Memorable Weddings on a Budget

Memorable Weddings on a Budget

Planning a wedding can be daunting, especially if you have very little money to spend, yet you want to invite friends and family to celebrate your day. With a little ingenuity and spending a mere fraction of the cost of an elaborate wedding and reception, you can still have a great time and not have to pay credit card bills or loan payments for years to come.

Wedding gowns are costly and can break a couple before the wedding even begins. Thanks to online auction sites and places like, you can go online and find a used dress for pennies on the dollar. There are also thrift shops that have gown sections, and the prices are extremely low. If you don’t want a “real” wedding dress, you can do an online search for hippie-type or prom dresses in white or off-white, and you may find the perfect one for less than $30. Some silk flowers in your hair will suffice in lieu of a veil, but if you are determined to have one, you can also check those online or make your own from materials at craft stores. If you plan to have bridesmaids, they can search for wedding dresses the same way. Also, many wedding supply stores and catalogs sell bridesmaid’s dresses less than half price when the season is over, and you may be able to find an inexpensive set of dresses if you choose to have a bridal party.

Real floral bouquets are very expensive, and they don’t last forever. You can craft your flowers from silk flowers found at craft stores, and you would be able to keep them forever to remember your day. You can also order them from vendors at craft shows or flea markets. These would be less expensive than buying from a florist.

The most expensive part of a wedding is the reception. If you are truly limited financially, you can forego the reception and have just a wedding ceremony. Anyone can be married in a church or by a justice of the peace and the cost for that is minimal, if not free. Guests attend and witness the ceremony, and everything is the same as a traditional wedding without the party afterward. Some churches charge a fee for the chapel, but it’s just a fraction of what you would pay for a wedding with a full-blown reception. Whether or not there is a reception, and even if there are no guests at all, the groom should always offer a monetary thank-you to the person officiating a wedding.

After a simple wedding-only ceremony, the couple greets the guests, thanks them for coming, and then all go their separate ways. This is nice, but continuing the joy is so much nicer if you can afford it.

If renting a hall is too pricey, plan your wedding for the warm weather months and have a large tent canopy erected in your or someone else’s back yard. You can also reserve a covered shelter at a municipal park if one is available nearby. You will need a canopy or shelter in the chance of rain or if the sun is so bright that it is melting people. For an informal gathering and to save even more money, set it up like a picnic and ask guests to bring a dish to pass in lieu of a gift. Most people will be happy to bring their favorite dish and will probably give a gift as well. On the invitation, which you can create online or by making yourself with craft supplies, you can request guests to bring their own lawn chairs, and that would solve the problem of seating. Picnic tables, card tables, or folding tables can be used, and you can cover them with inexpensive disposable cloths found in paper stores or discount clubs. The same holds true for table service. Buy inexpensive white napkins and white or clear plastic ware. If you want to be fancier than bare-bones materials, color it up with coordinated plastic ware and table cloths. In paper stores, these items come in every color. Plates can also be coordinated, and you can get them in heavy paper or plastic. Table decorations can be as simple as glass bud vases bought from a dollar store, with a silk rose and a sprig of baby’s breath in each one.

The wedding cake is another big expense. Bakeries charge huge prices for lovely picture-perfect creations, but if you can’t see spending that much money, you can make your own small tier cake, using a kit purchased at craft stores or department stores selling cake-decorating supplies. You can bake and frost sheet cakes for cutting and passing out if you have a large number of guests. Add a bit of almond extract to the white batter and your cake will taste like it was professionally prepared. If you have a little extra money, you can find a local person who bakes and sells cakes from his or her home, and you can order an inexpensive one from that person.

If you can afford more than an outdoor wedding, but you still want to keep costs to a minimum, have the reception at a fire hall or find a business that offers halls to rent. Many cooperative extension agencies rent their facilities, and some have their own caterers offering low-cost meals. You can decorate the hall yourselves the night before the wedding and let the staff take care of the meals.

For music, you can pre-record your favorite songs prior to the wedding, and pop a disk in a portable CD player set up in the corner. If you want more music than on a tape or CD, inquire about local disc jockeys who supplement their own incomes doing weddings and parties. They generally can provide music at a fraction of the cost of a live band, and the DJ can keep things moving along if the party lags a bit.

If you have a friend who is good at photography, ask him or her to take pictures of the important parts of the day – the ceremony, the party, family posed shots, etc. You can also buy inexpensive disposable cameras and situate them on tables at the reception and have the guests photograph each other. When the wedding is over, you can take the cameras to print shops when you can afford to have the pictures developed. If you have your own digital camera that takes high resolution photos, you can have guests pass that around. Digital photos can be as nice as filmed shots, and they are even more economical to have developed.

A wedding does not have to be extravagant to be lovely. A little advance planning and price comparisons will help you celebrate your occasion with pride.

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