at our church on a cd and she played it at appropriate moments during the reception.

    Church sanctuary, reception, our priest (Episcopalian), and organist for reception was $750.

    Photographer was $400.

    Husband’s ring was $30-40.

    Only place I wish I’d been able to spend a little more money would have been for a higher quality photographer. My advice is to spend there and build the wedding budget around it’s cost.

    My husband spent about $800 for my engagement ring and there really wasn’t any money for a “wedding band”. Who said a woman has to have two rings anyway?

    We were able to have a wonderful honeymoon in Colorado Springs for about $2500.

    We also were VERY recent college graduates and didn’t have much furniture or kitchen things, so spent about $3,000ish there.

    All in all, for just under $10,000 total we were able to get engaged, buy rings, have a beautiful wedding ceremony for 70 people (family and close friends), have a beautiful romantic honeymoon, AND furnish a 1bed apartment including kitchen things.

    It is totally possible to spend very little. Even less than we did it for.

    Right now, we are paying off all our student loans and getting an emergency savings funded before we even THINK of saving a down payment for a house.

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  3. Vicky says:

    My husband and I had a $1500 budget and ended up spending about $1300. We had our ceremony and reception at an old hotel that was paid off until the end of time and didn’t charge for overhead. The ceremony was in the evening, so all we served was cake and punch. I got my dress from BuyBuyDress.com, and my husband and our attendants wore suits and dresses that they already owned that happened to be in the wedding colors. One of my attendants and I did all the flowers ourselves, which was a ton of fun and saved a lot of money. No DJ during the reception–we borrowed a friend’s stereo system and made a playlist of songs we wanted to hear.

    The best part: We planned this all in two months, and almost everything we paid for was out of our joint savings account. The only things my parents paid for were my hair and make-up, our cake knife and server, and our toasting glasses.

  4. Beth says:

    My husband and I got married in October of 2010. Our wedding cost around 3k total, including my dress, his tux *and* our rings.
    We were married in his father’s large backyard (if he hadn’t agreed for some reason, we’d have held it at a park). We invited about 50 guests, all blood relatives with the exception of 5 very close life-long friends.
    We got plain blank cards from the craft store and designed/printed our own invitations and had guests RSVP at a designated email address.
    Our reception was also held in the back yard, and around 2 pm. We served appetizer-type foods (breads and cheese, seafood and spinach dip, mini quiches and spanikopita), fresh fruit and veggies, and my very generous aunt bought smoked salmon (also included in the 3k budget).
    We let the natural landscape account for most of the ‘decorations’, but bought around 30 paper lanterns, which we hung with ribbon from the tree branches, and had floating-candle centerpieces at each table.
    We bought various fruit pies and a large cheesecake for everyone to enjoy, since my husband and I dislike ‘traditional’ wedding cakes with fondant. It wasn’t the classiest wedding, I guess. We had plastic dinnerware because of the outside setting, and because we wanted the young children in our family to be there and didn’t want to worry about accidents and broken glass. The mood, however, was wonderful. And I’m confidant everyone enjoyed themselves. After the sun set, we had a fire in the fire-pit with those who had opted to stay that long, chatting and drinking wine. It was a wonderful day, truly, and we paid for most of it ourselves with cash we had on hand.
    At the end of the day, all that matters is you both say ‘I do’. Because I was confidant that – no matter what- I was going to be married at the end, I was never stressed or worried. My husband and I were able to enjoy the entire process.
    I hate it when people say that the wedding is the best day of your life, because then you begin your marriage thinking the best day is already behind you!

  5. Mike Pf says:

    My wife and I got married at the Justice of the Peace 21 years ago. There were 4 of us, my wife, I, my nine year old stepson and my daughter (not born yet that my bride to be was pregnant with at that time). I barely had money for parking at the time. Anyway, now we have been together 21 years and have three grown kids (and two grandkids from my stepson).

    We actually went to Old County Buffet with my mother in law after. Probably cost us $50 plus wedding license. I used a 1/4 ct stone my mother had given me and paid for a new ring (we paid payments).

    We do much better financially now and live in a nice area in a nice house and I own my own business. I worked very hard all my life to provide for my family and we sacrificed and compromised through things most would have divorced over long ago due to the stress.

    Too bad too many don’t realize, it’s not the quality of the day, it’s the quality of the relationship and respect and commitment to each other.

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  7. Amanda says:

    I agree with you, Amanda. It really bothers me when people talk about their low budget wedding and say it was great because everyone remembered what the day was supposed to be about. Blah blah blah. I’m having a lower budget wedding, but if I could, I’d up it for sure. Anyone who says they wouldn’t is lying. And it has nothing to do with how much you love your fiance or how strong of a couple you think you are.

  8. Amanda says:

    At the end of the day, I say do what makes you happy. If you can afford an opulent wedding and that’s what you both want, go for it. Whose right is it for anyone to judge? If you don’t want or can’t afford a big wedding, then as everyone has posted, there are ways to cut budgets and corners and still have a wedding your both happy with. It’s sad what people think of weddings now-a-days. A wedding, big or not, does not determine the strenghth and happiness of your marriage. It’s up to the couple who decide to take on that commitment and love each other for the rest of their lives. I’m sorry. Unfortunately, yes, the divorce rate is up. But maybe people should take marriage more seriously at the end of the day. It’s sad what it’s come down to. I’ll personally be in the 50% that doesn’t divorce cause I’ll be sticking through the hard times like you’re suppose to do in a marriage. That’s where people go wrong – they give up. Marriage isn’t a walk in a part and weddings, big or small, don’t determine a thing. As long as that special day is meaningful to you and your fiance’ and your ready for the long road ahead, then that’s what matters.

  9. Morningsdaughter says:

    When my sister got married, she managed to keep everything under $500.
    She had more than 100 guests, due to the combining of two large families.
    Our uncle preached the ceremony at his own church. His wife decorated the halls with the silk flowers and candles that the church already had. One of the cousins had professional training and made the cake as a gift. Grandma bought the dress for less than $50. Grandmom(the other side) did all the flower arrangements. One of their college buddies majored in Art with his camera and photographed the wedding, they just paid for the prints. My bridesmaid dress was $9(actually, that was just the one I used they bought two at the same price since I lived in a different state and weren’t sure which one would fit best. So if you have say, then $18). Catering was all done by Grandma and Great aunt Verna. Several cousins all pitched in to serve at the reception. One of the boys who attended that church worked the sound system at the cost of feeding him dinner. There wasn’t any alcohol, so lots of savings there.

    I don’t know how much my brother ran his wedding for. But he and his wife went barefoot, so they really saved in the shoe department! The bride’s sister and mother cooked and frosted dozens of cupcakes and then my sister bought a box of drink umbrellas for a few bucks and a bulk bag of little monkey figurines(the kind you would get out of a vending machine) to deck the cupcakes with. Both sides considered it as part of their gift to the bride and groom. My aunt bought a bunch of dollar store hula party decorations and created a classy and fun wedding hall. He husband even moved his large fish tank over to the hall! This ceremony was also presided over by an uncle in his own church. It was pretty cool how everything got together. Even their honeymoon was cheep, a family relation lent them their cabin for the weekend.
    But the best part of my brothers wedding was the continued focus on the real reason for it all. Getting my brother and his wife married in the presence of their of their loved ones. It wasn’t just about the bride and groom, or just about the guest. It was about the joining of two families. The only complaint was no one was quite sure how casual was enough…my brother kept says ‘just wear what ever you want that’s blue!’
    God bless to all those getting married soon and to all those already married!

  10. berry says:

    Getting married these days is drama, you marry today and the next day everything broke up. I will never get married even if it did take $1 to marry

  11. Jen says:

    My Wedding is going to cost a grand total of $500.00. It’s going to be a public park ( free to use as long as it doesn’t interupt the flow of the park. The officiant is going to cost $200.00 since I have to provide the gas and motel room for her at least one in advance. The food is going to be potluck/bbq. I will provide snack platters myself. The reception is going to be at the park so the kids can play and have fun. No music and No dancing, as far as the clothes are concerned thats an easy one, colors are black and dark green, so the women can wear whatever dresses or nice slacks and the men are going to wear black/ black with their jackets and my dress is going be under $50.00 since I want it to be black or dark green. I am making the invitations myself. Weddings shouldnt get out of hand whatsoever. Its your wedding for YOU and YOUR HUSBAND not to make everyone happy. wanting to invite everyone is just an excuse to spend money.

  12. Kim Key says:

    We live in a large city but 10 years ago paid 3,000 for a spectacular wedding with only 50 guests. Creativity is the most important part of saving money. If you are willing to do the work you can save thousands. A friend paid 40K for a moderate wedding 5 years later. It was a blast, but I don’t remember what that expensive venue looked like, or the food I ate. If you want fun and meaningful that’s easy but it you want grandiosity, well that costs money.

    We planted tons of flowers in the backyard, made our own favors, and most of the services were wedding gifts–the officiant, the flower arranging, the catering, the photographer. Obviously most people can’t fit 200 people in their back yard and must rent a venue so this is in no way a judgement on anyone’s choices, just suggestions on saving money.

    Many guests said it was the best wedding they ever attended and it wasn’t because of the food. It was because they felt at ease with the venue and they felt included in the festivities. (Medieval-themed.)

    My only regret was not hiring a a professional photographer so that nothing was missed. We might forget what we ate or the names of the guests one day but the pictures are forever.

  13. Melissa Kassen says:

    $1500 for a DJ and 2000? for photographer?? A DJ will entertain you for 4-6 hours and they are gone! A photographer will stay with you from say 8am until 1am AND his/her images will be the ONLY thing that’s left from your wedding day as memories.
    There are no GOOD PROFESSIONAL photographers in North America that will photograph a wedding for $2000. not unless they are part timers.

    We spent $7000 on our photographer and after 4 years we still look at the images almost monthly! This is how good the images are(we hired one of the top 10 wedding photographers in Canada!!)

    As for wedding budget,

    ours was a bit higher as Toronto is an expensive city

    Photographer -$7000
    Church – $1200
    Dinner – $70/plate x300 ~21,000
    DJ/MC – $1300
    Wedding/Engagement Rings – $2000
    Dress – $5000
    Reception Decor/Flowers – $3000
    Other little things – $5000

    Total came to about $46,000
    Which is not a lot! Our parents gave us 10,000 each and paid for our honeymoon, so we only had to pay about 26,000
    My fiance is a doctor making about $80000 and I make about 50,000 as a manager.
    So our wedding wasn’t was within our budget. We did save up all the money as we started saving 4 years before we got married.

  14. Mishka says:

    I wouldn’t mind just inviting 50 people total to my wedding and having a wonderful honeymoon if that meant my spouse and I would have more money to put toward a house. I think a wedding is more personal when you really limit it to the people who absolutely mean the most to you…but I’ve not been married yet, so I could be wrong. :)

    I’d cut out the video crew and ask a friend to just get some clips on their photo camera capable of capturing HD video, hire my friend for professional photography, get a fake-three tier cake, and use branches/cheaper table ornamentations instead of flowers everywhere. I recently went to a wedding where a goldfish was placed in a tall cylindrical glass vase as a center piece. (The hubby was a fishing enthusiast). As for a dj, you could use iTunes, but then you need an announcer to announce the bouquet and garter tossing and mother/son or father/daughter dance and etc. Cut out the alcohol or make people pay for it. You’ll end up with less drunk people to worry about getting home safe.
    Lastly, these days it seems there are fewer people in the bridal party. My cousins just had a bridesmaid and a best man. It was nice…made the wedding not as lengthy. :)

  15. katie_abby says:

    if theres a will theres a way. thrifty, crafty, good friends, and family. if you rent a venue with a great view you can eliminate flowers and some decorations, but you have to pay for the catering and furniture rentals. Churches normally have a family life center or seperate building with tables and chairs already, probably with a kitchen(perfect for your reception). with a couple aisle runners to the alter, a church can easily be the most low cost venue. or you could do it in the nicest backyard that allows you (probably your parents). this will make it easier to prepare and have more diy ideas. it will become more intimate, less pressure. heck, throw up a horseshoe set. byob. have a list of simple hor duerves to make, prepare cut fruit platters the night before. make your own food. borrow tables and chairs from your church or wherever you think you can get them. sheets can easily be sewn into nice table cloths and runners (you’d never know the difference). of course the most important thing to an inexpensive wedding is keeping the wedding party down. a few close friends and immediate family. then there are less tables to decorate (flowers and candles). and beside, they will be less judgemental. its just about being happy for you and having a good time. a photography student could take some very nice shots (look at their portfolio first or get some kind of reference). it is about the memories after all. then get the band you want, or a dj. and if you need to be very cheap: ipod list can be an amazing thing if you can rent some great audio equipment. do each table a different theme, and you could use dinnerware sets you already have on each table with a different centerpiece on each as well.

  16. Mona says:

    I spent quite a few minutes scanning everyone’s comments and found some of the advice on here to be quite helpful! I am very lucky in that my family is very creative. We have a family friend that will do a simple two-tier cake with cupcakes in the same flavor. I have friends who do photography professionally. We plan on having the reception in September or October of 2012 — I’m a fall baby and he loves the fall weather so … why not?? Since we’re getting married court-house style this year, all we would have to worry about is the reception site … which I have reviewed some sites but haven’t come up with a decision just yet.

    We have a very large garden, so I do plan to make use of it and grow my own flowers for the reception. I am enamored of hydrangeas, especially Annabelle when it turns from white to green! Again, I’m asking my sisters to help me with making the invitations, favors, center pieces … I am so blessed to have them in my life! Rather than buying a dress off the rack or risking it not looking/fitting how it should from an online store, I plan on sewing myself a very simple, elegant dress (I graduated college with a degree in design and merchandise ;D) with features that I actually *want*!

    I know the chunk of our 7500$ wedding will be spent on location and food, everything else will be diy. All in all, we want to have this reception debt free and able to enjoy celebrating our union with the family and friends we love!

    Oh, and we both come from a culture where it’s customary to give money as gifts, to some of the other posters on here — however they want to give their gifts, we’re still blessed by their presence in celebrating with us! Good luck to all the other B2B and H2B out there!

  17. wanda says:


    We are, at present, both on limited funds due to an unusual confluence of major life events, and with a little luck and a lot of internet research, I found we can get married inexpensively and exactly how I’d prefer to be married anyway, except that we can’t afford both marraige, honeymoon and wedding party all at once, and family can’t food the bill either… We don’t have enough for a big wedding and if we used it for a wedding we’d have to forego the honeymoon! Not the preferred route when you are middle-aged and fighting off an illness. So we chose to put it all into a relaxing romantic honeymoon and do the party later, on our 1-year anniversary, when I’m better.

    Even if we were both flush right now, I’d still want a very casual, warm and informal wedding and wedding party. A formal lavish venue is just not my style. I read that a formal wedding/party can be done on a budget, however, for those that want it… just maybe not by renting limos and a room at the Biltmore Estate.

    I’ve been on medical (unpaid, with bills) leave for a year, draining my savings during a slow recovery (it won’t last forever, thank goodness). Each of us has had major life changes recently so on the comeback trail, we cannot afford a big expense. Also a big family wedding is too stressful for my physical condition right now, need a lot of rest and to avoid emotional and physical stressors which set me backwards. Furthermore my family is going through a tough time now emotionally due to long severe ongoing illness of my parent, who is too ill to attend and has said would be very releived if I “was just married already”. And we don’t want to delay our marriage, either. So, with both the monetary and energy budge constrained, here’s how we are going about it:

    We decided the easiest least stressful way to get married was to do a destination wedding – someplace warm and romantic, and do the family/friends celebration later when family and personal situations are better. Groom had some business frequent traveler points for hotels and airfare… If not we’d use expedia and similar websites where I found plenty of deals that are comparable to a nearby US trip. Family has put together a cash wedding gift we can use towards food and other honeymoon expenses…. If we didn’t have that we’d eat on a budget except for a little splurge here or there, and seek out local sights that are not pricey tourist attractions. There’s tons to see by resaearching guidebooks and the internet beforehand (libraries will often have good guides), and when you get there, talk to locals for what’s special.

    We would like a beach or mountaintop – the former a destination like the caribbean, or the latter nearby blue ridge, or elsewhere in the west. If he didn’t have traveler points, we’d try to do it in the US for $1000 and fewer days away.

    My research determined that getting married at a “destination” (caribbean or similar) can be done inexpensively for similar cost as a US mainland trip. If you want the caribbean during hurricane season, look at the Netherlands Antilles islands, in the southern caribbean just above Venezuela, because the hurricanes usually pass them by… However, think about avoiding flights out of miami if possible during those times. Hawaii doesn’t get many hurricanes, has a lot of places that are always or mostly always sunny, and you can find travel deals to get there during shoulder and off-peak season. Needless to say, look at off the beaten track areas of the US as well . If you shop ahead, or also on last minute travel deal sites, you can find pretty modest airfare/hotel packages in all kinds of locations… nationally or internationally.

    It was also easy to get local pastor referrals or just find them online, and to interview and select one.I found that pastors in the caribbean or hawaii cost about 300$, including filing paperwork, and may or may not include a camcorder recording. Your photographer can often recommend a good wedding officient/minister, having seen many.

    If in Hawaii, leis are often included – or buy your own, they range from $10-50/each from florists. Stick it in the fridge overnight before your wedding day. You can dry it in a simple paper bag and bring it home in a plastic box from walmart, if you want to save it – I have friends who still have theirs after 18 years.

    Some international and caribbean islands have more complex wedding requirements legally than others – e.g. must be there one day, versus must be there 14 days… marraige in another country, versus marraige in a US state or territory which is simpler and cheaper. In Hawaii, it only costs $50… you download and fill out their state application and bring it with you to the local Dept. of Health’s Vital Records section… depending on the local office, you’ll either wait in line or make an appointment with the local official who will give you the marraige license which is good for 30 days in the state… to be filled out with/by your wedding officiant and a witness (such as your photographer)… the minister usually then files it for you afterwards, and you get the license to keep in the mail later. If you were divorced you need to bring proof of divorce with you, along with your photo ID such as state drivers license.

    Photographers in same areas cost $600 for 2 hours (try to avoid those that do all photography in only 1 hour, it’s too rushed), including during ceremony. Photography was important to me to remember the occasion and also share it with family and friends later. The competitive differentiators were prints or no prints, digital rights or no digital rights included or not high additional fees for (very important), does the photographer do a great job on posed pictures as well as casual nontraditional pictures, and is he/she also capable of creative pictures? If in hawaii or caribbean, beach access is free in most locations unless you want a hotel grounds location, which is expensive and more suited to large parties. Some information websites will say it’s best to use a coordinator for a desitination wedding… nah! I found that many destination wedding coordinators (not counting hotel-based coordinators) who advertise as and seem inexpensive actually end up being expensive because of what they charge for photos and other key items which have significant markup. It looks, however, like wedding coordinators are better to use and a better deal when you are having guests and a party along with your destination wedding. For us and no guests, I found it was just as easy to find, select, discuss and contract independently with a photographer who does great work and gives you all the photos digitally – you can pore over selecting which to print at your leisure when you get home, and you don’t have to pay additional fees for very limited prints (3, 10, etc.), and you get digital rights to private use of the original images longterm, as well.

    Your pastor and even photographer may recommend musicians if you want some, or you can look them up online too. We skipped that, no guests. We’ll have music canned or live at the bbq marraige celebration party later.

    We don’t have any guests because we can’t afford to bring others, and family and friends can’t afford to come celebrate with us in a non-local venue… That’s sad, we would have prefered otherwise; maybe we can all party together some day in great resort location. So instead, we’ll do a photographed and camcorded small wedding on the beach, just us, no cake and champagne (because we’ll do the wedding cake WITH family and friends after the trip – it’ll taste better shared; and I have a great local baker who does beautiful delicious reasonable wedding cakes). After our beach wedding we’ll do something romantic afterwards. And we’ll party with everyone next year and delay our wedding cake for the occasion.

    If we could have had the whole shebang now with a local wedding/wedding party, we would have done it in a park or other inexpensive venue – think out of the box, not traditionally, to save money and still make a warm special wedding with guests. Offbeatbride.com and other sites exist which can give you ideas for inexpensive weddings – google “inexpensive wedding ideas”.

    Dress – Many have told me they only spent about $100-300 for wedding dresses – some were formal and some informal. I plan to get a summer dress or a casual wedding dress in white, any length, with pretty sandals, or maybe funky flats (we’ll be barefoot part of the time on the beach). We’ll have the honeymoon to take it easy, have playful romantic times interspersed with the rest I need, etc. The groom can wear khakis and a white shirt, which is traditional for casual beach weddings!

    Need to print up (can do this at home with software or printed cardstock) some sort of announcement to the family and friends of our plans so they have a heads up for the party invitation for next summer (and that date tbd and sent in future invitation). Cost – $stamps, and a cardstock package or use free or already owned software.

    Then during the winter I can plan the wedding/marraige party for next summer with plenty of time to find and arrange everything.

    The party would be my longterm dream of a very informal bbq (maybe even with professional bbq smoker grilling – if not, then our own regular grilling will do). The guests would be asked to wear colorful clothing that’s comfortable. The party would have a wedding cake, inexpensive flowers, with a few games in the sunny area and choice of drag-around informal seating in a shaded pavilion. The location will be a nice park with decent bathrooms and preferably with a mountaintop view if possible. We could ask for potluck for side dishes, I love potluck and strangely, potlucks always end up to be balanced meals. My initial research indicates that national or local park facilities cost less to rent for a day than more traditional venues.

    Yes, it is possible to have a great wedding, a great party, and do things nontraditionally and economically yet in satisfying ways.

    If you want some nontraditional ideas, look at offbeatbride.com. At the very least it’ll be a hoot; at the most it may start your creative wheels spinning.

  18. kathlyn vo says:

    Having a nice wedding is a blessing to both families and friends, but can be frustrated for the bride and groom afterward because they have to deal with many unexpected situations. It also takes so much planning and it costs so much.

    We recently got married on July 23, 2011. The planning was fun as I was a bridezilla. We paid so much for the wedding (around $120/guest), and that of course did not include the engagement ring, bridal gown, groom’s tux, or wedding party’s outfits. We lost so much money after the wedding and were so frustrated at many inconsiderate guests who brought no gift or random gifts to the wedding despite the fact that we stated we’d prefer to have monetary gifts via our gift registry. Some people even brought $25 or under gifts/couple, and some did not bring anything.

    So my suggestion for the couples who are planning for the wedding and don’t want to lose so much money is that to be extremely selective with your guest list. Don’t worry if some people’s feelings get hurt because you don’t invite them. That was my mistake. I invited some people because they really worked their way into my guest list and I felt bad not to invite them. Also, you may have some friends who are cheap and you know it. For these friends, you should think about how it could ruin your friendships with them and perceptions about them after the wedding because of how inconsiderate and selfish they are. We definitely stopped being in touch with a few friends who were like that after the wedding. People who do not think about us are not friends to us.

    I have been to many weddings and each wedding I give appropriate gift (at least $75/person, $50 if it’s a very small wedding that costs minimal). I think it’s a very loving and considerate thing to do. If we want to bless the couple, we want to support them so they don’t start their lives under the water. Some people don’t think like that. They only think about coming to have fun, great food, drink, and dance, and dress up to meet up with others. They don’t really think about you. Those you should just hang out socially, but I would say don’t invite them to your special day because it only hurts your feelings afterward.

    After all, it’s still a blessing to be able to have a wedding so both of our families are happy. Also, the main thing to remember in the midst of being upset is that I just married the best man in the world who will love me and take care of me, just as I will love and take care of him forever. So, best of luck to all of the couples out there who are planning for your wedding. It will be filled with many surprises (good and bad) and you will learn so much from the event of who your good friends are and who are just fun seekers.

    Again, remember to be selective with your guest list!

    Best and Congrats,


  19. kathlyn vo says:

    Having a nice wedding is a blessing to both families and friends, but can be frustrated for the bride and groom afterward because they have to deal with many unexpected situations. It also takes so much planning and it costs so much.

    We recently got married on July 23, 2011. The planning was fun as I was a bridezilla. We paid so much for the wedding (around $120/guest), and that of course did not include the engagement ring, bridal gown, groom’s tux, or wedding party’s outfits. We lost so much money after the wedding and were so frustrated at many inconsiderate guests who brought no gift or random gifts to the wedding despite the fact that we stated we’d prefer to have monetary gifts via our gift registry. Some people even brought $25 or under gifts/couple, and some did not bring anything.

    So my suggestion for the couples who are planning for the wedding and don’t want to lose so much money is that to be extremely selective with your guest list. Don’t worry if some people’s feelings get hurt because you don’t invite them. That was my mistake. I invited some people because they really worked their way into my guest list and I felt bad not to invite them. Also, you may have some friends who are cheap and you know it. For these friends, you should think about how it could ruin your friendships with them and perceptions about them after the wedding because of how inconsiderate and selfish they are. We definitely stopped being in touch with a few friends who were like that after the wedding. People who do not think about us are not friends to us.

    I have been to many weddings and each wedding I give appropriate gift (at least $75/person, $50 if it’s a very small wedding that costs minimal). I think it’s a very loving and considerate thing to do. If we want to bless the couple, we want to support them so they don’t start their lives under the water. Some people don’t think like that. They only think about coming to have fun, great food, drink, and dance, and dress up to meet up with others. They don’t really think about you. Those you should just hang out socially, but I would say don’t invite them to your special day because it only hurts your feelings afterward.

    After all, it’s still a blessing to be able to have a wedding so both of our families are happy. Also, the main thing to remember in the midst of being upset is that I just married the best man in the world who will love me and take care of me, just as I will love and take care of him forever. So, best of luck to all of the couples out there who are planning for your wedding. It will be filled with many surprises (good and bad) and you will learn so much from the event of who your good friends are and who are just fun seekers.

    Best and Congrats,


    • cleop says:

      Really Kat?

      From your comments you act like your guests are obligated to pay for your wedding day choices. You sound like the inconsiderate one complaining about guests who give you what you think are cheap gifts. Let me remind you it is a gift not an obligation to pay for your wedding expenses. After all it was your choice to spend what you did not theirs and it is not their obligation to return the favor of an invitation with the an equal amount of a gift. It is simply a “GIFT”. Get over yourself. It is rude to ask for money and just because some people say it isnt doesnt make it so. Several people on here have commented that it is so I think you should consider the fact some people find it offensive and perhaps you are the inconderate one. BTW…I wouldnt brag about being a “bridezilla”….not attractive or funny.

    • C.B. says:

      What about the cost of travel for people who don’t live nearby? I think spending $200-$400 on a plane ticket for just a weekend should be plenty of a present.

  20. Jenni says:

    My best friend pulled her wedding together for $2000 for 50 people by making sacrifices and making it quaint and cute. She made all of the bouquets, all of the bridesmaids jewelry by her mom, the cake was stunning but a gift from a baker friend. The dress was on sale for $100 it was originally almost $500. Bridesmaids paid for their own. Men were in uniform (military) etc. My sister had a stunning wedding on the beach at a giant house for $6000. This was helped by the fact that the house was $1000 a night but belonged to his family and was gifted on them for the week. If you are nice to everyone, they’re nice to you. Don’t make it gaudy, no one will remember the impersonal wedding like everyone else where you obviously spent too much and “think you’re better than everyone else” as I have heard about the larger weddings. A smaller wedding is more meaningful, and less stress on the bride and groom. Put away what you can and dont go over what you can afford.

  21. SS says:

    I am getting married in about a year. Our absolute top budget is $5,000, but I think we can come in around $3,000.

    Ceremony venue is free – National Forest (permits are free)

    Ceremony decorations – it will be in the mountains, so the landscape is the decoration
    I also bought dowels and pasted silk ribbon on them for guest to waive as we walk by, they will double as reception decorations once taped to chairs.
    Price – $20

    Reception site is $400 for 8 hours (an apple orchard)
    we buy the alcohol, no bar tender, we re budgeting $400 (keg, wine and hard liquor)

    Dress – free (my sister had two)

    Grooms suit – $100

    Flowers max $100 – there are internet sites to buy in bulk and deliver fresh (use for both ceremony and reception).

    decorations – $100 I have scoured second hand shops for rustic trinkets, lanterns and vases

    I bought different colored plates, wine glasses and glasses that are glass and colorful. Each person will have a different setting. That way, the place settings are a decoration itself in the Summer sun. And I can skimp on other decorations. Plus, I get to keep them when we are done.

    Plates, wine glasses and glasses – $100

    I will have to rent a few tables, chairs, linens and dessert plates. But we are only having under 60 guests. We are budgeting around $300.

    Food – pig roast (via an expert BBQer who is a friend)$60, plus sides and other dishes, $400.

    My brother and brother-in-law will DJ, my sister-in-law will be the photographer and another of my fiance’s relative will officiate.

    Price- gifts to them $200

    I learned to put fondant on a cake. Michaels and Hobby Lobby sells rolled fondant. I’ll make the cake. It will be simple and small with a flower on it. We’ll have other pies. No one likes eating cake with fondant anyway.

    Cake – price of cake ingredients $20

    No favors for guests. Maybe candy. There will be games for the kids, and adults (like horseshoes and badminton).

    Invitations – color copies of maps and directions $77

    Save the dates – email – free

    Wedding website – free

    Planner – me – free

  22. Shannon says:

    I got married about 5 years ago in Ohio. We were 23&24 and engaged for about 1.5 years. Including the Honeymoon (Sandals in Jamaica) we spent around $15K. My mom gave us $3000 and his dad gave us $4000, the rest was on us. Neither one of us believed in going into debt for the wedding, and I always encourage friends to stay within their means – who wants to start a marriage with a bunch of debt?? I picked up a second job (in addition to my full time job) working 30 hours/week at McDonald’s (seriously) for about 4 months. It wasn’t fun, but that extra cash and cutting back on other expenses allowed us to pay for everything without any debt. I agree with other posters – TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS!! We asked friends about weddings they had attended, where the venues were, what they liked and didn’t like, etc. Found some nice, inexpensive places we wouldn’t have been able to find by searching wedding websites and the like. A family friend owns a local pub, and bought our liquor at wholesale for us. Get double duty from your flowers – we used our big arrangements at the ceremony on the head table at the reception, and the floral centerpieces were in baskets that we also hung from the benches during our ceremony. We used balloon centerpieces on the other half of the tables to cut back on the floral budget. I made the programs myself and printed them on cardstock, found a place that rents chair covers over the internet (they mail the chair covers to you, and you mail them back after the event – they were not wrinkled and were 1/3 the price of local rental companies.)

    I think the most important thing is to do something that represents the bride and groom and their relationship – that’s what you’re there to celebrate. If someone you invite is going to criticize you for not having 5 different flavors of cake available or an ipod instead of a live band, are they really a friend? Keep it simple and fun – you can’t go wrong!

    • Elyssa says:

      Hi Shannon,

      My fiancee and I are currently planning to get married in Ohio (near Cleveland). Do you have any recommendation on good venues/vendors? The huge problem is that we both have huge families so I don’t think we can keep it much less than 200 (if that). I’m pretty flexible but its a real challenge to find places <$10K even when you consider lunch and a Friday/Sunday so far.


      • Nikki says:

        Hi Elyssa,
        I’m not sure if your 10K budget is total cost for wedding or just recption/food but check out Windows on the River in the Flats. They have 3 rooms with lake, city, or bridge views and at least one is big enough for you. They have catering packages at differnt price points. The most expensive is $80 per person and includes 4 passed h’dourves (sp?), h’dourves buffet style, an etensive 4 course sit down menu, wedding cake and desert bar, flower center pieces, coffee bar with syrups and liquors, bar, wine service, and champaigne toast. The least expensive is $50 and is for off season/days (can’t remember if it is Friday or Sunday). It has most of the same inclusions but scaled back such as buffet h’dourves but not passed, less menu choices, cake but no desert bar, and coffee but no syrups. Also, in doing my own resarch, I found out Cleveland has a public auditorium. It’s definenlty big enough for your group but I didn’t look up the price. Still, since it’s pubic, I’d bet it’s more cost effective then a big hall. Cleveland is also a pretty diverse town and a lot of the old ethnic neighborhoods have their own party centers such as the Croation House. Those would be fairly affordable and large enough. A buffet should go for $12-20 pp. Also, as I recommended to someone else, consider skipping expensive flower centerpieces and going with candle-scapes instead. Much more affordable and very elegent. Hope this helps.

    • Janelle says:

      To you and any one else that used online vendors, can you recommend? i know they are a great way to save $$ but im always worried when it comes to something like your wedding day, not a whole lot of room for bad companies and online shipping there

  23. Stacie says:

    My fiancee and I are getting married in October 2011. We are flying (we are from PA) to Florida and getting married on the beach with just a few close relation. Then on November we are having our reception. I am doing a really good job keep to our $5,000 budget. This includes everything from our resort on the beach for a week to our flower petals. I purchased my dress at an amazing price at davids bridal and found our wedding parties attire at old navy. We live in a small community, so we are renting our local church hall at a decent price and my cake will be around $200.00 for about 125 people. My father worked with a great dj who is giving us a great price for his services. My parents are helping us with the catering (thank god) because, just like any other wedding, its on e of the most expensive things. All of our food will be about $12.00 per plate. Im very excited about how everything is comming together so smoothly. Good luck with your wedding!

  24. I got married 5 years ago and spent about $5000. We wanted something small and meaningful. At first we wanted our guest list to be 25 or less, but my mom really wanted us to invite more people and offered to pay for the food. We did a lot of DIY things and had friends and family help out. The biggest ways we saved money are: We found a venue that included two rooms (ceremony and reception) set up, clean up, and tables, linens etc. basically everything we needed, for the cost of food. We also had a lunch buffet instead of dinner. (I loved this part, because it gave my new husband and I the chance to spend the evening alone together) Being during lunch it also lowered the cost by at least $10 a person. I should mention that I adore the venue and it is one of my favorites it the area. It’s a beautiful 100 year old hotel in downtown Portland. Other ways we saved are, one of my friends made a cool origami guest book, another friend made our cake, and my sister in law made a grooms cake. We made our invitations and mixed CD’s for music. (No iPOD yet!) I also found a home based floral designer to do my flowers. Planning my wedding inspired me to get into the wedding business. I went to floral design school and now own my home based floral design business so I can offer brides like me lower priced flowers. One thing I will add though is even with very low overhead the cost of materials and the time involved to make, deliver, and set up the flowers, is huge. Most wedding professionals are priced based on the equipment they must buy, the time it takes (including consults, and planning) and the fact that they can do something that not everyone can. My advise is to decide the things that are most important to you and find the best people you can in your price range. Whatever items you can do yourself will bring your cost down. The one thing that I regret is not having a better photographer. Everything that you put into a wedding including the flowers will look beautiful forever with the right photographer, and you will have a lasting memory of your day. The best photographers are truly artists, and can really tell the story of your day in a creative and artistic way.

  25. Rusty says:

    I’m planning on having mine at a beautiful art museum where we don’t have to spend thousands on decoration and stuff – It’s beautiful as is. http://www.villaterracemuseum.org/weddings.html
    The venue is $2800 on an off-season (we’ll just have it late April so its warm enough) and that includes use of podium and projector, on-site services, etc.

    My friend rented a similar historic hall for like $1500 and didn’t have to decorate at all – that’ll save a ton for you!

    My friends have become frugal and complained about how expensive the place I picked is. I almost want to ask “You really want me to settle for a cheap venue? You can only photoshop so much in your wedding photos, you know…”

  26. amberlee daniel says:

    my fiance and i are currently planning our wedding. Our estimated costs so far add up to 35,000. That estimate does, however, include the rings and dress. We are saving money by not renting a venue for the ceremony – friend’s back yard works. We also do not have an officiate’s fee – my husband-to-be’s grandfather is a minister & is not charging us. Also, we’re doing it on a friday instead of a saturday, which gives us a huge price cut on everything. The one unnecessary splurge we’re doing (small fireworks show during the reception), is only 2500 of that.

    • Janelle says:

      Yes!! I want fireworks at my reception too!! Ive always loved them & we had our first kiss during one so it seems appropriate. Good to know the cost isnt THAT exorbinant! Now I just have to find a venue in a place that will let me (we originally were looking at places in the city but they have a NO firework policy so unless we get a permit ($$) i think thats out

  27. ET says:

    We’re just in the “talking” stages of wedding ideas, yet, we’re so torn. We don’t want a blow-out wedding, but don’t know how not to. You all think you have big weddings, but try this on for size: We are both from HUGE, FAIRLY CLOSE families so without counting our cousin’s kids (and eliminating some older cousins my fiance is not close to) we EACH have at least 100 FAMILY members, but that’s not even touching our really close friends!

    We’ve thought about a destination wedding so that the ACTUAL number of guests traveling would be less, but then realized that we’d still have 100+ who would make the effort to travel to see us get married. Aside from that, I really want a wedding in the city we met, fell in love, and live (unfortunately, that’s home to ALL our guests too-or at least close proximity).

    I feel blessed that there are so many people who love us and are close to us, but when considering our options, I’m not sure there are many. I know you can suggest only inviting an intimate number and then having a big party reception, but when we consider that we always say: well, we have to invite immediate family and some of the extended is like immediate family and if we invite some extended and not all that would be bad, and then there are friends that are as close as immediate family…and it goes on…

    What can we do? I feel like it is between eloping (literally telling no one) and somewhere around a 500 person guest list and yes, we know all of those 500 very well (and there will still be people cut who will feel slighted). Aaahhhh…

    • elorrie says:

      Cake and punch? But in all seriousness, what about a “standing reception” with just heavy appetizers? You can fit more people in a smaller venue, plus save money on food as well as rentals for tables, chairs etc.

    • Dawn says:

      ET, if you know 500 people who live as close as you say then you’re set. Ask them to gift you a wedding instead of presents. Surely someone in your family knows how to decorate a cake. Some one else can gift you the photography.
      Have a potluck style reception. If each person brings a dish, you’re guaranteed to have a feast.
      Hit the garage sales for silk flowers. I walked away from a sale with a bolt of tole that I paid a dollar for. A couple months later it was used in my stepsister’s wedding. We made a couple dozen pewbows (some of which ended up being worn by some younger relatives), a beautiful backdrop, and livened up the plain metal arch the church provided (especially when we lit the fabric up with some Christmas lights that we pulled out of seasonal storage).

      A large family should be seen as a blessing, not a burden. This especially goes for when your getting married. It’s not unfortunate that all your relatives live so close, it’s a real good thing!
      (PS. You can do it! Don’t give up!)

  28. Cari says:

    Well, my wedding cost around 500.00, we were married at sunset in a park by the lake. All the guest held light candles in a circles around us as we were married by our priest, after words we had several Ramadas rented out and had hamburgers and hotdogs with dancing by hanging lanterns on the ramada’s music by dj’s we also provided kegs of beer and wine. it was so much fun. Everyone loved our wedding and say everytime they see the sun set in early summer they remember it well.

  29. Tina says:

    My mother found the flower girl’s dress at a consignment shop that caters to children’s clothing. For almost nothing, seriously, pretty much nothing, my flower girl will be the princess that matches the bride! Unless the child/ren spilled something on the formalwear, not much a good dry cleaning can’t fix!

  30. Tanya says:

    I am pretty amazed by people spending that much on their wedding day. My guess is that it’s a North American thing – achieving happiness through consumption and material objects and showing that off to as many people as possible. Weddings are about two people – the ones getting married. And for me – a very private experience. Only true friends and the immediate families. The rest is unnecessary decoration.

  31. Tyler Moore says:

    Ya know I just done the math and based on the example above it will run me about $3500 all together. Its amazing how much of that stuff you can do yourself and it wont cost a dime.

  32. pc says:

    wow…not even close to a ny long island wedding which are on a grand scale…ours was almost $50,000 if you include honeymoon and the 3 rings and we really didn’t do anything super extravagant.
    but we got $36,000 in gift money back and most of the wedding our parents paid for…otherwise of course it would not have been quite so grand and we would have planned differently…this is for just 100 guests……

    • Lee says:

      I am reading all these comments about people cutting costs and their venues costing less than $1,000…can someone please mention as to where they are having these weddings? Especially those on the East Coast. I live in NJ and grew up on Long Island. I have been calling literally every wedding venue I have come across and the cheapest one I have found is $84 a person for a Sunday night – $16,000 for the venue, food, tax, tip – nothing else! . My dream would to have a simple outdoor summer night wedding under a tent but after researching relentlessly to find a place to have such an event and than add on tent rentals, table rentals, etc. etc. it costs just as much if not more than going to a venue.

      • Karen says:

        Amen to that! We are looking in VT and it is near impossible to find anything under $14,000 just for the food and site. Rentals are not much cheaper by the time you hire a caterer! There should be an easier way…….

  33. Lora says:

    I have found some people spend a lot and some can manage keeping it in constraints. I am getting married in a month and we have managed to attempt to reign our budget under control. I found a wonderful country club in Renton, WA (right outside of Seattle), we get the whole country club for ceremony and reception, sit down dinner with Steak and Chicken, and a beautiful setting for a very reasonable price (around $5,000 for 120 people). I found a friend’s aunt who is doing my flowers, I got about $3,000 worth of flowers for less than $1000. I found a photographer who ran a special around Christmas ( I get him and his assistant for 8 hours for less than $900). I get all rights to my pictures after it is over. I have had my dress for some time and it was very inexpensive to alter. Where I really decided to cut costs was on my cake. I don’t feel I need a $500 cake. I went with a grocery store that delivers whose cake I like. I feel I am giving myself an awesome day for around $12,000. The main key to my “wedding shopping” is I would tell people my budget price and most would work within that price. I feel your wedding day should be a special day, but you shouldn’t have to take out a loan just to have it happen. Budget and baragain. Ebay is a great resource to finding anything, I bought tons of the little stuff that add up quickly for a 1/4 of the price that the bridal chain stores were asking for them.

    • Jaycee says:

      Which country club did you use? I’m planning a Seattle-area wedding and so far, I can’t afford any of the venues I’ve looked at. Thanks.

  34. JR says:

    This is a ridiculously under-priced, frugal wedding. I have no idea where/how you could come up with these numbers.

    $40/plate, $500 for dress/tux? Flowers/cake/DJ… no way. I live on the East Coat and 30k would be normal for a “modest/normal/nice” wedding up to 65k for a Newport, RI affair on the water. I can’t find anything less than $65 a plate at a banquet hall in a medicore town, nevermind a hotel and forget anything near the water – cost 8k -12k just to rent a place (nothing included) by the water around here.

    And flowers… a single centerpiece made by a florist cost about $75, 10 tables… plus brides flowers, bridesmaids flowers, flower girls, grooms flower etc. etc…. way more than $750.

    Now honestly you can’t even get a dress in David’s Bridal for under $500….

    • Julie says:

      You obviously aren’t looking in the right places to find good deals! I live in the heart of the East Coast, and am planning my wedding for NO MORE than $5,000.

      $40 a plate is WAY too expensive!!! You can get a very nice, catered meal for roughly $10-$20/plate; probably even less if you find a caterer that you/your family knows.

      $500 for both a tux/dress is almost too much, my dress $238 from David’s Bridal (I dont see how you think you cant find a dress for under $500… The only dresses I tried on were under $300) and my fiance and his boys are using suits they already have.

      There are ways to make your day thousands of dollars cheaper, you just have to pull out all of the favors, I can guarantee you can find everything you need for hundreds cheaper. Utilize your resources!!

      I am getting married by the river on a plantation, and we are being charged less than $1,000 for the venue.

      • pc says:

        10 to 20 a plate? so that’s a burger, fries, a coke, a salad, and a cupcake for dessert?
        oh no…no no no guests expect all you can eat and drink of every kind of food imaginable otherwise you will be talked about!!!!

        • mj says:

          that’s a sad response. i was able to get a caterer for $20/head, which entailed a buffet of steak tips, chicken & three types of pasta. the proprietor owned a local restaurant (in CT) and was looking to get into the catering business. it is absolutely possible to get a delicious meal for that price.

          however, what saddens me is the “guests expect” comment. one would hope that guests would be happy with a night of food, fun & dancing with all your closest friends and family. a wedding should not be about what guests expect; that’s just cheapening the money and effort that you put into it. it’s your wedding, no matter what your wealthy aunt or father’s coworkers thinks of it.

        • julie says:

          @PC: Um, no.. You are sadly mistaken.
          Our menu consists of: hour d’oeuvres for our guests while they await our arrival post-wedding/wedding photographs. The main course is buffet style: Steak/Chicken/Salmon choices along with copious amounts of side dishes. We will provide non-alcoholic beverages: Iced Tea, Pink Lemonade, and Water. As well as alcoholic beverages: Champagne/Sparkling Wine, Red/White Wine, and Beer. Our goal is not to have people get beyond wasted, we are not big drinkers and do not feel like babysitting anyone during OUR day. There will be enough alcoholic beverages for everyone of age to have 3 glasses of champagne, 3 glasses of wine and 3 Beers.
          The amount of food we are getting will feed about 150 people, and we are only planning to have around 100 guests.. I assume that will be okay to those people who “expect” an all you can eat buffet?
          I am utilizing my resources and an old boss of mine who owns a local highly- popular restaurant has offered to cater the wedding for the flat price $1,000.

          Guests don’t and shouldn’t “expect” anything other than to have a wonderful time and enjoy great music, great food, and great company… It doesn’t matter what the guest wants, it is OUR day and those invited are lucky enough to share it with us.

          Last time i checked, there wasn’t a “guest expectations” check list because honestly, it doesn’t matter what the guests think.. As long as my future husband and I enjoy our day and time with our closest family and friends that should be the only thing that matters.

        • Stacie says:

          my food is about $12.00 a plate and we are getting; chicken, rigatoni, meatballs, ham, and all the salads and about 3 side dishes. I also live in a very small community. But the cateror I have hired does amazing work. So you can get great food at a very reasonible price.

    • Tiffany says:

      Every dress I have chose as a favorite on the Davids Bridal website is under $500. I refuse to go higher. Living in NYC, I found a venue for $40 a head, open bar, DJ/MC, decorations, table lines of your choice of colors, unlimited juice/soda/water, lighting, special effects, bridal suite, buffet (choose 6 from the menu). I would only have to supply the cake. That comes to $4000 for 100 guests. But then you have photography, videography, rings, honeymoon, dress, tux, favors, thank you cards, etc. But some place in NYC want $85 per head and then you would still have to pay a rental fee. I don’t want to go over $7000. I want to enjoy my honeymoon with a clear head and not have to think about money spent.

  35. shannon says:

    $500 for “Dress/Tux” …..Is that like $250 a piece? Good luck with that figure.

  36. Laura says:

    I bought my wedding dress for just under $500 with alterations. When people asked what we wanted for a wedding present I asked what is your best talent. Turned out a lot of my family had hidden talents I did not know about. Cousin Beth played the organ. Uncle Tom, takes lovely pictures and has done a few weddings. I made my own veil. I made a cathedral and my tiara was a ribbon with lovely crystals i could keep in hair all day because it didn’t bother my head. It cost me $18. I could not believe how easy this was. LADIES those things are a RIP OFF for what they sell them for. My best friend went to floral school and made my flowers. If you find the ring you love, that price on the ring is not the bottom line. There at most stores room to negotiate a price. Buy a simple pretty shoe and decorate them yourself with a hot glue gun with a buckle, rhinestones, or flowers, or all of the above. Also almost everyone has a relative or close family friend that is amazingly talented at making beautiful cakes. Pew bows were made with inexpensive fabric. We wrapped them around the pew, slipped the two ends through the key ring, and inexpensive roses, fern and babies breath went through them. They were about $3 each. Be creative. Think outside the box. Stamp this day as your own. The best part of my inexpensive wedding was how so many people felt apart of it.

    • Molly says:

      hear hear! the best part of my wedding was also that we were able to include our family & friends in the proceedings. much more significant than giving out favors, i would think.

  37. kellsie says:

    It seems to be for a lot of you that you care so much about what people think that you have to throw a HUGE wedding and spend vast and ridiculous amounts of money just to keep others happy.

    What does this say about you and your relationship?

    I have here a great solution to your desperate cries for help of how to save money on a wedding….
    don’t get married!!!

    I totally agree with the first comment.

    A divorce will cause you stress, and LOTS of money once you find a good lawyer!!

    Why do you have to have a piece of paper and a ring to prove your commitment to each other? I prefer knowing it in my heart. And if you have to have all these material things to feel commited to your significant other and vice versa (rings, marriage license, huge wedding) maybe you should re-evaluate your relationship.

    • Julie says:

      If you are going to be a troll and be so negative, then don’t comment on a wedding website. There is no place for your attitude or negative comments on this site. If you’re going to be so rotten and foul to other women who are trying to plan and budget their wedding, then you should truly rethink your personality and who you are as a person… If you think that people shouldn’t have a nice ceremony because it will most likely end up in divorce, then you should be the one re-evaluating your relationship, if you’re even in one. Anyone who has the nerve to bash the beauty of a wedding ceremony obviously has no business being on a website that is discussing the average cost of a wedding. Don’t be jealous just because women are conversing about the price of their wedding, and definitely don’t speak unless you have something more to contribute than a bad attitude and shitty advice.

      • Kristen says:

        Hi Julie,

        Although what Kellsie wrote may be putting it bluntly, she isn’t off the mark. Everyone has their own way of showing their love. For some (and I am sure in this economy, a growing many), their love does not have to be shown through an elaborate wedding. From other comments you’ve made today and responses, I applaud you for keeping your cost down to $5,000. That’s amazing in times where the average wedding costs $35,000 (not kidding, these are real figures!)

        I don’t think Kellsie is jealous. I think she is practical and is only trying to shed some light on something in which many women have been blinded by.

        Unfortunately, it goes both ways on here. People are also making fun of those who are trying to have a cheaper wedding and save costs, as well. No one is exempt from snide remarks. Just take it in stride.

        I am currently reading a book on weddings today called, “One Special Day”by Rebecca Mead, and it should practically be required reading before a woman even thinks of getting married. It is really sad how the wedding industry has turned us into their own money making trolls. Let’s just be smart about this and be reasonable and not lose our heads.

        • Kristen says:

          Sorry, the books is called “One Perfect Day”

          • Julie says:

            I can see how my earlier post was worded, I apologize for sounding like a b*tch. I am not used to posting online, and my personality (to those who know me.. obviously no one on here) can sometimes be sarcastic and bittersweet. I was in one of my moments, and only wrote with good intentions, but with a smart mouth (I deal with a lot of angry people all day, and I find salvation in wedding planning..thus the midday posts..). It was never my intention to come off as abrasive, but once I re-read I can see how it can come off as just that. I do see her point, but I don’t think it is necessary to say such things on a website where women are trying to budget their wedding, the day when we vow to spend the rest of our lives with our soulmate. We don’t wanna be thinking about divorce (even though statistics say it’s 50/50.. ) before we even tie the knot.

            I’m going to Barnes&Noble tomorrow to purchase that book! Ahh! Thanks :) How have I not heard of that yet?

    • Nat says:

      Let me guess – 10 years and he still hasn’t proposed. Or divorced already.
      `frugality is great but no point trudging day to day if you’re going to be a cynic about things.

  38. Kimberly says:

    We are doing a super inexpensive wedding. Our officia t and servers together with an organist are $300. Our church and reception hall is going to be $100 for renting it and we have family members that will help make the food before hand so about $250. Plus a friend of ours sold us her aisle runner and decorations with invitations and all for $200. My Sister in law is making the bouquets and boutonnieres for about $30 with 50% off of Michael’s. I have 4 bridesmaids and 2groomsmen plus bride and groom and parents and grandparents out of that. Drinks will be margaritas and cocktails. Might be around $300-500. We look for awesome sales at the store to buy things that go in it. Our photographer is a work alone photographer and is charging us $400 even with editing. Our friend did the engagement pictures for free. She is also doing our videography for us. We have church volunteers that will serve the food and drinks for people. As long as we clean up afterwards, we get the $100 back too. Plus our dj is a friend, he is doing it for free from our computer and using our music. Champagne glasses can be found easily for $1 a piece. You can go plastic too and get 2 for $1. My dress is $155 and my husband to be’s tux will be $75. Most of the time black, white, and red is easy if you wait till after valentines day. All the guest book stuff and dj request papers is handmade through Photoshop by me. Signs for drinks and all as well. My mother in law can print it all out at work in black and white for free. I can always add red designs later. =) hope this helps!

  39. Hillary says:

    I did not grow up dreaming of my wedding. I do not buy into (barely) any of the things that they say you NEED for a wedding. Yet…I am still going to spend at least $20K on my wedding, I think. I started budgeting and I’m not sure where to cut back – it’s a lot of small expenses that add up. We have a guest list of about 200 (although all of them will not come) and are DIYing almost everything and holding it at cheap venue.

    The issues are that:
    a) we have a TON of friends (that 200 is maybe 1/3 family)
    b) we love parties and celebrating
    c) we are people who pride ourselves on being stylish and interesting

    Therefore we WANT to throw a big fun, cool event to showcase our love and our life.

    It should be noted that that $20K will be for a weekend event, but still. It’s ridic. (Oh, also our biggest expense is our photographer – all this hard work WILL live on!)

  40. beth says:

    5 yrs ago my husband and I started to paln a wedding and circumstances arose where we had to cancel everything and just got married by the justice of the peace where there was no one to share the day with us. However, its been 5 yrs. and we are now planning our big day and having a ceromony in front of our family and friends. Since I am quite frugal and simply refuse to pay full price for (almost) everything, I have a couple fo ideas that have cut our wedding cost in half. If the wedding day is not for another yr. buy the dresses that you want when they are out of season. (for i.e if your wedding is in summer wait till the summer dresses go on clearnace buy it..and if anytign happesn such as weight gain/loss just get it alternatied) Buy the decortions in bulk from — buy the flowers that are season — ) Here is another tip — buy a little at a time — for i.e — one week we may buy the table confettii and ribbions — next week we may buy the guest book and pens — and so forth — always look for lower price — here’s another i.e — a dress from one maker maybe over 300.00 however searching(which takes forever somtimes) maybe proudce a dress thats under 100 (happed with my bridesmaid dress) — if u know some that knows somehone use what they have and ask if the favor can be used as a gift for i.e — my husband is a volunteer firmen who knows someone that give us the recepetion hall for not even half the price —

  41. Chris Kelly says:

    Have you tried BandBidder.com to reduce the cost of your wedding entertainment?

  42. Melissa says:

    I just got married last fall in Madison, WI and had a traditional wedding. Until the wedding, I considered myself a fairly smart 26-year-old when it comes to finances.

    My challenge was that I’ve approached finances very rationally all my life, but with the wedding, the emotional hype built up around it caused me to throw all common sense out to make that day perfect. I ended up spending 34K on my wedding (however, we received $10,000 in cash gifts from 250 guests and $17,500 from our parents to offset costs). It is no wonder that weddings create a billion dollar industry. Too many young ladies and their fiances likely do what I did and act on emotions when it comes to what has been branded as the “most important day of their lives.”

    It is crucial to think about what you want after the wedding and how you are going to fund it to keep everything in check. It is also important to remember wedding vendors are running businesses too and they want your money! Don’t be afraid to tell them no. Also, if you don’t get what you agreed on, don’t be afraid to ask for a portion of the deposit back. We had one of our dinner entrees with the wrong side dish, and the reception site agreed to reimburse us for our room deposit.

    Finally, remember the hidden costs. Our marriage license was $115.00, it cost us $66.50 to get copies of our marriage license and it was $167.00 to dry clean my dress! By the time the wedding was over, the last thing I wanted to do was compare pricing on the dry cleaning, but I clearly should have. However, don’t be suprised when the hidden costs keep adding up. Be smart with the budgeting the entire way through.

  43. Molly says:

    Nicki —

    The easiest way to keep a wedding cheap is to have a small one. We had 160 guests, because I have a huge family and could afford to do so. However, a 40- or 60-guest wedding would have been significantly cheaper. Other than that, do as much as you can yourself.

    Good luck!

  44. Louise M says:

    Great article. While getting married is far off for me, it is something that I’d like to do after I graduate. I don’t want a lavish honeymoon or ceremony/reception. I just don’t find those things important. I’d like an intimate occasion with friends and family.

  45. Nicki says:

    Been reading the comments for a while, but I’m dismayed because what people have lauded as affordable is way out there for me. I cannot afford a $10K ceremony. That’s over a 1/3 of what I make in a year….with two jobs!…and BILLS!!

    Any ideas? Any solutions? Anything?!?

    • Janelle says:

      I agree, while $12 maybe less than half of what the “avergage” person pays its still a lot for some people, and I refuse to go into serious debt over a wedding but I do want an amazing, unique, FUN wedding.

      My budget is around $4k (but I have $5 alloted in case of any accidentals). I plan on having a very diy kind of wedding as far as centerpieces, invitations, flowers, etc. Our families have connections to florists and wholesale flower places so we’re using his parents buy the flowers (as a wedding present) & others to make the arrangements/borquets. I also really like what people are saying about growing the flowers themselves, very cool!

      Im also all about pretty but pratical. Things like Jordan Almonds, or little silver bells are cute, but not at all practical. If I cant give my guests something they can use and enjoy why waste the money?? Same kind of mentality with the small things like a guest book, most people never look at it again why spend upwards of $20 on one..and the super fancy pen to go with it?? Again, thats something you can do yourself for sooo much cheaper.

      Also, to save money you can have a small wedding and a bigger reception. Get married at your local church (our’s doesnt charge for members) or a park & then head off to your reception site.

      Lastly, dont spend money on things because you feel you HAVE to do them. For me, it was an open bar. most of my immediate friends and family dont really drink, so an open bar for the few extended family seemed not worth it, but i didnt want to seem rude/cheap. Im still not sure how we’re going to work it but im so glad, ive seen here where so many people didnt do it that way.

    • Nikki says:

      Hi Nicki,
      I’m starting to plan my wedding and have been searching around for good deals. A lot of articles advice having a DIY wedding or enlisting the help of friends and family but I’m not artistic and neither is anyone I know. With that said here are a few ideas I have for trimming costs while still buying services:
      1. Buy your invites from a online discount stationary store. The best deal I found was 100 invites, rsvps, envelopes, and thank you cards for about $100-$125. Typical packages from a non-discount retailer was about $400-$500. Also, though it’s understandable that you’ll want invites that you like and are excited about, remember that you’ll only be looking at them until you seal the envelope. After that it will be hanging on your guest’s fridge for weeks on end next to the chinese take out menu. This could help if you’re wavering between two price points :-)
      2. Flower centerpieces are crazy-expensive. Even a cheaper ready-to-order vase of flowers that are not “wedding specific” runs at least $35-$40. My advice is to skip the flower centerpieces all together. I’m planning on having a candle-scape for my centerpieces. I’ve looked on e-bay and for about $80 I can pretty much buy enough floating candles and glass vases/bowls/containers/etc for 10-12 tables. Colored stones could be added cheaply but I’ll probably just add some food coloring to the water and use a mirror as a base to reflect the candlelight. (Even I can handle filling a vase with water and lighting a candle). You can find some pics online to see if you like the concept. If you really want flowers centerpieces but rather not pay a florist’s price you could always buy your own flowers from a florist, wholesaler, or even the grocery store and arrange them yourself. Before deciding on a candle-scape I toyed with the idea of taking a flower arranging class with my future mother-in-law and talking with my grocer to see if he could order different varieties of purple flowers (one of my wedding colors) to enure that he had the right color flowers available at the right time. To make this favor more of a reasonable request I would have pre-paid for the flowers and accepted whatever the varieties were that he typically orders. Twelve dozen flowers at $12-$20 each from the grocer or florist is still cheaper then the less expensive ready made arrangements you can get from the florist. Lastly, you could buy a pretty silk flower branch (such as cherry blosom), submerge it in water in a glass cylender, and place a floating candle on top for about $12-$15 total. It’s elegent, pretty, and since it’s under water no one will be examing it closely to see if it’s fake or not :-)
      3. Wedding dress: again, e-bay. There are several companies based in China that will custom make your dress for you. Just send them your measurements (have a tailor take them and make sure to specify it’s for a wedding dress since there are a few additional measurements to take) and in a few months you’ll have your custom made dress for about $150-$200. The dresses are knock-offs from well known designers, which is unethical, but why are designers selling a dress for $3,000 when it clearly costs only a few hundred to make? Ok, I may be stretching my reasoning a bit there but it is an alternative. If I go this route I would try on dresses at a salon so I could see what I liked in person, see if I could find that design available from the Chinese manufacter online (they have hundreds) and send away for it in plenty of time before my wedding. This way, if the dress is of poor quality or was just disapointing (i.e. not like the bridal store version) I still have time to buy from a store and I’m only set back a few hundred bucks, which in the grand scheme of money I could be saving, isn’t such a bad risk as far as I’m concerned. Also, as far as having something custom made for you without you there to try it on; I once had a lether jacket made fom me like this when I was overseas with the Army (I was in Iraq and the tailor was in Turkey). The jacket is really soft leather, lined, fits life a glove, and cost a lot less then what brand name “pleather” jackets cost at the mall. I also read somewhere where a bride bought her dress used from her dry-cleaner! Apperantly, a lot of brides bring there dresses in to get cleaned but never pick them up. The owner had so many dresses that she was selling them for $40 just to get rid of them. Another ideas for buying used is to see if freinds, co-workers, or family knows a semi-recent bride who initially wanted to keep her dress but now relizes it’s taking up to much room in the spare closet. This way you would get to try the dress on in person and, because it’s from an aquaintance instead of a clsoe friend, no one would be saying “Didn’t Becky wear that same thing at her wedding last month???”
      4. Reception/cermony sites. There are plenty of sites with beautiful surroundigs, views, scenery, etc but if the place opperates as a business you’ll pay for it. Instead, look for equalvants that are city or state owned. For example, there is a botanical garden near me that charges $600 for a cermony, $200 an hour for pictures , and $8 for parking (I don’t know how much for a reception). About a 10 minute drive aways is a city-owned greenhouse that grows flowers and plants for city parks and holiday decorations but also has several ornate gardens on site. They charge $150 for a ceremony, $60 an hour for pictures, and have free parking. State parks also have sites with great views and outdoor shelters that are simirly priced or even cheaper. The shelter could be dressed up with strands of Christmas lights or paper laterns, pretty tableclothers, LED candle light, and borrowed place settings. Most people have a service of 8 and might not mind lending it to you for an evening. True, the entire recpetion won’t match, but each table would have a complete set of it’s own, you would cut down cost on rentals, and although I’m sure your guests would notice, I doubt most of them would care. Besides, you could always justify it by saying “I wanted something laid back and ecletic” or “I wanted something sophicated but ecletic” or “I wanted something ____ but ecletic”. Basically, I think calling the look ecletic should quiet down anyone who really has a hard time accepting unorthodox wedding reception dishware. Lastly, any kind of community cener should be much more affordable to rent then a hall, banquet cener, or other privately owned reception site. You could see if one is available in your city, a nearby town for an additonal fee, or if freinds or family has one in their housing/condo/apartment complex. It could be decorated in the same ways as above. True, additional items may have to be rented, such as chairs or a dancefloor, but as long as the total cost of the rentals is less then renting a business place for an afternoon, you could still be coming out way ahead.
      I hope this helps! I tried including ideas that I haven’t seen in bridal magizines or advice colums.

  46. A.S. Josef says:

    i wish my wedding will cost like this amount (20K) . as far as i already calculated. my wedding will cost about 35K plus the first year rental of a new apartment

    • Susan wang says:

      Sweet heart I’m a wedding planner, and I can tell you one thing is, don’t be in debt just to get married. But one thing you might consider to do is, instead of people giving you gift, you should ask for money. A lots of wedding I have done I have seem people bring gifts that the bridal and groom don’t need, or they have it already. Provide the guest with a fancy envolope, when sent out invitation noted. People will understand. Will good luck to you.

      • lydia says:

        That is ridiculous. Any wedding planner or even any bridal magazine should be able to tell you that asking for ANY type of gift is considered EXTREMELY poor etiquette. if money is what you prefer, tell your bridal party and/or family and let them spread the news by word of mouth.

        • Julie says:

          It is not poor etiquette to ask for money on your wedding day. In fact, it is very practical for those who are not fortunate enough to be well off. For many people, the wedding is going to put a strain on the wallet/pocket book, so it is not foolish to ask for money instead of meaningless frivolous items that will probably only be used once. As long as it is asked for in the proper manner, there is nothing wrong about asking for money. If you are considering asking for money as a gift instead of the TRADITIONAL registry (just because it’s non-traditional, doesn’t make it poor etiquette), figure out the best way to word asking for money. Many people place a “Wishing Well” by the guest book, with a nice quirky poem coaxing people to throw in some money. For my wedding, we are not having a registry, and plan to ask people to make donations to us, so we can make a down payment on a house as well as donate a majority of the money to a wild life conservancy of our choice. If you let people know what you are going to be using the money for, they will be more inclined to give to you because they are already aware of what the money is going to. Again, it is not “POOR ETIQUETTE” to ask for money instead of gifts, you just have to make sure you word it correctly.

          • anon says:

            It’s standard in many cultures, actually.

          • Amanda says:

            Asking for ANYTHING from your guests is extremely tacky and almost insulting. Isn’t it a given that most people just give cash or check in a card, anyway? Honestly, if I got a wedding invite where I was instructed what to give as a gift, I wouldn’t bother going.

          • Nony says:

            If you plan on asking for money for yourself you should think of a pretty creative way of presenting your case to your guests. Most guests will give cash gifts anyway if the bride and groom do not express specific needs. I for one, am happy when I am instructed what to give… It is less stress on me, I know they’ll use it if they ask for it!! I can’t tell you how much useless sh*t I have seen brides get because they felt bad asking for specific gifts.

            I see that Julie is asking for cash donations to donate to a wild life conservancy, that is a VERY selfLESS and thoughtful thing to do. Instead of gathering money for themselves, they are gathering money to donate elsewhere. I think that in a case like that, making it blatantly obvious that the money will be going to an outside cause is more than appropriate. After all is said and done, a nice thank you card stating how much money was given to the conservancy would add a nice touch, and show the guests their money went to the good cause!!

            Amanda, as long as it is written and worded correctly, there should be no *insult* to asking for something specific. It is customary for the couple to be registered at a number of stores with ideas of what to give as gifts; isn’t that pretty much the same thing as “instructing what to give as a gift”? The bride and groom request what they need to start their lives together as man and wife and hopefully those who they invite will understand their situation if they decide to ask for cash for personal use.

          • Amanda says:

            Sure, specifying a charity to make a donation to is great… but to go as far as to tell your guests that you want money for yourselves is completely outrageous. I’ve never even heard of a wedding registry before so obviously, I’d automatically give cash or a check as a gift. I live in Chicago and have been to weddings here as well as Washington DC, Canada, and TX… not to mention the dozens of weddings I’ve worked at during high school and college when I worked at a banquet hall and never has anyone mentioned a wedding registry or flat out told their guests what they want for a present. Hell, your guests don’t technically have to give you ANYTHING so these people who demand cash from their guests must really think highly of themselves.

          • Cleop says:

            Yes Julie IT IS POOR ETIQUETTE to ASK for ANYTHING! I am not sure who informed you that it was not but I am going to assume you learned this behavior from your friends who felt free to ask for such things as “honey money” ( money for the honeymoon) and money for every other selfish and self centered interest that I have witnessed first hand these days.

            Consider that you are honoring your guests with an invitation and that you should honor that invitation to them with the delight and gratitude in their prescence at your wedding- I said prescence not PRESENTS. It is not in good taste to assume what they are to gift you with nor should you be telling them ideas in a random fashion such as multiple papers that fall from invitations detailing your wants, desires and where to get them. Really, American Society has become so crude and coarse to the point where mothers have bridal showers for their own daughters ( unheard of in polite society) and people tell their guests what they want and where to get it…crude, crass, uncultured!

            Rather you should register at the store of your choice and tell your family and close friends where you have done so and let anyone who ASKS you or them where some ideas might be found. Otherwise, please refrain from this bridezilla behavior where you think the whole world revolves around you and your requests for such stupid things as starbucks cards, scuba lessons, ad nasuem. Get a clue…the whole world is not about your big wedding day. Consider that your guests may have: taken their precious time to attend your wedding, perhaps incurred the cost of travel, hotels, meals and probably already attended a bridal shower all at considerable expense and perhaps dont feel the same urgency to purchase your honeymoon scuba lessons that you have in mind. Furthermore, step outside yourself for a moment and be grateful that someone wants to share your special day by attending and giving you a gift at all. Gratitude is sorely lacking and it is evident in your request for gifts and a sure indicator of your lack of good breeding.

        • Christina says:

          Wow. A wedding is a celebration of the couple getting married. They are starting a life together and have invited guests to celebrate as well. It is not rude to ask for money instead of a gift.

          Amanda, so you always live life taking from people instead of giving? It sounds like you are bitter about something that has nothing to do with requesting money instead of a gift. Have you not matured enough to realize that each of the weddings you were invited to, the couple’s who invited you are paying between $30- $50 on the low end just for you to come and have fun. And you are upset because they have requetsed something in return. You are the rude one in this case.

          • Amanda says:

            Christina, you’re insane. When in my response did I say I live my life taking from others instead of giving? Or that I don’t believe in giving a wedding gift? I’m saying it’s rude for the couple to flat out request money. You obviously didn’t read what I said, so I’ll say it again. I’ve been to several weddings and used to work in a banquet hall where we had weddings every weekend. I’ve never ever seen an actual gift table at a wedding reception. To me, it’s common knowledge that you just give cash or a check in a card. If you’re getting married and find it necessary to instruct your guests on what they should give you, then you’re obviously having a wedding reception for the wrong reason.

          • Amanda says:

            Christina, you obviously didn’t read what I said, so I’ll say it again. People go to weddings knowing they have to give a gift. When did I say I go through life taking from others or that I don’t believe in giving wedding gifts? (That sentence in your response actually made me laugh out loud.) I’ve been to several weddings and used to work at a banquet hall where we had weddings every weekend. I’ve never ever seen an actual gift table set up… everyone know to put cash or a check in a card and give that as their gift. What I did see a lot of are those card boxes. People would walk into the reception, drop off their cards into the card box, and be on their way. If you’re planning a wedding and decide it’s a good idea to instruct your guests on what they should be giving to you, then you’re obviously having a wedding reception for the wrong reason.

        • Ali says:

          Honestly asking for money instead of a gift really isn’t a big deal like most people already said it’s more in they way you ask. My uncle got married he was older already owned a house and everything in it. They said that they would PREFER money so they can have an extra fun time on their honeymoon. They had a “card box” but of course if you say I “prefer” money does not mean that you can’t give a gift instead. I think it would be best to give your guest both options in case your guests do not feel comfortable giving out money. It defiantly depends on knowing your audience. It’s not like you’re asking for a specific price. That would be weird. I would rather buy a nice card and give money because at least I know they will love and use my gift. :)
          If your family loves you and that’s what you really want I don’t see why they would have a problem with it. They are going to a free party anyway.
          The only reason I would think it was inappropriate, is if you made all of your guest fly out to see you get married in Hawaii or some far destination. Because all your guests already had to pay a lot to be there at your wedding. I probably wouldn’t even ask for a gift at all. I really just don’t know how people do that to their guests anyway.

          • Ashley says:

            Most of you guys aren’t understanding the point. Asking for ANYTHING from your guests is tacky. They are your guests and you invited them to celebrate your special day. You don’t throw a reception to collect cash, checks, and gifts. If the reception is too expensive and you’re planning on using some of the money you get as a gift to cover the costs, then you shouldn’t be having a wedding in the first place.There is absolutely no reason to make it known that you’d prefer money and I feel embarrassed for anyone that does that. I just got married in the spring and I would just die of shame if I actually thought it was a good idea to include a little note in the invitations that said, “FYI, we’d appreciate cash over any stupid boxed gifts you planned on giving us. Thanks in advance.”

            And Ali… since when is a wedding considered a “free party?” Last time I checked, going to a reception and handing over a card full of money is not considered “free.” I just went to a wedding last weekend with my husband and we gave $250 in the card. In the 4 years we’ve been together, I’m pretty sure we’ve never ever spent $250 on drinks and dinner for 1 night (except for our own wedding reception, of course.) How is that free?

          • Anon says:

            I think whether or not it’s proper etiquette to ask for cash gifts at a wedding completely relies on your guests. Just take the temperature; if you have more modern or laid back friends and family who are attending, it would probably go over just fine. More traditional family? It may be better to go the gift registry route. Hopefully you’re fortunate enough to have an understanding group of family and friends either way.

            Also–Adding your “Honeyfund” or “Donate to a charity” link on your wedding website will show guests exactly where their cash gifts are going, if that’s what you’re aiming for. My sister had a HoneyFund set up, and to add to the fun of it you could buy the couple specific goodies–like a couple’s massage, champagne, dinner, etc.–all for them to enjoy on their honeymoon.

            If charitable or honeymoon donations are your only “registries” available for guests to peruse, they may get the hint you’re looking for monetary gifts. Those who are less internet savvy may be clued in to just drop a card for you at the wedding. Otherwise, from your more creative friends and relatives you could end up with some amazing and unique personal gifts.

  47. Molly says:

    I got married in August 2009, and for about 160 guests in CT we spent ~$12000. To do so, we:
    – got married in my parents back yard;
    – had a very simple dress made by my mother;
    – grew all of the flowers;
    – made the invites by hand;
    – found a local teacher who DJ’d school dances to DJ our party for cheap;
    – had my uncle be the photographer; and
    – found a local restaurant chef & owner who was trying to get into the catering business and charged only $20/head. He also helped us get napkins & tableclothes for very cheap through his supplier ($2/tablecloth vs $14/tablecloth which was quoted by the tent company).

    Our largest expenses were the ring ($2000 – custom & sans diamonds), tent & tables ($3500) and food & drink ($2500). We did not have programs, trinkets for the guests, or a wedding cake. Without all of the other bells & whistles, we kept things very simple and had a fantastic time. Many of our friends and family have since told us that it was the best wedding they had been to yet.

    It can be done! – and honestly it takes a lot of pressure off when one decides to throw away all of the expensive conventions from the start. It is easy to let things get out of hand, but you just have to keep in mind that it is just one day. I can only remember half of it, already. I think I enjoyed this approach much more than I would’ve the expensive route.

    • jasmi says:

      well i love where u decided to do your wedding

      • Molly says:

        Thank you! I was lucky enough to have that opportunity. Plus, it made things so much easier, since I didn’t have to abide by anyone else’s restrictions. I would entirely recommend it, if one has the available space.

    • non country people wedding atleast 20k says:

      invitations are free!

      you all live in a stone age,.

      use the internet, i/e/ email, messangers,skype,twitter,blogspot,facebook,myspace, if 1 has no net. then use the cell phone , if no cell phone get a member of ur fams to go and reach them by telegraph! lol

      • Molly says:

        I sent out email invitations for anyone under 35, in fact. But my husband’s side of the family is older than mine, and I wasn’t about to send an email invitation to my grandmothers or his 70 year old aunts. I made all mine, so it’s not like it cost much anyway. But the fact remains that people like paper invites.

  48. Over the years, we have seen our target market (women who are between the ages of 19 and 34) redefine their “dream day” in so much as they seek a wedding that is “something different and unique.” The modern day brides-to-be seems to be seeking a venue and planning an event that more accurately represents their age groups life style. Extravagant floral budgets, pretentious stretched limousines and ostentatious gourmet presentations of the past are loosing ground to a more “down to earth” event theme. Gone is the assumption that today’s bride will be married in an ornate church with a reception to follow at a different location and in a facility with polished marble floors, mahogany door cases and sparkling crystal chandeliers. Brides today are tuned in to and turned on by a wedding ceremony and reception event that defines and more closely aligns with who they are.

    This discovery has been the catalyst behind a new wedding venue that just opened in 2010 known as the Silver Hearth Lodge [www.silverhearthlodge.com]. It is the only private mountaintop wedding venue in the southeast [Roanoke, VA] and we have witnessed a new and very strong trend in outdoor weddings and receptions being held at one location. We have confirmed the popularity of this OUTDOOR WEDDING trend for 2011 in that nearly 2 out of every 3 brides who have visited our property have reserved a date to be married there. Our brides seem to want a 1)casual atmosphere, 2)incredible mountain views, 3)cost conscious rental parameters, 4)stunning facilities with attention to detail, 5)the breathless majesty of nature, 6)simple, 7)green oriented and 7)more of a family reunion or holiday celebration type outdoor event. It appears that the wedding industry is gravitating back toward the old fashioned values of family, friends, fun, faith and freedom…

    When our brides, their families and their guests wake up the next morning, we have been told that they feel spiritually renourished, emotionally recharged and financially whole as compared to the by-gone days of “bigger is better.” With this new mindset of our young brides and grooms, perhaps we have a chance of saving the planet.

    In 2010, we have been told that none of our brides spent more than $11,000 and the majority spent less than $7500 of their total wedding & reception event. One of our brides said that “no matter how much you spend on your wedding and reception, you are still married.” One of the most successful receptions was undertaken in a “potluck” fashion and the guests LOVED it.

  49. Melina says:

    My wedding cost around 5700$. The food/reception location/dance floor was the biggest portion of it at 2400$ for 40 people. My mom made my silk flowers because she is a floral arranger. I spent 150$ on my and my bridesmaids hair. The chapel was 675$, my dress was bought at alfred angelo’s and all together with the veil and jewelry, it was approx 700$. My photographer was only 700 because she didn’t print her own pictures but gave me rights to ALL of my photos and they turned out stunning! We didn’t have an open bar but many people didn’t really mind since we had champagne and wine complimentary. My cake was a modest 391$ with the grooms cake included. It is all about where you look and doing your research. Everything turned out wonderfully and we paid for it all in 2 months time and we are completely debt free and not having to worry about paying for a ridiculously lavish 30k wedding (If I was in that much debt for ONE day, I would have a panic attack). So good luck to all brides who would pay that much or more.

    • Jess A says:

      Where did u get married? state? venue? I have a modest budget but lavish dreams, i have been doing extensive research online but haven’t found anything of my liking.

    • non country people wedding atleast 20k says:

      she got married in some hick town usa lmao
      no freaking way! in the city no one could ever get one that cheap

      • Anon says:

        I’m getting married in a high end resort mountain town in southern California and for 75 guests, we’re coming in well under 15K! It doesn’t have to be over 20K if you’re “non country people;” it just depends what you’re willing to omit or do yourself~ =)

      • Dave says:

        The fact is the venue can make or break the wedding budget. As a Mormon, we get our wedding venue for free. We can get married in one of over 130 temples around the world (for free) or at one of our countless Churches around the world (also free). The minister is always, you guessed it, free. And if we chose our receptions can be hosted at the church for free too. There is never a charge in our religion to use the church or temple for a wedding. By the way, that is true if you are Mormon or not.

        That having been said, I have seen countless Mormon receptions not held in the church. Some couples want more romantic locations and less religious locations for their reception. I have also see from very small receptions of only a few guess and almost no decorations to large receptions that must have cost thousands or even tens of thousands to host. Some of the most expensive in little Idaho towns and some of the cheapest, but still nice, receptions have been in San Diego. It really is all up to the couple.

  50. cpascal says:

    Weddings are like Christmas. Some people don’t feel that either one is really significant unless it’s a big and expensive event. Although I’ve never been married, I’ve found that I’ve prefered the quieter Christmases in my life that haven’t cost so much. Also, I’ve heard about simple, diy weddings which were unforgettable.

  51. Jessica says:

    I am getting married in March and estimate that at the end of it, it’ll be about $20,000 for 90 people. We live in a major city, so that’s really not that bad even if it’s more than I would want to spend.
    I shopped around a lot for things like flowers, photographs, DJs. Getting married on a Sunday (cheaper) is also helpful b/c many vendors will discount that day. Also, fiance is in the military so we asked about military discounts.

    However, I wish I’d known more about how important it is for venue to have items like chargers, different linens, nicer chairs, etc. Because of our short engagement, I didn’t ask those types of questions. I do like our venue, but if I had shopped around a BIT more, I might have been able to find something comparable where I wouldn’t have to rent linens, chairs, buy charger plates or even have wedding cake (some come with that as part of the package).

    My advice for any new bride to be is to set expectations on DAY ONE with regard to who pays for what and who is invited (and don’t budge).

  52. Natalie says:

    I got married on October 9, 2010 and the total cost of the event was approx. $12,000. My fiance and I saved for about a year (minimized discretionary expenses, worked 60 hour weeks, etc) saving for our wedding, which we paid for ourselves. We’re both three years out of college with lower salaries and large student loans, to give you an idea of where we’re at.

    After we got engaged I made an itemized budget estimating expenses and we stuck to it throughout the planning. If something went up (food cost, wedding dress) something else went down or went away (number of guests, decorations).

    We managed to minimize expenses while still giving ourselves a beautiful, fun day. We live in Santa Barbara county, but decided to get married in Cambria because venues and services are relatively less expensive outside Santa Barbara. We also did as much as we could on a do-it-yourself basis. We asked a friend to bring his sound system and had a well-planned playlist instead of having a DJ/band. My fiance’s brother in law who is an ordained minister perform the ceremony. I decided to grow flowers and ivy to use as centerpieces, and my mother in law and some other friends heard about what I was doing and donated some plants. We made our own favors and invitations.

    Having the ceremony and reception at the same place, and outdoors, also kept the costs down. The venue was a garden filled with blooming flowers, which meant we really didn’t need to spend anything on decorations. We kept our guest list around 80, went with a buffet instead of plated dinner, and decided not to provide alcohol. We got a small decorated wedding cake and a large sheet cake for about $200.

    Having everything planned and paid for (nothing on credit) allowed us to relax, smile and laugh with our friends. It was amazing to celebrate our commitment and our love with all of the people who have influenced us.

    By the way, taking into account the statistic people have been throwing around that 50% of marriages may end in divorce, the flip side is half of us only have one chance at this. I’m happy with my wedding day- no regrets.

    Good luck!

    • adriane says:

      you can have an awesome wedding for 3.000-5,000. there is no reason to go into debt or put on a huge show for family and friends. i am growing my own flowers. the bridesmaid dresses were $25 on davids bridal, flower girl dresses $12 on ebay wedding dress under $450 my fiance and i are preparing our own buffet with the help of friends (40.00 for a plate is ridiculous!!!) our wedding cake is made by someone in our family. the dj is 300 photographer 200 (find someone who is a newbie but talented) the venue is awesome and only 150 (i realize that is almost an impossible feat!) the food will be around 400 for a full buffet dinner for 150. a reasonable wedding can be accomplished……….live within your means

  53. rick says:

    Take the money and go to Vegas, baby!
    Weddings are often like funerals these days, they are cliche, they’re way too big in scale, and they’re an expensive ritual that few people really like to attend at all.

    • ADG says:

      Thats a ridiculous statement, weddings are so much fun!!!!!

      • Anon says:

        ADG – Not really a ridiculous statement made by Rick. People seem to bypass the facts. According to stats from 2005, the average cost of a wedding was $28,000. It’s only likely now gone into the $30K range. Also at that time, the median household income was $42,000. If you do the math, you are spending in ONE day, more than half of what most people earn in one year!! Think of it that way, and I think most people spending that kind of money should be going into an insane ayslum.

        Did we ever think of how the wedding industry doesn’t care about our future happiness? Rings are meant to make jewelers money. Of course they’re going to say you need the “perfect” ring for that “Special day” But, they’re not thinking of all the strings you’re pulling to by this ring. Working overtime, borrowing money from the bank, family and friends. It’s truly insane.

        Wedding magazines are not after someone with an average income. They are designing layouts for people who make $100K + a year or celebrities. These kinds of weddings are not meant for those with a budget. The word Budget shouldn’t even exist next to the word Wedding because I am finding there is no way to budget a wedding for a lot of people. People are buying into a fantasy and the wedding industry makes Bernie Madoff look like an Angel.

        Think these things through. You have one chance to live the rest of your life with someone. You have one day to make that committment to that person. But, you’ll have 30 years of paying off wedding debt. Is that worth it? Think of putting that money towards your future child’s college fund, a house or other kind of investment,
        use that money paying off any other kind of debt. Or save it towards many days of fun, such as multiple vacations. Don’t rob your parents, family and friends with the idea that you’re entitled to all the gifts and plane rides they’re going to give you for you wedding.

        A lot can happen in one day: What seems more significant?

        – A marriage
        – A baby being born
        – Someone dying
        – Making your usual living
        – Helping the needy
        – Spending quality time with family and friends

        The wedding seems to be the least significant to me on this list.

        The larger a wedding gets, the more every guest gets lost in the shuffle. It would probably mean more to that guest to have just a one on one lunch or dinner with you than just play a small role in part of an overblown production.

        Let’s just be sensible and not let the wedding industry nor what’s become the current social norm rule over what would be typically crazy behavoir.

        Love will last over any expenditure and believe me, I have a feeling it will endure maybe even longer without spending $30K on a wedding.

        • Amanda says:

          Why do people keep factoring in what the average American’s salary is? If you’re salary is on the lower end, then you’ll OBVIOUSLY spend less. If you’re wealthy and spending $30,000 for a wedding won’t put a dent into your life, then go for it. Money is just money. If you die tomorrow, then it doesn’t really matter how much money you have or how much money you saved on your wedding. People can just do whatever they want for their own wedding with their own money and everyone else can stop gawking at it.

          • Jacob says:

            While I agree with you—people make different amounts and spend what they’d like—I think the more important point is the fact that money really IS the focus in a $30,000 wedding. THAT is the problem. Even if you can afford it out of pocket, the whole point of spending that much is to show off how much you’re able to consume (no different than royal or celebrity weddings). It becomes less about the marriage and more about the wedding.

            As for not being able to take it with you…well, it’s not about how much you have when you’re dead. It’s about being secure and free when you’re alive to pursue your passions and spend time with those you love without worrying about your next paycheck or whether or not you’ll lose your job. THAT’s why saving and having money is important. Not because it will buy fancy things, which will lead to short-term satisfaction.

            Just my 2 cents.

        • Anna says:

          Anon, you are so right. My husband and I got married in our small village here in Greece last month in front of the town clerk. We are going to the US next April to have the reception w/my family & friends back in the US. We want a “small” event, but already, even though I’ve only been in “planning” mode for a few days, I see the costs adding up. I want to thank you for the reminder of what it’s really all about and for re-focusing my perspective. We had already agreed we are not going to have wedding rings, we are having the small ceremony and party at a friend’s house, we are not paying for a photographer or a band, so really our big expense is going to be the food, which, I personally think should be the focus – there is not much in life better than a really good, fresh meal wih friends! But I was geting caught up in thinking about the invitations and the favors and the centerpieces, etc., and now I am refocusing on what the day will actually mean to us and what the bare necessities are to have a fun, festive event focused on celebrating with those we are closest to. Thanks!

  54. Lori says:

    My fiance’ and I are getting married in two months in the Indianapolis area. We’re getting married by the mayor of the town we’re getting married in and taking our 25 guests to a really nice restaurant. We’ll probably spend $600 on dinner. We spent $40 on invitations/Save the Date cards. I spent less than $25 on silk flowers that my niece will make into a bouquet. I haven’t looked for a dress yet, but since we’ve both been married before, we’re not doing the traditional wedding dress/tux. He’ll wear a suit, and I’ll find a nice dress or suit. Looking for a cake now, but I assume it will be around $200. Although I’m flabbergasted by the amounts that people have posted, I would say that you should do whatever you want to do (I don’t have to pay for it!). God bless to all who are or have taken the journey.

  55. Barb says:

    When I got married 50+ years ago, I made my own gown, my mother’s dress and my sister’s dress. A family member took photos. Yes, there was a small reception for my mother’s friends — not mine. After all, she was paying the bill. No honeymoon.
    With marriage becoming meaningless; with the divorce rate as high as it is, why bother?
    Marriage should be about the bride and groom starting a life together and not putting on a show and entertaining others. It is insane to spend any more on a wedding that is absolutely necessary to say “I do.”

    • Thank you, Barb, for some much-needed perspective.

      I wonder when weddings stopped being about starting a life together and became about conspicuous consumption?

      • Adrian Serrano says:

        Probably around the dark ages and medieval times – European nobility felt the need to show their strength, power, and wealth through a holy matrimony. Spending a fortune on this “once-in-a-lifetime” event also demonstrated commitment – back then, divorce was a rarity and, more importantly, went against traditional religious laws.

  56. ALEESE ROSS says:

    Im getting married in June of 2011 and im doing most of the planning but my fiance and my dad are doing ALL of the paying. Ilove it!

  57. American Bride _ British Groom says:

    My daddy’s paying for mine. I win. :)

  58. I had a $2000 wedding and a moderate honeymoon (by the way, cruises are the best honeymoons), so it can be done. There is nothing wrong with big weddings, but honestly, young newlyweds need the cash. Don’t spend it!

  59. Nykya says:

    OK. So what about working class people? Do they have weddings anymore? If I’m making less than middle class wages, I can’t afford a 4-figure, much less 5-figure wedding? Is there anyone out there with more modest income that could pull off a decent wedding? Or should one opt for the courthouse??

    Is it even reasonable to expect a traditional ceremony anymore?

    I’m reading about a lot of people who cut their expenses up to 50% or more. That’s amazing, but their expenses still run in the thousands. For some people, it’s still too much.

    Am I being unreasonable?

  60. Jennifer says:

    We got married right out of college 6 years ago, so the prices have likely gone up a little, but we still kept to a pretty small budget of $8000 for the whole event (215 people). Ways we kept it simple and cheap were:

    I didn’t specify the types of flowers I wanted to use – I just asked the florist to use bright colors of whatever she had in season. Only cost about $250 total for all bridal party (14 total) and flowers for parents and grandparents.

    Catering was our largest expense at $3500. As with the flowers, we didn’t pick a menu. We asked the chef to do a “chef’s choice” buffet. That way she could use whatever she had extra of in her kitchen. There happened to be other weddings at the venue that weekend so she just ordered a little extra of the types of foods they had specified, and probably even served some salads that were extras to their weddings. Not everyone got to try everything since there was sometimes only one platter of each dish, but no one seemed to care. It think it was $16/pp.

    We used a friend for a DJ and paid him $150.

    We talked the groomsman into paying for the kegs as their wedding gift to us, and served $3 a bottle wine, and had no champagne or hard alcohol.

    Centerpieces were just old mason jars collected from my mom and mother in law, and we paid $50 to a local lady to let us pick wildflowers at her house to fill them up.

    Anyway, hope some of those may help other folks save some money as well. We threw a great party and had a fantastic time!

  61. Lani says:

    My husband and I got married in July and we cut every cost we could while still having a beautiful wedding cuz there was no way we could afford a $29,000 one since we were paying for it ourselves. We had it on a sunday, which got us discounts with our photographer and videographer. We had it at a country club which included the use of the grounds, tables/chairs, linens, catering staff, bartender and pretty hurricane glass/mirror centerpeices for free (had to use their catering, but the meals were the most affordable I found- $33/pp). We got use of their outdoor patio, with chairs and wrought iron arch, for and additional $300. I found discount cupons for the limo at bostonsbigdeals.com, for 75% off and just needed it after the reception since everything was in the same place. I found a friend who could DJ for us and used an online company for our invitations. I went to a bridal expo and won the grand prize, so we got $1,000 off our wedding rings (just plain lucky, but helped considerably). My dress was more than I had planned on, but I found out later that the quality and design of the dress was exceptional for what I paid (under $700 in Nashua, no sales tax). I searched around online and found a florist with a great reputation for doing beautiful work at a reasonable price. I told him I wanted to keep costs down so he worked with in-season flowers and gave us a free throw-away bouquet and rose petals for the tables. We did NOT have an open bar, and no one could fault us there. The country club did give the bride and groom free drinks all night and a free champagine toast for the wedding party. The entire thing cost us $13,000 thanks to a lot of internet surfing and comparison.

  62. Shantel Gibson says:

    Im just trying to figure out how im going to affored a weeding. When im in medical school.
    I want less then a hundred guest but my mother in law wants everyont to be invited. They have offred to give us five thousand but I have a feeling it’s not gonna help any. But ur tips are so helpful!!! If you could think of anything eles let me know

  63. angela says:

    help!! im having my wedding in 2 months..i have 40 guests and i am only working with a grand total of 300.00 dollars!! what do i do?? i am so lost i have no idea were to start.

  64. Heather Anderson says:

    My brother recently got married and had 350 people at the event. They spent way over 20,000 dollars for this. I am now engaged and really want a small wedding. No more than 50 people! But, I have many relatives saying that they will come even before I’ve invited them! If we count just my relatives that want to come, then we’re talking about 150 people and that is just my side! If we add my fiances side that’ll make it around 250 people! How can I cut it down to 50 people? Without hurting feelings?

  65. S says:

    My fiance and I (both full-time grad students and teachers) decided to do a backyard style wedding in NY with 130 guests in October. Because of the area, we cannot find a caterer for under $60 per person… that is for a buffet (does not include any beverages) . Tent, and all the fixings (tent heaters, floor, chairs, tables, floor ect) is coming to around $6,000. Sooooo, with just food and tent we are at around $12,000. Although our budget is 20,000.00, we had hoped to stay well below SO MUCH FOR THAT. We still need, flowers, DJ,invitations, rings, attire. I wish I had just eloped and used that gifted money towards a house.

  66. Nykya says:

    I thought about a co-worker who is getting married next year…he (like me) is working 2 jobs. How do / how can the working class have weddings when the average cost is 5 figures? Just wondering…is there anyone here who is of modest means that had a nice wedding?

  67. Holly says:

    We were married 20 years ago and I remember when I started booking things and planning I was amazed at how expensive it was. We were going to pay ourselves, so we decided to go to Vegas instead. We just couldn’t see starting out our married life with $30,000 debt for a one day party. We invited friends and family and the 20 that said yes went with us. I bought my dress from a consignment store, my husband wore a suit. We had only one bridesemaid and groomsmen and they wore their own outfits (a suit and dress). We booked the chapel ahead of time. I ordered the cake ahead of time from Albertsons and it was beautiful. One of our guests got a big room and we had a reception there afterwards with a few snacks and the cake. We all went to a Vegas show that night to celebrate. We also did a “rehearsal dinner” that we paid for. It was back when you could get the all you can eat prime rib buffet for $1.99 per person. It was the best ever and cost about $50. We bought our rings ahead of time at a reputable jeweler, but to save money, didn’t buy a band. I got that years later for an anniversary present. I never missed it those first 10 years.

    The best thing we did was a couple of weeks later we had a huge party at a family members house and invited all our friends, family and co-workers. We had a keg and a margarita machine and tons of homemade food and regular drinks. Everyone was relaxed and had an awesome time. We sent out an announcement for that party and had probably 200 people there throughout the night. It fit us to the tee.

    I can fully understand wanting to feel special, but if people really looked down deep I think it is more about impressing everyone else with how great your wedding is. I’d much rather impress them with how great my marriage is. Now there is an accomplishment!

    • CC says:

      Holly, Congratulations on your marriage!!! I got chills when I read your last 2 sentences… You couldn’t be more right. We need more solid marriages that can withstand the temptations and obstacles that society throws at our relationships… Hats off to you and your husband… God bless!

  68. John says:

    I’m getting married on 10/10/10 which is a Sunday. We are having both the service and reception in a restaraunt/Irish Pub because its on a Sunday and we dont belong to a church. So far, we are on track to come in under our budget of $6,000.00.

  69. Jennie says:

    Church/Officiant Fee: $500
    * Reception Site Rental: his mom is paying
    * Church Rental: $200
    * Officiant Fee: free – my brother is an ordained minister
    * Food, homemade for 200 guests: $300
    * Photographer: $40 – friend of the family
    * DJ or Band: free – my brother has a set-up and will DJ
    * Flowers: $75 – fake, cuz i am allergic
    * Cake: my mom is paying
    * Rings: $80
    * Dress: $176 – eBay, custom fit and perfect
    * Attendants gifts: $150
    * Tux: free with 5 rentals
    * Open Bar: dry recpetion
    * Invites: $75 – making our own on white cardstock with a black damask design and a red ribbon, the majority of the cost is postage
    * Honeymoon: his dad is paying
    Total: $1,596

    And you’d be amazed at how well and beautiful everything is turning out for it. We never wanted a wedding coordinator becuase I am good with cutting down prices on things while not loosing out on quality and I know many people how are willing to help. The greatest part for me is the decorating of the recpetion and ceremony sites, everything is home made from myself or my fiance. This process is great! I may get stressed from time to time, yet in the end, I know that even on what some would consider an extremely small budget for a 200 guest wedding, my wedding day is my day to share with my friends and family, and I’d rather have fun and be happy, then stress about over paying for outrageous things.

  70. Jennifer Mera says:

    To Totemic – yes, if you buy a dress in a bridal salon, I agree it is tough to find an affordable dress! Check out these companies’ websites:

    (1) David’s Bridal.

    (2) **Etsy.com. Artisan website where you can get a one-of-a-kind dress for almost any budget. I am getting my gown here…it’s a couture one-shoulder silk gown for $700 – new and specially tailored for me!

    (3) J Crew. Nice, high quality gowns.

    (4) eBay (my second choice was a beautiful new J Crew gown off eBay for $250).

    (5) BCBG Max Azria.

  71. CC says:

    I’m not sure where you’re located but it may just be that you can’t find wedding dresses that cheap where you live because I have numerous friends who bought brand new wedding dresses at local bridal stores for less than $500…? And what would ever be wrong with a clearance item anyway? By the way, in case you’re curious, I’m right outside of Charlotte, NC…

    • Kristen says:

      I agree, CC. There’s nothing wrong with a second hand dress. Everyone is so concerned about the dress, but to be honest, I want something, understated, classic and beautiful, and for that, you have to pay a lot for that king of thing today. Instead, buy a vintage and authentic version of what you want and you can’t go wrong :) People have it all wrong today. Everyone looks the same in what’s supposed to look “original” and special.

  72. Totemic says:

    $500 for the dress and the tux? What wedding dress costs $400? Unless you’re buying clearance or second hand…

  73. Jennifer Mera says:

    As a bride on a budget in a big city (and one that’s managed to keep to budget!) here are my tips:

    (1) Consider a destination wedding. Seriously. Less guests, less stress, less formal.

    (2) Budget 20% UNDER what you can afford, because inevitably, incidentals, extra costs, tax, gratuity, will eat that up.

    (3) Don’t buy into those wedding magazines. The wedding industry would really be ashamed of itself for exploiting brides for extravagant sums.

    (4) YOUR WEDDING DAY IS NOT JUST YOUR DAY. This is your fiance’s day, your family’s day, and your friend’s day too. Remember that when you prioritize what to spend your money on – that expensive dress, or a great band/DJ that your guests will love?

  74. Carolyn says:

    I have never understood the need for any size wedding. This is something between two people – not 200. My husband and I decided on a day two weeks before we got married. The only people present were the two of us, his son, my sister and her husband (because we needed a witness) and the guy that married us. (A gay guy that has a license to perform ceremonies.) We got married in a backyard of some friends of his and didn’t even see the location until we got there. I wore a great linen 2-piece outfit I found on sale – the day before the “wedding”. I spent a whole $35 on the outfit. My flowers were a bouquet from the grocery store approx. $5. Our mini-buffet, drinks and a small (homemade) cake cost about $50, I made the food myself. This all took place 10 years ago and we are still happy and still happy we didn’t waste a tone of money for everyone else’s benefit. All of you people spending thousands on one day of your life are crazy. It is an important day – NOT the most important. Thousands of dollars for a dress that will sit in a box for the rest of your life? Please…Half of you will be divorced in 3-5 years and will probably still be paying for the wedding to the idiot that left you! Spend the money on a home, a new car, heck put it in the bank for when the economy tanks again and you are both out of a job. Be realistic!

  75. Monique says:

    I am a Bride to be. I can’t believe how much everything cost’s. I had no idea till I finnaly got to looking and thinking I could get away with just a couple grand. Man was I way off. Now I think were going to wait a long time to get married although we both want to get married now. We don’t want our family missing it though. We realy want to share our special moment with them. For now well wait. Good luck with your wedding. Monique

  76. Tommy says:

    I am marrying my girlfriend of six years in July of 2011. Luckily, she is the only daughter of a middle-class yet also somewhat well-off family. Our costs are close to mirroring that of the author’s: rings, clothes, photographer/videographer, honeymoon, flowers, dress, DJ. Just our part totals around 15,000 and her parents are pitching in a similar number. On top of that, my parents are throwing the dinner rehersal. Before the assumption is made that my parents are not contributing their part, keep in mind that my father has thrown two weddings for my older sisters already and still has one more to go (my other big sis, who despite a disparaging view toward the institution of marriage, will likely want to go out in style before her 35th birthday). I can’t begin to imagine what he spent, but a rough estimate puts it at $50-60,000 for both. He’s absolutely nuts and the most dedicated father I’ve had the pleasure to know.

    So, a likely $1-2,000 commitment from wonderful parents whom I owe my life and sanity is more symbolic of a debt I owe them of indefinite, intangible, and unbreakable value. My fiance feels much the same way for her part.

    But, what I must also say, is that my fiance’s mother has, without question, been a second maternal figure in my life for quite awhile. My parents and the rest of my immediate family have lived over 1000 miles away from me since I was 20 years old (I am now 25) and while it is always hard to count on people who are not your own family, she has allowed me to do just that. She has also saved us thousands of dollars through her own research of wedding costs and their expensive shinanigans.

    So, what is my point other than agreement with the author’s primary statement? The investment in my life to these two wonderful families should not be tested by money. Unfortunately, we’re all human and have our disagreements, but the goal is to keep in perspective that the costs of 2011 should not overshadow the relationships that will last our lifetimes. Therefore, my suggestion is that if I must swallow a little debt and contribute a little more than my brain calculates a logical amount; my heart knows such percieved discomfort is a down payment on maintaining the love.

    You can’t be stupid, though. You have to save, you have to sweat, and you have to do what you have to do to pay the bills and try to keep wedding costs down and feasible. We’ll contribute 15-20 grand when all is said and done, but if I was not in the finnancial situation I am in today, there’s no way I’d be comfortable with such a budget.

    Being and bleeding in the red is not worth the spectacle White Wedding. A little red may be as unavoidable in a wedding situation as Duncan Keith’s jaw in the Western Conf Finals, but you shouldn’t have to sell your teeth to the toothfairy.

  77. jen q says:

    I read somewhere once about a woman who was very experienced at throwing wedding receptions. I think it was in weddings for under 5k. She said that everyone brought their own wine, beer, etc. It was just how her family did things.

    Rich people can afford all sorts of luxury. That’s why they’re rich! Get married, have a nice party for your friends/family and move on. Stop playing “Little King”

    Id fly around the world for a plastic ware and chinet bbq with people who want to see me, but I wouldnt spend a dime on somebody who expects me to “impress” them.

    But let’s face it, its not usually the couple who wants all the luxuries, its the parents!

  78. kristin says:

    My fiance and I are getting married this coming October. We have spent the following:

    1000…downpayment for venue
    4000…remainder for food and open bar for 70 people)
    750…wedding dress
    (tux to be rented)
    5000…engagement ring
    we anticipate spending about 2,000 between both wedding bands
    800 for flowers
    300 for invitations
    we havent booked a photographer or offiant yet
    the nice thing is that my parents are paying for the venue and we will take care of he rest. with that said, we feel we can splurge a little.

  79. Jen says:

    I got married at the county courthouse four years ago. No stress, no debt, and absolutely no regrets. We bought a car (very useful!). And a couple of years later, we bought a house (also very useful!). We still have no stress, and no debt (I mean, we have the mortgage, but that doesn’t count). We don’t even own credit cards! Success!

  80. Cooper says:

    So here’s how a wedding works.

    It takes months of stress for everyone involved to plan a one-day party. Limited return on investment?

    It costs about a year’ salary, but you quite possibly can’t afford a home and wouldn’t think about paying for a private school for your kids’ better education.

    Your marriage probably won’t last.

    Everyone thinks their wedding is gonna be unique, but they’re almost all pretty much the same.

    There’s not an ounce of similarity in a wedding to your everyday life.

    Lots of people get inconvenienced at great cost to attend, some flying in from thousands of miles away.

    Most of these people you hardly know, if at all.

    Few people actually have a fabulous time, though many pretend they do.

    The food isn’t so memorable. I could have my favorite dinner for under 15 bucks, but I’ll bet most weddings budget more than that.

    The couple probably won’t be all that happy with their pictures, and even if they are, how often are they gonna look at them?

    There’s always a few dicks at the reception.

    You have to dress up uncomfortably and smell good and be on time.

    You have to try to figure out a way to get out early when you’re tired of being there, but you don’t want to look like a jerk.

    You have to have a permanent smile all day long when you’re the “happy couple”. Not easy to do.

    You could get hundreds of pretty flowers at Trader Joe’s that people can take home for a fraction of the price of the overly pretentious bouquets they put on the table that get thrown away, just so the planners and florists can rape you (financially).

    Vegetarians are never super happy with teir food selection.

    A lot of people who feel awkward around certain other friends and family are pretty much forced to be there, pretending.

    People get all formal and stuff, where they’re never like that in their daily lives.

    People get drunk, and that’s never good.

    People have to pretend they’re a lot more religious and optimistic about marriage than they really are.

    The bands usually aren’t anything to write home about. DJ’s are better, but we’ve all heard this stuff before.

    The VIPs sit at the table up front and make silly speeches and look like “The Last Supper”.

    You’ll complain later about the things that didn’t go right.

    Stress, stress, stress. Money, money, money. Pretentiousness, pretentiousness, pretentiousness.

    What a pain in the ass. I’d rather go to Marine World.

    • jen q says:

      The best post yet! The thing I hate most about weddings is how ridiculously contrary they are to peoples’ actual lives. People who can afford this kind of stuff dont worry about going into debt over it!

  81. KCL says:

    Spending over $35K on a “Special,” Day, can’t really add up to a special lifetime with that person. Remember the song, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” Well, spending $35K and over on a wedding is most certainly that. I am a woman. I love beautiful, frilly things, but I also love the idea of a honeymoon in Europe, a down payment on a home and maybe keeping my savings account intact for retirement and college funds, rather than blowing 30 Grand on one day.

    I think ALL women are entitled to a beautiful day, but I think what makes a wedding most special is the look in your husbands eyes as you exchange vows, the smiles on your loved ones faces, the beauty around you that is simple and understated.

    Not all of us can be princesses that live in castles, but we can be imaginative and not have to out do every other princess out there that wants to have the bigger and better wedding.

    How about donating your time to a charity on this day? Remember, weddings can’t always be about you as a couple. It’s about emitting the love you share as a couple to those around you.

  82. KML says:

    Yes, I am a woman, and yes, I do believe that $11,500 is an offensive amount for a dress that I will only be wearing for 5 hours of my life. I am ordering my wedding gown online for $200. As for feeling beautiful and special—I don’t need an expensive dress to feel this way. I already do.

    I am getting married this June, and I was hoping to keep the cost to around $3,000, but it is closer to $4,000 after everything has been tallied up. The biggest expense, (not included in this 4K budget) is my engagement ring, which is 5K. My guest list is frozen at 30 people. Only immediate family is invited, plus one best man and one bridesmaid. I chose a Sunday, in the evening, for both my ceremony and the reception, saving thousands. Because I do not want to stint on good food and good wine for my family, the venue is a beautiful historic mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Santa Cruz, with in-house chef and restaurant. I also wanted a good photographer, since photos and videos will be the only things left of the wedding long after the flowers have wilted and the cake has been eaten. I will be ordering fresh flowers and making the table arrangements and bouquets myself, and I will be making my own invitations. The money I saved by being frugal will go towards the down-payment for a house in the Santa Cruz area. I think THAT is something worth splurging money on.

    • VM says:

      KML, may I ask what your venue was? I am looking at venues in Santa Cruz as well, and yours sounds very much up our alley.

  83. Mackenzie says:

    One of my friends spent $35 on her wedding, including:
    – subway cost to the courthouse
    – $15 fee for the license
    – taxi, so she could get to work after the wedding

    She says she only knows one person with a cheaper wedding. That person spent $30, but it was 30 years before her, so she figures she wins after inflation.

    (her boss didn’t believe she was really getting married, so he didn’t give her the day off…he still doesn’t believe she’s married, about 20 years later)

    • Nykya says:

      I LIKE it. I was starting to wonder if only the wealthy or those with American Express cards were the only ones who can marry now-a-days.

  84. Jeanie says:

    Judging women based on how much they spend on their wedding dress is really offensive. For one, you’re a man, so it’s impossible for you to ever fully understand the appeal of a beautiful wedding dress to a woman. My dress retails for $11,500 and I feel no shame in spending that because I have been fascinated by fashion history since I was a pre-teen and always dreamed of wearing a museum quality piece. A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, likely the biggest and most emotionally significant party ever thrown in your honor. Why would you not want to feel beautiful and special? If one can afford a $12k dress and it makes them extremely happy, then they are entitled to that dress. It may only be worn for eight hours total, but it will be immortalized in wedding photos and the bride’s memory and, if valuable and beautiful enough, may become a family heirloom.

    Tell me you’ve never made an extravagant purchase purchase? If so, I have nothing but pity for you. We’re only on this earth for so long, why not put our five senses to good use.

    • ML says:

      As a woman, I can say that I have never been so enthralled with anything (Clothing or otherwise) that after looking at the pricetag, I couldn’t walk away from. As a 26 year old with a high paying job and some common sense, I can say that WAAAAYYY to many people in my generation take MTV sur-reality as a projection of what they can expect to attain for themselves. I grew up without much money, had a full time job in the summers since I was 14, and know that value of hard-earned cash. It’s one thing when someone who can afford to blow 20K+ on a wedding does so, and it’s another thing when someone spends the money who doesn’t have it. I don’t understand why someone would feel the need to take out a loan on what is essentially a 1-day party to celebrate the union of two people. There’s too many people out there who need to remove their craniums from their sphincters.

  85. Colorado2010 says:

    My fiance and I are getting married in October 2010. We are inviting 120 guests, but imagine that about 80 will come. I was hoping to keep our budget around $15,000 but it’s slowly crept up to $22,000. We’re trying to keep costs down, but the fact is that 98% of our guests will be flying in from out of town, and although they’re really coming for us, I think they deserve more than a backyard bbq and plastic flatware for the trip. Some of our cost-savings have been to hold the wedding and reception at a beautiful restaurant that doesn’t charge site-fees, try to buy used when we can (dresses, etc), use a photography student who is just starting their business, and my best secret has been telling vendors up front what the budget is, and asking what they can do to meet it (before I did that, they were quoting me 2x what I wanted to spend). Unfortunately, even when trying to keep costs down, it is not cheap, no matter how you do it, to feed and entertain 100 people.

    Even though it’s a ton of money, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share a beautiful few days with everyone you love. These chances don’t come around that often, and they’re worth the price. My feeling is that as long as we’re still meeting our savings goals, and not financing the wedding (rather, paying in hard-saved cash), it’s fine to spend on this sort of occasion.

  86. Holly Bryant~Pinson says:

    My fiance’ and I are getting married in March 2010, we have budgeted about $1000- $1500.00 for our wedding, my mom got my dress, it was a bridesmaid dress that we ordered in white, my flowers are only going to cost about $250.00 and that includes all flowers! We are only having 1 bridesmaid and 1 bestman, no other wedding parties, and the best part is, the location is free, and its by a beautiful river. Its a locally owned pavillion that can be rented, and as long as you turn the key back in its free! We are using my mothers ring’s from her first marriage, they’ll just have to be sized which cost about $50.00 each to size, and the cake were getting from Ingles, they make beautiful, delicious wedding cakes that feed over 100 people for about $100.00. So you can have a wedding on a budget, you dont have to spend $20,000.00 or $30,000.00 to have a beautiful wedding. my fiance’s sister got married in june, his parents paid for it, and it costed around $20,000.00 and it wasnt that pretty at all. The location was pretty a nice mountian setting, but the decor wasnt at all what i pictured a $20,000.00 wedding looking like. So just keep that in mind girls! Also, you can talk to a beach front hotel to see how much they will charge you to have a wedding, most places like that dont charge much, sometimes even free, and you can have the reception right there. Kinda neat, were thinking about doing it. Also, the lady who said alcohol was a major factor in weddings, its rediculas, your friends shouldnt just come to your wedding just to drink your alcohol, they should come to celebrate with you. My bestfriend had a wedding for under $300.00 and that included food, flowers, location, and minister! NO BOOZE!!! You dont have to pay a fortune to have alcohol, just buy some store bought bottles of wine, and have your caterer pass it out. You can get store bought good wine for about $8.00 a bottle. Anyway, good luck everyone!!! Best wishes and God Bless!

  87. BrooklynEscapades says:

    We are getting married in exactly two weeks in Miami Florida. We have 115 confirmed guests. Everything is going to come out to 20k, give or take a thousand. This includes our attire, the rings, the venue, the food, open bar, the cake, the gifts for our attendants/folks, favors, flowers etc. It doesn’t include the honeymoon, which is a 7 day cruise that we got for super cheap. We are very lucky that we were able to use our church for the actual wedding ceremony for free, because we are members. We only had to pay a small cleanup fee ($150) for the Fellowship Hall that we are using the day before for our rehearsal dinner. We also got a professional dj for free, because he’s my fiance’s cousin. My florist is an employee who is doing the flowers as a gift- we just have to pay for the materials and flowers. At the last minute another couple canceled with our photographer and he applied their deposit to our account when we booked, saving us over $500. A church member who has beautiful flowing handwriting did our invitations for us for free, which kept us from having to hire a calligrapher. We used theknot.com for great ideas and even more money savers. The biggest place we spent money was at the reception hall. Though I wish it could have been even cheaper, I’m happy that it will be an amazingly beautiful event that culminates my union with my future husband.

  88. allison says:

    We are getting married on a Sunday in Asheville, NC, which is a great way to save money on venue fees. We are having the ceremony at a beautiful site in a national forest (no charge) – we only have to pay for chair rentals and set up/breakdown. The reception is at a restaurant in town and since it is on a Sunday, they aren’t charging a venue fee (~110 guests). Food is $27/person, we are buying cases of beer/wine/liquor ahead of time which saves some $ b/c it isn’t full mark-up and we know what we want to serve (total food/drink cost is just under $4k), we’re getting flowers from a local grower ($200), a friend is making our cake for just the cost of the supplies (~$100), a friend of a friend is an interior designer and she is going to help us decorate the restaurant (we buy decorations ~$200), favors are two hand made chocolates from a friend who makes THE BEST chocolates in town, we are choosing our own song list and a friend who DJ’s is manning our iPod in lieu of actually having a DJ, we’re creating a slideshow from photos of us and our family/friends with music and captions, having a trivia contest so guests can guess where we’re moving next and who ever wins will get a prize (we’re planning to move soon), I’m borrowing a friend’s beautiful wedding dress that only needs a few alterations (which can be let out after the wedding), my fiance’ is buying his suit from Men’s Warehouse during their summer sale for about $199, and we’re looking for rings right now, which we will likely get online. I’ve heard there are a few pawn shops that actaully specialize in estate/vintage jewelry so we may check that out also.

    • Star Borner says:

      Hi Allison,

      I know this post is a year old but I would love to ask you some Q’s about your Asheville wedding! My bf proposed to me last weekend outside Asheville in Craggy Gardens. We are dreaming of getting married somewhere there along the Blueridge Pkwy but I wasn’t sure if it was allowed. We’ll have 50-75 guests. Who did you contact to get permission? Where exactly did you get married? Thanks!

  89. Erin says:

    And, we are getting married on a Sunday–cheaper than Saturday, in March–cheaper than June.

  90. Erin says:

    We are in the middle of planning our March 2010 wedding now. My original “dream” budget was $10k; until we started looking at venues (we live in San Francisco), cake prices and photographers and the price tags they come with, our budget quickly doubled! We are spending money on the things that really matter to us: a beautiful venue that has indoor and outdoor space, loads of character, with an in-house caterer, and an artistic photographer. We are “saving” on things that are less important to us: our favorite music on an I-pod instead of a band, the venue is quaint and has tons of character so our flower budget is tiny, I bought my dress at a big chain for less than $300 (I’m “borrowing” a veil because they cost almost as much as my dress!), and he will buy a suit he can wear again. We recently decided to cut our guest list from 100 to 80 in order to “save” even more.

  91. Andrea says:

    My husband and I eloped last August to Lake Tahoe. It was amazing and it was all about us, no mothers or in-laws to take over and put their two cents in. We figured that we spent about $1700 for everything: officiant (550) dress (30), husband clothes (150), flowers (120), rings (30 on etsy), cabin at Lake Tahoe for 4 nights (300), gas to travel from Utah (150), food for several days (200), announcements, which we sent our from Lake Tahoe (100). Our wedding was perfect in every way and I am so glad we did it the way we did. Our families were sad they hadn’t been involved (no one knew), but they understood that they didn’t have to pay for a wedding so we got some really awesome monetary gifts from our parents that are currently earning interest in an ING account.

  92. Natasha says:

    I recently got married in March and my wedding with honeymoon total was $8000 total!!
    We saved money by having a beach wedding. Since it was at the beach your attire doesn’t need to be so formal. I wore a dress
    from Nordstrom that everyone raved about it cost $175 and my husband wore a white linen suit. The officant was only $70. Your local justice of the peace will do it for you wherever you want. You have the best natural scenery at the beach. Photographer was free (lucked out new uncle is one).
    We had a lunch reception since the ceremony was early in the morning and booked a private dining room at our fave restaurant, the same
    one where he proposed. Lunch is cheaper and everyone loved the food. Instead of a tierd cake we had a top tier with jumbo
    cupcakes that were decorated beautifully. It’s a new trend that is a lot cheaper and you don’t have to deal with a cake cutting fee.
    Yes, be careful because some venues will charge you $1-$3 a slice to cut your cake!! We also saved a lot of money by using a
    honeymoon registry. We used honeymoonwishes.com. Since dishes and sheets were the last thing we needed it just made sense. Our guest actually
    ended up paying for our honeymoon and then some. It’s only one day, save your money so you can enjoy your marriage. Honestly everyone loved
    our wedding because they love us and it was a perfect day. If there is anyone on your guest list you think you need to impress,
    don’t invite them! Best wishes to you and your fiance :o)

    • CC says:

      Natasha… Thank you so much for your second to last line, “If there is anyone on your guest list you think you need to impress,
      don’t invite them!” If I needed to read anything on this post it was that… Thank you so much for reminding me this day is truly about the two of us, our true friends, and our loving family… Congratulations to you and may God bless your marriage!

    • kelley says:

      that sounds so nice. thats what i want a beach wedding with only close family and few friends there.

  93. Matt says:

    My bride-to-be and I are getting married next May. We are in NC and found a local B&B where we will have the ceremony, reception, a couple of nights lodging, dj, food, and a few more things for a package deal of $15k. We have to find a photographer and are astonished at how much they cost. One even costs, if averaged out, $700/hour! I can’t think of any profession that should be paid that much!

    • Julie says:

      If there is a college near you that has a photography program, find someone to email in that department or a career planning office. Ask for a senior student who would like to gain some experience as a wedding photog. They would be thrilled just to get a couple hundred for the entire day… the experience is worth so much to a student. Any senior should have a portfolio, so you should ask to see their work so you can feel comfortable with their ability. Unless you are skilled in Photoshop, you would still need to arrange pricing for the student to edit photos for you. I think one reason the pros cost so much is the back end stuff like editing and printing albums. But,once the student hands over the files on a disc, there are tons of places online where you can order custom printed photo books by uploading the files yourself. Just a thought. (I was a design student and plan to have a former class mate take my wedding photos next year and I will do all the editing myself since I’m more than capable. I would never pay someone $700/hr to do that for me!)

  94. Amy says:

    My husband and I had a large wedding, mainly because we both have very large families. About 300 came to our wedding. We were, however, able to keep within our budget of $8000. Catering was the most expensive part with the total coming to $3500. We did a buffet and used plastic silverware. We rented out the local community center and bought our liquor at a duty free shop. We found a local woman to make the cake for $350, with many sheet cakes in the back to make sure there was enough for everyone. My sister was in charge of all the decorations which we bought over several months using 50% off coupons at Micheal’s which came each week. A friend of mine’s uncle owns a limo business so we were able to get a great deal on that. One of my husband’s uncles did the photography for free as a gift to us (he owns his own photography business). I hired a classmate from high school to be the DJ and emcee which he discounted for us. Really we got most of our good deals because we knew someone or we were related to someone who could do part of it. I also bought my dress of the rack instead ordering for a 20% discount.

    • Nathaly says:

      Hi Amy,
      I’m in the process of my wedding and my only pain is the food rigth now.
      Can you pls tell me how was your buffet to spend $3500 for 300 people?
      I have 100 and the quotes that the caterings sent me are impossible.
      Thank you!

      • Amy Stogsdill says:

        Our daughter is getting married in May of 2012. We are in the process of finding a venue and our main concern is size of venue and price for a buffet. We estimate 300 for our reception also. We narrowed our choices down to 3 and then we picked a menu that we wanted and we e-mailed all 3 and asked what they could do on pricing it. 2 of the 3 came down significantly but the top choice wouldn’t budge. So don’t hesitate to come up with a menu and ask what they could do for pricing. Good luck with the wedding plans.

  95. Certainly there are quite a number of ways to save on your wedding and you have touched on a number of the biggies…basically your reception is going to be the biggest cost. Shifting the time of year, day of week, time of day of your wedding will have a big effect on your costs.

  96. “If you cannot afford an open bar, you cannot afford a wedding. Seriously!!” You CAN”T be serious!! Since when does a beautiful and poignant start to a married life be required to include booze–let alone free booze? I’m a wedding officiant as well as the mother of a soon-to-be bride, and the pressure on young couples to throw these big ostentatious parties is absurd. It’s not about the food, the flavor of the cake or how much free alcohol your guests can consume. Celebrate your love, be true to who you are as a couple and invite whomever you please to celebrate your love in whatever way you see fit.

    • Amanda says:

      Your guests paid to give you a wedding shower gift, bachelorette/bachelor party gift, a gift on the actual wedding day as well as spending to money to get to the ceremony and reception. Therefore, the open bar isn’t technically “free” to them.

  97. Great wedding stories so far, everybody! Thanks!

    @Peter: The jeweler I’m looking at is Blue Nile. They have been featured in major media outlets and I’ve read pretty consistently good reviews. I didn’t buy my fiancee’s engagement ring there because I couldn’t see the diamonds, although sometimes I wish I had because I would’ve saved a bundle, but I’m comfortable getting my wedding band there because they’re so uniform I don’t need to see it in person before I buy it.

    • Tommy says:

      I considered Blue Nile too. They give you the grade, but you can’t take something like that for granted. I feel your pain for the final purchase price – I would’ve saved too – but I keep in mind that I took out the uncertainty and potential headache by going with a customer-friendly private jeweler.

  98. ladygoat says:

    I got married two years ago, in an expensive part of the country, with all the usual aspects associated with a wedding. I was pretty good about keeping to my slightly lower than average budget, but I was realistic about what weddings cost.

    My advice is to focus on a few things that you really want to highlight and thus, spend money on. Then cut back on everything else. For us, it was the food, the location, and the photographer, and we spent the bulk of the budget on those. Everything else got the minimal treatment. And really, no one noticed that my flowers cost $200, but to this day everyone mentions that the food was good.

  99. Jen says:

    I got married in Long Island, NY and it cost around 35k. That is low/average for NY, so I always find it fascinating to read about wedding costs in other areas. My reception cost about 18k and the photographer was 6k. We had about 110 guests.

    • Joel says:

      if you are 30 years old, put 35k in the market today (assuming 10% long term growth), and retired 35 years from now, you would have almost $1,000,000 before taxes….just sayin…

  100. JY says:

    If you cannot afford an open bar, you cannot afford a wedding. Seriously.

    • sarah says:

      couldn’t agree more with this! BYOB – that’s horribe!

      • Yaasmiyn says:

        It depends if it is casual. Weddings should be about your devotion to eachother, NOT showing off to everyone else! If other people want to share in our day then thats great. But being able to have a “wedding” should not be based on income. Less fortunate fall in love too.

        • Renee says:

          You are actually correct in saying that the wedding is about your devotion to each other, however a reception is meant to be in honor of your guests. Most likely they put a lot of time and money to support you on this day and they should be treated as they did.

    • fiancee says:

      umm. Neither my fiance or I drink, so we are NOT having an open bar. We might be having a champagne toast but we are still on the fence about that. The wedding should be about celebrating the couple and having fun NOT drinking. We are also having about 40-50 people, so only our closest friends and family and not people who are just there for the free alcohol or because they feel obliged too. Not to mention we have some friends and family members who don’t mix well with an open bar.

    • CM says:

      some people weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths.

      • Amanda says:

        My fiance doesn’t drink, but we’re DEFINITELY having an open bar. Like Renee said, yes… the wedding is about your love and devotion to one another, but the reception is for your guests. You’re inviting them to celebrate with you. If you were a vegetarian, would you expect your guests to eat salads and eggplant? No, I don’t think so. Not having an open bar or even offering wine/beer is extremely cheap. I’ve recently heard of the new “byob” for weddings trend and it’s truly mind boggling.

  101. Forest says:

    I got the engagement ring from Blue Nile. I was extremely happy with my experience, especially the part of not having to deal with salesmen. I’ll probably get her wedding band from there too.

    • Julie says:

      I recently got engaged and had thought about getting rings somewhere online because of the wider variety of unique styles to choose from. However, just make sure there is an excellent insurance plan if you go that route. I chose my ring at Kay Jewelers and they will resize it for free anytime, polish it anytime, replace lost stones at no cost, examine the setting anytime. Just to have that piece of mind and the convenience of getting the ring checked when I am at the mall is worth the extra money. And, the brick and mortar chain had a wonderful selection.. I found exactly what I was looking for! Just something to keep in mind for all those out there looking to buy an engagement ring soon.

  102. Sara Mays says:

    My friend is planning a brilliantly cheap wedding. She is getting married for the cost of staff’s time at our workplace (we work at a museum). Her photographer and musicians are students in those fields that she found on craigslist. She is paying a friend to make a small cake for her and her fiance and getting plain white sheet cake for everyone else. She has a small guestlist. She registered as having a Quaker wedding so no officiant is needed, although a friend will be unofficially ‘officiating’. No flowers or other fluff. She got her dress from J.Crew on-line which was very affordable. They sent e-vites to their friends and paper invitations only to older family members. All-in-all they are likely spending more on the honeymoon than the ceremony!

  103. Jason says:

    I got married a couple years ago and did pretty well–we spent somewhere around $13k for a wedding for 125. We were SUPER frugal on stuff though–we didn’t spend a lot extra on decorations and we did cut a few things I regret (a professional photographer; definitely not a place to cut).

    My focus was on giving the event some personality rather than on perfection. We chose to have a “light” destination wedding at a historic hotel in a less expensive part of the state, where we could afford a nicer venue with more personality than what we could get closer to home. Instead of focusing on tons of accoutrements to jazz the place up, we picked something that had plenty of charm and uniqueness out of the gate and this proved to be a pretty cost-effective solution. Better yet, they offered a package that included a planner who arranged for the food and cake, and we found an excellent DJ (one who didn’t play “chicken dance” or “YMCA” but rather tailored the evening very specifically for two people who are big music geeks). We also chose to have everything in one place–cocktail hour first, then the ceremony, then the reception. This was not only cost effective but the guests loved it–they all had a drink or two in them by the time of the reception and it felt very casual and informal. Due to some specifics of our situation we also chose not to have a wedding party or have anything to do with the church beyond an officiant, and all of these things helped cut some money off as well.

    • Tommy says:

      Cocktails before the Ceremony? Hah! That is what I call a guest-friendly wedding! Can you send some of your fiance’s (excuse me, wife’s) open-mindedness this way?

    • Gia says:

      Hey! We’re doing the cocktail hour and yard games before the event too! (It was my idea, and I’m the lady!) :)

  104. Forest says:

    I’m getting married in September and I’m right in the thick of wedding planning. I consider myself pretty frugal but I’m still budgeting $25,000 for this wedding. Sometimes I can’t believe that. However, we have 250 estimated guests. My mom has a huge family and there’s nothing I can do about it. Check out my blog for some more posts regarding our wedding planning.

  105. Peter says:

    You said your using a reputable online jeweler? May I ask the name?

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