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

How to budget your wedding.

Have you been dreaming about your wedding since you were 8? Then this article is not for you. On average, couples in the United States spend about $20,000 for their wedding! But for many of us getting married in our late twenties and older, we don’t feel the need for all the expensive frills. Here's how I managed to spend just one-tenth of the average wedding cost.

Church Decorations: FREE

Okay, this one isn't so easy to achieve. I was fortunate enough to get married at just the right time, right after Easter. How does timing affect decorations? If you get married just after Christmas or after Easter, the church will already be heavily decorated.

Reception: Under $400

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

Cake: About $100

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

Dress: $190

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

Photographer: Just under $300

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

Honeymoon: About $350

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


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

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

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


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