5 Things I did to Plan our Wedding for $5,000 (Kind of)

July 31, 2017

According to The Knot, the average wedding costs in the U.S. was around $35k for 2016 and this amount does not include the honeymoon. When I started researching wedding cost and planning our wedding, there was no way I would be okay with spending that much money on one day. I understand you only get married once and you should live it up and people spend every last cent they have because it is their special day. However, I am not ‘people’ and there was no way I was spending $35k for one day. I knew that I could spend a fraction of that and still have a great day.  And in all honesty – that day is kind of a blur. The day came and went so quickly, I only remember bits and pieces and had I spent $35k I would have been pissed at myself.

Learn to say no – Alot

Once I decided my budget was going to be $5,000 and figured out what the most important items to make the day special were, I said no to everything else. If I felt was unnecessary – No. If a co-worker asked if people from work were getting invites – No. My Aunt calls my Dad five days before the wedding asking if their sister (who I don’t really know), her children and grandchildren (who I also don’t know) could come to the wedding because they “needed” something to do – Oh hell no! I was saying no so much that after a while people stopped asking me about the wedding and how planning was going.

My Mom felt that we should decorate the front of the venue with tulle and the back with a ‘Just Married’ sign and I didn’t think having them would make a difference. So again I said no. However when I showed up to the venue they were there. Even though you say no, there are some small battles you won’t win and you should be fine with that. Just remember, this is your day and you need to stand firm on the bigger more important battles.

Stick with your Guest list

I wanted a small intimate wedding with 35 of our closest family and friends. The only person I actively discussed my half of guest list with was my Soon-to-be-Husband. I wanted to make sure that the only people in attendance were people we cared about. This meant no input from our parents because the people they think should be there, may not be who we want there. I invited my parents, siblings and their significant other, niece and nephews, Nana and Papa, Godparents, my two girlfriends, one of my Aunts and one of my cousins. Jav invited his parents, brother, son, his aunt and cousin, and a few of his frat brothers and their significant others.

We didn’t invite all of our aunts, uncles, and cousins for various reasons. Luckily, everyone who didn’t receive an invite was very understanding and still really happy for us and our special day.

It was short and to the point

Aside from the commitment you are making to each other being the most important aspect of the wedding, the reception comes in at a close second. We booked the UberVida for three hours and it allowed us to have both the ceremony and the reception in one place – we didn’t have to book transportation to get us from the ceremony to the reception, we didn’t have to decorate two places, and it allowed us to have a beautiful sunset ceremony on the water. However, booking the boat for three hours meant we had to say ‘I do’, eat, drink, dance, toast and have cake within that time. Three hours may not be long enough for others, but for me it was perfect, because when it was time to say goodbye and head home, I was so tired and ready for bed.

The timeline went a little like this:

6:00 – Guests arrived and mingled while boat was docked

6:45 – Ceremony

7:05 – Take photos and eat dinner

8:30 – Best man and Maid of Honor Toast , first dance and dancing

9:30 – Cut the cake

9:50 – Thank you’s and disembark the boat

I really liked the UberVida because they added a half an hour to the beginning and the ending the wedding for boarding and disembarking. But because our guest showed up 6 sharp we really had four hours instead of three.

Multiple uses is the way to go

I wanted to make sure when I purchased something for the wedding, it was both inexpensive and I could get multiple uses out of it. I didn’t want to buy a dress that I would wear once and I didn’t want to pick a dress that was trending now. I wanted a dress that could be worn multiple times and be trendy years to come. So I went onto David’s Bridal and started looking through the Sale dresses. I didn’t think I would find a dress I loved but I did. As soon as I saw it I knew it was the perfect dress for me. I purchased a white Greecian style wedding dress for $199. It hugged me in all the right places and when I walked down the isle, the wind hit the fabric just right and I felt like a goddess. I will definitely wear this dress again because it doesn’t look like a wedding dress.

Another thing I purchased for the wedding that I’m still using a year later are the flowers. I purchased 60 silk Calla Lily flowers off of Amazon for $40. Had I purchased fresh flowers here I would have paid $7-10 per flower and I wouldn’t have them now to enjoy. The flowers were used in the centerpieces, the bouquets and on the card box. And now they are sitting as the center piece on the table in our breakfast nook.

Be comfortable with Doing It Yourself

Originally, I had sat with a decorator and was quoted $600 for five tables (and that was the family price). I felt like that was too much and figured I could do it myself. I love crafting and I’m confident in my ability to create something. I was able to do a lot of wedding decor myself. So I borrowed five small glass squares from my mom and sister-in-law for the centerpieces. They were filled with the flowers, water beads and a purple water proof  LED light. I also wrapped some rhinestone ribbon around the glass. The centerpieces had to be simple because if they were tall and over the top, they would clash with the simple relaxed boat feel.

I built our card box with left over purple material I had from a dress I made a few years prior, left over rhinestone ribbon and a few of the calla lilies. I wasn’t going to make a card box, but my girlfriend convinced me that I could do it. And I am glad I did. It came out amazing.

I assembled our wedding favors instead of ordering them. I purchased small organza bags, two pounds of Jordan Almonds and the morning of the wedding while we ate breakfast my girlfriend and I put them together. It took us about 30 minutes. In the organza bag with the almonds we put a little poem:

Five sugared almonds for each guest to eat
To remind us that life is both bitter and sweet.
Five wishes for the new husband and wife
Health, wealth, happiness, children, and a long life!


Lastly on the DIY front was our make up. I spoke with a makeup artist and she wanted to charge $185 for my face and $125 for my sister’s. Nope. Not going to happen. I do my makeup for other special occasions and do an awesome job. So my wedding day would be no different. There was no way I was going to pay $310 for that knowing I won’t keep the makeup she used.

Total cost – $5,312.36 ($312.36 over-budget)

Marriage Certificate – $368
Ceremony – $350
Venue – $1,800
Food – $1,800
Bar – $386
Rings – $14.99
Attire – $267.94
Invites – $107. 02
Favors – $26.39
Centerpieces/Flowers – $73.65
Shipping – $118.37

* We had decided to have a cash bar when we first started planning and then the day of the wedding I decided to do an open bar.

**The cake ($350), tulle and sign ($100) were gifted.

By Sylvia

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