Editor's Notebook: Having A Wedding Under $2,500

It is possible, I swear! I planned a small wedding for under $2,500 in less than a month.

No, this is not an advertisement.

It's just one couple's attempt to not have a wedding that will clean them out for years to come or send them into debt.

Lucky for us, my husband and I figured it out and had a wonderfully small, intimate wedding in about two weeks for under $2,500.

To preface, my husband and I don't plan events. I never dreamed of my wedding day as a little girl and he never envisioned a huge ceremony in a church or banquet hall. So we had that going for us.

Planning something, anything was still overwhelming at first, like it is for every couple. I even asked (a couple times) if my husband wanted to elope.

We even had our chance to elope when we were in Las Vegas this spring. But my husband insisted that he wanted our wedding to be a more special occasion to share with close family and friends.

Men. Who knew they were so sentimental?

At any rate, I am glad we didn't elope. And I am eternally grateful to our family and friends who were able to help out with all the support they provided. It was the best gift to have them there and help make the day so special.

I know that sounds cheesy, but I really mean it.

What made this wedding small and special is that we only had 12 people there (including the bride and groom). We also had a photographer and videographer. Lucky for us, we had the video done for free with the help of a great friend who was kind enough to operate the camera.

Free is a great thing to hear while planning a wedding, but it's not always possible. I realize that and I know we're lucky and fortunate to have gotten video for free as well as food, decorations and flowers paid for by my mother.

Our venue was also free because it was literally in our "backyard," which is one of the beautiful parks in Plymouth. Yes, technically our taxes pay for the maintenance and work in that park so it's not "free," but let's say it is until we get that exact number.

Decorating a dock on a small pond was not easy, but it got done thanks to everyone there pitching in on a hot, humid morning in July. It also helped that we had the wedding on weekday and the area is in a quiet neighborhood. The location worked out better than we had hoped.

So how did we make our wedding small, beautiful, intimate and unforgettable?

We embraced these three things:

1. WE SET A BUDGET. If I can impart any wisdom it would be to make a clear budget for yourself and stick to it. We also both agreed up front we were not going to go over a certain amount for rings, clothes, food and flowers/decorations. We were also lucky that family was able to help out with some of the finances. I definitely realize that financial help is not always possible, but our budget in the beginning had not accounted for any help. We were pleasantly surprised by it.

2. Aligned each other’s expectations and stuck to them. My husband and I talked extensively (probably too much at times) about what could or could not work, what was realistic or not and what we were comfortable with. By keeping the event small we faced the realization that we couldn't invite a hundred or so people. We both have family and friends who also live out of state and planning this in two weeks didn't provide those people with enough notice and the location was too small for that many people. That was the most difficult part of the decision-making. But difficult choices are always apart of marriage, before, during and after the wedding day.

3. Be creative and don't panic! There were moments when we freaked out. We both really liked a different venue than what we ended up with. We also had some difficulty finding an officiant in the very beginning, but ended up with the best one we could have had. Always have a plan B, especially when planning an outdoor wedding in Minnesota. We lucked out with the weather though!

If you hadn't realize already, luck plays its own part. I know that seems silly, but sometimes it's true.

Also my husband and I are not the most traditional couple. We have nothing against tradition or going completely against it. We have seen wonderful and beautiful weddings that were traditional and not.

What it comes down to is you have to find out what you, as two people ready to join your life together, want. You won't always have the same opinions or agree, but that's OK. As long as you communicate and keep each other in the loop it will come together, even if it isn't how you first envision it.

I want to say that weddings don't have to be expensive. The pressure put on couples to do this, purchase that and make things look a certain way because that's the trend is a ploy and you don't have to fall for it. Your wedding should reflect who you two are and not what a commercial or wedding industry says you should be.

And for fun, let's look at the math of this small wedding:

• Bride's new dress, slip and shoes totaled: $75

• Groom's apparel totaled (new shirt and slacks): $75

• Both wedding rings totaled: $740

• Bride's professionally done hair-do cost: $30 (including tip)

• Professional shave for groom cost: $20

• Professional photographer and photos: $500

• Officiant/chaplain: $50

• Marriage license: $115

Total= $1,605

And IF we include what we budgeted for, but what ended being paid for by others, we'd add:

• Flowers, (including two corsages, four boutonnieres, a bouquet and a centerpiece): approx. $275

• Simple decorations for location and inside the house: approx. $100

• Food and drink (simple spread, buffet style for 12-14 people): $200

The new total would come to $2,180, which is still under $2,500. Not too shabby for one of the most memorable events of your life, right?

Dean Carlson July 31, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Did the $20 for the groom's professional shave include trimming his bodacious sideburns? Seriously, great job and a nice article
Stefanie Briggs July 31, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Thanks Dean! I believe the shave included trimming down those sideburns and shaving off the beard for the big day.
Peggy Sorrell May 08, 2013 at 08:14 PM
How did I miss this article before? First time I've read it. Loved reading about the wedding planning and break-down of costs. The wedding was beautiful which proves you don't have to spend a lot of money to have the perfect wedding!


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