I had a $6k wedding budget, here’s the real breakdown of my expenses

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Photos by Bradley Davis

We had a $6000 wedding budget, and we did most of these things detailed in this excellent post on Offbeat Bride. We did get some help from family, but sticking to our wedding budget allowed us to take the month-long cross-country road trip honeymoon of our dreams! Here’s how we stuck to our $6k wedding budget:

Microwedding guestlist

We live pretty far from our families, so most people understood why we kept the guest list to about 30 – just immediate family and closest friends. My in-laws graciously threw us a reception in my husband’s hometown, so his large family did not feel left out. I think only one group got awkwardly left out because they didn’t live close enough to either place, but we weren’t that close and it wasn’t a big deal.

Airbnb wedding venue

I searched AirBnB for places that allowed events. We rented a gorgeous Victorian-inspired house that slept 16 for an entire weekend, Fri. – Sun., so we had our rehearsal dinner at the same place. We also had enough room for our entire wedding party to stay with us (and photographer and officiant, both friends), and even my service dog was allowed. It was an awesome sleepover.

We bought all our own alcohol

We purchased beer, a white wine, and a red wine. People who wanted hard liquor could bring their own — and a couple of guys brought whiskey. We also served lavender lemonade and iced coffee because those are some of our favorite drinks and they were cheap and easy to make in bulk.

DIY wedding details

I DIY’d a crown for myself and mini crown for my dog/flower girl, and I cut and hemmed a flower girl dress to fit her. I made a chandelier with hanging baskets, fairy lights, and paper doilies. I designed and printed all the signage myself and collected the frames from friends and thrift stores. All our decor was pretty little knickknacks and things related to our interests that we collected at thrift stores/estate sales/antique fairs for a couple of years leading up to the wedding. I kept the majority of them and they now decorate our bookshelves. I didn’t buy matched sets of anything, because I didn’t want to end up with a lot of stuff to get rid of afterwards. I did buy lots of fairy lights, but I have used many of them on projects since.

Friend-tographer

We had a close mutual friend, who happened to be a professional photographer/videographer. We had to insist on paying him because he had never done a wedding before and he was nervous, but I’m totally happy with our choice. I decided early on that I was not invested in taking the time and energy to get fairy-tale-fantasy photos. We don’t live an instagram-perfect life, and all I wanted was an honest document of the day. We got exactly that and as a bonus we got to hang out with our buddy all weekend instead of posing for a stranger.

I skipped the guilt

I straight up did not care about guilt. I skipped the extras that were one-time-use only: programs, favors, garter, veil, ring pillow, monogrammed anything, unity symbols (candles/sand/what-have-you). I didn’t really want to do all the ceremonial speeches and formal dances, so we didn’t need a PA system or or DJ. I love and respect other people’s traditions, but for myself I don’t follow any tradition that does not have personal significance for me, so most of the conventional things went out the window. And you know what? It didn’t feel any less like a wedding. It just made the few things I did much more significant. Would my mother have loved a more traditional, old-fashioned wedding? Probably, but when she saw I had ordered the same color roses she had when she married my dad, she cried, because she knew I only did it because it really meant something to me.

Here’s the budget breakdown for my wedding under $6000:

  • Bride’s outfit: $300
    $250 custom-made dress ordered online, $50 DIY crown, piña cloth overdress and shawl gifted by family in the Philippines
  • Groom’s outfit: $750
    $650 formal kilt in family tartan made in Scotland, matching tie gifted by family, $100 for tailored dress shirt and socks. My husband is very frugal and I love teasing him about how much more expensive his outfit was than mine.
  • Flowers: $150
    $90 lavender collected from local farms over the summer and dried at home, $60 dozen roses, pine for boutonnieres collected locally for free
  • Decor: $450
    $150 fairy lights purchased one at time with coupons, $100 in craft supplies, ~$200 in collectibles/knicknacks/etc. averaging less than $10 per piece and spread out over a couple years
  • Booze/drinks: $250
  • S’mores bar: $150 with exotic chocolate bars, flavored marchmallows, and a variety of crackers/cookies, plus a few Sterno cans
  • Dishes: $150 compostable plates and cups
  • Wedding party gifts: $300
    About $50 each for 2 bridesmaids, 3 groomsmen, and our officiant since he didn’t want to be paid
  • Venue rental: $1600
  • Photographer: $1000
  • Caterer: $800
  • Table/chair rental: $200
  • Officiant/music: free
    Officiant was our mutual friend who first said we should get together; music was a 6-hour Spotify playlist played through Bose speakers, and my brother ran the music during the ceremony

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