When we got married at the start of the new millenium, we didn’t have a lot of money. We got a little bit of help from both sides of our family, but most of the expenses were up to us. The lack of money molded the choices we made on location and the type of wedding we could have. Thankfully, I didn’t have a fairy tale wedding in my head to begin with and was flexible in what I wanted: an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception. That was really the extent to what I had to have for my wedding.
Keeping those two ideas in my head and knowing I didn’t want guests driving from point A (the ceremony) to point B (the reception), we looked at all inclusive venues – mostly hotels that offered a courtyard and a reception hall. Since most of our family lived in other states, we were also open to having a wedding outside the state we lived in and that’s exactly how we saved money. Instead of getting married in California, we married in Arizona reducing the venue cost by 200%. Thankfully we had family in Arizona that hunted down a location for us and did a little foot work to secure a few things like a DJ and minister. That saved us time and money. We ended up having an amazing wedding for under $5,000.
Some other money saving tips for couples that are cash-strapped, but would rather not elope:
- Ask a close friend or relative with a big backyard to host your ceremony. A relative may be more inclined to do so. With a friend, you might have to bribe them with a little money and a lot of prep or clean-up time.
- Enlist friends and family members to serve as chefs, caterers, or creatively inclined folks to assist with decorations. Paying your friends and family members to help out will cost less than hiring professionals.
- Find an all-inclusive venue. The particular hotel we picked had a decent courtyard with fountains we were able to dress up a bit with twinkle lights, flowers, and ribbons. Their reception hall came with a buffet-style dinner and we could pick and choose which kind of bar we offered. Which brings us to….
- Alcohol -keep it simple. If you can afford kegs, offer your guests free beer and wine, but charge for well drinks. There are lots of creative options for this category.
If we had been more financially savvy, we still would have kept our costs low. However, we would also have been able to budget our money better to begin with. What we’ve learned since then:
- You’ve got to have a budget! Without one, you have no clue what’s coming in or going out.
- Have a plan – a plan for spending, paying down debt, and saving! And not just a “someday” plan. Stick with 1-, 5-, and 10-year plans.
- Be on the same page – have common goals you’re both working towards.
- Sit down and talk about it! Not the most romantic, but a definite “must.”
Better late than never though, right? With all of this knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years, I decided to package it into an ebook. You can download it from Amazon for Kindle or tablet readers, or download it here for a free interactive PDF.
P.S. I’m always looking for feedback, so feel free to download the PDF and comment-away!
Are you planning a low-budget wedding? Did you find ways to save money on your wedding?