Weddings on a Shoe String

Congratulations! You have ANOTHER girl! Coming from a large family (which included 4 girls), my parents would joke about the screams of panic they had when they realized they would have to pay for another daughter’s wedding. From a young age, my father joked about bribing us to elope or having a joined wedding like the iconic wedding scene in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. Two birds…or maybe four birds with one stone. While living in South Africa, our Xhosa friends described the tradition of Lobola. This is a bride price that the groom must pay, often consisting of cattle. My father was adamant about bringing this tradition to the States. He may be paying for a wedding and losing a daughter, but at least he’d have a herd of cattle, right?

According to The Knot, the national average of weddings in 2014 was exceeding $31,000. Imagine paying over $120,000 just for your daughters’ weddings?! My father’s constant wedding jokes were completely justified. Fortunately, there are more “less drastic” methods of creating a beautiful and yet budget wedding. I am currently in the “wedding phase” of life, where every day I hear of another happy couple, another engagement…and another wedding. For me, this has been the perfect opportunity to witness a smorgasbord of weddings. Through my experiences, I have compiled the 6 more common themes of beautiful budget weddings.

  1. Reduce Guest List
    This may seem like a no-brainer, but nevertheless still important. One of the easiest ways to cut your budget is reducing the guest list. If this is by excluding children in invitations (keeping an adult exclusive event), or restricting to close family and friends. This close knit group provides the perfect atmosphere for your perfect day.
  2. Wedding Venue
    Maybe because of living in Colorado, but I would rather consider an outdoor venue over an elegant mansion any day. And it seems that many other budget planners would choose the same alternative. Outdoor weddings significantly reduce the cost of renting a venue. Celebrity event planner, David Tutera, explains that an outdoor event can reduce costs on decor by letting “mother nature do all the work.” And to shamelessly promote the stretch tent, a tent is the perfect accessory to reduce the unpredictability of an outdoor wedding. These stretch tents provide a beautiful aesthetic, while not taking away from the natural environment and putting focus on the happy couple. Read here for more information. If outdoor isn’t for you, remember to consider an off season for your big day, or even a weekday. Be creative with your location! As with our lovely supply and demand curve, the higher demand the more expensive the venue. Places such as city parks, often have little to no fees.
  3. Rent the dress
    Don’t have the budget of the women shopping in “Say Yes to the Dress?” but still want a stunningly beautiful gown? Consider renting or purchasing a pre-owned dress. Rental companies take care of dry cleaning and preserving the wedding dress. You will also have the opportunity to wear a dress that costs 10 times of what you are paying for. Previously, brides preserved their dresses for their daughters. Unfortunately, with the constantly changing fashions, these dresses are no longer considered “trendy.”Or if you wish to own your own dress, consider purchasing a pre-owned dress. Many women share their gently worn gown on websites such as The advantage of purchasing a dress can be to rent/resell your dress. This simple investment may offer the flexibility of alterations, while reselling to be potentially spending less than a rental.
  4. Flowers
    Extensive usage of flowers can quickly increase the budget. Reduce incorporating flowers in all aspects of the décor, or use a venue that would require less decorating (such as an exquisite garden). Costs can also be cut by using seasonal flowers.
  5. Cake
    We have all seen the elaborately decorated, tiered cakes. Unfortunately, these are often incredibly expensive. As seen in the iconic scene in the movie Father of the Bride where George Banks complains about the wedding cake costing more than his first car. Many weddings are choosing to skip the cake for creative alternatives. A common substitution is having a small cake for display, and serving the guests sheet cake. Other creative desert alternatives include cookie and ice cream, s’mores, fondue or foregoing dessert altogether with a delicious champagne.
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