My Cheap Broke-Ass Wedding

I never wanted to spend much money on my wedding. Of course, I wanted it to be nice, and not a drive-through style wedding in a Las Vegas chapel. However, I never wanted to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. For a few simple reasons. The first reason was obvious. I always believed that in order for your future married life to be happy, it did not really matter how lavish your wedding was. What mattered was if you were able to find and marry your equal. The second reason was even more obvious. Beaker and I were broke-ass newlyweds-to-be.

Therefore, based on our philosophy and our financial situation, we ended up with quite a cheap wedding. We did not run out of food. Somehow, we managed to not run out of booze. Most importantly, we managed to share our happiest day with our family and our closest friends on the cheap, and not break our bank account (well, it was already broken anyway.)

You know the average cost of a wedding in the U.S.? Apparently, it was about $26,989 in 2012. I never can quite comprehend why people are willing to drop thousands and thousands of dollars on a big dress-up party.

Our wedding cost? It was about $3,000.

This is how we did it.

My Wedding Dress

I knew I could not afford to spend more than $500 on a wedding dress. Sorry, Vera Wang! Even $500 for a dress was too much for us. Being a shopaholic I, nevertheless, had a surprisingly rational approach to my wedding dress. Why drop an outrageous amount of money on a dress that was going to spend most of its life in a closet? I settled with David’s Bridal, particularly their sale’s rack.

It took me a while to find a dress on sale (most of them were just pompous and ridiculously looking) but I managed to find The One. Cost: $400. By the way it is still in my closet, and I have no idea what to do with it.

My advise to the brides-to-be: start looking for a wedding dress early! I started eight months in advance, and it took me about four months to find my dress.

Our Wedding Venue

Okay, I have to admit that we lucked out big time with our wedding venue. We had friends who owned a small restaurant in downtown Salt Lake. The location was perfect. The venue was small, and could only accommodate sixty people. This reason on its own was compelling. The smaller the venue, the less people you can invite.

Our friends gave us a great deal: we booked their restaurant for $300. Food was about $700. We decided on a buffet style presentation, giving everyone the opportunity to taste everything. Total cost $1000.

We did have to provide our own alcohol. Cost: $500. 

My advise to the brides-to-be: limit your guest list. Your wedding expenses depend on this list. Your financial sanity depends on this list. I have to say that coming up with a guest list was the hardest planning stage for us. We fought over it. We argued over it. We were upset because we wanted certain people to attend, and we could not fit them all. We ended up with two lists. The first list (dinner) included the closest family and friends. The most important people in our lives. The second list (the reception) was for those who did not make the cut to the first list.

Wedding Flowers and Decorations

This is an area where we went really cheap. Our friends, the restaurant owners, decorated the place the way they always decorate it for big parties. Maybe it was a little bit cheesy. Maybe it was a little bit scarce. We still loved it.

We bought flowers that were in season and arranged them nicely on the tables. Leftover flowers went into my wedding bouquet. Yes, it was totally cheap. Cost: $300.

The other things we did ourselves: music, photos, invitations, thank-you cards, hair and makeup. Total cost (including our marriage license and tuxedo rental for Beaker): $200.

My last advice to the brides-to-be: do not let anyone pressure you into something that you don’t want or that does not feel right. Just because other people do it a certain way, it does not mean you have to follow in their steps. It is your wedding. Not theirs.

18 thoughts on “My Cheap Broke-Ass Wedding”

  1. Went to get stuff for my dress with my MIL (to be) this weekend. Shop girl gushed about how cheap my dress would be ($150 for all the stuff, plus we need to either get MIL’s sewing machine serviced or buy a new one, so hopefully $500 or under all up).

    We won’t be doing flowers or decor. I’ll do my own hair and makeup (basically the same look I do on a daily basis, maybe a bit more intense). We are paying for pro photography, though, at $1000 it’s about 20% of my estimated budget. Need to look into food next – planning on a buffet with a mix of western and Asian food, some of it probably DIY.

  2. Great advice! I was lucky enough to have my parents help out with my wedding, but I still tried to find cheap options. I actually used my sister’s wedding dress (after all those years of complaining about hand-me-downs!) and just had to pay about $100 total to have it hemmed and refitted slightly. I was outraged by the floral estimates we got, so I opted for candles in hurricane vases instead even though my mother was pushing for flowers. I put the savings toward an open bar, which my friends appreciated. 🙂

  3. As a kid I thought that I wanted a huge wedding but now? Oh my, just the thought of spending $500 on a dress makes my head spin. I remember my senior prom dress costing $200 and I was freaking out about the cost (my mom told me that I was being ridiculous considering that she was the one who was paying). It’s SO much money for something that I will never wear again

    1. Looking back now I feel like that’s where it all started! I spent something like $350 for my senior prom dress, and I only wore it again once to a wedding! What a waste, and it never even bothered me until a couple years ago when I finally got sick of always having debt. I want to be really practical with our wedding which is why I have done nothing yet :).

  4. I’m with you, Aloysa! Keep the weddings cheap.

    Ours was around the same price as your wedding, around $2,500.

    We got married at a park on Lake Erie for free! We had the reception at my mom’s house since she has 4 acres. I have family in the restaurant business so we got free food (I love FREE!). Decorations and flowers…. Free! They came from our neighbors who do a lot of gardening.

    Biggest expense was the wedding photographers at about $800 with a big tip (We were their 2nd customer…. Now they charge in the $2,0000 range). Then we had my wife’s dress, DJ, tables and chairs, cake. And that pretty much wraps it up.

    Everyone had a blast! Who needs an expensive wedding?!….

  5. I had a very small, inexpensive wedding, and while I don’t think 16 people total and having the reception in your back yard will work for everyone, I totally recommend getting married in a public garden. We chose a Japanese Garden that was also a city park. I had an amazing wedding location and did not have to worry about decorations for flowers beyond bouquets. It was a huge money saver.

  6. Great job! We just went to the courthouse and got our license. That was it… Mrs. RB40 was suppose to plan the wedding, but I think she got overwhelmed so we just eloped. 🙂

  7. This is extremely impressive. As I start to think about planning my wedding, with a theoretical $50k max imposed by my parents who will be footing the bill, I can’t believe that it makes any sort of logical sense to spend that much, or anywhere near that much, on one day. If a self-proclaimed shopaholic can have a lovely affordable wedding so can I!

  8. A wedding for 3k is amazing! We spent 15k on ours (being frugal and doing a lot of DIY stuff). However, we were engaged for 3.5yrs, so those expenses were spread out and it didn’t seem like we spent that much. I’m sure if we were engaged for a shorter period of time, we’d have spent less!

  9. Mr. LH and I kept our wedding expenses to a minimum as well. We maybe spent $4,500 altogether for a guest list of about 65. Knowing we didn’t have a lot of money, we simplified everything; $200 wedding dress, $60 in flowers, asked a friend to take photos, etc. My in-laws paid for the DJ and videographer, so those were two expenses we didn’t have to worry about. My parents chipped in some cash which covered almost the entire cost. It was a great wedding on a tight budget.

  10. I’m having a hard time with this because I don’t want my wedding to cost a lot of money… but my parents are the ones paying for it. They can afford (and are willing) to spend MUCH more than I would spend if I were paying for it myself, but that doesn’t mean I want them to spend that much. Why should I ask my parents to spend so much money if I would be perfectly happy with a cheaper wedding? I don’t want to spend money just because it’s there. But my mom keeps telling me to stop being so frugal.

  11. This is great! It’s nice to know there are others out there that don’t want to spend huge chunks of money on a wedding. My partner and I are thinking of getting hitched….not sure about it, but if we do, it would definitely be budget! Probably like 2k or less and 10 people.

  12. I spent over $10,000….and have to say that this was more than enough to spend. People spending $50k? I have a hard time understanding how one day should cost this much. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

    Kudos to you for spending little. Considering you talk about being very into spending on shopping, I think it’s great that you are advocating spending way under the average on a wedding.

  13. My daughter spent $5,000.00 on her wedding. She cut a lot out of her wedding to keep costs down, but the biggest expenses were the venue and the photographer. To do it all over again, she said she would elope. It would cost less and it would have been less stress! Congrats on keeping your costs down!

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