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Planning my under-$400 Wedding

Updated on March 16, 2011

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

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The Venue

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

Reception Decorations

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

Reception Food

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

The Pictures

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

Total costs

The total cost of our wedding was $331. It was very nice, and just the way we wanted it to be.


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    • Zeitnixe profile image

      Zeitnixe 5 years ago

      Inspiring! Really creative and lovely!

    • profile image

      bloodyrose2310 6 years ago

      awsome. Nicely done and great ideas.

    • KT pdx profile image

      KT pdx 6 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

      MelO, yes, I could have found a dress at a consignment shop or a yard sale. I think you missed the part about the dress having sentimental value because it was my confirmation dress and my mom had made it??? And the "cheap but classy" was to describe what we wanted to do for the whole wedding, not just the dress. The dress is only one part of a wedding.

    • profile image

      MelO 6 years ago

      This describes an inexpensive route sure enough but to say it was cheap and classy was just not so. There were too many materials going on for the dress of the bride to be considered "classy". Surely there could have been a "classy" dress found at a consignment shop or even a yard sale and still spent the same amount or really close. The shoes were the cutest thing of this whole deal IMO.

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      I loved your jelly shoes

    • RooBee profile image

      RooBee 8 years ago from Here

      Wow, that is awesome! I agree on the overblown weddings. It's absolutely ridiculous if you ask me..but I guess you didn't. :)

      Great hub. Really enjoyed reading your writing and am glad we've found eachother here on HP.

    • profile image

      Holly B 9 years ago

      You go girl! I am so sick of hearing on TV about these big, over-blown weddings! Small and simple is definitely the way to go! Congrats to you and your husband!