Planning a Wedding for Under $500

June 26, 2009

Jar with coins labelled WeddingWith the 9/9/09 wedding day drawing ever nearer, I have decided that I want to spend no more than $500 on the whole thing. I have tailored down some ideas to create a great party while saving some extra money in the bank.


I ordered my dress through eBay. My dress is not a traditional wedding dress, it is a Renaissance-style "dusty rose"-colored dress that cost me $70. With my hair being done by a friend of mine and sandals that I already own upon my feet, the wardrobe is ready.

The wedding itself falls on a Wednesday. My fiancee and I are going to get married in the judge's chambers here in town. The total cost of the marriage license and the fee of the judge is less than that of a minister or rabbi, and since we both are from different religions, the justice of the peace will be the tie-breaker.

The reception will be held at our apartment complex's community party room. For less than $100, we can rent a room that will fit 35 people. That was the biggest money-saver of all!

As cliched as it sounds, we really are only inviting immediate family members and close friends. The guest list has been pared down to 35 people at a maximum, and most of those people are kids under the age of 5! I try to avoid talking about the wedding at work because I have several "work" friends and my budget simply cannot afford an extra 14 people!


Food is another issue. The first idea I had was to have a Thanksgiving dinner, but early September in Nebraska is no time to be keeping the ovens running for several hours at a time to bake some turkeys! The next idea I had was grilled burgers and hot dogs, but then the question arose about how to safely keep them warm.

Finally, the commercials sank through my thick skull and I realized that everyone likes Subway sandwiches. A great deal they offer is the party platter, which is 7 subs of any type cut into thirds. They then include all of the vegetables, sauces, etc., on the side at no extra charge. I figured that with 35 people, 1 or 2 party platters supplemented with potato salad, coleslaw, a raw vegetable platter, and potato chips will feed the lot of them.


For beverages, I am offering one keg of beer, soda, and kool-aid for the kids. The "special helpers" (i.e. the friend who is doing my hair and another who will be helping with food) will get their own special drinks but I have told others that if they want something else they will have to bring it themselves.

Finally, the total budget amount came out to be around $400. At age 24, I have the rest of my life with this man to have an expensive fairy-tale wedding but because I am only 24, I am blissfully naive enough to know that I don't need an expensive fairy-tale wedding to be happy.

By Jenni from Lincoln, NE

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June 26, 20090 found this helpful

I think you are on the right track. It is silly how much people are throwing away on weddings these days. They have fallen trap to the idea that the bigger the wedding the happier the couple. You have had good ideas the only think you might consider is instead of a big wedding cake do a small topper put on a pretty cake plate and surround with cupcakes that compliment the cake and your dress.


Then you will have the topper for your 1st anniversary to cut (be sure to wrap good and freeze).

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June 26, 20090 found this helpful

You are so mature and intelligent to plan your wedding like you have. Very best wishes to you and your fiance!
You will have a wonderful life over the coming years with these kinds of values and your frugal attitude. Again, the best to you and yours..

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June 27, 20090 found this helpful

It sounds like you will have a beautiful wedding. Congrats!

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June 27, 20090 found this helpful

Yes yes yes! This is the kind of wedding I always, and always hoped my kids, would want. It's not really a "frugality" issue, it's a matter of having priorities well in place! You want to have a party to celebrate this wonderful event. And not to have lots of stress on needing conventions. I love it, wish you well, and know that this will be a great celebration. Congrats!


BTW, my daughter at kinda the last minute, after reserving the traditional fancy hall, etc etc,. downsized her wedding , luckily, to a BBQ reception at my funky house with a huge (unlandscaped, I might add) backyard. We bbq'd and and pot lucked (family, didn't asked most other guests to bring, but could have), had 75 people (!) and after most guests (like elderly relatives, work friends, etc left, we hung out around a fire in the evening, with her and her new husband's closest friends and a few beers. It was sublime! It had been bothering me all along that they seemed to be heading towards a very expensive couple of hours mostly based on "supposed to"s. but when it came right down to it, reason, and what's fun and not stressful, prevailed. And it will for you!


Glad you're starting out with that thought, it leaves some room for the inevitable escalation. Final thought. I really liked the suggestion of a lsmall cake top to save for your first anniverary, but the reality was for us, despite careful planning, my freezer malfunctioned during the first year while safekeeping the anniveray cake, and the newlyweds never even thought or asked for the cake top anyway!!! Pictures are great. and absolutely do not need to be professional.

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