Inexpensive wedding ideas

The $500 Wedding

by Jenny Harrington

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Both my sister and I were married in beautiful ceremonies for under $500. I can tell you, my father was relieved! Here are some of the tips I picked up:

  1. What is most important to you? Having all your friends and relatives there? The cake? The dress? Venue? Decide that first and move on from there. This way, you know where you are willing to make cut backs and where you want to splurge.
  2. What to wear? My husband wore his kilt at our wedding. My brother-in-law got a nice vintage suit at a thrift store for under $10. Even a tux rental is peanuts next to the cost of most wedding gowns. I made my dress from a sale priced renaissance pattern and clearance fabric for under $25. My sister wore a beautiful sale price gold gypsy skirt and a maroon corset that came to a total of $100. Think outside the box. Do you sew? Thrift stores are wonderful even though their traditional wedding dress selection leaves something to be desired. Look at the end of season prom dresses. You may find a gem at 75% off!
  3. Where to get married? I had my wedding with 30 guests in January at a hotel meeting room. The room cost $100 for the whole day and we had the reception in the same room. My sister had hers in September in a beautiful state park at their picnic pavilion with bathrooms, water, and electrical outlets. She had 45 guests and it only cost her $75! Look at the off season for your wedding. Rentals are not only less expensive, but also they are less likely to be booked. Every city has beautiful places to have a wonderful wedding on the cheap.
  4. Who's tying the knot? Neither of us were affiliated with any church. I found my officiate in the phone book for $50 with a recommendation. My sister had a friend get licensed to perform her wedding as a wedding gift to her and her husband.
  5. Regarding rings, my husband and I are not jewelry people. We found some pretty Celtic knot silver rings for $20 apiece. They have lasted four years thus far and we are happy with them. My sister and her husband purchased two beautiful gold bands on eBay for $150. Pawn shops are also an option, along with vintage stores, antique markets, and local craftsmen. The place you purchase your ring doesn't have to be romantic. Instead, the exchanging of the rings is the romantic part!
  6. For our food and cake, we didn't use expensive caterers. We both had buffets with meat trays, cheeses, crackers, and fruits. My father put the buffets together for us, but even going the Costco route would cost under $75. Nothing is more attractive than assorted melon chunks served in a hollowed out watermelon shell. How about small sandwich quarters arranged attractively on a tray? We also had a couple bottles of champagne and white grape juice for the toast and a couple of cases of beer, soda, and pitchers of tea.

    For more savings: 6 Great Ways to Save Money on a Wedding

    My cake was a beautiful three-tier homemade cake that was our wedding gift from my mother-in-law. My sister had cream puffs and chocolate covered strawberries arranged on a three-tier cake stand. You can also purchase a small wedding cake and have sheet cake to serve the guests.
  7. For music, we had stereos. Dancing was not a priority for us. Of course, if live music is your thing, visit the local college or high school and find a decent band willing to play for you at a low price.
  8. My cousin, an aspiring photographer, took our wedding photos and arranged them in an attractive album for us. My sister put out disposable cameras on all the tables and had the guest take the photos. We were both happy with our choices. Another option is to visit your local college or art school to find a photographer in training to take your pictures at a good price.
  9. We both made our own invitations thanks to the wonders of home computers. You can make beautiful invitations this way. We also made our own wedding favors. Mine were Hershey's kisses and wedding bubbles wrapped in tulle and tied with a ribbon. I placed them into thrift store purchased vases on each table. My sister's were birdseed in small fabric bags purchased at a craft store tied close with a ribbon with a small charm also purchased at the craft store. She displayed hers on vintage silver trays she already owned on the buffet table.

Our weddings averaged $500 each. Neither of us saw the point of spending more on one day in our lives when we knew we would need the money to start our futures. Hopefully these tips will help you too!

Take the Next Step

  • Decide which tasks you or a friend could do to save money
  • Take a look at our other wedding articles for more great ideas!
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