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Budget Savvy Bride and her Barn Wedding



From my blog:

I wanted to make a list of the ways that Andy and I have managed to save some money just in case someone is in search of some ways to cut costs. After all, the average wedding costs between $24,000 and $30,000 and the economy is poor. As full time college students, Andy and I are aiming to spend under $5,000.

1. We rented a park venue- this is great because parks are usually MUCH cheaper than typical wedding venues. The cheapest venue we could find in the Seattle area was around $2000 but we ended up getting the Tolt Barn for a full day, along with all of the park's yurts and campsites for a total of $600. After the big event, the wedding party, our families and a few close friends are going to camp with us in the yurts. We plan on cooking s'mores and putting together our favorite snacks into "yurt baskets" for the guests. Saved: $1400

2. No alcohol- we knew that most people look forward to the open bar portion of weddings, but it's extremely expensive to buy and serve alcohol, and we would have needed to acquire an alcohol license ($125) and insurance ($200+). So instead our guests will get to look forward to iced tea, lemonade and a few other non-alcoholic drinks. Saved: at least $500

3. We're hand-making a lot of our own decorations- those paper lanterns you see at just about every wedding really add up. Cheap ones run around $1 each, but on average they cost around $1.50. Instead, we've been hitting up stores like Anthropologie for some of their wrapping tissue to make our own tissue paper poofs. We also purchased sandwich paper at only $20 for 1000 sheets. Each pouf only requires 6 sheets, so we can make a total of 166 poufs which would only cost 12 cents each! Saved: by the end, approximately $300

4. Non-traditional "caterer"- this took a lot of Google-fu searching for me to find, but when we found Larry's Smokehouse we knew we had to go with them for the food portion of our wedding. Larry will come out with one of their catering trucks and smoker attachments, and will serve all of our guests with the goal of 'having everyone sitting down eating together'. Larry has catered events for 26 years. By choosing Larry we are getting great food (smoked salmon? yes please!) and since they bring their own plates and silverware, we're saving a lot of money by not having to rent those items, which can be an extremely pricey thing. Around the same time that we found Larry we were contacted by TwelveBaskets, who gave us a price quote of $3200. They wanted to charge us .32 per paper plate, plus $60 for iced water, among other charges. With Larry the cost (with tax, and 30% gratuity) came to $1501. Saved: $1699 (at least)

5. Picnic Tables- the barn we've rented comes with around 10-12 picnic benches already. By not having to rent tables or chairs for the reception (except for three for the cake, presents, etc) we've saved around $123 in tables and another $100 in chairs. For the guests who don't want to try to swing their legs over the bench portion of the tables, we're placing chairs at either end which will be some of the same ones we'll bring from the ceremony site. By using the picnic tables already there we're also saving money in delivery costs and the time it would take to move the picnic tables out of the barn only to replace them with our own, rented tables. Saved: $223 plus labor

6. Paper Linens- Costco offers some great thick paper tablecloths at $11 for a pack of 6. Rented linen tablecloths cost closer to around $15 each. Also, if any of our guests accidentally spills some of their BBQ sauce on the linen tablecloths we may have to pay an additional cost for stains to the rental company. However, since we're using paper we can just toss the tablecloths at the end (stains and all), having spent $30 or less, rather than $180 on the rented linens. We didn't want to use plastic tablecloths because they're not as eco-friendly (non-compostable) and because they're just generally less attractive than paper. Over the paper table cloths we're going to use dish towels from IKEA, which cost $2.50 for a pack of 4. Saved: $150 (plus possible spill fees)

7. Thrift Store Vases- not only can you find amazingly unique glass vases at thrift stores, but they're extremely cheap too. I used to work for a florist which charged around $6+ per generic flower vase, and instead we're finding vases which are $2 maximum (for blue and green glass, fitting our color palatte) at thrift stores. They'll serve as great gifts to some of our guests, and Andy and I have a lot of fun finding unique vases. Saved: at least $96

(some of our vases)

8. Costco Cake: we're going to have one small presentation cake for Andy and I to cut, and then Costco sheet cakes for everyone to eat. I personally think that Costco cakes are really delicious, and it's definitely a plus that they're on the cheap side at only $17 each. We looked into getting cupcakes for our guests from either Trophy Cupcakes or Cupcake Royale, but at $3 each before delivery it was too expensive. Macrina Bakery cakes are $5.50 per person. Our presentation cake is also going to be made by the mother of Andy's best man, Nathan. She used to cook wedding cakes regularly, and she offered to make the cake for us if we pay for the ingrediants. Saved: around $430

9. Arranging our own flowers: Andy's dad Albert also used to work for a florist, and he's going to arrange the table flowers and bouquets for us. By finding someone in the family who had some experience with flowers, we've saved a huge amount of money. In the average wedding, flowers cost around $2000. Albert is probably going to purchase flowers from either the Pike Place Market or from a woman on the island. We've estimated this will cost around $500. We also want to use some non-traditional floral aspects in our arrangements, such as ferns, and some herbs like rosemary. If no one in your family has any experience with flowers, consider talking to someone at a local farmer's market about having them arrange bouquets for you. At Pike Place you can find beautiful $5 bouquets that would cost around $30 and up from a florist. Saved: $1500 +

10. Postcard RSVPS: The postage on postcards is much less at .27 rather than .42. Andy and I found someone's collection of bird postcards (fits our theme too!) on ebay for a total of $20 with shipping (for 137 postcards, which is way more than we need). They're all unique and once we create stickers for the guests to fill out, the RSVPs are done. When you order regular invites, the RSVP cards and envelopes usually cost around $1.50 each before postage. Ours, with postage, will be around $20.50 total. Saved: $75.50

One of our bird postcards:

11. We registered for our honeymoon: Andy and I have already been living together for two years. We have a toaster, pots and pans, spatulas, etc. The last thing we want to do is have our guests buy us things that we don't really need. Instead, we've decided to register our honeymoon through This way, we can have our guests help us pay for things like zoo and aquarium admissions and romantic dinners when we honeymoon in Hawaii. We're looking forward to taking pictures and sending thank you letters with photos included. How many thank you notes have you seen where the bride and groom are showing off how they're using their new wisk? For the family members who feel less comfortable gifting us portions of our honeymoon we are going to set up a registry at one of our favorite stores, Target, for the kitchen items we've been longing to upgrade. Saved: $2500

12. Cutting back on the guest list: This was an extremely painful thing for me to do. My side of the family is huge, as my dad is the youngest of eight, and all of his siblings have children who have their own children, etc. I have five grandparents while Andy has one. We had the choice of either inviting all of our aunts and uncles and cousins and their children and none of our friends outside of the wedding party, or striking the balance between family and friends. We ended up cutting our guest list from 265 to 96 by inviting aunts and uncles, grandparents, wedding party, and a few close friends. While I love my cousins and wish everyone could be at my wedding, Andy and I simply can't afford it. The number of extra tables, chairs, invitations, favors, and food per person it would require to invite everyone is a big chunk of change. Plus, 260 people would require a lot of organization and time, not just money. We felt that if we invited fewer people we would get to spend more time with our loved ones, and we would be able to create a higher-quality wedding. We are also sending out wedding announcements to everyone we couldn't invite. Saved: approximately $2800

13. Handmade Boutonnieres: I wanted to make something for the groomsmen that would last long beyond the actual wedding, rather than fresh flowers that would wilt within hours in hot July weather. I bought my supplies at Papier Valise, and I spent a total of $28 with shipping to create 8 boutonierres, with lots of left over supplies. I had originally looked at Etsy for boutonnieres but at $12-15 each I couldn't afford it. Instead, each boutonniere I made came out to be around $3.50! Saved: $68-92 (avg. $80)


(one of the finished boutonnieres)

14. Bridesmaid Wedding Dress: I didn't start looking for my wedding dress until late, so it was easier and MUCH cheaper to purchase a white bridesmaid dress rather than a wedding dress. Before I went to my appointment I researched the dresses of each brand carried at the store, and the whole process (from picking out and paying for) took only a half an hour. The total, with rush shipping, came out to only $365. The fact that it's a bridesmaid dress rather than a wedding dress will also mean lower costs in alterations. I just won't mention that it's for a bride rather than a bridesmaid! According to the Bridal Association of America, the average wedding dress costs $1505, meaning I saved approximately $1140 (before the savings in alteration costs)

The dress I bought. Mine will be in white, not green.

Total Saved (approximately): $12,893

Other things we did to cut costs:

- Button Favors: We had a seller on Etsy create 1 inch buttons for our guests as their favors. I created the designs on the buttons and then we ordered 200 (around 2 per guest) for $35 with shipping, making the cost of each button only 18 cents.

- Groomsmen Gifts: Andy has handpicked ties for each of his groomsmen, all fitting our blue and green theme, and is then going to get them hand-monogrammed for only $5 each. That makes the total of each groomsmen gift only $6-7!


Paid so far:

Venue $600

Photography: $1000 (8 hours on wedding day, hi res disc and engagement session)

Dress: $350

Suit: $90 (Haspel, seersucker from Sierra Trading Post)

Catering: $1500

Decorations: $200

Total thus far - $3740 (which leaves us with $1200 to cover our rings, rentals for ten tables and 30 chairs, cake, coffee and cold drinks)



Last Updated: October 26, 2014 at 3:30 pm
Tags: Budget
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