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How did you afford your wedding?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
It's that wedding time of year and there have been several threads on the topic already, not to mention all the celeb wedding buzz this summer (which is all the news can seem to talk about). Well, I was just watching tv and there was one show with the cost of different wedding things, like the cake and whatnot. It's led me to realize that whenever I end up getting married, I'm going to have to sell an arm and a leg to pay for it! These things cost a FORTUNE and it goes up with every guest! And it's not like I could get away with a small, intimate family would be super upset, and my bf's family (who are greek and would be coming in from greece and australia) would freak out. Basically, somehow I'm eventually (key word, eventually ) going to have to budget out a "big fat greek wedding"
Well, realizing this made me do people AFFORD these lavish events?!? And then I thought, who better to ask than the lovely ladies and gentlemen of TCS!
So, how DID you afford your wedding? Was there clever cost cutting tricks involved? Did you get what you wanted for your money? Did you have to sell your firstborn ? I'd love to hear from all of you!
post #2 of 27
It can be very expensive. Ours was, but thank god for credit cards. I think our bill was somewhere around $10,000.00.
post #3 of 27
Well, my mom made my wedding cake. Years ago when we were little she took some cake decorating classes and always made our birthday, christening, shower cakes, etc. They are more lavishly decorated than bakery cakes.....she pays very close attention to detail. So, right there we saved about $500.

Our family is in the photography business so we had a fellow photographer do our photos at his cost and he gave us the negatives. There was another $800 saved.

Another family friend was a caterer (sp?) and he gave us a little discount but we also did not order "fancy" foods. We stuck with sandwiches, fruit, veggies, meatballs, jambalaya and I think a choice of 2 different punches. We also did not supply alcohol, we had a cash bar. The table cloths were provided by the food service people and the tables were providing by the hall we rented.

My dress did cost $800 but it was on sale...originally it was $1200.

We had a church wedding which cost about $150 for the church and then we rented a section of the auditorium for about $250 as opposed to renting the ball room for about $600. My family also cleaned the place after which saved another $100.

On the flowers, I did choose the type that I wanted which were expensive so I had the florist use as little as she could to make it look nice but add in cheaper "filling flowers". We also rented a backdrop or lattace work to go behind the cake table from the florist.

For decorations, I went to the dollar store and purchased little glass bowls added some water and floating candles, placed baby's breath around them and we were done with the talbes.

We made our own little bird seed pouches for people to throw when we left as opposed to buying them...and this can be done months ahead of time.

That's all that I can think of right now, if I think of more, I'll post again.

I wish you luck and hope I've helped some.
post #4 of 27
Ken and I paid for our wedding ourselves. We paid cash for everything along the way for the 10 months that we planned it. Our wedding cost $10,000 give or take a dollar or two. Nothing was done on a credit card so we didn't have that hanging over us to start our marriage out with.
post #5 of 27
i was lucky in that my parents actually footed most of the bill (my wedding and college tuition were things they had purposely saved for pretty much since i was born.) i was going to school full time when i got married so even though i had a job, i wasn't making that much. we only had about 2 1/2 months to plan everything, but since it was a march wedding we were able to get some good deals and it wasn't too hard finding everything. i think in total we spent about $12000. we had about 120 guests (we both have large, but close extended families.)
post #6 of 27
Wow, you guys are going to think I'm really cheap!

Mom paid for the photographer's down payment well before the wedding and before she passed, which was something like $1200. After she passed and we got to the nitty gritty of the planning, Dad gave us a budget of $2500 for the rest of it (medical bills took a real toll on the planned savings account...), and we had to pay for anything above that.

The dress I got at one of those Wedding Shows where there was a serious clearance sale display from David's Bridal. I got the dress for $250. It wasn't the dress of my dreams, but it was gorgeous nonetheless and I loved it.

We got the cake from the grocery bakery. It was still about $200, but it was delicious and gorgeous and much cheaper than going through a specialty bakery. And they did deliver and set up. Part of the fee we paid the church ($150 + $50 for the pastor) included them serving cake at the formal reception.

I bought silk flowers and we made the bouquets ourselves. Actually, that's one of the best memories I have of the, one of my bridesmaids and Earl's mother making the bouquets (my other bridesmaid wasn't around). But that saved a ton of money. We also made all of the pew decorations and table decorations.

We saved thousands on the reception, but what we did probably wouldn't work if you're having a big wedding. We had the reception at our apartment. One of our friends worked at a micro-brewery and gave us a keg for our wedding gift. We made food trays (that no one ate anyway) by buying the meats, cheeses, rolls etc. and putting it together the day before. Basically, we had a keg party with our closest friends and family and had a ball!
post #7 of 27
I think my parents spent a total of about $4000.00 for our wedding almost 8 yrs ago.
post #8 of 27
We were lucky - both of our families contributed some and we paid the rest. I stuck to the budget. Creating and following the budget is really important. I joined a local wedding message board that was extremely helpful in finding budget-friendly vendors. I cut out a lot of extraneous purchases and didn't let myself get caught up in "wedding madness". The wedding industry is designed to make you spend a TON of money. You have to remember what the real purpose of the occasion is for and only do what customs are important to you and your fiance.
post #9 of 27
My parents did pay most of the bills but I still wanted to keep costs down. For them AND me, university tuition was much more important than weddings!

I have never believed in large weddings and fortunately neither did my now ex husband (We remain freinds but my career - medicine and politics - took up too much of my time for his liking and even tho I travelled in my volunteer work with Les Medecins Sans Frontieres, it did not compare to his global jaunts). We were both recent grads tho I was still a grad student attending a VERY expensive US medical school. Ever the romantic tho, we were wed at Harvard Memorial Chapel which in retrospect was probably a little too big and expensive for our needs but it will always remain a special place for both of us! (I was rather fond of the movie Love Story at the time, still am!!)

That said, my sister helped me make my own wedding dress and friends and family all chipped in to help with catering the reception. We also had a small wedding - since neither of us grew up in Boston, the wedding party if I dare call it that consisted mainly of family and close friends.

The campus Catholic chaplain - a close friend - offered his services for free tho my mom gave him a stipend anyway.

I recently attended the wedding of a friend's son in Scotland and it reminded me of my own time - college chapel, small number in attendence, wonderful academic setting.
post #10 of 27
We're eloping next month- so that's pretty cheap. $18 at the court house. However, the wedding we've been planning (and will probably still do in December as a renewal of vows and reception) is going to be very affordable. I really wanted a photographer who costs $2000 for the entire day, plus pictures and album. I don't think we can afford him though. We will likely have my maid-of-honor's husband take pictures with their digital camera and print them ourselves. We are getting food from my employer- the Olive Garden. Just to give you an idea of price for 4-6 people: Pasta with alfredo is $26.95, Pasta with marinara is $20.95, and pasta with meat sauce is 23.95. Salad and breadsticks are 13.95 for roughly six-eight people. So, with 75 guests I figured we would spend $446.65 on food, not including tax or the tip we'll give the ToGo person who puts the food together. I'm not sure if I'll get my 25% discount or not, but that would be nice!! The church and pastor are $150. My favors are under $25 total- basically we bought a bag of bells and some ribbon and made jingle bells. The utensils and plates (all toss-away) cost under 25 as well, since we waited till the party store had a buy one get one free sale. We are using one silk flower arrangement and I'm going with a single flower bouqet from either roses or lillies- which my mom is making for the three of us. A family friend happens to be a baker and is making the cake for about $85. My future father-in-law is making homemade ice cream. My dress was $800 (my mom, stepdad, and grandpa paid for the dress) and my shoes are $30. My future-mother-in-law is making the veil (probably around $30 for the tulle). My hair will probably be $50.
post #11 of 27
Oh, and a Sandals all-inclusive honeymoon, especially at Sandals Montego Bay is really affordable. I'm all about one price for everything. There are some great resorts in Cancun that have wonderful prices as well. You might want to look into an all-inclusive for your honeymoon. We're actually waiting until the summer after the wedding for our honeymoon- which will be a few days in Vegas, two days in Flagstaff AZ, and two days in Tucson, AZ. Also very inexpensive! Especially good since we are planning a move to the Southwest eventually.

Fazolis has pretty good food as well. When I was an RA at my undergrad college I used to feed 60 women for under $150 for floor parties. Boston Market also has an excellent catering menu. Their prices include food, service, utensils, and dishware. We would have gone with them, but there isn't a Boston Market in my hometown.
post #12 of 27
the only price i know of is for my dress and thats about 1,000 euros.
post #13 of 27
I have no advice for you but wishing you the best.
post #14 of 27
I am very lucky and have mom and dad to thank for saving for awhile and footing the bill for most of our wedding. They've set a budget which we're planning to stay in. I think what is helping to save us the most is my fiancee and I have decided to get married on a Sunday morning instead of the typical Sat. evening affair. We are serving a breakfast buffet which will help cut costs tremendously and we're limiting our liquour to just mimosas and bloody marys. Also because of the casual feel of our wedding I could buy a pretty simple gown which was a fairly reasonable $430.

There are always ways to cut costs and still have a gorgeous day! Good luck to you whenever that day may be.
post #15 of 27
Originally Posted by berylayn
I think what is helping to save us the most is my fiancee and I have decided to get married on a Sunday morning instead of the typical Sat. evening affair. We are serving a breakfast buffet which will help cut costs tremendously and we're limiting our liquour to just mimosas and bloody marys. Also because of the casual feel of our wedding I could buy a pretty simple gown which was a fairly reasonable $430.

Beryl, that is what my best friend and her fiancee are doing for their wedding next year, too. Wonderful idea! I can almost taste the mimosas!!
post #16 of 27
To be quite honest with you, I don't understand these big weddings ! I'm sitting here thinking about it, and I believe most everyone I know got married at the courthouse! I think I've only ever been to one "big" wedding, a friend of my sister's, and this would have been 25-30 years ago. The lady has since divorced of course .

post #17 of 27
I got lucky with my wedding. We paid about $5,000.00 for the whole affair, give or take some. I decided to get married in a ballroom that was located in a pretty fancy hotel, and the package included catered food, soda, coffee, teas, and punch, and they had people to serve it on addition to someone to serve the cake after my husband and I cut out our first piece. That cost $3,000.00, however I paid the 750.00 deposit on it, paid the deposit on the DJ, and paid on our wedding rings a year in advance. I got the cake on a discount, and they delivered and set it up. My husband and I also got a free night at the Omni, because we had more than 125 guests. I bought artificial flowers at our local walmart, bought bouquet holders, and the tape to hold the flowers together, and me and 1 of my bridesmaids made all of the bouquets in one night, and they were beautiful. And the best part is, almost a year later, they are still beautiful! I made all of the boutineers and corsages for the groomsmen, the parents and the grandparents. My dress was about 500.00. A big helper was the fact that the grooms parents pitched in money to help as well, and that was the best thing that could have happened. They paid off the balance of the DJ, they paid for the invitations, they paid for all of the tuxedos for the guys, including my ring bearer, and they handed over money for I cant remember what else. They really were more than willing to help out. The photography was free, because of my aunt. So, it really worked out. In this day and age where everything is ridiculously expensive, the grooms parents have to help out more than what tradition says to. Whether its a simple ceremony or a lavish event, it still costs money. But you can cut corners and save money by doing a lot of the hands on stuff yourself. I went to the dollar store and bought my taper candles in navy, and the napkins that were red and blue came from a party supply outlet store. So, you just have to be open to ideas, and be willing to compromise on things. Some of these weddings are ridiculous in what they have there.
Good luck with it! When it gets here, that is
post #18 of 27
I got married WAY bacnk in 1985. I paid for my dress,shoes, etc.....
Mom and Dad paid for everything else. In Wisconsin one has "big weddings" I think mine was on the smaller big of big with perhaps 250 or so for dinner. Prices were cheaper back then I think the meal was only like $6.00/person. Plus for like $1.50 they had sandwiches and stuff at about 10:30. This was at a old fashioned "ballroom" THe meal was prepared my some church groups and in addition to wedding cake they church ladies alway made the best pie (that is one reason I chose that place) I wanted the pie!! We had a polka band-its tradition , photographer, video person. And another unique to Wisconsin open bar at the reception until dinner then "free" beer and soda. Cake was from the bakeshop at a local grocery store. Lots of real flowers for me-some mom and dad grew in the garden decorated the church. No limo I used my grandparents car that had been passed down to my uncle after thry died. (something borrowed!!) So the total cost I don't remember. My dad raised christmas trees for several yrs and this is how the wedding got paid for.
post #19 of 27
We were married in 1990, and all totalled, had about $1,000 in EVERYTHING! Of course, my SIL made my dress and my bridesmaids dresses, and hub did the cake and all the food, so all that cost there was the actual $$$ amount for the food itself....
post #20 of 27
Originally Posted by Leli
It's led me to realize that whenever I end up getting married, I'm going to have to sell an arm and a leg to pay for it! These things cost a FORTUNE and it goes up with every guest!
What a great thread! My only advice is to SHOP AROUND, it is amazing how prices will vary from one vendor to another. I also highly highly recommend shopping at online auction venues if you are comfortable doing so. I saved over $4000 buying my stuff online! Just some of the savings I can share that we had: I bought my DREAM princess gown online for $175US, I bought my flowers online giving the seller my colors and she put together a customized package for me that was only $130 for everything, I bought my shoes online for $30, I bought all my decorations online and made them myself (SUPER easy, the caterer thought they were professionally made and my bows only cost $2 each!), then I bought all my favor materials online and assembled them myself as well.

I also recommend that you ask around to family & friends. Turns out my grandma knew a professional photographer and he followed us around on our wedding right from the time we got up and only charged us $900 (photo's were awesome). We also had a family friend who loved to take videos and they agreed to videotape the wedding ceremony for us and part of the evening too.

All in all, our wedding cost us around $8000 for 120 people which we thought was great!
post #21 of 27
We got married two years ago, and it all ended up costing about $10,000. We had about 120 people at the wedding. His parents paid for half of it, my parents paid for my clothes, and we paid for the rest. Keep in mind that we're in Chicago, which is a really expensive place to get married, so our wedding was really modest by Chicago standards.

His parents contributed $5,000, which pretty much covered the food bill at the banquet hall. We had a full dinner and dance. We looked into renting a VFW hall or someplace and catering it in, but it was WAY less expensive to go with a package at the banquet hall. We thoroughly researched all the halls in the area to find one that was nice, but was also reasonably priced. We also had our wedding on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, so we were able to negotiate for the less expensive Sunday rates. The package included all the food and drinks, the cake, and silk centerpieces for the tables.

The ceremony was in a gorgeous garden in our local park district. It cost $500 to rent (which included chairs and a tent), and was worth every penny.

We splurged a bit on a few things...a harpist to play at the ceremony ($250), a really great DJ for the reception ($800), a trolley to take the wedding party from the park to the reception ($700).

To offset the stuff we splurged on we did a lot of stuff ourselves, and took advantage whenever we could of talented family and friends. I chose a less expensive dress ($600) and made my own veil ($'s really easy and cheap to make one...they really rip you off on that at the bridal stores).

His brother is a photographer, so he took the pictures for us.

My sister and I ordered the flowers online and then made all the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres ourselves. We also had roses for the ushers to give to each woman as they were seated. The flowers only ended up costing about $300.

We also made most of our own decorations, shopped around and online for the odds and ends, and pounced on anything we could find on a clearance table.
post #22 of 27
I think my folks would have had a heart attack if I'd had a wedding that cist that much, lol (They did not mind paying for tuition but not for weddings! It is all priorities I guess )
post #23 of 27
I afforded it by never marrying!
post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 
You guys have some good tips. I see that many of you did a lot of the work yourself. That must have added some stress, but it's a good way to save money. I'm not getting married any time soon, but I'll try to remember your ideas when the time comes, lol. Hopefully, my parents will be willing to pitch in.....probably they will, but my mom has a case of what my dad calls "short arms and deep pockets" (aka she's cheap lol).
post #25 of 27
I'm one of those that did a lot myself. It does add to the "to-do list", but it also makes it a little more personal than if everything was off the shelf. I forgot to say that I made my veil too, and I know that no one will have one quite like mine (I hand-beaded the trim with white seed beads, and snowflakes that were actually mini-tree ornaments). Same with the bouquets. We had a blast making them, and all of them were unique. Nothing cookie-cutter about it!
post #26 of 27
It was actually a lot of fun doing a lot ourselves, although it was a LOT of work and for the crowd we ended up with (25), we would've been better served to elope! We spent less than $2000... including wardrobe, and it was a formal wedding!

We got off cheap because we held it at a beach house my sister owns, cost was just $300 (the cleaning fee... to rent it for the week would've been several thousand- it was a huge house). Free accommodations for the wedding party, and a built-in honeymoon! We held a very casual & relaxed rehearsal dinner there the night before too... chili on plastic table clothed card tables, ice cream dessert, and margaritas. We just rented 75 white folding chairs to accommodate both the dining room and the ceremony area.

You can get off cheap by being thrifty about wardrobe. I got my dress at a consignment shop (yes, it had been worn once, but would have been close to $1000 new and I got it for $200). I made the accessories myself with beads leftover from gluing some to the veil. We bought my husband's suit for about the same price that we paid for my entire getup, shoes and all... and no one had the slightest idea that I hadn't bought it all at an expensive bridal shop! I did splurge with a trip to the day spa to have my hair done, though.

We held it at sunset, so most of the decorations were candles (we held it indoors in the winter)... So I bought up about $50 in candles, where ever they were on sale or cheap, I bought them, including ebay. I bought cheap christmas candle holders from the dollar store and painted them silver so we'd have enough to hold all those candles, and used plain white saucers from a casual dining set to hold pilar candles. What of the decor wasn't candles were decorations I got on sale after Christmas... piles of white mini-lights on white strands, silver wired ribbon, etc.

I bought the cake from a local bakery for just over $100. She also had a floral connection and got my flowers at wholesale pricing for me... (enough lillies, roses, and irises to make the bouquets, boutinirs, and floral arrangements all for less than $200) but if you don't get married near a major flower-giving holiday, you can order them direct from the growers online far cheaper than you could buy at a florist shop... just find an artistically inclined friend (you'll be too busy!) to assemble them the night before in simple but elegant bouquets.

Also ordered the invitations online... did a lot of shopping and found the cheapest place. That came out to $150 for 75 with accessories and they turned out to be exactly what I would've picked out at any price. For the guestbook, we just bought a big frame on sale, had a matte cut to hold an invitation in the corner and left the rest open for people to sign... then propped it up on an eisel at the entrance. Much cheaper than a guest book and instant wall art!

Other than that, I had my sister play piano during the ceremony (but you can get an instrumentalist of your choice from a local school for cheap), my new sister-in-law/amateur photographer brought her nice camera and took the photos, and my matron-of-honor's husband played DJ with a laptop, hooked up to my PC speakers, loaded with my favorite songs that I downloaded. My sister catered dinner for us (they also own a restaurant), but if you just serve finger food, which is all that is "required", most people can get friends to do it and come out with just the cost of food.

Hope that gives you some ideas!
post #27 of 27
I'm glad I'm not the only bargain bride. We got married last summer and it was less than $3500. It was small, about 60 people.

We had the ceremony outside at a nice park, it cost $40 to rent the place for the morning, plus about $120 to rent chairs and a nice bridal arch. I did my own flower arrangements.

We had a luncheon reception, sandwiches, fruit, cold salads. Friends did the catering. We bought most of the food ourselves, they only had to put it out on trays and keep the buffet line supplied. Some of our friends and family brought other food--cookies, deviled eggs, baked beans. We only served beer and wine.

A friend did my hair, and took pictures. They turned out great, very professional. My dress was on sale half-off, so I only paid $300 for it.

It was very simple, but fun. We still get comments about what a nice wedding it was. More important to us is life after the ceremony, not the ceremony itself.

The best piece of advice I can give is not to get caught up in the details too much. If you accept that something won't go as you expect, you will be fine. Also, enlist your friends and family for some of the stuff if they have talents like photography or flower arranging, or anything else you need.
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