$5000 Real Wedding Budgets

Because we’re turning this into a regular feature, we’ve added a link under the Guest Blogs page for you to submit your Real Budgets at any time.  Do you like our shiny new icon? ;)

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be featuring several different types of weddings (city, rural, destination etc.) within different budget ranges ($5,000, $10,000 etc.).  We’ve already received many submissions so we don’t know if we’ll be able to post them all, but please continue to send in your budgets as we’d like to showcase as wide a variety as possible.

Today we bring you three different $5000 budget weddings that are great examples of how to stretch a smaller budget.  

- SK had a 40 person wedding at a restaurant in Manhattan.  Restaurants can be surprisingly affordable venues that often offer lower per person prices than many caterers or wedding venues.  And because they’re already equipped with tables, chairs, linens, and china,  you don’t have to worry about paying for rentals.

- RS had an intimate, 27 person destination wedding in Maui.  While a destination wedding can certainly cost as much or more than a local wedding, a destination wedding allows you to do everything on a smaller scale.  Less guests means less of everything and the savings add up. 

- JM had a 200 person wedding in Salt Lake City at an inexpensive public venue – a campground!  Having an outdoor wedding is a great way to save on flower and decor costs because you can take advantage of the surrounding natural beauty.  JM also saved on food costs by only serving dessert and refreshments.  Food will most likely be the greatest portion of your budget, so you may want to consider inexpensive alternatives to a sit down dinner like a brunch reception, a dessert reception, a cocktail reception, or my personal favorite – a barbecue reception (the food at my SIL’s bbq reception was fantastic and very affordable)! 

Are any of you having your wedding at a restaurant or public facility like a park or camping ground?

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

Submitted By: SK
City: New York City (Manhattan)
Budget: $6000
# of Guests: about 40

Wedding Day Expenses: 

Ceremony/Reception Site Fees: $0 (holding ceremony & reception at neighborhood restaurant, no charge for site with purchase of food/open bar)
Caterer/Food/Drink (per person if available): $95/pp
Service Charge/Gratuities: $800
Bridal Gown & Alterations: $1000
Bridal Accessories (Veil, Undergarments, Shoes, Jewelry): $70 (already had shoes)
Groom’s Attire: $125
Stationery/Postage: $50 (DIY pocketfolds, printed at home on color laser)
Photography: $600 (all digital, receive pics open disk w/ no prints, 6 hrs coverage)
Videography: $0
Ceremony Music: $0 (friend is a harpist, doing as gift)
Reception Music: $0 (iPod, FBIL is DJ)
Flowers: $125 (DIY – bride’s bouquet, 1 MOH, 3 bouts, 2 corsages)
Decorations/Centerpieces: $0 (DIY – using vases from sister’s wedding, restaurant has votive candles)
Favors: $20 (cookies wrapped in tulle)
Cake: $300
Officiant: $300 (mostly transportation costs)
Coordinator: $0
Hair/Makeup: $0 (friend is makeup artist, doing as gift)
Wedding Party Gifts: $0 (not doing)
Transportation: $20 for cabs
Hotels: $0 (restaurant is 3 blocks from house)
Misc: Chuppah - $30 (DIY, materials)

Nonwedding Day Expenses: 

Wedding bands: $350
Rehearsal dinner: ~$50, at home with 10-15 people
Honeymoon: $6000, 2 weeks in Belize

WEDDING DAY TOTAL: $7240
COST PER PERSON: $181
NONWEDDING DAY TOTAL: $6400
GRAND TOTAL: $13,640

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Submitted By: RS
City: Ceremony in Makena; Reception in Wailea (Maui, HI)
Budget: $6000
# of Guests: 27

Wedding Day Expenses: 

Ceremony Site Fees: Beach = free.
Reception Site Fees: $100 for location, white linens, all tableware, and personalized menu.
Caterer/Food/Drink (per person if available): $23
Service Charge/Gratuities: tax at 4.17% and 18% gratuity = $765
Bridal Gown & Alterations: Alfred Angelo dress $386 incl. shipping.   Yay for no alterations needed!!
Bridal Accessories (Veil, Undergarments, Shoes, Jewelry):  DIY veil – $10 for material, $2 for comb, attached great grandmother’s costume jewelry to top = $12.   Shoes barefoot at ceremony, $4 for off white flip flops + $5 beading = $9.  Undergarments, $65 (bodywrap brand slimmer, new strapless bra)
Groom’s Attire: khakis, white shirt, leather flip flops = $120
Stationery/Postage: 45 save the date plane tickets $30 for printing at office max and postage.  Invites ”“ paper material from paperzone $90, ribbon $20.  Printed at home, postage $20.  Total = $160
Photography: $1000/2 hours, all images retouched and on cd
Videography: $0
Ceremony Music: $250 (full hour of guitar/vocalist)
Reception Music: none needed (no dancing, etc)
Flowers: none needed (leis included in package)
Favors: $70 (palm boxes with custom cd, diy luggage tag, candy inside, ribbon and orchid outside)
Cake: $250 (3 tier buttercream frosting, aqua dots and cascading plumerias)
Officiant: included in coordinator’s package
Coordinator: $850
Hair/Makeup: $200
Wedding Party Gifts: $150 (4 attendants each ”“ girls got silver plumeria necklace, flip flops, and shower wrap to get ready in; guys got flip flops and beach towel)
Transportation: convertible rental car (a honeymoon cost)
Hotels: already on location for honeymoon
Misc: palm fans at ceremony with diy ribbon attached $30, chairs at $4 each for rental = approx $80, various taxes not included ”“ add approx. $100

Nonwedding Day Expenses: 

Wedding Bands: $1000 for my 5 stone band (I didn’t want an engagement ring, so this is all I will be wearing)  $110 for his plain band
Rehearsal Dinner/Day After Brunch: parents/friends hosting
Honeymoon: $5000 (8 nights on maui, 2 separate hotels, 2 r/t tickets from seattle, convertible rental car, misc. expenses)

WEDDING DAY TOTAL: $5218
COST PER PERSON: $193.26
NONWEDDING DAY TOTAL: $6000
GRAND TOTAL: $11,218

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Submitted By: JM
City: Salt Lake City, Utah
Budget: $4000
# of Guests: 200

Wedding Day Expenses:

Ceremony/Reception Site Fees: $360 (3 campsites)
Caterer/Food/Drink (per person if available): Total: $1200 (chocolate fountain, cheese fountain, water, lemonade, cake)
Service Charge/Gratuities: $0
Bridal Gown & Alterations: $400
Bridal Accessories (Veil, Undergarments, Shoes, Jewelry): $50
Groom’s Attire: $55
Stationery/Postage: $230
Photography: $390
Videography: Free (traded design services in exchange for videographer from Craigslist)
Ceremony Music: Free (coworker is a wedding dj, music is gift)
Reception Music: $350
Flowers: $250
Favors: N/A
Cake: $325
Officiant: Free (stepfather registered online)
Hair/Makeup: Free (sister is stylist)
Wedding Party Gifts: $50
Hotels: $115
Misc: $100

Nonwedding Day Expenses:

Wedding Bands: $575
Rehearsal Dinner/Day After Brunch: $150
Honeymoon: N/A

WEDDING DAY TOTAL: $3875
COST PER PERSON: $19.38
NONWEDDING DAY TOTAL: $725
GRAND TOTAL: $4600

BLOGGER

Real Budgets

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  1. Guest
    SANDY, Guest @ 6:03 am

    BY THE WAY I CAN SPELL BUT MY FINGERS WERE GOING FASTER THAN MY BRAIN :)

  2. Guest
    MH, Guest @ 10:57 am

    @SANDY: Congratulations – you’re getting married! Even if it doesn’t project unto others, don’t torture yourself by becoming an “inner-bridezilla” by worrying. As for looking back and regretting parts of your wedding, all you can do is live in the moment. Plan the way you want it to be NOW, and don’t worry so much about what you (or anyone else) will think years from now. This is you and your partner’s special day, and it should be a reflection of you two. A co-worker of mine who recently was married for the second time, and she said if she would’ve known then what she knows now, she would’ve set her wedding budget much smaller (similar to yours), and not worried so much about wedding favors, programs, napkins, etc. Have you honestly ever kept a wedding favor? They’re usually yet another piece of stuff that is cute for about 10 minutes, and then is politely discarded once at home. Why not give a donation (set aside a small amount of money ahead of time), and choose 3 charities/organizations you and your partner want to support. List them on a piece of paper, and have guests indicate what organization they choose. Divid the money according to the percentages of what guests indicate. You and your new spouse can know you started your lives together without handing off unnecessary junk and help make a difference in the world. A wedding planner could be the best or worst decision you make. You run the risk of hiring someone who you don’t connect with, and will make all sorts of suggestions that you can’t afford, or don’t like, and will still expect to be paid for their service. On the other hand, you may find someone who can give you 7 or 8 hours of planning/assistance that you really connect with. Do you have any friends who are aspiring to be wedding planners, but aren’t officially in the business yet? You could tell them instead of a tangible gift, why not donate their time (as their gift) and in exchange you will let them use your wedding to build their portfolio? Food will be the most expensive part of your wedding. No matter how much or how little you will have, be sure to communicate clearly to your guests so they will know what to expect. Does you community have a local Elks club, pork or cattle association? You could hire their service for the grilling/carving station and have another caterer do the sides. Remember – you don’t HAVE to use a caterer. Any talented chefs in the family with access to multiple refrigerators/freezers? As for a DJ, do you have an i-pod or an mp3 player and speakers? If you do, put together a fantastic play list (outline what songs you want played when, etc.), and “hire” a reliable teen or college-aged person to manage the computer/ipod/etc. Save you big $$$. For alcohol, not sure what you’re thinking. Cash bars are tacky, so try to not go that route. Suggestions: pick a signature cocktail (premixed in pitchers) and serve to guests as the reception starts. Pick 2 wines (1 red, 1 white) and 2 beers (light, dark?) as well as plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and water. That should help you save $ as you’re providing adequate choices without going over the top. If you feel unsure about it, you could always say “his and her favorite wine/beer” and that way it feels personalized. Photography can vary greatly. If you know someone who can give you a great “deal”, check their work and make sure you know exactly what is included in the pricing. What is the most important thing to you with the photos? The formal posed photos, or the candids and impromptus? Hope this helps somewhat. Good luck!

  3. Guest
    MH, Guest @ 11:01 am

    @SANDY: Congratulations – you’re getting married! Even if it doesn’t project unto others, don’t torture yourself by becoming an “inner-bridezilla” by worrying. As for looking back and regretting parts of your wedding, all you can do is live in the moment. Plan the way you want it to be NOW, and don’t worry so much about what you (or anyone else) will think years from now. This is you and your partner’s special day, and it should be a reflection of you two. A co-worker of mine who recently was married for the second time, and she said if she would’ve known then what she knows now, she would’ve set her wedding budget much smaller (similar to yours), and not worried so much about wedding favors, programs, napkins, etc. Have you honestly ever kept a wedding favor? They’re usually yet another piece of stuff that is cute for about 10 minutes, and then is politely discarded once at home. Why not give a donation (set aside a small amount of money ahead of time), and choose 3 charities/organizations you and your partner want to support. List them on a piece of paper, and have guests indicate what organization they choose. Divid the money according to the percentages of what guests indicate. You and your new spouse can know you started your lives together without handing off unnecessary junk and help make a difference in the world. A wedding planner could be the best or worst decision you make. You run the risk of hiring someone who you don’t connect with, and will make all sorts of suggestions that you can’t afford, or don’t like, and will still expect to be paid for their service. On the other hand, you may find someone who can give you 7 or 8 hours of planning/assistance that you really connect with. Do you have any friends who are aspiring to be wedding planners, but aren’t officially in the business yet? You could tell them instead of a tangible gift, why not donate their time (as their gift) and in exchange you will let them use your wedding to build their portfolio? Food will be the most expensive part of your wedding. No matter how much or how little you will have, be sure to communicate clearly to your guests so they will know what to expect. Does you community have a local Elks club, pork or cattle association? You could hire their service for the grilling/carving station and have another caterer do the sides. Remember – you don’t HAVE to use a caterer. Any talented chefs in the family with access to multiple refrigerators/freezers? As for a DJ, do you have an i-pod or an mp3 player and speakers? If you do, put together a fantastic play list (outline what songs you want played when, etc.), and “hire” a reliable teen or college-aged person to manage the computer/ipod/etc. Save you big $$$. For alcohol, not sure what you’re thinking. Cash bars are tacky, so try to not go that route. Suggestions: pick a signature cocktail (premixed in pitchers) and serve to guests as the reception starts. Pick 2 wines (1 red, 1 white) and 2 beers (light, dark?) as well as plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and water. That should help you save $ as you’re providing adequate choices without going over the top. If you feel unsure about it, you could always say “his and her favorite wine/beer” and that way it feels personalized. Photography can vary greatly. If you know someone who can give you a great “deal”, check their work and make sure you know exactly what is included in the pricing. What is the most important thing to you with the photos? The formal posed photos, or the candids and impromptus? Hope this helps somewhat. Good luck!

  4. Guest
    Monica, Guest @ 9:19 am

    HI everyone! Thank God I found a website like this. I thought I was going crazy trying to plan an october wedding for $5000. Any ideas as to what I can do for an outdoor wedding ceremony and a small intimate reception with 50 people, Any ideas are welcomed as I am totally confused!

  5. Guest
    Monica, Guest @ 9:19 am

    Oh just in case I live in the bronx! Anywhere in the city is wonderful!

  6. Guest
    circusliz, Guest @ 1:08 am

    Is anyone else frustrated by examples of “budget” weddings where the costs were kept low because the couple had lots of friends with wedding-relevant skills? I mean, I think it’s great that people are making use of their networks to get around the WIC. And I applaud those couples for being resourceful. Really!

    But I find that these sorts of posts are of little help to brides like me, who want to save money but whose friends are talented in fields that aren’t relevant to weddings, like international economics and defense policy (I live in DC..it’s hard to meet people who aren’t policy wonks). I’ve reached out to my friends for assistance with everything from reception music to hair to crafts, without any success. They didn’t even have suggestions of friends of friends with relevant talents.

    I don’t mean to whine. I think I am just tired of having to book (expensive) vendors for every single thing. Anyone else out there feel the same way?

  7. Guest
    neyma, Guest @ 11:21 pm

    i have 450 to 500 guess and i dont know what 2 dooooooooo!!! only 250 are family :P the rest very close friends of both of us… please help lol

  8. Member
    SerenityJames2009 46 posts, Newbee @ 5:42 pm

    I say what ever the budget is, you can work around it. I know that we can pull it off. My fiance and I are on a $3,000 or less budget. we may be just on the thousand mark..Love The design

  9. Guest
    KB, Guest @ 6:36 pm

    This site gives great ideas when planning a wedding on a budget. Our budget is $5,000 and it sounds like it isn’t able to be done, but really you just have to look in the right places for the right prices.

  10. Guest
    sc, Guest @ 1:57 pm

    While I’m all for supporting people contributing their experiences of a $5000 wedding, did no one else notice that the grand totals from 2 of the 3 above contributors all amount to well OVER $5000???

    Just because the reception cost $5000, does not make it a $5000 wedding… Chances are if you are on a tight budget for the wedding day, your on a tight budget for the whole wedding experience (including the non-wedding day expenses). Where is that extra $4000 for non-wedding day expenses going to come from? Very misleading.

    I’d like to see some examples of wedding plans that are REALLY $5000 in totality. Anyone?

  11. Member
    smiles1979 574 posts, Busy bee @ 11:38 am

    Nice to see others feel the same way! Want to see a REAL $5000 and under wedding, HM and other non related wedding day expenses included! Also, nice to see others are worried about not being able to have a lot of family/ friends that have wedding related talents…so it’s tough to have to just ask them to do things…and $ becomes a factor then having to pay for other vendors.
    Anyway, just wanted to say that.
    :)

  12. Member
    barndance 52 posts, Worker bee @ 3:09 am

    I am loving this! Seeing lots of ladies out there who won’t be conned into spending a year’s salary on one day makes me happy that I am not alone. By keeping our budget under $5,000 we will be able to go on a fun honeymoon and save some money for buying a home and starting our own business.

  13. Guest
    JO, Guest @ 3:11 pm

    We are currently trying to plan an outdoor wedding for next summer. And while I love the idea of a campground wedding (that’s how we spend the summer), the weather in the mountains is just too unpredictable. Also we have to cart everything we need in – food, chairs etc.
    Does anyone have ideas on some middle ground?

  14. Guest
    Anne, Guest @ 6:12 pm

    I am thankful for the couples who placed their budgets online as I am planning a wedding (150 guests; $5,000 budget)…there are some ideas that I can take from this…here’s my concern, I am trying to figure ways to make my reception seem GRAND (at a low cost)…BBQ simply won’t do. I am open to a buffet, but want at least one meat and 2 side items served. Any suggestion?

  15. Member
    SisiL 7 posts, Newbee @ 1:04 pm

    Whenever I read about the so called “budget” weddings I can’t help think about the other costs. For instance when friends/family are cooking the food are the bride/groom paying for the raw ingredients and the energy of the “chefs”? I just don’t have anyone who has the ability to cook enough food for 50 people and can finance all the raw ingredients.
    I’m inviting people from out of town and out of country so serving them just dessert and some punch won’t fly. And my family is Eastern European so there has to be some alcohol… It would be weird without it.
    I’d LOVE an outdoor wedding, but I live in Pittsburgh and it rains here A LOT. And even outdoors isn’t free as we have wracked our brains and cannot come up with a single person who doesn’t have a postage stamp lawn and under 2000 sq.ft. house (we all live in the city area).

    Its great that some people have others willing to give them everything for “free” but free has a cost to the giver in terms of raw ingredients, lost income of providing the service to someone willing to pay and equipment (musicians and photographers etc…).

    Meanwhile my mother has gone bezerk when I say that I am paying for by myself with no help from her for a 10-15k wedding for 50-80 people. She called me a brat and told me that I’m being unreasonable. But after venue shopping the cheapest room with a roof that I could find is 1700 and the caterer will be 60 per person without dessert. I already decided no cake, just cookies. No flowers except for my bouquet and a boutienerre for my fiance. No wedding party and no rented cars. We even decided to use disposable plates and silverware and to sew our own tableclothes… and yet we still can’t keep it under 10k (this is not including a dress and honeymoon and invitations… I can’t even think about the dress and honeymoon right now).

    Its gotten so frustrating that we’re just opting to sign papers at the courthouse and forget about sharing our marriage with friends and family. 75 for the license and free to update our status on facebook.

    Honestly I rather not read about other people’s supposedly cheap weddings and how thrifty they are. If you don’t have people in your life giving you things for free you can’t have a cheapo wedding. And if live in a place where yards are small and the weather imperfect you have to shell out big bucks for a roof over everyone’s head for the party. And if your family is coming from a dozen different states and countries then you cannot just give them a piece of cake and a glass of punch and call it a day…

  16. Guest
    Cin D, Guest @ 2:36 pm

    My fiance and I have been talking about throwing a campground wedding, but we don’t even know the first step to take in planning such an event. Does anyone have any advice?

  17. Guest
    How to Have a Beautiful Wedding with a Low Budget? - Miami Beach 411, Guest @ 9:41 am

    [...] out forums like the following for some ideas: http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/3…is-it-possible http://www.weddingbee.com/2007/07/05…dding-budgets/ THE $5,000 WEDDING- HOW WE DID IT http://www.knittedbliss.com/2009/04/…we-did-it.html Budget [...]

  18. Guest
    Robin, Guest @ 2:37 am

    JM,

    Can you advise me of what photographer and cake baker you used? I am also trying to plan a budget wedding in Salt Lake city and haven’t found an inexpensive option for either of those things.

    Thanks!

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