Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

I want to plan my wedding and reception for august 2008. I am working with a budget of 2-3 thousand dollars. I want a small wedding. I want 1 bride's maid and 1 maid of honor, 1 flower girl and one ring bearer. The groom will have 1 best man and 1 groomsman. My brother is giving me away. Please help me to work within the budget. Thanks.


Rhonda from Queens, NY


Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

Put disposable cameras on the tables at the reception, so that your guests can capture moments for you with no cost for a photographer. Also, if you enlist family and friends to make the "dinner" that will help with a ton of the cost. Hold you reception in someone's backyard, the cost of decorations will be minimal compared to the price of a hall. Make your own CD's and put them on a CD disk changer so that you don't have to hire a DJ and you can have your favorite music for your day. Hope some of this helps you. Congratulations! (11/07/2007)

By Monica

Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

Check out the 99 cents stores. There is a huge store near Manhattan Mall (right behind it) they carry wedding supplies. If there is a Dollar Tree near you check those out too. You can find glass champagne glasses, simple invitations, souvenirs to give to your guests (that you would pay ridiculous amount of money for in other stores) and decorations that do not look cheap. At the reception, instead of hiring a caterer have family cook. (11/07/2007)


By Evelyn

Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

My husband and I were married 9 years ago in a church ceremony for 300 that cost about $3,000. Instead of a meal reception for all in attendance (my husband was a church pastor and I a chaplain at an elderly care facility, so we had to invite hundreds of folks) we held a simple cake and punch reception. The small tiered cake (for pictures) was homemade, and we had sheet cakes (of various flavors) that were homemade. That way, our guests had a choice, without it breaking our bank. Friends hosted the reception for us as a wedding present. They set up, served, and cleaned up.

Later that evening (our wedding was at 2 p.m.) we had our close friends and family return for a simple dinner at a church hall. The rehearsal dinner was at the church hall the night before and we had a great time. The main course was 6' long sub sandwiches.


We made our own invitations using fancy stationery from a printing company, printing the words on our computer printer, then embossed a design on the bottom of the page. This is very easy, using a stamp pad, stamp of choice, embossing powder and heat gun.

My dress was simple, from a catalog, $180, and my husband wore a suit rather than rent a tux. The groomsmen wore suits; the bridesmaids wore simple street length dresses ordered from a catalog and black pumps of their choice. We hired a florist, but requested simple arrangements and simple bouquets and boutonnieres. They were beautiful.

I really wanted a professional photographer for family and wedding party photos, so I hired a photographer to come about an hour and a half before the ceremony to take just those photos. Since he wasn't committing his whole day and night to our wedding, he gave us a tremendous deal, and we were able to order prints at an inexpensive a la carte price rather than having to purchase a large package.


I hired a local student photography major to take pictures at the reception and dinner following, and my brother videotaped the wedding.

Our honeymoon was a gift of a week at a timeshare. We were able to drive there, so it cost us very little. We're still married, still happy, and not paying off a $25,000 loan to finance a wedding.

I wish you well. (11/07/2007)

By Linda

Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

Will the ladies at the church cater a simple fancy sandwiches and tea type of reception? After all as long as you feed the people and they have some fun you will be married even without the fancy roast beef dinner at the posh hotel. People like to talk and mingle, they like to hear speeches and see photos about when you were kids. All this can be done in the church basement.


My sister even got married during the morning worship service instead of on Saturday and people are still talking about it. She wore my old gown and no wine was necessary at the reception since it was at "fellowship hour". This solved a problem she would have had with some alcoholic relatives too. She paid the ladies to cater. They gave the money to charity or to some church project. It was very economical and she is still happily married 12 years later. Go for it. Think outside the box that society is trying to stuff us into. (11/07/2007)

By Barbara Rokeby

Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

Okay, I have a few thoughts.

  1. How small is small? You need to make sure your ideas are clearly defined. To me, small was 50 people. To my best friend, small was 15 people.

  2. Don't just investigate what's in your backdoor. Most people will travel a bit to see you. Check out suburbs, beach resorts, hotels and other non-traditional places for weddings and receptions. I got married on Mackinac Island in Michigan for 1/8 of the cost of Chicago.
  3. Check with the Park District and Historical Society. My DH and I were married in a historical church that we rented from the Park District for a fraction of the cost of a practicing church.
  4. Hold the line on photography. Don't get three photographers for a small wedding. Have your relatives and friends take over parts your aunts and uncles can do this. Better yet, if you can hire a family member, you'd save a lot over a "senior" photographer. My uncle is a gifted amateur and we were able to hire him for $300 instead of $3000 for a professional.

    If you must have a professional, ask to see the rates on each level of professional in their firm. A lot of times you can save a bundle by going with a junior photographer instead of a senior.

  5. Work hard to find a new way of getting a DJ. Hire a family member. Use an iPod. Burn your own CDs. Truck in your own sound equipment. My brother had a ton of speakers when I was married and we set him up with our laptop full of mp3s and gave him $200 for his trouble and it worked out great.
  6. Borrow as much of the decorations as you can. Don't be ashamed to ask around. Most of my decorations came from friends who had already married and had bough artificial flowers they weren't using anymore.
  7. Shop around as much as you can. The internet is great for this. I had my heart set on bubbles instead of birdseed. The bottles were $10 a dozen at my local craft store, but by saving 40% coupons and shopping various other craft stores I was able to get all of them for under $6.
  8. Be open to alternative sources for your dress, and watch sales. Check Goodwill, Salvation Army, hospital shops, funeral homes, estate sales, and garage sales as well as David's Bridal and other places. My dress was $400, but it was regularly $750 because I snagged it at a yearly sale.
  9. For the food, try as many options as you can. I had mine catered by a small resort that we were staying at, but customized my own package rather than going with what the hotel had set up. Some ideas if you are going catered: fresh fruit, pretzels, chips, vegetable and fruit salads, chicken and fish dishes (not overall seafood). Things to avoid: high end items like shrimp, procuitto wrapped melons, seafoods like lobster, oyster or mussels, steaks, high end meats, etc. Anything that the caterer is going to spend less labor on is going to net you a discount.

    My reception had chips, pretzels, fruit, chicken and crab, whitefish, and normal side dishes and we spend well under $2k for it and I had 60 people attend. My other friends have had moms and dads make brunch style foods, hired the local ladies society, hired the Jaycees, the Knights of Columbus, etc. all for a fraction of the cost of hiring a caterer.

  10. Don't be afraid to ask everyone you know what they might have a connection to. Lots of people have come down the same road and can give you local advice on where to do X thing.
  11. Cake. Consider places like Costco or Dairy Queen or other non-traditional sites. My wedding featured a chocolate mousse cake and a white cake with cheesecake flavored filling. We priced both out at a bakery and found it was going to be well over $1000. We bought the two cakes, extremely well customized and decorated, at Costco for $14.99 each.

Good luck and if you have any questions feel free to message me. I'd be glad to help out. My wedding total was $3600, so I spent just a little more than what you want to do. (11/08/2007)

By Concetta

Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

It is nice to know that I am not the only one who had that size of budget. My wedding cost about $2500.

Keep it simple. Try to find a venue that is naturally beautiful. Does anyone have a garden, is there a beach or park nearby that you could use? If inside don't try to cover the whole area with flowers or bows or ribbons as cheap as they can be they all add up in price. Consider having one main decorated area.

Can someone make your cake? My mother in law made a mud cake and decorated it for us. A simple cake design can look beautiful and elegant.

Use and reuse. If you have flowers for the ceremony area transfer them to the reception area. We used our flowers to lay on the table we signed the marriage license on instead of having another lot of flowers for that.

Make your own invitations be creative when looking at paper sources. Our wedding was on the beach so I went for natural recycled paper to give it that look. While most sheets of paper were $1 each I found a pad of recycled paper for around $5 for 50 sheets. Print photos on paper not card as this will cut down the price.
However this can be very time consuming so if it is not what you value consider low cost printing on simple but elegant paper.

Don't try on dresses outside of your price range. All this will do will make you discontented with what you can afford and tempt you to spend much more than you can afford on you dress. My beautiful dress I got for $270 with alterations added as it was very simple (no lace train or sequins to add to the price). If you do dream of the princess dress see if you could hire or borrow it from someone else who has lately gotten married.

Consider getting married at alternative times. We got married on the beach at 9 o'clock in the morning to avoid the rush of people. This also meant we could have a BBQ lunch and avoided having a big dinner meal. We also used the cake with fruit as the dessert instead of adding alternative deserts. (Who has seen the cake being refused because people are so full with the rest of dessert?) We bought meat for the BBQ when it was on special and some of my family were happy to provide the drinks. You could also have had a morning tea.

If your wedding is not formal then consider not having suits. Black pants and nice shirts cost much less then full suits and are a lot more pleasant for the guys in the heat of summer. Waistcoats can also be worn.

Keep it simple. Your day will be so much more relaxed and you can enjoy the day much more. If you don't have all the details they can't possibly go wrong.

I am so happy to say we have started marriage with no debt from our wedding. (11/12/2007)

By liz

Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

Skip the cake. Much of it goes to waste and nobody will miss it if they're having fun. Make sure there is dancing and music of some sort. Go with a buffet rather than a sit-down dinner. Wear an unusual dress, doesn't have to be a traditional wedding dress, as long as it's tasteful, pretty and flattering. Carry a simple, but elegant bouquet. It can be a single stem rose even, very elegant. The fewer attendants the fewer flowers needed and less expense all around. Most people would rather be a guest than an attendant anyhow. The guys can wear nice suits. Do your own hair and makeup. You know how. (12/07/2007)

By Mary

Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

My sister had a small wedding which was held in our Victorian home. It was a bit crowded, but lots of fun. We borrowed chairs from the church down the street, and had more flowers than the typical church wedding. Where did the flowers come from? Well, a few days before the wedding my sisters and I called several funeral homes to ask if they might have bouquets that had been left over from viewings/funerals. Most said "Yes!". So on the day before and the morning of the wedding, my mom and sisters drove around and collected all these gorgeous bouquets. No one needed to know that all the flowers were free. Otherwise they would have been thrown away. (12/29/2007)

By Alabama girl

Planning a Wedding for Under $3000

I am trying to plan a budget for around $3000 here in Portland OR and I agree that the most expensive thing I have found so far is the location. I am making my own centerpieces for the tables using limes and blue ribbon instead of flowers as my wedding colors are blue green and white. I found the idea on Martha Stewart. There was a big glass vase thing filed with yellow lemons and ribbon and it looked really pretty.

I am also not wedding a traditional white dress because all brides are starting to look the same and one white dress seems to look like every other. I am going to wear a light blue or Tiffany blue dress. I am also avoiding bridal shops for my dress and looking in prom dress shops instead. You can find a dress for way under half the cost of a wedding dress. If you are set on a white dress try in your area. A lot of brides sell their dresses on there after their wedding day. All in all its you special day and you can do whatever you want. To make sure people remember your day, make it as unique as possible. That is why I have chosen not to blue. (02/19/2008)

By Poeticsoulsta

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