$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

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)

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



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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Guest Icon 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?

  4. Guest Icon 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?

  5. 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…

  6. Guest Icon 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?

  7. Guest Icon 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 […]

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    Robin, Guest @ 2:37 am


    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.


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