My husband and I seriously considered eloping at one point. Just the two of us, somewhere quiet and serene with a justice of the peace asking us whether or not we wanted to be together. The more we thought about it though, we realized how much we would be missing out on. I only planned on getting married once in my life, as most people do. I thought about my family and my husband’s family. I’m my father’s only daughter and my husband is an only child. So in one way, we were essentially robbing them of the experience. I AM NOT SAYING DO THE WEDDING BECAUSE OTHERS WANT YOU TO. I’m just saying that there were a lot of factors that went into our decision to have a wedding.
When we finally decided to have a wedding, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty: budget. We scoured our local area for different venues which all offered beautiful halls or picturesque outdoor landscaping with in house catering – for a hefty price. We decided to keep our wedding to around 60 people (the list grew of course) and the bill climbed with each additional person we added. We liked one particular venue enough, and our total charge would have been around $15,000. In hindsight, compared to what most weddings cost, it wasn’t that bad. To us, who had recently purchased a house, it was a shocking number. We ended up leaving that place, and starting from scratch. Onto plan B.
We ended up throwing a wedding which cost us around $5000 total. This includes everything from the dress to the venue to the food and decor. We had to do everything ourselves which was a lot of work, but we ended up saving a ton of money. Here is how we did it!
Look in your local area for halls. Town halls, parish halls, community centers – they often rent out rooms (or the entire hall in our case!) capable of holding the amount of people attending your ceremony and reception. Our hall cost us $150 for the ENTIRE WEEKEND. Steal of a deal.
Another good low budget idea would be to rent a tent and find a public park, friend or family’s yard or rent out a large field or a space near the water. Tent rentals can range anywhere from the low hundreds to the high thousands depending on the size of the tent and all the amenities that come with it – lighting, fans etc.
Going with traditional sit down plated meals can get expensive very quickly. My husband and I opted for a buffet style but we did BBQ. The local caterer we hired composed a menu of three different barbecued proteins: steak, chicken and salmon. We served this with baked potatoes, a few different salads, appetizers and then desserts. If you can, pay this in cash! It will save so much money. We also put them in charge of the cash bar (that we had to obtain a liquor license for).
Our late night snack we served ourselves. We placed pork roasts into a few crockpots that we borrowed from family members (in addition to both of ours) and created pulled pork! We shredded the pork the morning of the wedding and served it with locally buns and toppings as the late night snack. Cheap, delicious and a hit! We chose various sauces to change up the flavors a bit and everyone loved them.
Find a talented friend to make your cake. I was lucky in the fact that my best friend is a master baker and she created a beautiful cake for us as part of our wedding gift. So sweet of her. We also had a candy bar that doubled as our favors in addition to other desserts that we served following supper.
DJ and Photographers
What we did might scare a few people. We took a chance with some up and comers in order to stay on budget and save money. Our photographers were a husband and wife duo who did it as a hobby. They took great photos for us, just basic photos but they captured our day perfectly.
Our DJ was trying to branch off from his parent company, and had all his own equipment. Turns out he was an amazing DJ and we had a real score with him! We also paid cash for both of these services which saved us so much money. Hiring our photographers and DJ was less than $800.
We were responsible for making the hall look as pretty as we could make it. Keep in mind that it was a community hall, so there was only so much you could do with the existing decorations that were already in there. They also had a rule banning tape and thumbtacks because it was a heritage building, so we had to get a bit creative.
We purchased a lot of our decorations from Michael’s and used their coupons to our advantage. We also purchased a lot of things from IKEA, and created a lot of the decor using secondhand items we found from thrift stores. We wanted our wedding to tie our interests together while still remaining somewhat elegant, so we decided to go with a bit of a romantic literary theme using baby’s breath flowers.
I created our centerpieces using pretty old books from thrift stores, clear flower vases from IKEA, picture frame holders from IKEA and baby’s breath from the grocery store.
I was so lucky to have a friend who knew how to arrange flowers and create boutonnières for the guys. I purchased the flowers the night before from a local grocery store, and stored them in some cool water. We arranged the flowers and they looked beautiful in the bouquets and on the tables. It was a fraction of the cost it would’ve been going through a florist.
Tables, Chairs and Linens
So one of the issues I had was I wanted round tables for our venue. The hall had the long rectangle tables, which are fine for functionality, but I was willing to spend a bit more in order to get the round tables I envisioned. I sourced out a local company who rented them out, and ordered them through them for a little over a hundred dollars. We then needed to rent linens in order to cover them. We ordered from Groovy Linen, a company one of my friends works for and she gave us a bit of a break which was nice (thanks S!). They were beautiful, and served their purpose well. They helped create the final look I was going for in regards to our venue. We went with a champagne color for the tablecloths and chair covers, and a navy blue for the napkins to match the bridesmaid’s dresses and groomsmen’s ties.
All of this together took a LOT of organization, phone calls and frustration. I am incredibly type A, so this relaxed me more than leaving it in someone else’s possibly capable hands. If you want to see more wedding related articles, let me know by leaving me a comment below! Thanks for reading!