Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
How can I do a wedding on a 1,500 dollar budget?
By swan from Nashville, TN
You can make your own boutonierres and corsages as well as table decor and ceremony flowers using silk flowers. Use floral tape and pins for the boutonierres and corsages. Buy assorted vases at garage sales and partly fill with shredded glossy paper or some marbles then insert silk flowers into vases for table decor and ceremony. Wrap stems of silk flowers in ribbon for bridesmaids and your bouquet. Hire a college student or ask a family member to photograph and put a few disposable cameras around at the reception for candid photos. See if a family member can make or contribute a cake and another be a dj for the night. Have the wedding in the morning and you wouldn't be expected to have as much food. Maybe have the reception in a park.
1. Keep your guest list to a minimum
2. Instead of a traditional wedding cake try a giant cookie or a variety of desserts. If you really want to do the "cake cutting" part have a small cake.
3. Food wise if you have the ceremony in the morning have a "brunch themed" reception. Mid afternoon you could request your guests bring a dish to share in lieu of a present. Early evening you could just do a mini reception with drinks and hor d'oevres. You could also also have a bbq reception where you and the groom and family supply the meat while guests bring a dish to share.
4. Depending on the time of year you are getting married farmer's markets are a great place to find fresh flowers cheap. If you can be flexible on the colors you will have more options. You might want to also consider decorating w/ seasonal items i.e. pumpkins, apples, etc.
Hi Swan. It can be done, here are a few suggestions:
Sheets from Walmart for tablecloths (covered with sheers give a dramatic look), or glue some flowers on them. Wild flowers are free. Bake small cakes. $1.00 for a box cake and a $1.00 for the frosting, add some cream cheese and a little lemon, tastes just like homemade. Use boxes and cover with a sheet for different levels.
Keep your food basic; pulled chicken, pork, or beef. Broiled potatoes cut into 8 pieces, add some butter and parsley, bake uncovered. Add a veggie and voila, you have food for everyone. Pasta goes a long way, use some of the chicken for pasta salad.
After Christmas, look for beaded garland at 50% off. Glass squares from Menard's for the table centerpieces, add some glitter (Walmart), some beaded garland. Use PVC or some kind of tubing at about 2 feet high with the flower of your choice, or use tree branches painted your colors. Hang colored plastic stones from the branches, glue fish line and hang.
Sam's club sells chafing dishes (disposable but still nice looking). Ask a few friends to take pictures then choose from them (you can always have a portrait picture made later).
Balloons are fun. Go with white and you color, let them fly around or tie them to string and hang them everywhere.
VFW posts are cheap and you can bring in your own foods or park pavilions. We catered a wedding and bought all the liquor, but still charged for cocktails just to cover the cost, a dollar a drink. I know I would be happy to pay that. Nowadays people understand what it costs to have a wedding, so do what you can and enjoy your day.
I need help with my wedding. I have the venue, for an awesome price. Now I would like to stay on a budget of 1,500 dollars. I welcome any and all help please. I live in the bay area so I welcome the help. My wedding date is 3/24/11.
By toni from Oakland, CA
Also a lot of brides are renting their gowns, or go to Davids Bridal, it seems like they are always having gowns on sale for $99.00. Skip the dance and the big meal. Have the wedding/reception at at time of day where the guests won't expect any more than cake, coffee, tea, and punch, maybe ice cream. Ask cousins to be waiters and waitresses, instead of catering. Find a friend that can take good pictures and skip the professional photographer. Skimp on decorations, flowers, etc. Sometimes less is more. If you know anybody that is handy with flowers buy silk flowers and have that person make bouquets, ets. Oh yes, for the people that help with the reception, etc. you can buy them a momento. of the occasion.
That's not much, but certainly doable. I suggest looking at just what is most important to you in the wedding. Spend more of your money there, and cut out or cut back the rest. Centerpieces can just be simple votive candles that you get in bulk at a craft store with a few petals scattered around. Favors can be bulk candy that you wrap up in little squares of tulle with a ribbon.
I'm planning a wedding for August 1, 2009 (12 weeks from now) and have limited budget ($1500). I would like to find a place to have the ceremony and reception with about 80 guests. Does anyone out there have any suggestions? I'm running myself in circles without much help. So anything you've got would be helpful.
By april from N. Hollywood, CA
State parks are great. you pay per person, but they have facilities there and are always beautiful. I did my wedding on mt philo (vemont) I think it cost $140.00. There was use of a large cabin (or small hall) tables/chairs and tables outside.
I've been creating & performed wedding ceremonies for nearly 15 years. If you email me more details, perhaps I could offer some solid suggestions.
1. Do you want your ceremony & reception to be in different places (eg, a church & a hall) or in the same place (eg, a park or a restaurant)?
2. Do you want an outdoor or indoor (or both) event?
3. How much donation of time/ services exists around you among family & friends? For instance, someone to take photos, or to run an iPod, or to cater, etc.
3. How formal or casual are you aiming for? Formal may cost more in terms of invitations, place cards, gifts for wedding party members, & all of that. Casual might entail such cost-cutters as home-made & non-calligraphy invitations, inexpensive or no guest favors, etc.
These are just a few basics for some good feedback. My email is bsvgs AT yahoo.com
Good luck, Nica
This tip might be a help with food, if you're in a part of the country like I am where people expect a meal at the reception. Check on catering by a local fast food operation. I just attended a reception catered by Lee's Famous Recipe (fried chicken), to which the bride's family added some homemade side items to the sides they also had catered. The food was obviously much enjoyed!
If most of your guests are family and friends, make it an informal wedding with more intimacy. You can have it at your home, your families homes, pot luck, picnic,ask your in-laws what your husband to be favs foods are and ask your guests to make their versions and give you their recipes, then you find out at the reception what your husband likes and you already have the recipes to make it. try informal at parks,vfw's, hire local high school or college for the day to help serve. I had mine in my parents back yard and inside and it was tight quarters but we all had fun and I got to know my husbands family better right away. i played games with the kids and had fun. very informal. use lots of flowers in any container buy flowers from wholesaler. farmers markets. main thing is have fun, its your day, enjoy it!
The first place is where to have it. If you have a friend or relative w/a big yard, that's your best bet, because it's likely that state parks, etc. will be booked already. (But it doesn't hurt to check.) Call your local town hall and see if they have any suggestions; a smaller town park might be available.
Next is food. Your whole budget comes to under $19/person, including everything else plus food, so think of the types of places you eat on a tight budget: home, pizza place, mexican, chinese, sandwiches, burgers. If you don't want to do pot-luck, see if some of the other places will cater. For beverages (or if you do potluck, for fancy desserts, etc.) try a bulk store like Sam's or Costco.
Next is photos. See if guests w/photo talent will take them for you and/or if a high school or college student will do it cheaply for the experience. Same for video. We ended up with pretty lousy photos (this was before digital cameras) but even so, there is never a day when we say, "Gee, if only we'd spent $1000 on photos." Most people never look at their photos anyway. (Heck, you could probably show up at Wal-Mart in your wedding clothes for a cheap package.)
If your budget includes your wedding gown, try thrift stores. I bought my gown, which fit perfectly, at a consignment store for $125. Still that would be 10% of your budget.
Remember that if you pick a park, you need to make sure there are bathrooms nearby. :)
If need be, there's still a bit of time between now and August for a part-time job for you and/or your partner to increase your budget a bit---if possible.
Best wishes! Let us know what you end up selecting!
Have you considered a local church? Large churches can be very expensive, but small country churches may be inexpensive or even free if you have a connection. Our church will even "rent" out our fellowship hall for $50 for receptions and showers. Since we're members, it didn't cost us anything. Our whole wedding, dress included, was under $1000. The one regret that I have, eighteen years later, is that we didn't have pictures made. I have a friend that is a talented photographer that charges $50 to take pictures and burn them to a CD. You can then print however many copies of whichever pictures you like (even large prints!) from someplace like walmart or Target.
I wish digital photography had been perfected twenty years ago! Also, with food, if you have your wedding and reception in the middle of the afternoon away from a standard mealtime, you may be able to get by with cake, punch, fruit, nuts and mints. I live in the deep south and have been to several different styles of weddings, each of them beautiful in their own way.
My son is active duty Army in Alaska and just got married. We were given only 4 weeks notice so of course no one from our side of the family could attend. Tickets are a minimum of $1,100.
They will be here in March (he will be deployed in April). I am planning a wedding reception for them - semi casual. Probably at a VFW. We definitely want a dance with a DJ. I only have about $1,500 to spend on the whole affair, that includes venue, DJ, food, decorations, (drinks?). There could be just over 100 people attending including children. He loves children and is very close to his little cousins. I need food ideas and any other advice. Thank you.
By Pauline from MN
When I got married my in-laws did the same thing. Of course back then only the rich had dances. They had the event in either the VFW or American Legion building(I can't remember which). It was kind of a blah room, but they spent no money on decorations, and the food consisted of wedding cake, icec ream, non-alcoholic punch, coffee, tea and water. There was entertainment, but it was provided by their friends and relatives. The payment for these people was inexpensive gifts. One woman sang a couple songs, and one of husbands aunt and teen age daughter did a skit of some kind that was absolutely hilarious and had even the stiff lipped pastor laughing. They had cousins, etc. serve the food, pour coffee, etc. Back then they also had people open the gifts and display them on a table. If you need decorations, crepe paper streamers draped from the ceiling and balloons would be fairly inexpensive. You could but 3-5 balloons in the center of each table. You could also use candles. I prefer the look of pillar candles and although they cost more, I use the battery operated ones for safety purposes, and they can be used at home too, and work really good during power outages. You can carry them from room to room without worrying about the flame going out. The batteries in the candles that I have last a really long time. I have a sister who lived where they had a power outage that lasted 3 days and she left one of these candles running in her bathroom 24-7 and never had to replace the batteries.
If you can't afford a DJ get one of the teenagers who is super savy with electronics to play downloaded music. As for the food, let your closest family members and friends all bring a pot luck dish and you buy a large ham and a large roast. People who love this couple will enjoy making it a great night.
Pauline, from MN, too. If you are members of the Legion/VFW or because he is being deployed, you may get a discount on the rent. Do not start a bar tab. Have a generic punch and any one wanting more or soda can buy their own at the bar. Many places have simple decor up for weddings and special events.
Go with the simple left over white/clear Christmas lights you can find yet and then just take the color they choose and buy bridal tulle. Watch for JoAnn Fabric adds or MN Fabrics ads to get half price coupons to use. Many flower shops will rent out rose bowls and some have the mirrors to put under them. I saved the purple colored Easter grass and dropped some into the water of the rose bowl, dropped in a votive candle which floated. (I made all the candles ahead of time, another story.) You should be able to pick up some supplies at goodwill or thrift shops if you tell them what you want. They bring all sorts of stuff out of storage seasonal.
There is always that 'home baker' in every neighborhood that can bake and decorate sheet cakes for the reception. If you want, spring for a decorated bakery one as a center piece only. A 10 inch cake can do that. Put some fresh flowers on it and got a center piece as well as wedding cake for under $20. I always have a friend who does cakes on the side make my sheet cakes. Simply decorated with a leaf, rosette, etc.
Go to the Paper Place, etc in the larger city near you. Mpls, St Cloud, Rochester. They all have them. Purchase the plain white cups and plates. Decorate the tables with streams of curling ribbons curled. Have bouquets of latex balloons set around, but not on top of things, making it part of the landscaping, like a plant would be.
If the place has artificial plants setting around, use the 50 ct Christmas lights to decorate them. Staying with white keeps it simple. Talk to parents of kids with IPODS, etc and docking stations. Pay someone $25 to load YOUR kind of music needed for the reception.
Menu-have a local grocery store cut the 'funeral/graduation/wedding' ham, get the buns in bulk at a grocery or bakery. Cost about $.010 more a doz to cut, saves time. Buy the mints and nuts bulk in gal cartons.
Most venues which do parties have the dishes available to use. If you use disposable for the guests, it should be must cheaper. Rentals include so many things, so find out first then go from there.
There is no rule that you have to feed people a complete meal. I've been to a wedding that only served hors d'oeuvres and wedding cake. I was also at a wedding that served an incredible variety of desserts. Just let people know what to expect - your guests will appreciate that.
Pauline, congratulations on your son's recent wedding. Your budget is more than enough to put together a lovely reception. As a professional bridal consultant, event designer and silk wedding flower designer of almost 10 I field a lot of questions like this right now.
If you want to serve alcoholic drinks, opt for a couple of signature beverages. They use a significant less amount of alcohol, can be made to add color, and can enhance your overall wedding theme.
I agree with T&T Grandma that a sheet cake is the way to go. Have a smaller cake for the bridal couple to cut and serve sheet cake to guests. Make the cake a focal point by dressing it with linens, a garland base, flowers.
I am not a fan of paper or plastic plates, even though I understand their functionality. If you can rent plates or purchase glass plates I encourage it. However, if you chose plastic, they do make some nicer heavier grade that look like cut glass.
I am also a big proponent of linens, if you can afford them. They really transform a room. If not, buy bulk fabric online and cut to fit tables. Then layer the center with colored tulle "pools"
DJ's will most likely run $500+, but you may be able to have a DJ' for less hours at a reduced rate. Otherwise, digital music and iPods can be highly effective for providing music. Just make sure to have calmer background choices for during the meal, and then more lively music for dancing.
Besides that here a couple of other suggestions I have.
1.) Pick a bold color palette. VFW have a tendency to fairly plain spaces. You will get more WOW mileage out of your budget if you stick to bold colors.
2.) Mix up centerpiece heights for a more dramatic look. An inexpensive flower choices is gerbera daisies (fresh or silk)
3.) Use lighting wisely. Colored up-lights located around the room can really add ambiance for less than $20 buck a spot.
4.) Embellish, embellish, embellish. Add paint, ribbon, decorative paper to make ordinary items extraordinary.
5.)Spend time on little details like add a menu sheet to each table by printing it off your home computer and putting in an inexpensive frame. (Everything looks better under glass).
I hope these ideas help. If you would like to talk more I am always available. I do offer full event design for under $250. Congratulations again. Happy planning
Planning a wedding on a budget, requires that you research all of the possible ways to save on expenses. If the ceremony and reception are indoors, consider a church hall or civic group facility for the reception. Food, flowers, and entertainment can all be tailored to stay within your budget. This is a page about planning an indoor wedding for less than $1,500.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
I am planning a $1500 wedding. I need help on ideas?
By Van6 from Columbus, OH
You have your budget planned, you should be able to figure out which items are the most important for you to include in your wedding and how much you want to spend on these items, and go from there. For example, it isn't necessary to have a dance or a sit down dinner. For the reception, have it at the same location as the ceremony itself, and just serve cake, coffee, tea, and punch. Also nuts and mints. You don't need a bunch of decorations. Like I said figure out which items are the most important to you and go from there. (07/17/2010)
redhatterb has good suggestions. Make sure that you ask all guests to bring their digital camera and snap away and have them send you a DVD with the pictures. A few small touches go a long way, such as imprinted napkins to serve a piece of cake. (07/17/2010)
You don't mention how many guests or where it will be held. I would suggest having only close family and friends with an informal feel. If you want a formal look, try thrift shops for candle holders or votive holders. I would only use real flowers for the bouquets and boutonnieres. Cake and finger foods for the reception. I suggest looking at the previous wedding questions for other suggestions; best wishes. (07/21/2010)
I would also hope everyone who is looking for weddings on the cheap doesn't forget to pay the minister, janitor, musicians, etc. well; after all they are taking a night away from their families to honor you and your fiance. (07/21/2010)
One of the most beautifully decorated weddings I ever attended had no blooming-type flowers. They used only common green ivy that friends allowed them to cut from their yards. The ivy was draped gracefully and accented with either a white bow or a white candle, depending on where it was used (on a table, at the end of the pews, on a window sill, etc.). It was very elegant looking and the clean simplicity of it left all the attention to be centered on the wedding party. A wedding is about the love a man and woman share and the attention should be on them, not a bunch of expensive flowers that are only going to die. Other types of free greenery besides ivy could be used. The main idea is thing, simple, green, and free. (07/22/2010)
When planning on a budget you first have to decide what is most important details to you. That is where you should be spending most of your capital. Next look for resources around you before buying anything! If you are part of a church, ladies group, have female friends, or family you have a wealth of resources. Ask around, you might be surprised who comes forward with hidden talents or connections who would be willing to help you at a huge discount or without charging. Also, never under estimate the Dollar Store. Many times their stock comes from stores looking to unload aged inventory. I've found very realistic silk flowers for a friend's bouquet, expensive ribbon, lace circles, tea lights, etc. for pennies on the dollar. (08/12/2010)
I am trying to plan a wedding on a $1500 budget, and that's from start to finish. I am having a lot of trouble finding a place to hold the reception as everything in Baltimore is so expensive. I live in Baltimore county, and have no problem holding it in another county. The only thing I've come across is an American Legion which I have no problem with. Have any ideas?
Natasha from Randallstown, MD
I am not sure what season your wedding will be, but my daughter's was in May and she wanted an outdoor wedding and reception, nothing really fancy, but still nice. We planned it all together, she and I. We called one of our local parks and rented one of the sections they have that had covered pavilions.
We contacted all our family and friends and borrowed all the white Christmas lights they had and hung them everywhere, drooped in trees around and inside the pavilion. In the center of the pavilion, which came to an umbrella shape in the center, there we hung the tissue wedding bells. I rented a 3 section trellis from a local floral shop and also strung the lights atop it. I got long cuttings from a neighbor who had two types of real ivy and just ran that in and out the trellis. We bought outdoor green carpet for the long walk way up the trellis site where they exchanged their vows.
We rented a white enclosed tent for her to be in until she was to make her walk to say her vows. We rented chairs from a local church. We decided what foods would cook easily and kept them warm in crock pots on one side of the pavilion where the buffet food was served. There were plenty of tables under the pavilion and the weather was nice, no call for rain, so we put all the tables outside the pavilion. We covered them with white pretty table clothes and each one had small glass bowls down along the centers spread out with water inside them and floating candles that were lit.
This left the pavilion empty with lots of floor space for dancing. she had a friend to pre-program her songs on a CD like the wedding march, canon-d, and her song to dance with her dad and other songs to play throughout the reception.
We had our lady friends and family who were not in the wedding party to serve the foods out. We had small separate tables set up and decorated prettily for a place for guests to sign the guest book, and the groom's cake. We used a separate table for the wedding cake. We made all the invitations on our computer using pretty papers purchased at Office Max and added embellishments like tulle ribbon ties for them.
Her wedding was at 7:00 pm so just shortly afterwards it was getting dark, but all the lights strung everywhere were so romantic and pretty. I rented 2 stands from the same florist for the flowers on each side of the place where they took their vows. We had lots of coolers inside the enclosed tent we rented for keeping flowers fresh or extra ice, etc., so nothing was an eye sore.
We made very pretty signs from wood and stenciled letters telling the way to the wedding site. Those were also noted on the invitations. I made a long watermelon boat that was carved with love birds on the outside that had mixed fruit in it on one of the food tables.
It was the prettiest outdoor wedding I ever saw and cost very little because we did it ourselves and started planning 7 months prior to the special day. (11/06/2007)
My husband and I were married this past May and we did all the planning, etc. for our wedding. It was an outdoor country wedding and the best advice is to network! Sit down and think of everyone you know are related to and what talents and abilities they have. Most everyone is very willing to help out with such a happy event and are just waiting to be asked to help.
Our wedding was held in his sister's backyard under an arbor they already had, we decorated it with hanging Boston ferns, sunflower garlands, and white tulle. We had white wicker picnic tables and lawn furniture sitting about the yard for guests to sit in, but also had folding chairs borrowed from his sis's church for the ceremony. Tables were also borrowed from the same church for nothing.
The cake was one of our biggest expenses at $100 and fed 100 people and made by a lady who worked as a professional cake decorator at a grocery store, but also did them on the side for extra money. My brother-in-law is a pastor and he married us for free, I downloaded and burned my wedding music from the internet. I did my own flowers, bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres with flowers purchased at Hobby Lobby on sale. I made fans for favors (since it was outside and very hot!) and a very dear friend bought my wedding dress for me as a gift.
The groom wore denim overalls and a red t-shirt and my two children were dressed in jeans and red t-shirts also (they walked me down the aisle and gave me away), as I said, it was a country wedding. We had no attendants to worry with. I made all the decorations myself for the wedding and reception and friends came to help set up.
The reception was potluck with friends bringing finger foods and such from a menu I formed at the beginning. All we furnished were the drinks. We bought canned sodas and iced them down in huge galvanized washtubs. I also had a friend bake the groom's cake, which was red velvet, for free. So see, if you stop and think about it you may can cut corners a lot closer than you think with the help from your family and friends.
Good luck and best wishes for a beautiful, loving day with all your friends and family! (11/07/2007)
By Robin Herrin
Look for a public (local) or state park where you can hold the reception for free or for a small fee. Picnic areas, for example, can be reserved at Maryland state parks for free and up to a year in advance of the date wanted. You can reserve a spot online. (12/06/2007)
Maybe a church hall, I know the Rising Sun Banquet Hall and Church is nice. My best friend just had hers there. (03/23/2008)
Fridays and Sundays are cheap day at some places. I'm getting married May 09 on a Sunday which cost $400.00. Now that saved me $1200.00. Saturday would have cost $1600.00. Maybe try a park and a bar-b-que. Keep looking around and get wedding books from free library. (04/14/2008)
By Karen from SC
How can I plan my wedding on a $1500.00 budget?