A mom stopped me last summer after reading a newspaper article that stated the average cost of a wedding was now $25,000. 
“Jill, did you read that article about the cost of weddings these days?” I replied that I had seen the article to which she referred. She continued with, “I know your daughter is getting married next month. Please tell me that you can do a nice wedding for less than that.” 
I responded that indeed we were spending far less than half of that number. “After the wedding, why don’t you write an article about doing a wedding on a limited budget?” she asked.
I promised her I would.
The gifts are unwrapped, the pictures are in albums, and the dress is cleaned and preserved in a box. We’re feeling a sense of normalcy again. Erica’s wedding is our third in three years.  Each of our adult children have described their wedding day as a perfect day. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how they could have been any better even if we’d spent more money.
 
We’ve lived most of our married life with a limited income. We have shopped at Aldi, practiced “delayed gratification,” and limited our kids’ activities simply because we often couldn’t afford registration fees or lesson tuition. When it came time to plan a wedding, we proceeded in the same manner. It took some extra effort on our part, but we determined that we had more time than money so we used our time to comparison shop and consider all possible ways to accomplish whatever task was before us. In the process, we found that there are many ways to have a beautiful celebration on a limited budget. Here are some tips we can now share:
  • Shop clearance racks: A full price wedding gown was out of our budget, but we found many beautiful gowns on the bridal shop clearance racks. Our oldest daughter eventually chose a beautiful $1200 gown that we found on the clearance rack for $279.  Erica chose to wear my wedding dress (which was my mother’s wedding dress, too!) and alterations were less than $200.
  • Shop outside of bridal stores: The average tiara in a bridal store is around $100, but stores in the mall carry tiaras, too. We found Anne’s for less than $10 and it was beautiful! Jewelry can be purchased in the same manner. Even the Dollar Store has a wide range of wedding supplies that don’t look at all like they came from a “discount” store—the throw away garter is a perfect example of what can be purchased at the Dollar Store.
  • Take advantage of tux store offers: Many tux rental stores offer free invitations with tux rental. This saves hundreds of dollars.  Erica and Kendall chose to forgo the tuxes.  They did dress shirts, ties, and pants that the guys bought themselves and could keep and wear again.
  • Borrow what you can: Rather than renting a limo for the drive from the church to the reception, we asked family friends if we could borrow their convertible. Another friend offered decorations she still had from her daughter’s wedding. The church had silk greenery we were able to use and candle stands and white pillars were also borrowed.
  • Serve appetizers at the reception: Rather than a meal, if you time the wedding just right, you can serve appetizers or simply cake and punch.
  • Make anything you can: The wedding party can be more than just pretty faces on the wedding day. Let them help address invitations, make bouquets and bows or table centerpieces.
  • Purchase flowers yourself: Some florists will use your silk flowers and charge an hourly rate for assembling corsages, boutonnieres, and bouquets. We found silk stems for half price at Hobby Lobby and purchased the remaining flowers online at wholesale prices.
  • Attend Bridal Shows: Not only do you garner ideas for your wedding, but you can sign up for giveaways as well. After one bridal show, we won $70 off tux rental.

  • Ask friends to be a part of your day: Rather than paying musicians, you might ask musician friends to be a part of your special day.  Ask friends to help decorate the church or set up the tables for the reception.
  • Do without: What items that are considered “traditional” do you really not need or even care about? Anne determined that she didn’t really care if she had an aisle runner at the church. That was one less thing to purchase.
The most important part of planning a wedding is letting the bride and groom create a day that is their very own. With a little bit of effort and creativity, a very special day can be created on any budget!

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