It is almost one year from the day I married my awesome beautiful wife, when we gave ourselves to each other for life, and then celebrated this union with our closest family and friends. It is a day I will never forget, a day that seemed magical beyond anything, that went better than planned or expected, and our guests truly appreciated.
The months leading to the wedding were not so picture perfect though. Planning a wedding is very hard and stressful, even more so when there is a huge wedding industry trying to sell you their services in promise of a “Cinderella” wedding.
According to google, the average wedding is around $30,000. That’s more than a new full size sedan. However, as a new fiancé and fiancée team, we stuck to our plan for an affordable wedding.
See, we have bigger plans in mind, and a 4-hour party will not define our marriage! So we decided to eliminate or greatly reduce the following expenses (which wedding expos said we needed or our wedding would be boring and ruined). If any of your friends or family give you any trouble on being “cheap” or not following proper wedding traditions and etiquette, politely tell them this is how you envision your perfect wedding.
You will see some of the categories have averages listed so you can notice the HUGE savings:
Flowers: are nice, beautiful and smell good but eventually they’ll die within a matter of hours. So paying for something that will dry off…not worth it. If you still want the real deal, nature always provides! We have many pine cones in our area, so we collected a few of them and used them for our venue decoration. Even better, these don’t die or rot so we took our time in getting them ready with some spray paint. The rest of our flowers were from the craft store. On our wedding album, they look as good as real.
Average cost: $2,500 – We spent no more than: $100
Favors: I have probably been to about a dozen weddings or so, and I have no idea where the favors from those weddings are. That’s why we made it a point to have edible favors at ours! In addition to a traditional decorative favor that is collecting dust, we made s’mores packets, which went with our rustic wedding theme. I ate a few while making them so I know they were good. There might not be much of a difference on money spent between edible and traditional favor, but at least I enjoy the edible one more!
Open bar: As awesome as it is to have an open bar and order whatever you want, these are expensive! Our reception venue let us bring our own wine and they served it for no additional fee. If we would’ve brought anything other than wine, like beer or spirits for mixing, there would have been an additional $900 bartender fee. Given this huge difference, we were very happy with our wine and champagne for the toast.
Average cost: $2,500 – We spent no more than: $100
DJ: As much as we wanted a DJ or live music, it was a nightmare to plan logistically and all the people I contacted had a minimum contract of at least 4 hours, which was too long for us. Two months before the wedding, I saw Spotify running their Premium special: 3 months of Spotify premium for $1. Yes, one dollar. It was a steal! I luckily have a good audio system, so a few weeks before the wedding I asked some of my guests and family for song requests and made the ultimate wedding playlist, with no ads or commercials thanks to Premium. The day of the wedding I had my geeky-tech-loving brother act as DJ, which he did flawlessly using a smartphone. You can even program Spotify to remove the gap between songs; then you have smooth, awesome transitions from one song to the next. At the end of the day, we all danced and had fun!
Average cost: $1,500 for a DJ to $3,500 for a band
We spent no more than: $1
Professional Make-up: My sister-in-law happens to be a professional make-up artist, so she took care of all the ladies’ hair and did a great job! I actually have no idea what a regular wedding make-up/ hairdo might be for women, but I know it is much more than my $20 haircut. If you have a friend or know someone good at this, give them a call.
Average cost: $300 – We spent no more than: A generous tip
Photography: This can be a very expensive part of a wedding. We had some quotes for as high as $3000, which is insane! The best way to reduce this cost is to reach out to any friends that might do photography as a hobby. Check your Instagram! For example, a few friends of ours offered to do the photography in exchange for a round-trip flight to and from the wedding, or for a picture-editing software update, both options being a fraction of $3000.
Average cost: $2,500 – We spent no more than: $500
Transportation: A limo is a sweet ride and they are great for cool selfies and pictures. So is a Ferrari. That said, I would rather spend the money at a track driving a Ferrari, hearing a turbocharged V8 and smelling some burnt tire smoke instead of a 20 minute drive from the church to the reception. The distance from our church to the reception venue was very short, so we just asked a family member with a nice black rental vehicle to drive us to the reception.
Average cost: $800 – We spent no more than: Gas money
Wedding Cake: My wife always had a dream of making her own wedding cake, and who am I to object!? The detail she put into the petals decorating the cake was amazing. It was delicious and beautiful and cost about $20 in ingredients. Not everyone knows how to make nice cakes, but shopping around for the wedding cake can save you some money.
Average cost: $550 – We spent no more than: $20
Fancy Invitations: We saw some gorgeous 5-piece invitations at around $7 each. At 120 guests, that’s $840 not including postage and mailing costs. Pinterest has a bunch of awesome ideas for DIY invitations that go for a fraction of the cost.
Average cost: $700 – We spent no more than: $100
Wedding lingerie: We actually saw this on many online wedding sites and magazines… wedding specific lingerie, some few strands of cotton and silk advertised specifically for making that wedding night and honeymoon perfect HAHAHA. We personally agreed that none was needed; makes things easier and faster when things matter most.
Wedding Dress: Yes, it’s your special day but seriously are you going to pay hundreds for a dress that is only going to be worn 4 hours max?! Don’t break the bank on this one. The groom will think you’re the hottest woman on earth regardless if your dress is $300 or $2000.
Average cost: $1,800 – We spent no more than: $200
Wedding Dress fitting: When my wife went to the fitter to have her dress fitted, they were asking for about 60% of the dress price for a few adjustments. A few YouTube videos later, my wife had her perfect wedding dress with a custom fit.
Average cost: $300 – We spent no more than: $0
Groom’s suit: As for the grooms suit, I am the worst at fashion and dressing. Absolutely horrible. So I asked a good friend for advice and ended up getting a nice navy blue suit that I can reuse for special occasions! Make sure you are spending on something practical. Unlike the wedding dress, the suit can be used again.
Save The Date Cards: Traditional wedding etiquette says the save-the-date card should be sent at least 6 months before the wedding. Recently, a lot of these are being sent digitally by text or email. There are a lot of sites and apps that let you create a custom announcement card, then you simply text it or email it. Whoever wants to can the print them. We went old school and sent ours through the mail, but it’s another easy way to save a few hundred dollars.
Average cost: $150 – If you go electronic: $0
Bridesmaids/Groomsmen: This is a more personal choice, but it is one were my wife and I both had similar thoughts on this being an unnecessary. As long as I had my brother sign as witness, I was indifferent for having groomsmen. As for my wife’s point of view, it’s not needed, saves time, money, energy and sanity.
I could probably go on with a few more things, but you get the idea. Spending $30k on a wedding is unnecessary. Just looking at the average for flowers and an open bar is $5k. That can cover a nice vacation. Would you rather have real flowers and unlimited booze for 4 hours, or enjoy 2 weeks at a nice Caribbean beach while sipping on ice-cold piña coladas? I’ll take the sun and sand every time!