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We Paid Cash! :: Our Wedding and Honeymoon

We paid cash!

A testimony from Angela

My husband and I got married in February of 2010.

From the start of our relationship, we decided we wanted to plan a wedding and honeymoon that would leave us debt-free. We decided it was more important to go into our marriage free of debt, so we could save for a home and a family, than it was to have a large, elaborate wedding.

Saving for the Wedding

  • We both moved back home with our parents and put the money we were saving on rent and bills in our “wedding fund.” We also put any bonuses, gift money, etc. into this fund.
  • We cut down on “date nights” and put that money in our fund as well.
  • We had some donations from our parents, and I had started saving some money every month when we first started dating that I added to this fund.

We were able to save a total of $5,000 in just nine months. This was our Wedding Budget.

Planning the Wedding

We planned a wedding for $5,000.00 and a 10-day honeymoon for $3,000.00. Here’s what we did:

  • I got creative. I made our “Save the Date” cards and wedding invitations at Vistaprint.com using coupons and discounts. I got our Save the Dates for the cost of shipping only!
  • I used Craigslist. I saved hundreds of dollars buying a used wedding dress, spending only $125.00. I also bought my center pieces and most of the reception décor on Craigslist, spending only about $200 for all of the décor.
  • We asked for help. We have friends and family who are gifted in photography, floral arrangements, organization and a family member who is a pastor. We asked all of these people to help us on our wedding day. They all were glad to help!
  • We made our own food and asked family to help. We asked our family to bring a large salad, side or drink instead of buying us a wedding gift. My mom and I made the main dish (beef brisket) at home. This saved us thousands on a caterer.
  • We took the time to shop for the best deals. I spent hours upon hours looking for the lowest prices and best deals. I never rushed into buying anything. This saved us hundreds of dollars.

Wedding Ceremony

We knew we wanted a long honeymoon somewhere warm. We decided to go to an all-inclusive resort to save on food and drink costs, and went for the smallest resort we could find. We were able to go to Jamaica for 10 days — flight, food, drinks, hotel and entertainment all for under $3,000.00.

It took a bit of work and imagination to create the wedding of our dreams on such a tight budget, however, the pay off was worth it. We are now planning and building for our future, debt-free!

Angela and her husband, Michael live in Western Washington where Michael is a Chiropractor. Angela works in Telecommunications and has a passion for providing her family whole, natural food, while being the best steward possible of the financial blessings the Lord has trusted them with.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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84 Comments

  • We also had a wedding budget of $5,000. I have to admit we did not buy anything used though. We did platters from different grocery stores. We did not cater. I bought my dress at David’s Bridal. We had flowers made by a flower shop and had a video/photos at the wedding. We took a 6 night honeymoon to Cancun at an all-inclusive resort. It always amazes me when people think you “have to” spend $25,000 on a wedding. You know what I remember from my wedding? I remember the way my husband looked at me the moment after we were married. It totally melted my heart. That look he gave me was over 7 years ago. I also remember our honeymoon. I also remember how the wedding was so busy we never got to try our own grooms cake. Other than that, the “material” things of the wedding TRULY do not matter. As long as you have photos and memories (and love of course) that is what counts.

    • Janet says:

      I thinnk Crystal here at MoneySavingMom also had a wedding she paid for in full if I am not mistaken.
      I also paid $5,000 total for my wedding and saved money working extra jobs etc. I was 19 and I started my married life off with $36K not a bad way to start life.

      • Spendwisemom says:

        Did your parents pay for anything? It seems like several people have said how they saved up the money for their wedding and paid for it and don’t mention their parents. Are you older? We are paying for 2 weddings this summer.

        • Katie says:

          My parents paid for my dress and provided cold cuts/rolls for the dinner. I got married at 23. My parents could not afford to pay for my wedding. I was happy that they could afford what they did. When your dad is a small dairy farmer in KS (with 5 kids), I was happy to pay for most things myself.

        • D says:

          My parents paid for my wedding. (They’re divorced so they split it 50/50.) My husband’s father paid for the rehearsal dinner and our honeymoon.

        • Janet says:

          My parents did not pay for anything. I started working when I was 10 I had to pay room and board when I was 15 as my parents were gone and I lived with my girlfriends folks.They could not afford me so I paid $100.00 per month for room and board and I earned all of this by the time I was 19 years old the wedding cost about $3,000.00 plus the honeymoon and I had the $36K to start a life. My new husband only had 383.00 total dollars.

          • Janet says:

            PS: Not a penny from any life insurance or my parents passing it was all made one dollar here babysitting , $5.00 here cutting grass, $3.00 there raking leaves, etc. I worked all the time and let people pay me whatever they could afford the word of mouth got out and I had a ton of work.

            Crystal Paine started her Mother’s helper letting folks pay whatever they could afford as well. I think folks love this concept and they like if you give great work obviously too.

        • Christi says:

          I was 26 when I got married. My parents paid for the caterer – $800. I didn’t ask them to pay for anything.

          Parents aren’t “required” to pay for a wedding for their daughters.

          • Elle says:

            I agree. My parents paid for my college. I was working and my fiance and I paid for our own wedding. I think 20 years later, we’re both still proud of that accomplishment.

  • Beth says:

    I’m a musician and play at many weddings. To be honest, it makes my stomach hurt thinking of the money people spend on these things and I do harbor some guilt for being part of the wedding industry. I don’t understand why it’s important to people to have their weddings at venues that I know cost upwards of $15,000 just for the space. Or the fancy catered meals, place settings, etc.. Even if you have the money to pay cash for these things it seems so wasteful and unnecessary. That’s not acceptable in my family and thankfully not in the one I married into. It’s sad when brides and grooms get caught up in the fantasy of The Perfect Wedding Day instead of focusing on what’s really important.

  • Lisa says:

    My husband and I spent a total of $6,000 on our wedding and honeymoon together. I wore my mom’s wedding dress which was something I had wanted to do since I was a little girl. 🙂 Instead of having individual plates of food, we had a pasta bar. We had no alcohol (some family issues) and rented a pop dispenser for $100. Our cake was a cupcake tower…much cheaper but looked fabulous. We made the invitations out of a kit that cost us $25. My mom and I made all of our centerpieces from vases and silks we had around the house, and we got our flowers for a $100 package for the entire wedding party, parents, and grandparents. For our honeymoon, we drove to FL (love my little car that gets great gas mileage) and bought our theme park tickets well in advance during a sale plus my AAA discount. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day, and we didn’t have to break the bank to do it!

  • Molly says:

    We had a budget of about $3k for our wedding/honeymoon. One thousand was a gift from my parents, one thousand more was my compensation from a no-fault car accident I was in (damage was only cosmetic, we decided we need it more for the wedding instead of fixing the car), and the rest was from our own earnings. I got my dress for $225 from a YWCA that used the funds to help battered women, so it went to a good cause as well. We got married in my husband’s church so we only had to pay cleaning fees to use it. We made our own food (soup and sandwich platters plus punch) but did get a custom cake from a local home-based wedding cake business who did a great job! With the help of my mother-in-law we made our our invitations, decorations, programs, flowers, etc. Only thing we bought were corsages for the moms, m’n’m favors, tablecloths, bubbles, plates, utensils, etc from deals at different websites. My husband got a free tux rental since he had 5 men that paid for their rentals. My bridesmaids were all over the country and I picked a dress under $100 I found online for them to buy (I made sure there was a good return policy though). The biggest expense was the photography as I never want to skimp on that area–as we will have those for the rest of our lives. We went to Chattanooga, TN for our honeymoon and spent a week at a hotel and saw all the local attractions and stayed in and ordered pizza if we felt like. It was a lot of work, but I’m happy we didn’t go into debt for it and still made great memories.

  • Megan says:

    Yikes! Our wedding is 10 weeks away and we’re trying to do it under $1,000. We’re not having a honeymoon – my fiance can’t get his vacation time until August – but so far my dress was $98 wholesale online (I know many don’t approve of this, but I loved the dress!). My heels were on clearance for $12.99; I was able to get in touch with a wonderful cake decorator for our fun zombie cake; and we’re having the wedding at the in-laws house – they have lots of land. My original goal was $500 but with factoring in the wedding bands, it may be closer to a thousand. Great tips! Thanks!

    • Jessica says:

      I did mine for $1,000 too.
      I was 19 when I got married and my husband and I paid for it ourselves, with cash.

      We were so blessed to have many loving friends offer their services – we had a beautiful wedding for a very low price because of their love.

      Congrats on your upcoming wedding and I hope you can keep under your budget – definitely can be done!

    • Megan says:

      I suppose I must mention that we’ve been together for years and have two children. I am 26 and he is 22. It might not seem morally right or special for us to be married but we’re so excited!

    • Amanda says:

      I too am not a believer in expensive weddings and wanted to pull it off for EXTREMELY cheap (only a few hundred dollars). Here is what we did: We got married on the beach in Lake Tahoe (which is not far from where we live, so it didn’t cost more than a few dollars in gas for anyone to get there). This way, we had a GORGEOUS backdrop for our wedding photos… it only cost a couple hundred dollars for the site (meaning for the chairs to be set up and for the justice of the peace; we had found a company online that sets up weddings in Tahoe). I am sorry I cannot provide exact dollar amounts, but it was nearly 5 years ago and my husband handled most of the fees… The invitations were photo cards (probably from Wal-Mart). My dress was a clearance white prom dress (I think I paid around $20 for it, and it was lovely), and we wore no shoes in the sand. The “wedding party” was asked to dress casually in jeans and white shirts, also barefoot. My bouquet was a bunch of flowers purchased from Costco, and my sisters-in-law wrapped it up into a boot. Did my own hair and makeup. The photographer was a friend of my husband’s, so he paid him around $100 to photograph the wedding. So… the wedding actually only ended up costing a few hundred dollars. We had a “reception” the following day at the park area of Bower’s Mansion (the location was free). You could pay to swim or tour the mansion, otherwise, there was no cost. We had a barbeque, so our only expenses were hamburger patties (it was sort of a potluck, so guests brought any food they wished). We only invited people who we were truly friends withn(or family obviously), so no one minded the casual-ness of it all. We had a great time, and the pictures turned out great… wish there was a feature that would allow you to post pictures, so that you can see what I mean about still having a gorgeous wedding at super low cost. We passed on the honeymoon, but if we had taken one, it could also have been very inexpensive… a weekend in San Francisco, or in Napa. Hope this helps.

  • Marie says:

    I got married 7 years ago and I wanted the BIG fantasy wedding but had a shoe string budget. What I found is you can have an elegant, beautiful wedding at a fraction of the cost with some planning. Here’s how I had a wedding for around $6,000:
    Our church had just built our permanent building (we had been renting a school) Instead of renting a hall or something we cleared out the santuary and had tables set up. Everyone was seated at the tables for the wedding/reception. My friends family owned a restraurant so we got white table clothes and napkins from their vendor to use.
    I went to a salvage store and found beautiful glass vases and used those as center pieces with tea lights.
    I wanted miniature cakes for everyone and found a bakery who loved the idea so much they were willing to do it within my budget!!! They were super excited to help make my “dream day” come true!!
    The cakes were placed at each place setting as part of the table decor.
    Another friend was getting married 2 weeks ahead of me and loved my idea of having scarfing hung up to make the room look more elegant. However, this was going to cost over $800. We talked to the company and because of the work involved to set it up and tear down they agreed to let us use it for both events with no extra charge and my friend and I split the cost.
    For catering we looked at all the options. The caterer we chose was a smaller operation so they cost less. But it also depended on what we chose. The typical chicken, potatoes etc. cost $10 a plate. My husband and I are a quarter Italian and our favorite food is lasagne so I asked about that. It was only $5 a plate. To add salad was going to be an addition $1 for seperate plates but I asked if they could just serve the salad and lasagne on the same plate and we saved there too.
    We have friends who are professional wedding videographers and they did our wedding as our gift. This was a HUGE savings.
    I found a girl who did awesome photography but was just getting started. Her price was $100 per hour.
    We were going to do our own flowers so I ordered roses from South America online and bought all the other things to make the bouquets and things. But two weeks before the wedding I realized I was not going to be able to do this myself and I didn’t really have help as most of my family was coming from out of town and not interested in helping anyway. So I found a local florist who was willing to use everything I had and just charge me labor. It was such a blessing.
    My dress was probably the one item I spent more on at $950. But having waited til I was 32 I wanted the dress of my dreams.
    We had over 300 people at the wedding.
    And my husband had saved up money before he ever met me for rings and a honeymoon. We went to Jamaica for 7 days and then Romania for 10 days. The reason he chose Romania was because I had done mission work there for over 10 years and my best friends in the world are there. Because of strict rules in Romania my Romanian friends could not be part of our special day. So my wonderful husband, who knew how much I wanted them to be there, decided to have us go to them!!!
    Since my wedding I have helped several people plan inexpensive but gorgous weddings!!

  • anonymous says:

    We paid cash for our wedding/honeymoon too. As it was nearly 18 years ago I don’t remember the exact cost but it was probably not much more than 2000 dollars. We did have the cake made and a florist did the bouquets. However, we made all the food ourselves, a relative took the pictures, and we did all the floral arrangements for the tables. I had my dress made for $200. We were living in California at the time so we honeymooned in San Francisco, which wasn’t that far away so the cost wasn’t what it might have been if we had chosen another locale.

  • Denise says:

    When I got married (almost 24 years ago), I rented my dress, crinoline and veil. My bridesmaids also were able to rent their dresses. Only hitch was having someone return everything the Monday after the wedding. My bridesmaids loved it because it was much less expensive than purchasing and they weren’t stuck with a dress they wouldn’t wear again. Also they were asked to wear black shoes of their chosing (the dresses were long). My gift to them was earrings to wear the day of the wedding.

  • $5,000 seems like a big budget to me! We spent less than 2k for our wedding, and that’s spending $400 on a dress. We saved a lot by getting married at our church (free), just a cake reception and family took the pictures and did the cake. You really don’t have to spend that much on getting married, and like other have said, it’s just the moment between yourself and your husband that you’ll remember! The main cost for us was the dresses/tuxes and the flowers.

  • Rhi says:

    I’m getting married this August with a budget of $5,000 for the wedding, $1000 for a dress, and $3000 for the honeymoon… All completely gifted to us by family!! We are so blessed to be getting this money. It is definitely important to us to stay within this budget since we don’t want to start off in debt. I’m loving all the creative ideas for saving money! Thanks everyone 😀

  • Shonda says:

    We were married at a bed-and-breakfast by the ocean in Northern California . We also rented the dresses and tuxes. Our minister also ran a photography business, so we got a great deal on pictures. And the b and b owners catered our dinner. My father agreed to pay for the wedding, but told me he would only spend $2500. We were married 20 years ago, so I’m sure things cost less then, but we had 100 guests at the wedding, and we stayed within our budget. Everyone had a great time. I think that today too many couples focus on the wedding and not enough on the marriage.

  • Michelle M says:

    I would think that if you (assuming you are on facebook or something of the sort) put out a post asking if anyone was looking to sell their wedding dress/accessories that you are trying to do an inexpensive wedding you would get flooded with responses. I know I have all that stuff just sitting in the closet taking up space and trying to figure out what to do with it, 10 yrs later.

    I got my dress from the discontinued room at the bridal shop in my town. They had a whole walk-in closet full of sample dresses for which the style had been discontinued that they were selling at cost. So I got a beautiful dress for $300 that had originally gone for $800+. Doesn’t hurt to ask the bridal salon what they do with their samples once the style is discontinued, worst that can happen is there is nothing in your size. I lucked out and needed no alterations to the dress (well except removing the gigantic bow from the butt but that was something I did on my own) 🙂

  • Katie says:

    We didn’t go into debt for our wedding either. Of course, we were both working at the time. We only took a 4day/3night(when you’re a teacher, you only can take a few personal days) honeymoon in the FL keys. We spent about $1300 for flight and our own condo. The condo was great because it had a full-service kitchen. We bought groceries there, so we saved money by eating at the condo instead of out.

    For the wedding, we did it at my grandparents’ church for free. I just bought roses in bulk from a flower shop, and a mom I’d babysat for arranged them. I only bought real flowers for corsages/boutonnieres and my bouquet. (I even made myself a fake bouquet to keep for memories as I threw the real one.) My sil and I made the bridesmaid’s bouquets out of fake flowers purchased at Hobby Lobby. The centerpieces were sandart that we made when we set up, in fancy tea glasses I only paid $1 each for.
    It helps that my husband is a graphic designer. He designed our invitations and programs, so we did those ourselves. He also had a college friend who was a professional photographer. We paid $900 for her services, and we got 2 cds full of pics for us to use at our will.
    My mil made brisket for the rehearsal dinner, and my parents bought rolls and cold cuts for the meal after.
    Our large expenses were buying the dresses for 5 bridesmaids and renting the tuxes for 5 groomsmen and our fathers.

    I’m glad that we saved where we did and didn’t put us into debt to start our marriage. We really only remember bits and pieces of the day, so all the expensive stuff would have been a waste.

  • Angela W says:

    I think wedding cost has a lot to do with the amount of people you invite as well. Our $5k budget was for over 300 people, feeding them a full meal and dessert!

    I definitely agree that it can be done for less than $5,000! Its great to see so many people who are frugal on their wedding day, as the average cost of a wedding (in WA state at least) is $ 25,000.

  • Jennifer says:

    I know it sounds horrible to some people, but we simply went before a Justice of the Peace. We had been together for six years and had a daughter together. I don’t regret the choice we made. Our marriage is full of love, and we did not need alot of fancy dresses, flowers and cake to affirm our love to each other. Here we are 13 years and 2 more children later, and our marriage is still just as strong as the day we said our vows. Total cost for our wedding was $175. That is the amount of the donation the Justice asked us to make to the local Humane Society in exchange for his services. Sure, my wedding was nothing fancy, but I still remember the most important part. When we looked into each others eyes, placed the rings on our fingers and became man and wife.

    • Kari says:

      This makes my heart smile…if that’s possible. 🙂 So sweet.

    • chelsea says:

      So sweet! My husband and I got married at the county court house, then had a nice church wedding about 3 weeks later. The courthouse thing was last-minute, when we learned we needed to make things official before his visa ran out- which was right before our originally scheduled church wedding. I enjoyed the church wedding with our friends and family present, but the courthouse ceremony has special meaning for me too. I was giggling like a schoolgirl and left there in a total daze! It was awesome!

    • Kadee says:

      My feeling has always been that the important thing is that at the end of the day, as long as you are married, it was the perfect day! It doesn’t matter how fancy or how simple the wedding was or what went right and what went wrong, the goal of the day to is to be married to your best friend and true love so you can spend countless special days together as husband and wife!

      • Spendwisemom says:

        I would agree with that. I learned from our first daughter’s wedding, that all she cared about was that he fiance/husband was right there with her. I was stressed about some things that fell through, but she didn’t care at all. Things are different this time around, where I am not worrying so much about any details because they really don’t matter in the end. And, friends and family can laugh together at the things that went wrong years later.

    • lalalalala says:

      I also got married at the courthouse. I think we only had to pay for the license, so thirty bucks or whatever. We were high school sweethearts, both from small families, and neither of us interested in a wedding. Afterwards, our families went together to a local restaurant to celebrate and my husband and I whisked away to Disney World for 7 days (which went on credit card – weren’t too terribly up on frugality then…) We’ve been at it for eight years now… meanwhile, I know people who have thrown huge lavish weddings and gotten divorced two years later.

  • Asmith says:

    Congratulations to Angela and her husband. It is great that you both came to an agreement about what you valued and accomplished it together.
    This is just my 2 cents but it is more important that each couple do what works for their family and their finances. On a certain level I understand the feelings that money spent on certain things to be waste but it is not for us to judge the money others spend. 14 years ago my parents working class professionals paid for our wedding at a country club and a catered meal etc. They paid cash that they had saved for their only daughters wedding. It was a blessed and wonderful time for family and friends to come together. Each couple should do what works for them and their family. If you can afford it and you wish to spend more or less don’t feel guilty over it. Money is not to control our lives. I have found that sometimes frugality can control your lives just as much as excess. You can’t take it with you. Let your own conscience lead you.In my life the Holy Spirit. Just my opinion.

    • lauren says:

      LOVE THIS!! We all make different choices and I am all about saving but there are somethings my family chooses to spend money on and uses cash to do so. We take a couple vacations a year and have a generous eat out budget for the weekend. We have a smaller home so that we can do this without debt while i stay home with our children. We all make choices about what is important to us and Jesus gives us free will as long as we are obeying the holy spirit! I have seen being frugual rob some people of precious memories and times they are never going to get back with their family….of course you can go to the other extreme too…balance is key 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    I am curious about how you were able to find a good deal on your honeymoon (or it could be considered a vacation for people not getting married)? Please, any tips on cheap vacations out of the country would be greatly appreciated! How do you find all-inclusive resorts? Thanks!

    • Angie says:

      We are AAA members, so we went in there and asked for a catalog. We chose an all-inclusive resort that we liked, in a warm location (we got married in December). We wanted to go to Jamaica or the Bahamas, but they were out of our price range, so we found a place in the Dominican Republic… still with white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters… and had a fabulous time there. Your AAA travel planner/guide is there to help you. I would definitely suggest using them, if you’re a member… they take care of all the “headaches” for you so that your honeymoon planning and going is fun and enjoyable! They’re also great for planning any kind of vacation, doesn’t have to be a honeymoon, and it doesn’t have to be out of the country.

      • Angela W says:

        Hi Amanda,

        We actually went to Sandals, and they have one resort Carlye Inn in Jamaica that is significantly less than all their other resorts! We booked our flight through Sandals website as well, and it was under $ 3k. We looked on A LOT of sites to see what price point was the lowest, and this one ended up being the lowest cost for us. We were able to stay for 11 days, all food and drink and entertainment included, lived like royalty and spent more than half what the people at the larger resorts did!

        sites like travelocity.com, priceline.com, orbitz.com, ect are great places to look for vacations. We use restaurants.com to get gift certificates for meals and bring cash and ONLY sped the cash we have, so we don’t go over budget!

        Low cost vacations take a lot of work, but are so worth it in the end!

  • Emily says:

    What’s a “honeymoom?” 🙂

  • Kari says:

    I’ve watched Four Weddings and Platinum Weddings (TLC maybe?) and been shocked by the $$$ spent. Four Weddings isn’t near as bad, but it seems like everyone still spends at least $25,000. My husband and I spent $5,000 on our wedding and didn’t even feel like we scrimped and saved that much. I couldn’t have asked for anything else. It was a day celebrating our love and couldn’t have been more perfect. I loved every minute of it. I’m giddy just thinking about it right now! 🙂

  • We did our wedding, including a catered dinner for 150 guests, for $8,000 in a high cost of living area. While it was a challenge, it was also totally do-able, and we had so many guests comment that it was one of the nicest weddings they’d been to.

    One way we saved was shopping for decorations on eBay. I know it might sound strange, but there are lots of people selling left-over decorations on there. I made our centerpieces (non-floral) from supplies purchased through eBay, as well as found our cake topper, bridesmaid gifts, and more.

    I also found that having a longer engagement (12 months) helped us to save. (I know this isn’t for everyone though!) It gave us more time to find the best deals since we didn’t feel rushed, and with that much time before the wedding, the best value reception venue/caterer was still available for the wedding date. (Being a large college town, reception venues get booked up many, many months in advance around here.)

    • I am another Dana with the same story. We spent $8,000 on a wedding that included a catered dinner for ~150 people as well. While my wedding wasn’t the most frugal, it was my DREAM wedding and we weren’t in debt over it (due to help from both families). What made it my dream wedding was spending more $$$ on things that were important to me but going the cheap route on things that weren’t as important.

      Things that I spend more $$ on:
      -my dress (I bought a sample of a more inexpensive dress)
      -the reception hall; it was so beautiful with no decorations!

      Things that I spent little to no $$ on:
      -family made chocolates as favors (if I could do this over again I wouldn’t have had any favors)
      -my mom got the decorations for the church from a garage sale!
      -we got the cheapest meal available w/ no apps
      -friend did my flowers for a discount and we kept it simple
      -family member did my hair and make up
      -we choose a basic church (my church would have charged us $500!)

  • Katie says:

    My wedding/honeymoon was paid for without us going into debt as well. It’s been only 3.5 years, and I’m not exactly sure how much we spent. I saved where we could so that we could provide the dresses and tuxes for the wedding party. We both were living in homes our parents’ owned and had full-time jobs, so we didn’t have to save. I did all these things before I learned to coupon.

    Ways We Saved:
    1. We did our invitations and programs ourselves. My husband’s a graphic designer, so this helped greatly.
    2. We did not do “save the date” cards. We got engaged in Feb and married in Sept. I didn’t feel that we needed those.
    3. I made fake flower bouquets with the help of my sil and sisters.
    4. The only real flowers were for my own bouquet, corsages, and boutonnieres. A lady I had babysat for arranged the flowers for me as our present. (She’s an accountant but has a knack for arranging flowers–no need for a professional.) I purchased roses in bulk from a flower shop. I had enough leftover for a couple beautiful bouquets at the alter.
    5. We took a short honeymoon (4days/3nights) to the FL Keys. We stayed in a townhouse at a resort with a full kitchen and cooked our own meals.
    6. Meals were supplied by our parents. The rehearsal dinner was brisket (better than I’ve had at any restaurant) made by my mil. The dinner for the 5:00 wedding was cold cuts and rolls supplied by my dad.
    7. Our wedding cake was from a woman who makes them from home. We paid less than $200 for a beautiful cake for 150 people.
    8. We used a college friend who was a professional photographer to take the pictures.
    9. The centerpieces were made by us and were non-floral. We used cheap teaglasses and made them into art with sand purchased at Michaels.

  • Tammy says:

    I guess the lesson to be learned here is paying CASH for the wedding.We have had this discussion on this blog before about weddings.Lots has to do with where you are from and some expectations from family,church and friends as to how a wedding should be.

    We have been married almost 26 years and I do not reget a single penny spent for it.It was cash from us and my dad gave a little bit towards the day.

    Mother in law hated our wedding because it was not a huge Italian wedding like the ones they still have in Cleveland,Ohio.Where we lived at the time some church members thought it was too big of a wedding because we didn’t have punch and cookies.

    All I can say have your wedding the way you want it but remember to pay CASH.

    • I agree, Tammy. I think weddings (and, as a result, the money spent) are very much a regional thing. My husband’s family is from Ontario, Canada and mine from Virginia. In both of these areas, weddings are *big* occasions and many guests would nearly feel insulted if not treated to a full catered meal, etc. (Wedding gifts are quite nice though too.)

  • Kristine says:

    I am shocked at how much people spend on weddings even if they have the money. My husband and I spent about $5000, 13 years ago, and that included the honeymoon. We actually got married on a cruise ship and had a reception when we got back. My extended family paid for the rental of the reception hall and catering instead of getting gifts and my husband’s family paid for the cruise, rings, and cake at the recpetion. We paid anything else. We incurred no debt and are still very happily married.
    My husband and I have a while until our daughter gets married but we plan to give her a budget. She can spend it all on a wedding or spend half and keep the other half for a down payment on a house. Seeing that she is already excellent and careful with money at a young age, I think she will choose the later.
    Let’s remember that marriage is between two people expressing their love. Not a show to impress people about how much money you have (or want people to think you have).

  • Marsha says:

    These stories are all very inspiring and a testament to the creativity we can muster when properly motivated!

    What I don’t understand, though, are all these mentions of being married at a church being “free”. Although I understand that churches don’t necessarily charge – ours didn’t – or have a list of fees per se, isn’t a donation to the church traditionally made, particularly when you are “borrowing” one where a family member or friend is a member of the congregation? I would expect that even a donation would require a budgetary line item and thus wouldn’t be “free” in the sense we’re talking about it here. Or am I missing something?

    • Emilie says:

      We paid our priest, the altar servers and the musicians when we got married in the church we both attended. I am not sure it was required for the priest but we felt it was appropriate.

    • Katie says:

      I got married in my grandmother’s church because mine is too small. She volunteers there, so her time was the payment for holding my wedding. She took care of all of that, so if she did anything extra, she didn’t tell me. (It’s also a small, country church.) The minister we used is a family member. We rented a candelabra from Hobby Lobby.

    • Christie says:

      You’re right–the church isn’t free. Even though we married in the church we both grew up in, we still paid the pastor an honorarium, paid the custodian to clean (since they had to clean again after our wedding beyond just the usual once a week clean), pay the sound board operator…
      We did not do an additional donation to the church. This isn’t traditionally done in my congregation. We did, however, leave the fake greenery wreaths my mom made for our wedding. They are still up now, almost 5 years later. Every wedding since has used them, with some adding in some fake flowers in their wedding colors.

    • Churches in our area charge if you aren’t a member. Our church meets in a school building, so we had to “rent” space at another church when we got married 5 years ago. We had to pay $500- the cheapest we could find. Most were charging close to $1,000.

  • D says:

    I am all about being frugal but we must remember to follow etiquette as well. The story refers to guests being asked to bring food. Guests are guests and are invited to be entertained and witness the marriage, not to provide food to save the couple money. Please understand that while being frugal is great, we must also not break the rules of etiquette. Asking guests to bring food instead of a gift is incorrect in two ways: 1) there is to be no mention of gifts unless a guests specifically asks what the couple wants and 2) guests are not supposed to provide drinks, food, etc. for a wedding.

    I love this site but I just wanted to point out that we mustn’t be rude when we’re being frugal 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      I think it depends upon the bride/groom and those whom they are inviting. In some situations, this may be appropriate — even if it goes against traditional wedding etiquette. I know in some families, they’d be glad to provide food instead of a wedding gift. In other cases, it would not be appropriate to ask family members to do this.

    • Shawn'l says:

      Weddings have become so personal and individual that many traditional “rules” no longer apply. The “rules” are whatever you want them to be and you and your wedding guests feel comfortable following.

      • Angela W says:

        We only asked family to bring food instead of a gift. We have a very close knit family, and while we never expect any gifts from anyone, we knew these people would be getting us gifts! We knew our family understood our commitment to staying out of debt and were GLAD to help us celebrate our day by bringing one small item to the wedding!

        Like you said, it doesn’t work for everyone, and it is good to use proper etiquette! God has put us all in different situations and you have to do what is right in your unique situation! You never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or obligated to do/bring something they don’t want to!

        • Christie says:

          What a gracious and heartfelt reply. I know that while some people would love this reception idea, I know others who would be horrified–both types are in my family!
          I’m glad Angela did what worked for her, her husband, and her family.

      • Marsha says:

        Sometimes, though, this throwing-out-“antiquated”-rules on the grounds of being “more personal” or “more individualized” is little more than an excuse to be downright horrifyingly rude. In the zeal to be personal and individual, it’s easy to forget that a marriage is not just the joining of two people, but also two families and two communities.

        Saving money or being “individual” in ways that interfere with the role of host and hostess are impulses that ought to be very carefully examined before implemented.

        • D says:

          I’m glad that the responses to my comment have been very polite as I meant my comment to be. I love saving money but if in doing so, it goes against etiquette, I will dish out the extra money or scale down my plans. If a couple cannot afford a lavish meal for their guests, they can simply serve punch and cake. Very cheap!

          • Pamela says:

            I actually agree with you that to ask for a specific gift is very rude. I also am dismayed by registry information in the invitation. Hard to get ruder than that. IMO

  • Eppie says:

    My FI and I are getting married in September and are paying cash for our $10k wedding. A little more expensive than some others, but I will say that my photographer is almost half the budget. I fell in love with someone’s style, and she was a perfect fit for us, so it was my “splurge”. My dress was $300, invitations have been designed and will be printed at home. We’re having a restaurant cater for 125 for $1500. We’re having an Ipod wedding, and will get our desserts from Costco. Rehearsal dinner will sub sandwiches (he proposed while we were having lunch) and we are not going to have a honeymoon until the following summer (we’re both teachers)

    We’ve been saving since the beginning of our 18-month engagement, despite the fact that due to going back to school (both of us, alternating), we’ve survived on only one income for the last year (9 months was mine, the last 5 have been his). However, we’ve been able to save up, and have the rest of the money saved up to finish paying our deposits.

  • Lisa says:

    My husband and I have been married for nearly 5 years now. I’m not exactly sure what our budget was, but I’m sure it was less than $6,000. We decided to get married Decemeber 30, which was a great month to look at if you want cheap decorations.

    The church where we were married in was already beautifully decorated. I chose red as my color, with silver accents. The ladies at the church who knew I was getting married there even asked for specifics about my wedding colors, etc. The church hadn’t bought new Christmas decorations for years and decided to buy them the year I was getting married. They were sweet enough to take my wedding into consideration and bought decorations that would compliment our wedding. All we really bought for decorations were poinsettas (which we got very cheap since it was after Christmas).

    As for the reception, we were able to skimp but have a beautiful effect. I asked numerous friends and family members if we could use their artificial Christmas trees. Then I ran to WalMart for their day after Christmas sale and bought TONS of little white lights (very inexpensive) and numerous red and silver balls and ribbons on clearance. These were our only expenses for decorations. We covered each table with linens provided by the reception site. On top of the linens were greenery from my grandfather’s farm, which my mom cut the day before (it added a beautiful aroma too!). We added red and silver Christmas balls, red candles in various sizes, and sprinkled some 75% off Dove chocolates that were on clearance from Christmas (these were our favors). I borrowed some picture frames from a friend who had just been married and had used them as her centerpieces. I made prints of my favorite pictures of my family, friends, bridal party, etc. in sepia tones and put one on each table as a centerpiece. 11 Christmas trees with tons of white lights flanked the two sides of the reception hall and the area behind the head table. It was very elegant, easy, and affordable!

    My best advice is to choose the top three things you are certain you want and don’t want to skimp on–for me that was a dress, flowers, and photographer. Everything else I was willing to give/take on. I did not skimp on my top three and budgetted those items first. Then, whatever money from our budget that was leftover was dedicated to everything else.

    • Christie says:

      One of my cousins got married near Christmas and did a similar decorating scheme. I agree, it was gorgeous!
      I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to wait until after Christmas to buy the lights, chocolates, etc, but it makes complete sense!

      • Lisa says:

        I must admit that I did buy a few before the after Christmas sale and checked the white lights we had at home to make sure they worked. 🙂 I wanted to at least have a few I could depend on in case I couldn’t find any after Christmas. However, I went first thing in the morning and found tons. I had a budget and knew I had to stay within that, so I just had the mindset that if there were no more left, we’d figure out something else (we still had 4 days til the wedding) or we’d go without. They were just minor details and I already had my “dream” since I had the guy, the dress, and the flowers! 🙂

    • lalalalala says:

      *dreamy sigh*

      That sounds beautiful!

  • Great post! My fiance and I are paying cash too! Our budget is $6000. To boot I’m currently self employed and only bringing home maybe 1/5 of what my fiance is AND we just bought a house. We may try for UNDER budget so that we can scrape together some extra savings.

    • Cynthia A. Heber says:

      You can do it. More to have a home to live in for the future than to not have a home. You have the right attitude and a head on your shoulders. I applaud you.

      • Thank you! We’re very optimistic. Couponing & having a frugal mentality definitely makes it possible. If we weren’t so careful with what little money we have, we would never be able to pull all of this off over the course of one year!

  • Sharon Peterson says:

    We had our wedding for about $5000. About 65% was paid by us, and the other was paid my in-laws. It always makes my heart a little sick when I hear the national average for a wedding is about $20,000. I’d have a heartattack!

    We went cheap were we could. We had a friend of a friend who was a photographer and gave us a great deal plus all the negatives. I bought my dress on layaway and I am blessed to be tall so the alterations were very, very minimal and no hemming. I wanted tupils but it was Texas and August and so I went with Gerbera daisies. Plus my colors were bright red and yellow which meant a lot went a long way (and it was a unique color choice but beautiful). I also did not want to make my bridesmaids pay and an arm and a leg for an expensive dress so I found a pattern I liked AND purchased the material for all 5 dresses (one giant bolt) and gave that to the ladies.

    The venue was a bigger deal. Our church was under renovations and we wanted to have dancing. I called and called for days and then got the idea to call the college my husband was attending. They were so excited about the prospect of having a wedding on campus, they jumped through hoops left and right for us. We were able to use the college chapel (which was perfect) for free AND their dining hall as our reception area. Plus we used the school’s catering services which saved a lot of money. We had a full-buffet meal, Texas bbq style. There again, they were very excited to be catering a wedding so they threw in tons of extras for the “happy couple.”

    Our honeymoon was a few nights stay in a cabin in Texas hill country since I had to return immediately to begin my first year of teaching. This year we’re celebrating our tenth anniversary and we hope to go back to the same cabin.

    Again, our wedding was not expensive or sophisticated but neither of those words describe my husband and I. We paid special attention to our ceremony and did a few things like a rose presentation to our new in-laws, instead of a unity candle, and having a worship service in the middle of the ceremony. To this day, we get so many compliments about our ceremony. People remember that! And I much rather than remember that than the color of my toenail polish!

  • Cynthia A. Heber says:

    Good for you. God bless my mom 18 years ago she put together a wedding for me. She bought two dresses at a labor day weekend sidewalk sale in town. Each was 50.00. I had to pick one. She made the flowers for the bridal group, she cooked the food, she made my headpiece, and my dad got the cake from nyc. Oh, we had the reception in my mom and dad’s house (in the backyard).Where I grew up. Peter’s friend took my dad and I to the church.in his car. My mom and dad have passed on since then. We also had family and friends photograph the event. Also video it. Lovely memories.

  • Karen says:

    I’m Angela’s aunt by marriage. I was at the wedding and in no way could you tell it was a “budget” wedding. It was beautiful and Angela’s dress was absolutely gorgeous. Unbelievable that it was used and inexpensive. The whole family is so very proud of the stand Angela & Michael have taken on financial, health & spiritual issues.

  • Great post! When my husband, and I, got married in 2003, we paid cash, for our wedding. Granted, we were blessed to have my parents pay for the reception. But, everything else, was all us. And I was determined to NOT go into debt, for our wedding. After all, it’s about the marriage, not the wedding, right?

  • Abigail says:

    My husband and I just got married 6 months ago and ended up spending just over $2,000 for the wedding. My parents generously ended up paying for most of it, which was a surprise blessing to me – I had been saving up and was prepared to cover the cost myself. God provided savings in SO many ways and I had the wedding of my dreams at a cost much, much lower than I thought possible. A few of the special blessings:

    ~My mom reworked a $3.00 thrift store dress into the dress of my dreams – ivory silk and everything. 😀 I ended up paying less than $10 for the dress and supplies, and my entire outfit (shoes, veil, tiara, dress) was around $60.

    ~We bought all silk flowers at Hobby Lobby during their 50% off sales and my sisters and I made all the bouquets and corsages and other arrangements ourselves. Took time, but because the flowers we silk we were able to take care of it well before the week of the wedding.

    ~We used a pattern I already had and fabric on sale for $2/yard and sewed tops for my bridesmaids. I accented them with tatted lace collars I’d made, virtually free except my time. 😉 Matching black skirts from thrift stores and shoes on sale for $10/pair completed their outfits.

    ~Virtually all the decorations were purchased at thrift stores (my sisters and I had grand fun on these “treasure hunting” trips) at a fraction of the original cost. I even found beautiful table runners made from the EXACT fabric I’d chosen for my bridesmaids, for only $10! We used old books (which I already owned) and tea cups on each table – and the tea cups were sent home with friends and family as small thank you gifts for all their help in decorating and serving.

    ~I’d done photography for a friend’s wedding and she offered to make my cake free of charge. I did end up giving her a thank you monetary gift but it was still much more reasonable than the cake would have cost otherwise – and it turned out exactly like I wanted!

    ~My dad is an amazing food bargain shopper so we put him in charge of rounding up the reception food. We just had cake and punch, coffee, small sandwiches, fruit salad, nuts, mints – and I think that’s all. He found some fabulous sales and it ended up costing us a lot less than it would have otherwise. Sam’s Club had great prices on the paper goods we needed. A whole crew of friends and family pitched in to prepare and serve the food – they were absolutely amazing!

    ~I’m a graphic designer so I did our invitations and programs myself, and was able to put together very special, unique designs for a very reasonable cost.

    ~I asked a family of musician friends if they’d like to help out for our wedding and they were super excited to do it. The $200 thank you gift we gave them was not nearly enough to repay them for all they did: original arrangements of all the songs I wanted, played with brass quartet, piano, strings, and two vocal solos. Absolutely PERFECT, and since I’m a musician this was a huge thing for me.

    ~I traded graphic design work with two friends for photography. They’re both talented but hadn’t done many/any weddings before, so their rates were lower. And because we’re bartering services we both end up getting a good deal. Photography was another one of my top priorities and I was very happy with the results.

    ~My uncle loaned us his shiny big Hummer to go away in (even matched our wedding colors), and that was a lot of fun. Everyone assumed we had rented the fancy vehicle, but it didn’t cost us a cent. 😀

    And I could go on a lot longer. Planning the wedding on a budget was a ton of fun and I’m SO thankful for all the blessings God gave us and all the people who pitched in to help so very much. It was a beautiful day. 😀

  • We’re having a wedding that, I guess, some might consider expensive. We set up a savings plan 18 months out (for both a house and the wedding) and are socking away our money to cover our costs. We’ve always lived within our means, in a small home in the city (where I can walk to work…no need to drive!).

    I think I must be naive because aside from bridal salons, I didn’t realize wedding vendors worked on credit. I just assumed that the florist, musicians, baker, venue, etc. would be paid with checks and we set up our savings plan accordingly.

    Is it really possible to pay for a wedding using credit cards? Knowing won’t make me use credit. I’m just curious!

  • Cynthia A. Heber says:

    18 years ago I was married. My mom bought two dresses on sale for 50.00. I had to chose one. My mom did everything for my wedding. The cooking,made the flowers for the bridesmaid andf lowergirl and my fowers, decorations for the backyard, my headpiece, my dad bought the cake from NYC. We had the wedding at the church and then came back to my mother and father’s house(where I grew up) and had the reception at home in the backyard. It was the best. Peter’s friend Pete, drove my dad and I to the church (that was our limo). Friends ad family took pictures. Also they took a video. God Bless my Mom and Dad who now have both passed on. Only cash. Peter’s family bought big bags of ice, and the paid for the DJ who we knew. He was okay. It was rainy in the morning. It cleared up by the time we got out of church. All the best to you.

  • Kim says:

    My budget for my July wedding is $3200 for about 70 people. We intend to use wedding gift money to go on a short trip to Denver (from WI) for our honeymoon.

    One way we saved a ton of money was to get married on a Sunday instead of a traditional Saturday. We are getting married at a hotel (in their gazebo outside for the reception and then using a banquet room for the meal/reception). By choosing any day of the week beside Saturday they have no minimums on food/drinks and the use of the room is free (plus we get a free nights stay at the hotel). The hotel also provides white linens, chair covers, and simple but beatiful table centerpieces.
    I also saved money by:

    *Buying my dress off the rack and paying someone to alter it ($200+$50 to cut some of the train off)
    *Making my own invitations, programs and place cards
    *Using fake flowers bought with lots & lots of Michael’s coupons (and they actually look real!)
    *We made a decision that cheaper rings were ok with us. Buying a house this month is far more important than “more diamonds.”
    *My cousin is an art major in college – we asked her to take our pictures
    *A friend is an amazing singer and will be singing three times throughout the day for us (for free)
    *Using docking stations and the hotels speaker system we are created iPhone music playlists to play music during the meal and reception and have designated a person to watch over it or skip songs if someone requests something special.

  • Lisa says:

    I got prom dresses for my bridesmaids close to easter when there was a huge 50-60% or so sale, and these gorgeous peach colored dresses looked awesome and they’re basic yet ellegant enough they have all worn them other times.

  • Mary Ellen says:

    I never ever could have moved back in with my parents. 3 bedroom ranch with 5 children (3 of whom STILL live at home) with parents that comment on your every move. shudder!

  • Laura says:

    Congratulations, Angela! You are off to a wonderful start, one without the stress and strain of debt. I pray many blessings on you and your marriage!

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