How to Plan a Wedding for Under $5,000


One of the first things a bride-to-be should do is to create a wedding budget. It's important to know how much money is available for the wedding. Savvy brides who are willing to stick to their budget and watch their pennies can plan an elegant wedding for under $5,000. The couple needs to decide what they will cut costs on and what they won't. Two of the most expensive items are food and drink, so a smaller guest list can save thousands.

  • Create your wedding budget. All persons that are paying for the wedding should have a say. List everything you will need and set a maximum amount for each item, such as flowers, dress, transportation, music, food, drink and venue rental.

  • Designate your priorities and be willing to spend a large chunk of the budget on what is important to the bride and groom, whether it is a band for dancing or a fabulous wedding cake or lots of photos.

  • Write out your guest list, and pare it down to 50 people or fewer. With a small wedding budget, it's imperative that you have a small guest list, especially if you plan on feeding them.

  • Create your own wedding invitations. Wedding invitation kits can be purchased at many discount and office supply stores for a fraction of the cost of pre-printed ones.

  • Pick an unusual wedding date and time. Consider having your wedding on a weeknight or on a Sunday morning, because many venues charge less for bookings Sunday through Thursday.

  • Find a venue. You will save money by having the wedding and reception at the same location, because you won't have additional transportation costs for the bridal party and for wedding vendors. Don't be afraid to negotiate. You may be able to save 50 percent or more if your wedding is not on a popular day and is off season. Use a reception venue that allows you to bring your own food and drink and have family members and friends prepare it. To eliminate venue costs entirely, get married at the home of a family member or friend.

  • Shop around for an affordable dress. Watch the sales and be patient, or consider renting your wedding dress. If you look at dresses that are not sold as bridal gowns, you will find lower prices. Also consider wearing your mother's, grandmother's or sister's wedding gown if it has been preserved. For the groom's attire, check tuxedo rental shops.

  • Keep food and beverages to a minimum. Consider serving only appetizers, punch and cake. If you want to serve hot dishes, a buffet costs less than a sit-down dinner. An open bar is expensive, so stick to wine and beer. Serve beautifully decorated sheet cake instead of fancy, expensive tiers -- or ask a relative to make the cake.

  • Make your own decorations, centerpieces and flower arrangements. Consider using silk flowers, or choose flowers that are in season and buy them wholesale. Enlist family and friends to help you.

  • Hire local college students or start-up businesses for photography, videography and music. They will charge far less than longtime professionals. Ask for references and view portfolios before hiring anyone.

Tips & Warnings

  • Negotiate with all vendors. Offer them half of the asking price and go from there. You may be surprised at how low many vendors will go.

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  • Photo Credit wedding image by Mat Hayward from
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