How I'm throwing a $3k wedding: 7 tips for saving money


Guest post by Courtney
A soon-to-be mama & her handsome groom elope in the mountains of Glacier National Park
Get married on a Sunday at a state park! Photo by Marianne Wiest Photography

My partner and I are have a $3,000 wedding budget for our wedding this fall. Throughout the planning, we're managing to actually stick closely to our budget. Here's how we're doing it.

Timing: get married on a Sunday

We're getting married on a Sunday wedding. This is a huge money saver, since most people get married on Saturdays, and many venues and other service providers have big discounts for Sunday weddings.

Venue: look at park lodges

We went searching for unique wedding venues  and ended up renting a lodge at a local state park for $125! They only allow beer and wine, so our venue choice actually had the added value of saver us money on liquor.

Clothing: save cash, go casual

The men are going to be wearing suits that were on a $99 sale. I hate the look of tuxes anyway.

Reception entertainment: no dancing, no DJ

We're skipping the dance to do games (hello bridal party sand volleyball!) and will use Spotify for the ceremony. If you're a big dancer of course this won't work for you, but for those of us who are into no-dance weddings, it can be a great way to save money.

Dessert: go local

A local gal we found is doing 200 gourmet cupcakes and a small decorated 8" cake for $200 total.

Food: self-catering saves tons but isn't for everyone

The one thing I'm concerned about is that we're self catering a taco bar with the help of family. I think we will be okay though because a lot of it can be made ahead of time or doesn't require a lot of prep.

Photography: less hours, less dollars

The other downside to our small budget is that we're only hiring a photographer for 4 hours and that's taking 1/3 of our budget. We could have gone with a cheaper photographer for more hours but decided a few great pictures were worth more to us than a bunch of okay ones. I think it'll also let us enjoy the day more and live in the moment, appreciating things as they happen without the worry of catching the photo.

So, that's how we're keeping our wedding budget under $3000. I'm not going to lie: ours might not be the most glamorous wedding, but it will reflect who we are as people — and that includes our financial realities! I've accepted the fact that not everyone will like it, but feel good about planning a wedding that reflects our values… which include not going into debt for a one-day party.

  1. I’m doing similar things. We are getting married in September, we originally thought to have 25-people but here in Canada we are behind in our vaccines and decided to go with only children, granddaughter and a friend. I couldn’t even find a caterer who would talk to me, so I called the local Jamaican restaurant, when I told him I wanted to order 10 oxtail, rice and peas and would pay now, it’s so sad he cried! When he said he wasn’t sure his business would survive, I just told him to come to my house and cook. I can afford to lose the money. It’s crazy I do know but for the rest I’m cooking myself.

    I did find someone willing to add on to an existing contract as long as I accepted what the other couple chose. Thanks for listening, extroverts don’t do well working from home LOL

  2. This is great, we are doing something similar, getting married mid week at a venue which is also a historic building in the community. We are calling in all the favours from friends for photography, food, cakes and the rings which keeps the costs down but the quality high and makes the day that bit more personal. Keeping the number of people to only our closest friends and family also makes it feel so much more intimate.
    Not all weddings have to have massive budgets, it feels more personal with a smaller budget to me.

  3. That all sounds great! When I talk to friends about their weddings (and think about mine) what always stays in our minds as time goes by is not the food or the music, or even the decoration, it's the ceremony and the people.
    An advice, coming from not having done this myself and regretting it a bit: take the time to speak to your photographer and tell him some pictures that you absolutely want to have, and others you feel are less important, so they can dedicate their effort to what you want, especially since they have limited time.
    Congratulations, have fun!

  4. I am very jealous of people who have affordable state park options by them. Our state parks limit booze to a few specific park venues which are expensive. For those looking- county/township parks are a little more hit and miss (as opposed to total misses!). We haven't lucked out so far bc most of these are either not allowing events or reduced #s due to covid, but we hope we will find something.
    I think in general this article is about: spend money on what's important to you, don't spend money on what isn't! Congrats on your day.

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