How To Tie The Knot When You’re Young, In Love, and On a Budget

As a little girl, I dreamed of my wedding day constantly. Between the ages of 6 and 10, I was certain my big day would come with a horse, carriage and royal crown of diamonds fit for a Queen.

From ages 15 – 18, I was certain I’d need a $10,000 Pnini Tornai gown, like the ones I saw during my many hours of watching Say Yes to The Dress, to knock my husband over with my gorgeousness. 

In college, I was generally unsure I’d ever be able to find anyone who could love me for everything I am, so I refrained from thinking about my future wedding much at all. But, I still secretly hoped that I’d have $30,000 to drop with ease when the perfect man came along. 

Fast forward 5 years later, and I found myself 24 years old, madly in love, and ready to get married to the love of my life. But, the budget was real. And when I say the budget was real, I mean the budget was realllllll. 

My then-fiance and I knew we wanted to get married as soon as possible and did not want to wait years and years to save up $30,000 to make it happen. We also did not want to sacrifice having a beautiful wedding ceremony with all of our closest family and friends. 

So, we set out to do the seemingly impossible. Plan a wedding in 3.5 months for less than $10,000. Sounds crazy right?

Almost everyone seemed to think I was crazy (or pregnant).

What’s the rush? They asked.

Are you having a small wedding? 

The questions came fast and furious, though support was interlaced and many people offered to help us pull it off. 

Fast forward to today – 1 month into marital bliss with the love of my life and I’m so glad that we did things the way we did. 

The truth is, you CAN have a beautiful wedding on a budget. And, you don’t need years and years to make it happen (unless you want to). I get it, the engagement season is a beautiful one and who wouldn’t want to be able to call someone fiancé for as long as possible? For me, though, I had one thing on my mind – I couldn’t wait to call the love of my life my husband and to officially start our new life together as one. 

There were lots of tears shed during the wedding planning process. There were times where I went on Google to see if we could just go down to the courthouse. There were times where I wanted to say “screw it, let’s go to vegas and elope!.” But, I didn’t. 

In the end, we planned our wedding right up until the night before when I wrote out all of the name cards. But, my wedding day was perfect, and it cost less than $10,000. 

Now if you’re thinking to yourself, sis, where you get 10 bands from? I hear you. Money is not spilling out of my pockets to be able to save and drop $10,000 in the blink of an eye – yetttt. (I’m claiming that I’ll know what that feels like someday!). 

My husband and I received help from our families, who ended up footing about half of the bill (shout out to the parentals!). But, together, we did all of the planning and dropped about 5 bands of our own money on the event. 

Personally, I don’t believe money should hold anyone back from getting married if that’s what’s in their heart. Love is beautiful and you can have a memorable, dream wedding without being in debt for the next 10 years. 

Here are a few tips that helped us stay on budget for our $10,000 dream wedding.

  1. Look For A Do-It-Yourself Venue 

Let me tell you, our wedding venue, was incredible and allowed us to bring in and choose all of our own vendors. Other venues we toured were beautiful, but had preferred vendors lists that were way out of our budget. Going with a venue that allowed us to bring in all of our own vendors allowed us to have a beautiful space AND work with people within our budget.

Some venues tote incredible, all-inclusive packages. But, often, those packages come with a hefty price tag. If you got it like that, you do you sis! Get that all-inclusive package! But, if you’ve got a budget in mind, getting your own vendors will allow you to better stick to it, and gives a personal feel to your nuptials. 

  1. Who Says Wedding Food Has to Be 3-5 Courses and Ultra Fancy? 

At our wedding, we had BBQ. Bougie BBQ honey and it tasted goooooddddd. I was looking like a queen and my husband looked like a king, but we were not above having elevated BBQ at our nuptials. I mean, who really wants dry chicken or salmon anyway?

Having a less traditional wedding meal allowed us to have delicious food, without the frilliness that didn’t feel true to us, AND provide a memorable experience for our guests. When it comes to food, go with what you love and know that it doesn’t have to be traditional “wedding food.”

  1. Intimate Weddings are Litttt

The quickest way to blow through a $10,000 wedding budget is to try to invite all of you and your future-spouses family, first cousins, third cousins, sisters boyfriends step-mama’s family, the lady from the hair shop, your childhood drama teacher, and that neighbor down the street whose name you can’t remember.

It may be difficult to tighten up your guest list to just the people who matter most to you, but it pays off in more ways than one. Having an intimate guest list allows you to actually talk to and spend time with the people who attend, something that’s near impossible when you have weddings with guest lists upwards of 200. 

Having an intimate guest list also allows you to go all out with the things that matter most to you on your big day, such as providing drinks or having an ice cream bar at your nuptials. It gives you room in your budget to play in the areas you want to play in. 

Also, intimate weddings allow you to share your special day with the people who have been there supporting and rooting for you all along. There’s something so freeing about knowing that everyone at your nuptials is there because they were hand picked by you.  

  1. Opt for a Homemade Cocktail Hour

By “homemade cocktail hour,” I mean opt for a cocktail hour that your caterer doesn’t have to be involved in. At our wedding, we had “elevated hors d’oeuvres” – appetizers from Costco that we replated and put on a nicely decorated table so they looked like they came straight off of a catering cart.

We also purchased our own drinks (mini-sodas) for cocktail hour and spent less than $150 on the whole shebang. The key is, focus your money in the areas that are most important to you. Spend the big bucks on that big meal people will remember. The cocktail apps can be cute, but they come second to their big sister – the main dinner. 

  1. Be Open to Less Experienced Vendors 

Sometimes, less experienced vendors charge less, and that can be a huge plus for a bride on a budget! We hired an incredible DJ who had done lots of parties and corporate events. But, our wedding was his first wedding. We already knew he had skills, and we had the opportunity to give him his first wedding to add to his resume. So cool!

We got a great deal with him, and also hired some other local entrepreneurs to keep the costs down. I found our cake artist on Instagram. Her cake business was her “side hustle” to supplement her corporate job. She delivered an amazing cake for an amazing price and we had the satisfaction of knowing we were helping a woman take care of her family, not just padding the pockets of a big corporation. 

These are just a few of the things we did to keep our wedding costs down. Every bit of work was worth it, and I will remember our wedding for the rest of our life as the wedding of my dreams. 

Are you interested in getting married on a budget? Comment below and let us know how planning is coming!

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