Ideas for a Low Budget Wedding


By Jordan Elizabeth. I am neck-deep in wedding planning - if “neck deep” means “barely have done anything and dreading every decision.”

I have been to so many fun, fabulously planned, beautiful weddings, that I don’t feel the need to throw another one. Okay, plus the budget is small, so I don’t have much of a choice. So the first decision I made was to just have a party. I think every bride ever has said this at the beginning stages of their wedding, but I’m sticking to this. Because throwing a big, multiple location wedding is just too much work and all ten seasons of Friends were just put up on Netflix.

Here’s a short list of my ideas to keep my (ugh, OUR. It’s OUR wedding, my fiancé reminds me. Look at me, I’m a bridezilla already!) wedding low budget. Feel free to use my tips and emotional breakdowns to help plan your pending nuptials!

  1. Nix the sit down dinner. To cut down costs (and decisions I’d have to make), we are actually just throwing a party. No sit down dinner, just an extended cocktail hour with heavy hors d'oeuvres, open bar, and music. The cocktail hour is always my favorite part of the wedding, so why not make it longer? All you do is drink, eat fun appetizers and you can talk to whoever you want, not just the people who were seated on either side of you. And most importantly, you have ample opportunities to drunkenly talk to the bride’s parents and tell them how beautiful the wedding is, as if they had anything to do with it besides writing the check. You also don’t have to do a seating chart (which I assume is hard, because it's the thing movie-brides complain the most about), place cards or centerpieces! And without doing a full dinner and just choosing dishes you want to serve, you really have more control over the cost. An open bar will still be charged per person, but dishes are priced individually. But then you could be left with the Sophie’s Choice of “baked mac n’ cheese” or “sliders” because you can’t afford both. That I can’t help you with. But I’d go mac n’ cheese, everyone likes to carb-up for dancing.
  2. Don’t hire a DJ. Usually the discussion is “band or DJ,” but I may forgo both. I’ve been to weddings with GREAT bands, so that was a “must at first. But then I emailed one, threw out a number (and a TV spot on the show I work for!) and they literally, electronically laughed in my face. So now I hate all bands. Thanks for ruining my special day and entire marriage, Post Modern Jukebox! As for a DJ, it can be fun to have someone who can take requests and be the face of the music. But if you want control over the music ( do), and don’t want a DJ to facilitate the Electric Slide (please stop doing this), what’s really the point? My sister did an iPod wedding and I (as part of my Maid of Honor duties) cued up the first dance song, then just let it play. If you want a serious dance party, maybe a DJ is best, but my fiancé has told me on numerous occasions I can’t dance in public (jokingly...but not), so if I can’t dance, NO ONE CAN DANCE.
  3. Don’t get a wedding dress. Arguably, the biggest sham about weddings is the dress. It’s the thing everyone makes the biggest deal out of. Why is making your mother sob the indicator of which dress is “the one?” Why are we spending thousands of dollars on something you wear once (maybe twice if you’re ballsy enough to wear it for your second wedding, or if your daughter has your body type and doesn’t think it’s heinous 20 years later). Everyone complains about it, and yet everyone continues to do it. I’m here to break the cycle! I’m getting my dress at Bloomingdale’s (but I'm not telling you which one so you don't copy me and we end up in a "Who Wore It Best" in Star). They have a whole department for wedding event dresses! They’re not the big, lacy, huge-train dresses, but they are classy, beautiful, designer white dresses (or “blush” if you don’t want to live a lie getting married in a white dress. I am happy to live this lie, so I’m going white). I’m eyeing a Vera Wang number that’s $300! AND I can actually wear it again.
  4. Make Pinterest your wedding planner. My thought is...why reinvent the wheel? Why spend months trying to figure out what is “so us” when I can go on Pinterest and find all these pictures of stuff I love that someone else already figured out and are telling me exactly how to recreate it? And you don’t have to pay anyone for their ideas! I found great photo-op ideas to take the place of a photobooth, hand-made chalkboard signs that are way cooler than anything you can get printed, and really easy mason jar floral arrangements. I may be low-balling this, but I’m pretty sure I can do everything with $600 cash in a Hobby Lobby.
  5. Pick A Place That Has It All. The things you have to worry about when planning a wedding are insane: caterers, bartenders, table/chair rental, flowers, music, music’s no wonder people hire wedding planners to do it all. I tried to hire one, but they were charging a rate that was higher than my whole budget, and I was selfishly unwilling to sell a kidney on the black market, so here we are. The venue I’m hoping to clinch is pretty all-inclusive. They have food, booze, music hookups, and the staff is included in all costs. More importantly, the decor is exactly what I envisioned so beyond a banner I found on Pinterest and will make my sister recreate (she’s my maid of honor, she has to do what I say), I’m not planning on doing much else.

As cliche as it sounds, your wedding is your day. But don’t get swept into the idea that it all has to be big and expensive and grand. I have been in and to weddings for people I don’t even talk to anymore. Don’t lose perspective on who and what is important about the day. As long as you all have fun, drink, and take lots of pictures to post on Instagram, you nailed it. And don’t forget that the wedding budget is if you only spend half the money your parents give you...the other half is yours to pocket. And a designer bag is worth the investment.