The Money Subject

Mrs. Wallaby does this so much better than me, but let’s talk about money. I’ve alluded to the fact that we’re throwing a pretty low-budget wedding. (There’s got to be a better way of saying that.) I’m gonna try to be pretty open here, even though yeah…it’s a little awkward.

My parents and Mr. Lemur’s parents have graciously offered to help us, and we’re choosing to spend only the money that we were given. We could spend our own money on top of that—but it would mean things like less money toward student loan repayment and taking out a car loan instead of paying cash for the car I just bought. I’m not saying this is what everyone should do, but as a graduate student it was the best option for us! And I’m here to tell you that if that’s what you’re looking to do (I know there are some of you out there!), it’s totally possible.

I want to do a pre-wedding budget post to let you know our general categories. After this all goes down I’ll post again and let you know the specifics! A few things: My engagement ring, our wedding bands, and our honeymoon are not included in this budget. We are paying for those ourselves, as well as gifts. The rehearsal dinner is also not included, as Mr. Lemur’s parents are covering that. Anything else? Uh, hopefully I didn’t forget it! If you see something you’re not sure about, just ask.

Catering: $2,000

I mentioned before that we’re using the caterer from our venue, who is completely reasonable. She charges per item, so a menu of six to eight items for around 120 people is totally in our price range. We’re having coffee, tea, juice, sweet tea, and water, but not serving alcohol—which keeps the price down. The cakes are also included in this total price. We’re doing five simple round cakes with frosting in shades of the wedding colors. I’m so excited to see how this turns out!

Venue: $1,250

In the beginning we set a max of $1,000 for the wedding venue. This is possible! However, our original venues that fell into this category were all booked. This is mostly due to our short engagement. My advice: If you want to save money on the venue, book early so you can pick and choose! We were really limited, although I do love our venue.


Image via Pleasant Ridge Camp & Retreat Center

Photography: $800

This includes our engagement pictures session at $100 and a full day of wedding coverage at $700. We decided to book an up-and-coming young photographer with just a few weddings under her belt. Her original price was $1,000, but we negotiated travel and lodging expense (not included); plus we’re doing a separate couple’s session with her later in the summer (also not included) instead of taking extensive couples photos on the day of the wedding.


Image via Niki Marie Photography

Bridal Outfit: $250

OK, at this point you might be like, wait what? This girl is crazy. Hold on, I promise this is possible! I got the J.Crew Sophia for $150 online new with tags. This is a $425 dress normally—so already inexpensive but I managed to get a great deal. Check around online—my veil was $10 on eBay, in perfect condition. I haven’t gotten shoes or a necklace yet, so those still need to fit into this category.

Paper Items: $200

This includes the Moo mini-cards, 150 envelopes, ribbon, heart hole punch, and 150 invitations printed in color. It also includes 120 crossword puzzle programs and I Spys printed in black & white and color, respectively. I’ll do a complete breakdown in my final post, but I will say we managed to do all of this with money left over—we got a great deal on printing.

Decorations: $200

The bulk of this is spent on books—which I don’t feel bad about because we can have these for a long time. We did get a great deal on the ones we bought and are borrowing some so we can have more than we were willing to pay for. This is also $20 for tissue paper to make flowers and poms to hang throughout the venue, and $30 to buy small Scrabble letters and make larger Scrabble letters. We’re borrowing some glass from family and friends, and tablecloths are included with the venue, but I still need to narrow down what else I need in this category!

Miscellaneous: $300

This includes anything we haven’t bought or taken care of yet. There’s a lot of little things that add up! We also have to include the marriage-license fee, makeup, and who knows what else…

Total: $5,000

This was the total I set from the very beginning, so I’m really glad to see that with less than three months to go we’re still on target to hit it. I don’t anticipate anything pushing us over this, but you never know!

Anyone have any other tips? Any other brides out there planning low-budget weddings? Anything I forgot? (I sure hope not.)


Mrs. Lemur

Greenville, South Carolina
Wedding Date:
May 2013
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  1. Member
    shaynapunim 654 posts, Busy bee @ 7:48 am

    Congrats on getting the quality you want while sticking to your budget!! I can’t wait to see how it all turn out. :)

  2. mstreasure Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:07 am

    Wow, good for you. You’ve gotten some steals (photography and your dress, mostly). I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

  3. Member
    kellylee 57 posts, Worker bee @ 8:31 am

    We are having what I consider a low budget wedding for 150 guests. When we were venue shopping it was starting to look like we were either going to have to give up our dream venue or lower our number when I realized by having our wedding on a Friday or a Sunday our venue price dropped by half ($500) and by having it earlier in the day we could serve lunch instead of dinner again at half the cost $15 vs. $30 per plate. We were able to still have our dream wedding but at a cost I could live with. I also bought my dress online. $1000 dress for $188 new with tags. Veil came from etsy for $25. Still shopping for shoes!

  4. Member
    Flower Fairy 73 posts, Worker bee @ 8:33 am

    Love your budget post – we had a $5,000 budget as well, and with a LOT of DIY projects, searching around for good deals, and the help of some amazing friends and family, we pulled it off, and I can honestly say it was my dream wedding – many, many of our guests said it was the absolute best wedding they’d ever been to, which goes to show it’s not about how much money you spend. You sound like you’re on the right track, good for you! I hope everything goes well in the final planning stages.

  5. mswallaby Member
    mswallaby 2070 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:33 am

    Ya’ll are doing great with sticking to your budget! And I second Treasure – the photography and dress are such steals!

  6. Member
    sharonmariep 382 posts, Helper bee @ 9:03 am

    thankyou for sharing.
    another tight budget bride here.
    we are having a small 50 to 60 guest wedding at our venue(ceremony and reception same location)
    at first our budget was $3.500 to $4.000 at most,but when i became a member here and saw and read things i really wanted,my budget is now $6000 lol.
    which is still i think low budget.

    thanks for your post,it helps as im still planning mine,soon ill post my budget post to.your wedding will be beautiful

  7. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:34 am

    I’m jealous! I don’t have your self-control. I’d love to save the money, but finding anything like what we want is impossible on that low of a budget, sadly. So we’re spending our own money (well, we didn’t get any money from family either, so it’s all us). But we’re hoping to pay it all out-of-pocket with cash and not credit!

  8. Member
    courtoni 177 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:42 am

    I think you did a great job sticking to your budget…so far. Our venue is $3000 but it’s also the oceanfront house we are staying in for the week leading up to the wedding. We are having a cocktail party/reception in the house for 50 after a wedding on the beach.

    I got my dress online and spent $120. My alterations were $175 but I still can’t complain about less than $300 total.

    We are serving alcohol but only beer and wine and we bought it all at Total Wine and BJs so that saved a lot of money.

    We are doing a lot of DIY projects and my sister is the crafty one in our family so she’s been very helpful!

  9. Member
    steph8907anie 15 posts, Newbee @ 9:44 am

    Thank you for posting this! Out “budget” is technically $12,000 but that includes the honeymoon. Anything we don’t spend, we get to keep (fiance’s parents are giving us the money) so we’re trying really hard to keep cost way, way down so we can afford other things in life (like a new[er] car, a house, ext)! I was beginning to think it wasn’t possible… especially since I have a not very helpful family base with DIY projects!

  10. Member
    lealorali 4827 posts, Honey bee @ 10:15 am

    I am SO jealous!! You are going to have such a special day for so little!!!!! It sounds like you really have your priorities straight.

  11. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 10:33 am

    Congrats – both on having awesome family to contribute and for staying on budget! That’s SERIOUS self-restraint and so awesome, especially because it doesn’t look/feel like you’re trying to stay on budget, you know? Thank you for sharing this. :)

  12. Member
    MaggieL 494 posts, Helper bee @ 10:36 am

    This is great!! We also had a budget of $5,000- used an up and coming photographer who was only $600, my mom grew all the flowers for centerpieces, friends designed our invites, performed our ceremony (he was a deacon- but is my dad’s best friend), did the music at our reception (live band and a DJ gifted to us by another friend).

  13. Member
    lovelyduckie 756 posts, Busy bee @ 11:46 am

    Does the catering include gratuity and taxes? Unfortunately for us that’s what really felt like it spiked the budget. With all gratuity, taxes, and delivery fees we’re at $2800-ish total. But I think there’s at least $100 in delivery fees, 20% in gratuity, and 7% in taxes in that total number? I have the exact breakdown written somewhere but can’tr remember it off the top of my head right now.

  14. Member
    shortbread 290 posts, Helper bee @ 11:58 am

    This is really impressive. We decided to give ourselves a significant savings goal so we could afford to host the wedding in Scotland. I never really realized how expensive weddings were until we started planning our own. We’re happy to pay everything in cash and not have any debt after the wedding.

  15. Member
    kjeandavis 32 posts, Newbee @ 1:52 pm

    It is so great to see another bride with a $5000 budget, and sticking to it nonetheless! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one :) Kudos for staying true to what is really important to you both and being mindful of what you are willing to spend!

  16. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 3:28 pm

    @shaynapunim & @Mrs. Treasure: I can’t wait to see how it turns out either! I would have been too nervous to write this post a few months ago but finallyyyy things are coming together :)

    @kellylee: GREAT deal on your dress! And I know I could have paid less if I had been willing to have my wedding on a Friday or a Sunday but I really, really wanted a Saturday. I was willing to work around anything else to make that happen. So I paid more but to me it was worth it!

    @Flower Fairy: THANK YOU for your encouraging words! Sometimes I feel like all the weddings are expensive — I love hearing about other weddings that were successful on less! We are so blessed to have amazing friends & family :)

  17. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 3:34 pm

    @Mrs. Wallaby: Thanks!! I know to a point you get what you pay for… but I’m really happy with the quality we’re getting for less :)

    @sharonmariep: $6000 is definitely still low budget. I think you can totally do that! Especially with a “smaller” guest list. It totally depends on what you really think is important and are willing to spend time and money on. For me this was more venue and less decorations.

    @Blonde17Jess: It definitely takes a lot more work. In some areas I’ve had a hard time saying no/being willing to compromise… Mr. Lemur & I had to talk through some things and decide they had to get cut! Those aren’t fun conversations but it all works in the end.

  18. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 3:42 pm

    @courtoni: I love that you got a great deal on what sounds like a beautiful house! A wedding like that sounds amazing :)

    @steph8907anie: That was the thing with us… we could spend more money but I really want to buy a house someday and we need to pay off Mr. Lemur’s student loans first :) It’s a balance unfortunately! We’re only getting married once and I want a nice wedding, but I didn’t want to go into debt over it either.

    @lealorali: I’m honestly so excited about how well it’s coming together! I know it’s not super fancy or formal, but that’s ok :)

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    bea, Guest @ 3:43 pm

    I can not limit myself to a low budget, my fiance is from another country and many people are comming to mine, so I am committed to providing a detailed wedding. So we have decided to sacrifice our honeymoon.

  20. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 3:49 pm

    @StephK527: It helps that we’re sticking with a really casual theme and are trying to keep things laid back! It’s easier to save money that way. And the morning wedding/brunch reception combo… it’s a lot of little things like that :)

    @MaggieL: Your wedding sounds beautiful! I especially love that your mother grew the flowers… that’s so special :) Honestly, the photographer is the biggest thing. I wanted nice professional pictures… but I didn’t want to pay $3000. That’s a HUGE chunk of the budget!

    @lovelyduckie: I didn’t break down the details because I don’t know them yet. As of right now we have enough room in the budget to accommodate that but… I’m a little nervous about what the final will look like. We’ll know more when we have a guest count!

  21. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 3:53 pm

    @Shortbread: Congrats on paying cash! That’s huge. And whatever you end on paying, just be happy with it. Rock that wedding! You saved and you deserve it :)

    @kjeandavis: It goes both ways! I’m so excited to see your comments too :) I love seeing the recaps with $20,000+ weddings cause I think they’re gorgeous, but sometimes it’s nice to see/hear about another lower budget wedding!

    @bea: That’s hard, but one encouragement can be that you’ll have a future together to take trips! I always tell Mr. Lemur that yes, we’re having a simple honeymoon now but hey we can make up for it in anniversaries in the future :)

  22. Member
    brooklyn55 743 posts, Busy bee @ 4:59 pm

    Our wedding is low budget for our area and number of guests. However, we have gotten REALLY lucky because my mom’s long time friend is a florist, my aunt is great friends with a photographer and a lady just started a bakery in town and is trying to build her clientele and gave us an excellent price. I fell in love with an decent price gown at David’s Bridal (550… not 150 but CHEAP compared to many gowns on here) and am doing a lot of other inexpensive things (my jewelry is real pearls my grandfather gave to my grandmother on their wedding day– he has since passed.. we had a party store go out of business and everything was 50-75% off.. got steals on small stuff like ribbon, garter, program kits etc). Our total budget is around 10K. This does not include rings (1000), honeymoon (2000) or rehearsal (1500) or gifts ($400). My fiance and I paid for rings and all but 500 of honeymoon and the gifts. Our parents paid for rehearsal and $500 towards our honeymoon (they also paid for little stuff along the way which added up.. Like 200 worth of postage for invites but I included this in overall budget). Our breakdown is Venue/Catering (includes all linens, chairs, setup/breakdown, waiters, bartenders)- $6,100. Photography- $600 (they normally charge $1200 jut for wedding.. they charged this and threw in our engagement session free). Cake- $300, Bride Attire (This includes not only my dress, alterations, shoes, veil, jewelry for the wedding but also rehearsal)-$1000, Groom Attire- $250, Favors- $200, Hotel rooms for Wedding Party (2 rooms 1 for bridesmaids, 1 for groomsmen)- $250, Florist- $500,DJ- $300, Harpist- $200, Invitations/Programs- $300. Misc- 300. Although this comes out to be over budget, we are not. My parents gave me a check for $8000 and my grandmother one for $2000 and I still have about $1000 left over. The reason being is my in-laws ended up giving us money for postage, my grandma bought a bunch of the MISC stuff.. so techically our budget increased by about 1,000 due to them giving.

  23. Member
    brooklyn55 743 posts, Busy bee @ 5:01 pm

    I am forgetting alcohol.. I have NO idea the cost on that.. We are limiting it though to beer and wine and only 2 drinks each guest on us… A big chunk of our guests wont even drink.. so i doubt its over 300.

  24. Member
    Lisushi 114 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:00 pm

    How is the catering budget only $2000 for 120 people?! That’s just crazy talk! =). What are you offering?

  25. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 6:20 am

    @Brooklyn55: That’s so awesome to have family and friends who are so willing to help with both time and money! And great job staying on budget. Great deal on your photography too :) it can get so expensive!

    @Lisushi: It’s a brunch, which really really helps! It’s about $10-$12 per person. She charges by item so depending on how many items we have (6-8) the price changes. She’s pretty flexible on what counts as an item though! We haven’t set our for sure menu yet but we have talked a lot about what we want to offer and had a tasting and it’s within our budget… I wrote a post about it somewhere 😉

  26. Member
    msjess204 18 posts, Newbee @ 10:23 am

    This post makes me so happy! As someone who is desperately trying to have a more economical wedding, seeing all of this makes me feel like I can breathe easier! Thank you SO much for sharing!

  27. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 4:35 pm

    @MsJess204: Awh you’re welcome and thank you for your sweet words! I love hearing your guys’ encouragement :)

  28. Member
    bunny8 105 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:06 am

    Good job with the budget.

    I didn’t see a line item for flowers. How are you handling those?

    Also – no band at the reception?

  29. Member
    jordyanna 476 posts, Helper bee @ 9:41 pm

    This is such an inspiring post! Just proves you can have the wedding you want without having to spend what you would on a house! I can’t wait to see how everything turns out!

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