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Cheap Weddings That Look Expensive

Updated on December 20, 2010

Have an Affordable Wedding That Looks Great

If you're like a lot of other brides you might be wanting to have a cheap wedding. Of course you don't want it to look cheap, you want it to be awesome like any bride does. A 2009 survey said the average wedding cost was $28000! Yes, you read that correctly. That's almost a whole years salary for a lot of people. That's a huge down payment on a house. Is it wise to spend so much money? We've kind of been brought up to believe that our weddings must be fairy tale occasions. But it's only one day, right? Isn't the marriage more important than the wedding. I've had coworkers who were paying off the wedding bills long after the wedding was over. So, how do you have that fabulous wedding without breaking the bank? I had a $5000 dollar wedding. That was for everything. Church rental, reception hall, food, custom wedding invitations, wedding dress, everything. So how did I do it? Well, first of I used people I knew to help me. People want to help, don't you want to be involved when your friends get married? People like to feel a part. I also did a lot of comparison shopping and did a lot of the work myself. If you know where to look you can get a lot of greats stuff inexpensively too.  These all things I did, so I hope they help with your cheap wedding plans.

Look for People You Know to Keep Wedding Costs Down.

For weddings on the cheap, I'll start by saying right off the bat, if you belong to a church, you're way ahead of the game. They can provide things usually at a discount to members, and other members have skills that they'll be glad to donate. Unfortunately for us, our congregations was building a building at the time of our wedding, and was renting in the meanwhile. Still various members volunteered there services, or know people that could give us discounts.

Budget Wedding Bouquet

Home grown wedding bouquet
Home grown wedding bouquet

Cheap Wedding Tips

Wedding Food and Alcohol: The Biggest Expense

First decide if you want a lot of people with less food, or more food and less people. What we did was have a large wedding and cut down on the food. We both have large families so we couldn't have fed them all a full meal. We had an afternoon wedding, so we just had hors d' ourves. We still spent $1500 dollars, but we fed a little over 150 people. A friend at church had used the caterer for work and recommended him. We had punch, sodas and bottled water to drink. An open bar is another way to run up the bill. If you must have alcohol then save it for the champagne toast. A word of warning about alcohol. Many venues will not let you bring your own alcohol because of liabiltiy concerns. Ours wouldn't unless we hired a professional bartender who would carry the liability insurance.

Wedding Receptions at a Surprisingly Cheap and Local Venue.

The second biggest expense was probably the venue for the reception and the ceremony. Most churches will charge more if you're not a member, we found one that was reasonable at $650 and they provided a coordinator. Our reception was at a local college ballroom, for the cost of $500. I work there, but anybody can rent it, most every college has a reception hall and they're usually very reasonable and very nice. They provide tables and tablecloths. My brother in law rented a hall at the University of Florida, they're always booked because it's so nice. In our area there is a college that used to be a luxury Hotel during the railroad boom in the 1920s. People have their receptions and wedding there all the time and it's usually booked solid.

Cheap Wedding Dresses?

Sure, if you know where to look. If you're adventurous you can find custom wedding dresses on eBay! Yes, really! I had a lady in Hong Kong hand make a ballroom dance gown, she does cheap wedding dresses too. Just take a look! You email measurements (they tell you how), and they send you the gown. Shipping is likely to be more than the gown. As a joke while a friend and I were looking I bid $5 on a custom wedding dress. And won! It ended up being about $75 with shipping. I ended up not using it but still, it was cheap! You could also look locally for a tailor. There are some in our area that make dance gowns for $200, a wedding dress would be simple compared to some of those. I ended up going to a retail store and getting my dress for about $120 (it was a prom dress!). With some crinoline from a place going out of business I fluffed out the skirt. I spiced it up with some ribbon and beads. Try places that have bridesmaids and prom gowns.

Budget Wedding Flowers and Wedding Centerpieces

A friend of mine has a large rose garden, and we used mostly those for the bouquets and boutonnieres. My aunt is a floral designer, but you can learn how to put them together on your own with some floral supplies. The roses were not all the same shape, size or color, but I liked that because it had a freshly picked wildflower look. For cheap wedding centerpieces I bought used tall glass vases from a thrift store and put fake flowers and berries in them, in my wedding colors. Underneath the vases were pieces of music (since my fiancé/husband is a musician, and I play piano too) copied on vellum paper (our wedding had a music theme). Surrounding the vases were wine bottles with tall candles in them, ivy bowls with votives in them and fake flower petals in my wedding colors.

Cheap Wedding Cakes and Wedding Cake Toppers

We did black and white cookies in our wedding colors instead of black and white, at $1.50 each. The top cake for us to cut was home made by my mother. The cake toppers were $12. I used Christmas ornaments of musical instruments to keep with the musician theme.

Really with a little creativity and repurposing you can find lots of things that look nice and aren't expensive. If you dont' think you're creative, then look at flickr. They have whole groups on wedding related ideas. They even have a group for people who make wedding invitations. Ask people you know to recommend things and above all, shop around! Cheap weddings might take a little more work on your park but you can start your married life out of debt.

Do You Have Any Cheap Wedding Tips?

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      thankyou for your ideas, they will come in very handy.

    • jacqui2011 profile image


      7 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      Some really great tips here. I am planning to make my own wedding stationery with a cd rom I purchased online for £20. I will be hiring my wedding dress and having a small family affair as it will be my second marriage. Thanks for the useful article. I love your idea for the flowers. I don't want to be paying for my wedding a year after it has taken place. Thanks again.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love this! I'm planning my own AND my mother's wedding with two weeks time apart. Needless to say, we are crunching! Thanks again for some helpful hints!

    • MarieAlice profile image

      Maria Alicia Cardenas 

      8 years ago from Spain

      Dear Julia, i loved this hub!!! I had a nice wedding and we did everything on a budget, it also helped to have some people in our family who did the pictures, the music and the decoration at no cost!!

      Again nice hub!!!

    • Donna W profile image

      Donna W 

      8 years ago

      Great tips! Nothing worse than starting a marrige in debt, and there´s no need!

    • profile image

      With This Favor 

      9 years ago

      Great hub for any one about to plan their wedding during these harsh economic times.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great comments, I'm in the beginning of planning my own wedding.. and I am trying to do most everything I can, myself!


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