Weddings should be a beautiful and joyous occasion. One spent celebrating the union between two people who choose to spend the rest of their lives together on this earth. The focus should be on love. Not on how much money was spent.
And such a joyous occasion shouldn’t have to put two people in debt for years to come. That’s why more and more people are opting to spend less on their big day.
There are all kinds of things you can do to skirt around the traditional costs of a wedding. And you can do it without skimping on quality. After all, the amount of money you spend has nothing to do with the amount of love you have.
Here are 30 things people did to spend $5000 or less on their dream wedding:
1) Buy Your Dress on eBay
Why spend thousands of dollars on a dress you’re going to wear for a few hours on a single day? Instead, consider buying a used or less expensive dress on eBay or Amazon. You’ll find lots of people getting rid of dresses they never wore or even vintage pieces. That’s what this woman did. Pia’s wedding cost $5,000 and was organized in five weeks.
“I had found my dress on eBay years ago, and purchased it because it was such a bargain and too good to resist,” bride Pia told Green Wedding Shoes. “It was an original 50s prom dress with beautiful fluffy layers of pink and cream tulle and lace.”
2) Don’t Pay For the Ceremony
Why pay for a ceremony location when you can be married for free in nature? Tera and Mike got a free permit and had their ceremony at a national state park in the middle of the mountains at Mount Baker in Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington. It was followed by a backyard reception. Learn more about how they pulled off their beautiful wedding for under $3,000 here.
3) Buy Cheap Snacks That Are Fun
A fun way to bring some joy to your wedding and keep people fed is to serve cheap, fun snacks. Kristi got friends to work in shifts at rented popcorn and cotton candy machines. She said it helped the single people mingle a bit too. Learn about how she spent less than $5,000 on her wedding here.
4) Have Fun Games
You don’t need to hire entertainment for your wedding. Keep your guests entertained with a fun game, like corn hole, Bocci, or beer pong. Having people play together will create much more memorable moments.
5) Use Curtains as Table Runners
You can repurpose stuff you have around the house or head to the dollar or thrift store for wedding decor. Don’t buy table runners. You can use curtains instead. Lace ones work perfectly.
6) Don’t Buy New Dinnerware
You don’t need to spend big bucks on dinnerware. You can opt for mismatching pieces from the thrift store. It will add some color and whimsy to your wedding and you can sell the pieces after your wedding.
7) Return Unopened Booze
Most people will overbuy when it comes to booze so they don’t run out. But this can be a waste if you end up not opening bottles. Some states allow you to return unopened bottles to places like Sam’s Club and Costco. Make a few phone calls and find out if you can save money this way.
8) Baby’s Breath
Anna Beth spent under $500 on her wedding. Yes, you read that right… UNDER. And she didn’t skimp on flowers either. They just used baby’s breath. And a whole lot of it. Learn more about Anna Beth’s $500 budget wedding here.
9) Engagement Rings on Etsy
You don’t need a real diamond to say: “I love you.” But it is nice to have a ring as a symbolic gesture of love. You can buy beautiful looking engagement rings on Etsy for under $100. If you’re looking for some real diamond or cubic zirconias you can try places like Macy’s, Kohl’s, or Facebook Marketplace.
10) Paper or Faux Flowers
Fresh flowers can get expensive. Making paper flower bouquets and arrangements can save you big bucks. Learn how to make them in the video below. Faux flowers also photograph really well and can be arranged beautifully.
Don’t be afraid of plastic or paper tablecloths. You can add a table runner and other decor over it to dress the table up. It will also make for a much easier cleanup.
12) Sawdust Runner
You can make this cute sawdust runner for a just a few bucks. Just dye some sawdust and use a stencil to get the right shape. Learn how to do this here.
13) Hire Student Musicians
If you’d like live music at your wedding, there are ways you can spend less money on it. Try hiring some student musicians. You can check with the music departmetns at your local college or university.
14) DIY Seating Chart
Create your own seating chart on the cheap by using an old door. Paint it with chalkboard paint and write the seating chart and event schedule on it. You can even save the door and install it in your home. This photo is from Sarah and Chris’ wedding.
15) Have a Cake Gifted
Do you have any friends who are bakers? Ask them to make you a cake in lieu of a gift. Anna Beth traded a friend some of her photography services for this beauitful cake. You can also try making your own wedding cake.
16) Hit Up An Estate Sale
Estate sales are great for finding low cost tables and chairs. Anna Beth got hers for free. The tables were lent from a church and she got church pews that were donated by a church that was throwing them out.
17) $80 Wedding Arch
You don’t need to spend big bucks to have an Instagram perfect wedding. This wedding arch cost Reddit user goshdarnkids only $80 to make and two hours to build. Learn how to build your own here.
18) Simple Centerpieces
If you’re going with real flowers keep your centerpieces simple to stay under budget. A mason jar, a single rose, and baby’s breath is just enough.
19) Fallen Tree Centerpieces
Tree slice pieces are expensive. So, if you have a fallen tree in your yard… take advantage of it. Find someone with a chainsaw and a sander and slice up that tree. You may want to paint them with a protective coating. You can use these as centerpiece slabs for your wedding or sell them and make a ton of quick cash.
20) Don’t Buy Hair Accessories At the Bridal Dress Stop
Hair accessories have inflated costs at the bridal dress shop. You’re better off going to a place like Claire’s or Icing at the mall. This hair piece cost Reddit user butterlava just $10.
21) Do Your Own Makeup
Wedding makeup can cost a lot when you’re hiring a professional. You can just do your own instead. You’ll find lots of tutorials on YouTube and you can find some more tips here.
Getting married in the woods is free, if its on your property or a friends property. You can still decorate the forest with this cool tree archway. You just need two long sheets you can get at a dollar or thrift store. You can also get the rope and flowers from the dollar store.
23) Party Favors
There are endless ways to make inexpensive party favors for guests to take home. Just grab a mason jar and fill it with an inexpensive treat like popcorn. You can find 40 ideas here.
24) Personalized Wedding Decor
You can still make a bold statement with your decor without spending a lot of money. Hula hoops or wire rings from the dollar store can be spray painted and used to make beautiful pieces. Get some ideas here.
25) Don’t Pay for Engagement Photos
Engagement photos are trendy but a cost you can definitely skip for your budget wedding. You can forgo them all together. Or you can find a friend with a camera and head to the park or another cool location for free.
26) Bridal Party Gifts
If you want to say thank you to your bridal party you can do so cheaply. These gifts were made on cheap. You can find some great ideas here.
27) Get Grocery Store Flowers
You can do fresh flowers on the cheap. Just buy them from the grocery store. Get vases from the dollar store and arrange them yourself.
28) Napkin Rings
If you want napkin rings to jazz up your napkins you can do it on the cheap. These were made for $.13 each. All you need is lace and burlap ribbon frm the dollar store. And a glue gun.
29) Always Look For a Coupon
If you’re buying something from a store, always look for a coupon. You should check online to see if you can find a similar price. Don’t just immediately fill up your Amazon cart, you might find things cheaper elsewhere. If you’re having a seasonal wedding, craft stores will often have big sales when the season is over so you can stock up for your wedding if a year out.
30) Do Your Own Hair
Why spend a ton of money on a hair do? Just look online for inspiration and find a video tutorial to show you how to do it. Here are 25 easy wedding hair styles you can do yourself.