How to plan a wedding for under $15K
One of our goals here at 100LC is not to just offer up inspiration but tips and tricks for pulling off your wedding on a budget that works for you. Everyone has different budgets, guest lists, and must-haves in mind, so we love when we can share how a bride + groom made it all happen. Lucky for us, the brides from a few of the stunning weddings we’ve had up on the blog spilled the deets! Read about Jason + Nell and five other creative couples who got hitched for 15K (or *much* less) in our budget wedding guide!
Remember this DIY beer-inspired wedding by Erin Jean from last month? Nell + Jason knew they wanted to get married in a local park that they love spending time in. Major bonus that they could rent the whole thing out for only $70 for the day! Then for $800, they rented out the tent, lights, dance floor, and backup rain gear. Keeping track of everything in a Google doc helped them stay organized and on budget for their park wedding with a guest list of 90.
Nell saved by opting for a bohemian Free People dress. Their biggest splurge was the photography (on an 8 hour package) and DIYs were a major cost saver. Nell says, If you have the time I highly recommend making the effort. I tried to make a list of projects in order from most important to least important and if by the end of the list I was running out of time, I considered purchasing. For example, our beer bar was DIY and we are SO happy and proud of how it turned out. Sure it took a lot of work, but we put our own stamp on it and it was so personal, especially since we salvaged it from our home. Some smaller decorations I ended up buying, like the pendant flags. I *could* have made them, but considering the price vs time I would have spent on them, it was more feasible for me to spend a little more just so I could have that time working on other projects for the wedding.
Next up are Levi + Casey, who pulled off their Ace Hotel Palm Springs wedding for 10K! The first thing they did when planning? Determine the non-negotiables: a full, open bar, and a DJ. She also wanted a vintage dress, which saved money and looked stunning (obvs!).
Their #1 cost saver was having their wedding on a Thursday. Not only did they get to wrap up a whole long weekend within it, they basically had the hotel to themselves on the wedding day! It also helped that they had the wedding in a part of the venue that doesn’t normally do weddings.
Start early. Determine your theme and aesthetic at least a year out and commit to it. The more time you have to hunt for bargains the better. I spent a year searching for table settings that resembled Jonathan Adler’s style and because I kept an open mind and shopped at places I normally wouldn’t I had a lot of success. Also, decide what flowers you love and order them through a grocery store. I called the floral manager at Basha’s and she was so patient and helpful. I had to have protea and she ordered them for me at a 1/4 of the costs – incredible savings. Don’t have your wedding on a Saturday. We saved several thousand dollars opting for a Thursday wedding. We had a four day weekend celebration with our friends and family and it was awesome.
We loved Yvonne + Clifton’s chic, modern Atlanta wedding. Their biggest splurge was 2nd Truth Photography, with a package that included an e-sesh and domestic travel. But they were able to splurge because they kept the guest list to 40 and found these areas to save:
They got a half price discount at their venue for being members. While Yvonne had a couple must-haves (gold flatware and ghost chairs, hello!), they were able to save a ton on floral by incorporating candles from Ikea and things like custom napkins from ForYourParty.com.
My DIY projects were the 1000 paper crane background, metallic balloon tassels, and our handfasting ribbon. I wish I hadn’t done the balloon tassels myself or enlisted the help of friends sooner since they were so time consuming!
Definitely doesn’t feel like this table is missing anything with candles rather than floral.
Remember Mel + Josh’s colorful DIY wedding shot by Jenna Bechtholt? They were able to stick to their 12K budget with The Joy Parade, who helped them break down and track costs (must-haves: great photographer, great food, open bar). While all their DIY projects helped, the fact that so many friends + fam offered up their talents was the real saver: officiant, DJ, day-of-coordination, ceremony backdrop, beer, and hair + makeup, were some of the amazing wedding gifts provided by friends!
Melissa says, In our initial budget, I didn’t take into account all the misc. rental costs we would need. Make sure to include everything from the get-go, including vendor tips, possible transportation or parking costs, cleanup fees, and costs for servers and bartenders. Those things add up quickly, so make sure to take all items into account… Also, do your research online, especially when buying bulk. We saved a lot on tissue paper for the tassels, our succulents, and centerpieces by buying in bulk.
See more of her planning tips in our feature.
Awhile back we shared Corrie + Brooks’ fun, laidback beach wedding by Chris Glenn. They pulled it off for 8.5K! One thing that was a huge help was keeping the guest list super small, since they’d also had a separate backyard BBQ that everyone could be included in. They also purchased an inclusive wedding package from their venue and created a few fun DIYs including creating their own bouquets.
Corrie’s tip for a wedding on a small budget: After you get pricing from the vendors don’t be afraid to negotiate to build a package that works for you. I never asked them to come down on their prices but I would tell them what I needed and asked them to build something that would fit our needs. For example I didn’t need the photographer for eight hours as small as our wedding was, instead we went with four hours and were able to afford it that way.
And we asked if she would’ve done anything differently… Seeing that we had an intimate wedding with just our family, I wish we wouldn’t have done a fancy rehearsal dinner. I would have rather enjoyed more genuine time with everyone and had something more simple on the beach like a bonfire with pizza. So much of a wedding is go, go, go, it was important to me to find time to soak it all in and enjoy the moments and that’s one area where I would have enjoyed to soak it up a little more.
They took a major risk in ordering flowers from Sam’s Club, but she wanted flowers without stretching the budget. They were purchased online and delivered day-of, and luckily turned out great!
Last up, we have Cecily + Abram’s DIY summer wedding for 10K with photos by Lauren Fair. A huge cost saver was this (brilliant) idea: trade day-of coordination services with couple friends getting married. They met up, got organized, than helped each other out on their respective days. Cool, right?
Other savers were their massive DIY list (as mentioned in the post) and having a potluck. Even the guests that expressed concern over the potluck were blown away by how well it all came together!
Cecily’s advice: Don’t do anything just because it is expected. We skipped lots of standard wedding things like escort cards (and assigned seating altogether) where it saved us money and/or mental energy. Also, pick a venue without catering requirements. Even if we hadn’t done the potluck, we would have done mass takeout from some yummy but inexpensive restaurant, which wouldn’t be allowed at many venues. Same for DIY booze planning.
Thanks to everyone who helped us create our budget wedding guide! We’re soooo lucky to get to chat with so many creative couples and share their work (and budget saving secrets!) with all of you!