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Wedding Under $4,000!


The facts:

1)      We have $4,000 to spend on our August 2010 wedding.

2)      We have 245 guests invited, including kids.

3)      We want an AWESOME wedding!

The plans:

To stay organized, this will be divided up into 7 areas: the venue, the food, the décor, the attire, the vendors, DIY (do-it-yourself), and the gifts (including favors).

Location, Location, Location

This is one of the biggest money savers, people! For us, there were SO many beautiful locations to choose from, but they cost money! I bet everyone of you brides has SOMEONE you know with a beautiful backyard, a romantic church, or even a FIELD!

Like this wedding:

The beauty about many of these locations is that they are FREE or only require a small donation. Make sure you exhaust (and I mean EXHAUST) the option of finding a free location. Not only will you save money that you can put elsewhere in wedding planning, but you will have a unique and gorgeous setting that most of your guests have never been to for a wedding… bonus points!


My fiance and I chose a friends backyard. Right on The Great Sacandaga Lake of upstate NY, this location was PERFECT! I was looking everywhere for a big oak tree to get married under (it didn’t technically need to be oak, just something with that effect… and not only did the location have one, but it had paths going straight from the house, to the tree, and cutting across from the reception area to the firepit  where guests will be sitting around making smores!





These aren’t the greatest pictures, (taken from my cell phone) but they do the job. Any pictures of this place wouldn’t do it justice anyways… it is SO beautiful! Oh and did I mention, FREE? The man who owns the property is the SWEETEST old man you will ever meet, and has moved into the lake house to do a crazy amount of gardening and such to make the place look as beautiful as it can for our big day- he is so adorable!!!!

Anyways, there are 3 or 4 bathrooms in the lake house, 10 empty beds for OOT guests to stay in all week if need be, a huge bathroom and dressing room for all us girls to get ready in, and an outdoor kitchen for all the food to be handled. The ceremony will take place on the house side of the lawn, and the reception will take place on the other bigger half of the lawn.

TIP #1: THINK SMART! Keeping the ceremony and reception in the same location makes it easier for everyone! No travelling, no waiting, easier set up and preparation!

TIP #2: COPS! If you DO choose a location that is not normally used for large events, make sure you check to see if you need any permits for having a lot of guests, for the sound ordinence, and for parking.

TIP #3: WHAT IS THAT SMELL? Also, make sure the place will have a sufficient sewer system! I know it sounds gross, but you do NOT want the sewage to back up and flood your lawn on your wedding! GROSS!

Cost of Location- FREE

The Food

The sun isn’t setting up at the lake until 7:45 pm on our wedding day, so we aren’t starting the ceremony until around 6:30. Not only does this allow our dream sunset ceremony, but it also helps us cut costs on the food. By that time, everyone has eaten dinner, and will be headed to our wedding with a delicious DESSERT RECEPTION on their minds! We will be saving by NOT having the following:

1)      Alcohol (we aren’t drinkers, and the majority of our guests aren’t either- no one would expect alcohol at our wedding)

2)      Ordourves- we were going to have these, but so many of our guests mentioned that the dessert would be more than enough, and either we would waste ordourves or we would waste desserts. So just desserts it is!

3)      A cake- neither my fiance nor I care about having a big beautiful (expensive) cake, so we are doing cupcakes- the popular trend of 2010.

We will be having a dessert/ candy buffet. One way we decided to honor the women in our families, is by having them each bake a dessert to bring to the wedding so they can show off their awesome desserts. So since they are helping us out by saving us money, we will be displaying recipe cards for each dessert they make along with copies for the guests to take home! I love this idea, and the ladies did too! It will look something like this:


TIP #4: STRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEETCH! Cupcakes, cakes, pies, ALL DESSERTS can be stretched much further (saving you more money) by serving them in smaller sizes. Make the tiny cupcakes with cake mix- you can get about 60 per cake mix box (cost: about $1.20 for 60 cupcakes!). Precut all cakes, pies, etc. before displaying- this will allow each dessert to last longer, and each guest to save room in their bellies to sample a bit more of the wide variety of desserts.

As far as beverages, we are having an outdoor summer wedding- what else would you drink besides iced tea and lemonade? My fiance and I wouldn’t drink anything else, but for all our guests who would, we will be having the latter two, along with water bottles, coffee, and tea. All kept cold/hot in the outdoor kitchen! (Our venue really is a life-saver.)

Cost of Food/Beverages: about $500


For less than $20, we could have 600 mini cupcakes! All different flavors, and decorated with different colored frosting and such. That would allow about 3 cupcakes per person.

We are assuming the prices of pies and desserts found at local bakeries, Walmart, Target, and grocery stores (you’d be surprised how tastey Target and Walmarts pies are…) should be the same in August as they are now, which is about $10, each providing about 12 slices each, so we have allotted about $200 towards those. In addition to those desserts, the desserts family brings, and bucket loads of cookies made at home for wicked cheap, each guest should have more than enough. We will also be having a few jars of candy scattered on the table, a smores station, popcorn and a cotton candy machine…our menu will be irresistable!

= about $350 (I always over estimate)

(The cotton candy machine rental should be free (both our churches own one, so we may have two! I LOVE cotton candy!), but if for some reason we need to rent it, it would be about $35 for the day, not including supplies. Supplies would be under $30 dollars as well, so an estimated possible expense would be $60, but we are almost positive we won’t need to rent one.)

Beverages should be pretty cheap as well. We will be buying iced tea and lemonade mixes, providing lemons for both, and purchasing bottles of water. Water should cost about $70 (we will be purchasing Dasani most likely- maybe Poland Springs because it is cheaper. But we want really GOOD tasting water… I am a water snob! LOL) That allows each guest to have at the very least 1 bottle of water. Drink mixes should be under $50 dollars, which is a lot, but we want to make sure we will have enough!

Oh, I don’t want to forget the cost of note cards for recipes, and supplies to make the sign that goes about the dessert table. This will be only $10!

So total cost is about $480, so in my head it will be $500.

TIP #5: CALL 911! Make sure when deciding on food options for your guests, you keep in mind people who have allergies, and always serve a vegetarian or sugar free option, depending on what genre your food is. You don’t want a guest to end up starved  OR headed to the hospital at the end of your wedding!

TIP #6: RESIST THE TEMPTATION! Don’t let your venue talk you into using their platters, trays, jars, etc!!! They charge you rediculous prices! They may be beautiful and it may be tempting, but if you put a little work into it, you can find some for cheap! Ask around for what you don’t have and get creative! Go to thrift stores for stands, platters, even baskets! Line baskets with paper and place cookies right inside! Basket not the right color? Spray paint it! There are so many ways to display your desserts, and you want your guests to have a great first impression of the dessert table, don’t you?! Have fun with it, and make sure it represents you and your fiance’s personalities!

Don’t just give your guests a lasting impression of your dessert table- let your style flow through the entire wedding with all of…

The Décor (Supplies, Centerpieces, flowers, linens, table settings, lighting, etc.)

Ceremony décor: nothing! With flowers and trees and pathways all throughout the property, we were able to totally avoid decorating costs. Wooh hoo!

TIP#7: SMELL THE ROSES…  Keep in mind when choosing a location the amount of decorations/flowers/etc. you will need to make it look how you want! Somewhere with gardens, a beach, or beautiful old buildings will really save you money in the long run!

Cost of ceremony décor: Free

Reception décor:


This area of wedding planning was making me a little nervous! Every centerpiece idea I came upon just didn’t do it for me, or was too expensive. I knew I wanted lots of candles, and flowers on the table. But that was it… until I came across these photos:


(My colors are white, gray, and yellow, with touches of green because of the greenery!)

And it wasn’t so much the white vases that I liked, but the chairs in the background. They reminded me of baskets! So my fiance and I went on a little adventure to the local Goodwills, and found so many baskets! Really nice ones too! We found all different sizes, some HUGE, for 50 cents each! I mean, some of these baskets are from pottery barn originally priced at 30 dollars each! What a steal!!!

So all we had to do was stop at Walmart, pick of some spray paint for wood, and there we had it- beautiful white baskets to be surrounded by with candles and filled with white and yellow flowers!

Cost: We are expecting to have about 25- 30 tables- each with one basket, maybe some tables will have 2 or 3 small baskets. So at 50 cents each, we are looking at about $25-$30 for 50 baskets! The spray paint was $1.50.

FLOWERS: I’ve really wanted hydrangeas for my wedding, and with Sams Clubs awesome pirces I can have them!!! For 80 bucks, I can get 12 jumbo sized hydrangeas, (each flower= $7) which I have been reading the reviews from customers and these are about the size of footballs. I have seen how big they are in person and I cannot believe it… they are so beautiful too! And plenty big enough for one to fill an entire basket. Each centerpiece should cost about $20 dollars once I’ve added some candles found at and

Cost of candles: For 600 tealights, I will pay about $80 dollars at

For votives, I can get a pack of 72 for about $13. I would get 5 packs, making 360 votive candles about $70.

Total on candles for 25-30 tables= $150. Each table would have about 12 votive candles, and 22 tealights. All white.

BREAKDOWN: For 25-30 tables

Baskets: $30

Candles: $150

Flowers: $200

Total cost of centerpieces: $380

Per table: about $13


The above photo is kind of the look Im going for, just with white baskets and white hydrangeas rather than ivory!

Tables/ Chairs:

Between the 5 churches my fiance and I are connected to, we should be able to get all tables and chairs for free. Churches are some of the BEST resources… they regularly have banquets, dinners, events, and guess what else?? WEDDINGS! We plan to get a LOT of our supplies from these churches: tables, chairs, platters/ trays, cupcake stands, sound equipment, lighting, etc. Check out your local churches people!!! We just plan on using regular banquet style round tables, and regular (the nicer ones though) white chairs.

Table Linens:

For the cost of buying compared to renting linens, it is way more cost effective for me to buy tablecloths, and then resell them after the wedding! To purchase tablecloths from, it will cost a little more than 13 dollars to BUY the tablecloths I need, as compared to the $12 dollars it will cost to rent. After I wash them, I will resell them for the going rate of $9 or $10 dollars on Ebay! In the end, I will have only spent about $3-$4 on table cloths, and I plan to keep some as well.

Napkins are harder to sell I guess, and will be especially in the bright yellow I will be getting them in, so I am renting them for 0.40 cents each, so $100 for napkins.

Total initial cost of linens:  $500

Estimated return on sale of tablecloths: about $250-$300.

Approximate overall cost of linens: about $250.

TIP #8: FIRE!!! Okay, so most brides have candles at their wedding, and that means WAX as well. MAKE SURE you have something underneath to protect your linens. Some places make you pay up to $40 dollars if you ruin one tablecloth… $40 dollars!!! Imagine 15 tables get drips of wax on them… that would be $600!!!! Even something cheap like cute lace paper doilies will work… just put SOMETHING under there!


MASON JARS! We will be buying mason jars- about $200 worth to use as glasses. It sounds crazy at first… like, what in the world is she going to do with that many mason jars after the wedding?! But I am buying them new because I CANNOT find them used… they get bought SO quickly! People everywhere are looking to buy them, so I will just wash (they are easily dishwasher safe) and dry and SELL the jars after our wedding. I will probably keep about 16 to use as glasses at home, because I LOVE them. But they can be used for anything really, and look awesome on tables.


The below picture is found here:


Cost for mason jars: $200 for 240 16oz jars.

Plates, cutlery:

Plastic, plastic, plastic. We are going with plastic plates from the Christmas Tree Shop priced at 25 clear (pretty) dessert plates (very sturdy) for $2.25. We will buy about 15 packs, just to have extras, making it about $35. We also will be buying the cutlery that looks like silver, but is really plastic for about $110 on Amazon!

These forks, knives, and spoons look so real, you won’t even notice in pictures. And trust me, the guests do NOT care if they aren’t able to stuff their faces with your delicious food with real silver. If anything, they will think you are smart and creative for finding such a cool item! I KNEW I was going to go this route… plus, one less thing to worry about returning to a vendor! Just throw them away. But make sure you get extras… because that is what people will do… throw them away! : )

Cost of plates and cutlery: about $150

Flowers: My future in laws are paying for all the boquets, and depending on how much that is, have tentatively offered to pay for ALL the flowers used on the wedding day! Which means I would be able to delete that expense from the centerpieces as well, but I will plan as if I need to pay for them, just in case. (Im a just in case kind of person! LOL)


Centerpieces: $380 (I can even resell some of the baskets and extra candles if I have them to make this less in the long run!)

Flowers: FREE

Table Linens: $500 (once I sell them after the wedding, only $250)

Plates/ Cutlery: $150

Mason Jars: $200 ( will resell almost all after the wedding to make this cost more like $30)

Total Cost of Reception supplies/ Decor: $1230

The Attire:

I was VERY hesitant to buy the dress I wanted off an Ebay seller from China, but the results were fantastic! I wish I had a picture (my dress is currently back home in NY). The dress was custom made to fit me (and it did, perfectly!) and to look just like the dress I ordered! Killian, by Mon Ceri Bridal. I didn't need to worry about wedding insurance for the dress either!  The only alterations I need to make     are making the dress a little more sweetheart than it is, and that cost will be FREE as my grandmother can do it! Shoes: Goodwill/ thrift stores… still need to get those! I will make my own veil with my grandmother free! She has all the supplies needed!

My dress only cost $149.50! (I just CAN"T get the picture to work though... bummer. But here's the link Cheri Bridals)

As our wedding shower gift though, my future mother in law gave us the money for my dress, and is buying anything I will still need- my crinoline, shoes, jewelry, boquet, everything! I LOVE her!!!

Bridesmaids dresses:

 The bridesmaids are all picking and purchasing their own dresses. Not only does that save us money, but they are able to get a dress they really like and will actually wear again!  The only requirement is that it is close in color to our wedding yellow. The effect will be something like this:


And the Groomsmen:

The groomsmen will be renting their own vests and pants, and that will in turn get my fiance a free suit rental! The guys are wearing just vests with white shirts from Kohls underneath, and my fiance will wear the same thing, but with a jacket on top. Yellow ties and yellow handkerchiefs in the pocket to save money on boutenierres.

Flower Girl and Ring Bearer:

My sister is buying her daughter’s (the flower girl) dress, and my nephew, the ring bearer, already has his little gray suit to match the guys!

I am making the ring bearer pillow for free with material and stuffing my grandmother has, and I bought the flower girl basket for 50 cents. Both will be getting a handmade fabric flower superglued to it. The pillow will look something like this, but with a gray pillow:

Total cost of attire: FREE!

The Vendors:

Because we aren’t catering, not only do we save a LOT of money, but we save the stress of one more middleman to deal with.

The only vendors we will have are the linen rentals and the photography. Everything else is done either by a friend or family, for free!

Linen rentals: Robison and Smith, about $100 (accounted for in Décor section)

Photography: the one area we decided not to cut costs, and we still were blessed with a steal fo a deal! Total cost for all day photography: $1520- including half photographers airfare. All inclusive package!

Hair/ make up: FREE done by friend/ professional hair and make up artist as our wedding gift

Florist: ME! We are DIYing all the flowers. Since hydrangeas only need cool, clean water, there is essentially no cost in doing them ourselves.

Total cost: $1520


This is one area that has saved me loads of money! From making my own card box, to creating all our stationary, DIY projects will really make your money go farther!


Pocketfolds and envelopes from were only $106 for 100.

I designed the invites on photoshop, printed them on cardstock ($5 at Walmart) and glued them to the front of the pocketfold. I also printed the inserts on cardstock, and we went to Walmart and for $15 printed one of our engagement photos (taken by my brother in exchange for a dinner out! LOL) to put in the invites as well! They came out beautiful, and cheap! I hand wrote all the envelopes for a special touch with a calligraphy pen, and mailed them through the post office for $45.

I will be printing the place cards on

the same card stock.

The final result of our invitations?








The place cards carry out the same leaf graphic to tie in the stationary.

Total cost of stationery: $170

Card Box- Total cost of card box: $6

For $6 I bought this file box from Walmart, found some white material I had, made a fabric flower out of it, and transformed this box into a beautiful card box for the wedding! The picture REALLY doesn’t do it justice, but it looks so beautiful in person, and is the exact color yellow of our wedding (although the picture makes it look like a very pale, bland, ugly yellow...)! Plus, it was $6… afterall, it is just a card box! I needed something very simple like this because it is going on the same table as the guest “book”, and I didn’t want anything to take away from that.

Last Updated: October 17, 2016 at 6:13 pm
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