The price of a real wedding in 2016 might be lower than you think, but coming in under $5,000 is still a challenging feat for most. These five weddings, though, managed to pull off their tight budgets without sacrificing what was most important. Whether your budget is five or fifty thousand, you can learn a thing or two from how these real couples budgeted for their day.
Erica and Derrick (above) were in the middle of planning a big summer bash when they realized something that derailed the entire plan: The wedding they were planning wasn't for them, it was for everybody else. So they scrapped the big wedding and decided to get married –quick! – at a Michigan brewery with just their photographer, officiant and Derrick's brother as a witness.
Use What You've Got
A great way to save on a wedding is to take advantage of what's "free." For Ellie and Chris' weekday wedding, they were able to seriously cut down on decorations by choosing an art gallery venue that was already beautiful on its own. And the wedding party, including Chris' daughters, wore dresses and accessories from their own closets.
Enlist Talented Friends
Kristi and Josh's laid-back 200-guest wedding came together under budget with the generous help of their friends and family. Kristi's dad, a baker, made the cake. And she calls their photographer "a dear friend of mine and the most talented photographer I know." The bride's sister-in-law took on the flower arrangements and the attire – she made a dress for the flower girl and added embellishments the bride's $15 eBay sundress find. Guests stepped in to help run the photobooth and cotton candy station. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Split the Budget Ruthlessly
When staying on budget is a priority, it can pay off to plan ahead. These brides – both named Valerie – stuck to a strict budget to stay under $5,000 for their church wedding:
I like to tell people that the way we were able to plan a $5,000 wedding was to set a line item budget of $500. $500 for a live band for contra dancing, $500 for each venue, $500 for food, $500 for photography (three hours, amazing deal from our amazing photographer!)… and on to smaller items. There are other approaches to low budget weddings, but for us this worked.
With a stress-free wedding as their biggest goal for the day, Erica and Christopher kept things really simple for their New Orleans nuptials: Christopher's family squat for an hour to secure a good spot at City Park for the "I do's," then the 11 guests made their way to Commander's Palace for a dinner reservation. The plan wasn't foolproof – the park squatters didn't get there in time to secure the bandstand, and asked the family there to move their crawfish dinner (they happily obliged) – but if you can afford to be a little flexible with the plans, it could pay off for your bottom line.