Planning my under-$400 Wedding
Background and Timeline
I had two months to prepare for my wedding. We had already decided we wanted a small, simple wedding and reception: just a few friends, some snacks, and the ceremony. My fiancé said I could plan anything I wanted within those restrictions, keeping the cost of everything to a few hundred dollars. My family chipped in around $200, but the rest of the cost was on us, so cheap (but classy) was the way we would go.
The Dress, Veil, and Shoes
The bride's dress is the number one cost of any wedding...except ours. I decided to wear a white dress my mom had machine-knitted for my confirmation ceremony when I was in high school. It still fit and I loved it. I spent $2 on a long-sleeved red shirt at Goodwill to go underneath it, and $25 on a red sash at David's Bridal. The veil was a yard and a half of patterned tulle I found at JoAnn Fabrics for $15. My shoes were red jellies I bought on a whim at Wal-Mart for $3; but with ribbon threaded through them, they looked like I wanted them to.
Total cost: $45
The Flowers and Bouquets
I am allergic to a lot of flowers, so I opted for silk flowers instead. Usually, silk is more expensive than real, but I got most of the flowers at the local Dollar Tree. My bouquet was already put-together, bought at Michael's Crafts for $14.99. My maid of honor's bouquet was loose stems from Dollar Tree with ribbon and a bouquet holder from Wal-Mart. The flowers in my hair were mini roses, also from Dollar Tree.
Total cost: $35
My church allowed us to have our wedding there for free because I am a member there. This included the sanctuary, rooms for getting ready, the kitchen, fellowship/dining room, and use of dishes and silverware. We paid the custodian $60 for cleanup fees, but did most of the cleanup ourselves anyway.
Total cost: $60
Flower Girl and Ring Bearer Accessories
The flower girl's basket and ring bearer's pillow were from Michael's Crafts for $12.99 and $9.99, respectively. The silk petals, which we also used as table decorations, were from JoAnn's and Michael's, for $25 total.
Total cost: $48
In addition to the flower petals on the tables, we had red and white candles purchased at Goodwill (someone had donated all their wedding accessories) for $5 and wedding bubbles from the Dollar Tree for $2. I got little toasting glasses at Wal-Mart for $6.95 for the punch, and our glass toasting glasses (also at Wal-Mart) for $12.99. I found a set of 8 mini-guest books at Hallmark for $15.
Total cost: $42
My dad made the punch from Hawaiian Punch, red Kool-Aid, and Sierra Mist. He froze red Kool-Aid into a heart shape using a cake pan, and used that for the ice. He also bought a tin of Danish shortbread cookies, and one of our friends bought a tray of deli sandwiches at Safeway.
Total cost: $20
The Wedding Cake
My aunt paid for our cake, which was the single biggest expense of our whole wedding. It was made at Fred Meyer's in their bakery department for $93, the topper was bought at Deseret Industries (a thrift store) for $7.99, and the kitties were vending machine toys found at Petco for $6.
Total cost: $108
One of my friends asked what she could do to help, and offered to document everything in pictures, so these became our official wedding pictures. No fancy lights, stopping of the ceremony for photo ops, or other special circumstances.
Total cost: $0
The total cost of our wedding was $331. It was very nice, and just the way we wanted it to be.