Quickly Becoming Conley: Reining in the Budget



The average cost for a wedding in the United States is somewhere around $25,000! That’s more than some make in a year! When Danny and I started researching wedding budgets that was the big, glaring dollar sign that stared back at us.

I am blessed with amazing parents who are more than willing to pay for our wedding, but I would never ask them to shell out that kind of money. So Danny and I pulled out an excel spreadsheet and started crunching some numbers. Together with my rents, we worked out a budget that will not exceed $8,000. Danny’s sweet parents are also chipping in and helping us.

It required creativity and tenacity, but planning a wedding on a limited budget is absolutely possible! As I said in another blog, weddings are about priorities. When we made our budget, we picked the things we were willing to pay more for, but we also had to make some hard cuts. We knew we couldn’t have everything, so we choose the things that were most important to us.

You can find tons of money saving tips online. I’ve also received invaluable advice from friends and acquaintances. Some of these we chose to follow, and some we blatantly ignored.

Now that we’ve worked out the kinks in our budget, here is my advice to you:

1) Sit down and make a budget

You can do what we did and make an excel spreadsheet, or you can use an online budget maker, but make a budget! Know about how much you want to spend in each wedding category, and know the dollar amount that you cannot exceed.

2) Don’t go crazy

Weddings are full of endless possibilities. Designer dresses, expensive flower arrangements, incredible ceremony and venue locations, elaborate caterers and so much more! But if you’re on a budget, pick those one or two things that you don’t want to scrimp on and put your resources there. Danny and I chose the venue.

3) A small guest list

Whoops! This is a suggestion Danny and I ignored. There are tons of people we love and we wanted to invite them all. Our guest list is over 300… not necessarily the wisest choice for a small budget.

4) Have your ceremony and reception in the same location

Check! Thank you for being gorgeous and versatile Hermitage Museum and Gardens!

5) Alternative reception food

Food at wedding receptions can easily exceed $40 a person! Danny and I knew we couldn’t afford to provide a full meal to our guests. We played around with a lot of options: heavy hors d’oeuvres, breakfast for dinner, family style meal. But we settled on having a Dessert Reception. Our guests will have to eat before they come, but they can have all the sweets they want!

6) Alternative decorations and seating

Our décor theme of “rustic elegance” not only fits our personalities, it also allows for inexpensive decoration ideas. Found objects around the house, like books and jars, make perfect centerpieces. Instead of renting tables for over 300 people to sit at, we can use rustic crates. The possibilities are as endless as our creativity!

7) Cheaper options

Using companies like Vistaprint allows you to print a large amount of stationary for a fraction of the cost. And weddings have tons to print: invites, RSVPs, thank you cards, programs and more! You may not have handmade invitations from Italy, but they can still be lovely!

You can also buy your centerpiece flowers wholesale! My plan: filler flowers like baby’s breath from Norfolk Wholesale. They look beautiful in bunches and won’t break the bank.

8) Amazing friends

Call in favors and ask your friends for help. I will actually be talking about this more next week. Danny and I are blessed with incredible friends. Photographer, florist, baker, DJ and more—we don’t have to worry about these! We have friends providing these services for free or for an amazing discount.

I believe that every bride should have the wedding of her dreams! But as we’ve tackled each cost one by one, I don’t believe that a dream wedding has to be the most expensive.

Click here to read how I found my dream dress for a fraction of the cost! Next week, learn more about those amazing friends I alluded to. Sometimes, your nearest and dearest are the ones who will make every dream a reality. 

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