Real Budget Weddings (Under $10,000!)

With a few smart strategies and lots of creativity, these three couples shows us how they planned beautifully personalized and truly unforgettable weddings—without breaking the bank.
By: 
Valerie Berrios

A Rustic Barnyard Bash (Total Cost: $5,156)
 
The Couple: Jane and Patrick Sheppard
Wedding Date: October 10, 2010
Location: Brunswick, Georgia
Number of Guests: 80

In the middle of planning their fall wedding, Jane Youngblood, 24, a student and mom to 4-year-old Brogen, and her then-fiancé Patrick Sheppard, 30, a production manager for a food manufacturing company, were faced with a huge months in advance, so we had already begun scouring yard sales and thrift stores for old glass vases in green and brown (our wedding colors),” says Jane. “We found them everywhere, ranging from 25 cents to a dollar. We bought flowers for the tables from a wholesale supplier and made our own table settings, which included burlap table squares that added to the relaxed country vibe we were going for. By orchallenge. Patrick lost his job. “We ended up having to move four hours away for a new job, and the moving and housing costs ate almost all of our savings,” says Jane. As a result, the couple, who had planned to pay for most of the wedding themselves, set a $5,000 budget and sought crafty ways to minimize their spending.

How They Saved
“I’d discussed with my mom that I wanted a vintage country theme for the wedding months in advance, so we had already begun scouring yard sales and thrift stores for old glass vases in green and brown (our wedding colors),” says Jane. “We found them everywhere, ranging from 25 cents to a dollar. We bought flowers for the tables
from a wholesale supplier and made our own table settings, which included burlap
table squares that added to the relaxed country vibe we were going for. By ordering wholesale (from flower wholesale.com) I was able to get the flowers I wanted—roses, gerbera daisies, spider mums, baby’s breath and other filler—at a fraction of the cost my florist quoted me.”

“Instead of buying a big cake, I asked my grandmother, Charlotte, and Patrick’s grandmother, Lois, to make a few pies that we could serve at the wedding. I also made a few pies to add to our buffet, which included barbecued chicken, pulled pork, baked potatoes, and green beans. In the end, there were so many wonderful homemade pies—from pumpkin and chocolate cream to family favorites like chocolate pecan, cherry cheesecake, and chess pie—that our guests could choose from.”

“Our favors had a similar homey feel. We bought different herbs from a local nursery and attached tags with our wedding date on them that said thank-you. Other big money savers included my dress, which was a wedding present from my sister, and having my makeup and hair done by my cousin, a trained cosmetologist.” These elements not only helped the couple stay on budget, they also helped evoke the cozy feel they were aiming for.

Small Indulgences
The couple’s largest expense was the reception rental fee and catering package. “We chose Hutcheson Plantation because of its vintage country vibe,” says Jane. “The owners have accumulated so many antiques from the twenties until now (even he fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom were antique). Walking into the venue was like stepping back in time.”

As for splurges, the couple opted to make room in their budget for a DJ. “Music was the last thing I wanted to worry about during the wedding,” says Jane. “We asked our DJ to play songs from artists like Etta James, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. He did a wonderful job and it was certainly a great relief to not have to rely on my family’s own collection of CDs!”

Jane’s Words of Advice
• Figure out what you want and then see if you can do it yourself. My mom
and aunt are great at home design so they signed up for decoration duty—
and the results were amazing, such as the mason-jar candle holders they hung from the roof of the barn.
• Shop local. You can usually get great deals from nearby vendors and even better deals if you know the owners personally.
• Bookmark Etsy.com, the online source for handcrafted and vintage goods. That’s where I found my wedding accessories and guestbook. I got everything I needed at great prices,
items I will forever treasure.

Budget Breakdown:
• Stationery: $286
• Bridal accessories: $50
• Photography: $150
• Flowers: $450
• Decor: $275
• Reception package (including food and drink): $3,100
• Alcohol: $150
• DJ: $500
• Guestbook: $95
• Favors: $100

Total: $5,156

Next: A Las Vegas wedding for $7,546 ►

Photo Credit: Rebecca Rafolski