Making a $3,000 budget work
So our budget is limited to $3,000. Part of the reason for a longer engagement is so we can actually save that $3,000. Even then, it's not much to work with.

I want a small, intimate wedding with immediate family only. I want to invest largely in the photographs because that is the only way I can really share with extended family and friends. And because the photographs are so important, I want to put the $3k towards photography, my dress, and beautiful floral details that will look amazing in pictures. I think it's reasonable.

But I'm also considering extended family and close friends, more for FH sake. I don't want to throw a cheap wedding, but we can't afford more than $10 a person. It's going to have to be a backyard pizza party or something.

I want to have memorable details, but I don't want to be remembered as throwing a cheap wedding reception. What about a potluck reception? Have people bring a dish in lieu of gifts?

Help :(

Married: 2+ years ago
Posted On: Jan 13, 2012 at 10:02 AM • Vendors are allowed • Add to My WatchlistFlag As Inappropriate1 like

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Married: 10/15/2011
Reviews: 7
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:05 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
I'm confused. Is 3K your total wedding budget, or is that only for the dress, flowers, and photography?

Married: 2+ years ago
Reviews: 5
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:08 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
Maybe you could ask about an american legion around you that might be able to help. Also photographs, since they are important to you and the fh, why not ask someone that is at the College around your home to shoot them??? They could use them for their portfolio and in the way they would not charge alot.

Also GOODWILL is awesome if you have one around you for decorations, use your imagination=]

Married: 2+ years ago
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:12 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
^ No, it's the total wedding budget. I wanted to put a large portion to the dress, flowers, and photography, but now I might have to set aside money for a reception for about 50 people.

Married: 04/28/2012
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:14 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
Did I read in another post that you're a photographer? If so perhaps you could do something in trade?

I would not recommend a potluck. I think you need to host whatever you can afford. Cake and punch mid-afternoon would be lovely. And there are low cost flowers and dresses out there that photograph extremely well. You could easily do a dress and flowers for under $500, hire a pretty reputable photographer for $1000, and then you have $1500 left over for a cake and refreshments for your guests.

Married: 2+ years ago
Reviews: 5
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:16 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
Agreed Kris!!! I think that 3000 is a ton of money if done the right way!!! =]

Married: 06/16/2012
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:24 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
My total budget is $3000 also, and let me tell you how it's gonna go....

My dress was $200 at david's bridal during the $99 sale (misleading name for a sale--- what they really mean is the cheapest dress is $99) but go dress shopping with your dress price nonnegotiable.... only try on stuff in your price range (ASK TO SEE THE PRICE BEFORE THE DRESS COMES OFF THE HANGER).

Our ceremony is taking place outside at a local park (charging us $100 to rent the venue)-- plus I found out if you make a big deal about them messing something up, they'll give crying brides additional discounts ;-)

I spent like $175 on all my flowers at a craft store, and am making my own bouquets... (I had no clue how to do this but youtube has lots of how to videos)-- see my picture below!

We are having a friend who is a photographer do ours. They they are charging us $100 per hour-- and we are just doing all the picture worthy stuff back-to-back. They are only charging us to take the pictures....

Married: 06/16/2012
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:27 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
and the photographer is giving us a CD with all the copyrights, and we can print and edit them as we like. (I've had a couple friends refer me to for photo editing.

Men's warehouse had $80 deal on tux rentals that look really nice (and, if you don't mind the jacket-less look for your guys (still with nice vest and tie).... it takes like another $40 off each tux rental.

We are only having about $80 people, and are having our reception at a local pub/restaurant that has a dark romatic atmosphere already, so we don't have to decorate very much... ipod playlist, and having a friend of ours MC the reception. Hope this helps.

Married: 2+ years ago
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
Lunch receptions are cheaper and I agree with Kris S. on getting a dress and flowers for under $500. Cake you can get for a reasonable price if you go through your supermarket (i.e. Publix, Tops, Safeway, etc.). Venues are the most expensive part of the wedding, but the best thing is to find one that you can have both the ceremony and reception. The cheapest venues are the halls from the clubs and lodges, apartment complexes and you can bring in your own food. A friend of mine had her wedding in one of the city organization halls and had her food catered by this local Italian restaurant and the cake was from Sam's Club. Decor you can get from Michaels. If you know somebody that can help out with things like hair, nails, flowers and the like, ask them.
Edited On: Jan 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Married: 06/16/2012
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
my $200 dress..... just so you know a $3000 budget can work, mine is!

Jess and Chris :)
Married: 09/07/2014
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:34 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
I have a $3000 budget and I have all the prices looked at we found a bbq place that caters for about $8.25 a person so we are looking into that to. I did my BM necklaces myself, my STDs, and invites. We dont exactly have a set date anymore so our budget could get bigger. DIY is a great way to save money.

Married: 2+ years ago
Reviews: 3
Jan 13, 2012 at 10:55 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
You CAN do it on a budget of $3000, trust me thats what my budget is and so far I ma $2000 under budget and I have 90% of my wedding stuff done already! Just make sure you never buy anything that is not on sale and check out second hand stores. I found my wedding dress there for $16, one of my bridesmaids found her dress at the same store for $15 and her wedding dress for $15. My sister had a TON of mason jars (centerpieces) for me so those were free, I already had the soy wax to make the jars into candles. I bought my wedding bouqet flowers on sale for 50% off so instead of them costing me $48 they only cost $24. We are having a coctail reception (just finger foods) My sister offered to marry us for free. A friend of mine is making our cupcakes (instead of a tiered wedding cake) for us for $30. It can be done! It just takes a little more research, creativity, and time to plan a unique small budget wedding.

Good luck hun, and Congrats!!

Hayley C™
Married: 2+ years ago
Reviews: 1
Jan 13, 2012 at 11:33 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
Just so you know... guest don't remember what type of flowers you have.... have you been to any weddings? Do You remember what the bride was holding or what was on the tables? What they DO remember for time to come is Food, Drinks, Music, and FUN!!!!! I would re-prioritize your spending a little to be more geared towards your guests.

Hair & make-up - $0 - DIY
Cake - $40 - Grocery bakery or DIY
Catering - $400 food - $160 Alcohol
DJ - $400 (find a great deal or craig's list?)
Dress & Alterations $250 (David's $99, local consignment shop)
Accessories - $40 (borrow veil, slip, jewelry from family)
Groom $100
Flowers $150 - pay florist to make you a really nice one and one for groom. DIY projects for others - pinwheels? coffee filter roses? crepe paper roses? (both below) DIY everything?
Invites and Stamps - $56 - clearance section Print at home kit - Use Vistaprint free items?
Rings - $50 - $25 per ring code "brides"

Edited On: Jan 13, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Married: 08/17/2014
Jan 13, 2012 at 11:34 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
we are pretty much having the same we are both finishing college are pretty broke and don't want to put our parents out financially. We are planning on having about 80 people at our wedding and are thinking of having an afternoon ceremony with a light tea and cake dessert reception. I like you have priorities for the day mine are my dress which is 600, photography (we are having a friend do it) 700 (for the day) the cake my mom and I are making. I am not sure exactly how much our budget will be but we are trying to keep it as small as possible without compromising things like good pictures, my dream dress, having a church wedding, and having all our friends and family there. I look forward to hearing more ideas! Goodwill and the Salvation Army are great! Glassware for centerpieces, punch bowls, canister like glasses for a candy bar, even invitation and thank you kits. The dollar store is great for flowers and centerpieces,paper plates, crape paper, and favor supplies!

Hayley C™
Married: 2+ years ago
Reviews: 1
Jan 13, 2012 at 11:35 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
Attendants? gifts - $16 - Dollar store glasses and glass paint or etching paste
Photography $900
Rental space $200 (outdoor park or something like Katy)

Total cost $3062

Married: 09/29/2012
Jan 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM • Flag As Inappropriate
$3000.00 is enough money if you budget it properly. For the photographer be prepared to spend anywhere from $800.00 to $1200.00 dollar so there goes alot of your budget, but if that is what's the most important detail of your wedding them splurge on that. For the flowers consider DIY projects, or fake flowers. They will both save you money and your guests can take home the arrangements as favors. Throw in a few tea candles on the tables and you have table decor. For your wedding dress I found a beautiful wedding dress for myself on a website called "carina wedding gowns". I paid $200.00 dollars for my dress and it was hand made and shipping was free. For food I suggest a mid day wedding and offer drinks and a small assortment of finger foods. That will save tons on your budget!! Hope this helps you out!!
Jan 13, 2012 at 12:04 PM • 
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Hidden On: Jan 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Married: 09/03/2011
Reviews: 5
Jan 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
You need to re-prioritize. You're right that photography is important, but the dress and flowers are really just for you- the guests don't really get to 'enjoy' those. Focus more on your guests. I only had a $5000 budget, but $3000 went straight to the guests for food & drink. It is possible to have a beautiful wedding on a budget- DIY as much as you can, look for dress sales or non-bridal dresses in white. You can do your own flowers- buy loose flowers in bulk or get the fake ones. I DIYed literally everything, saving me thousands, the flowers, decor, invites, heck even made my wedding dress. You can have a lovely wedding on that budget, just get creative!

Married: 2+ years ago
Jan 13, 2012 at 12:35 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
@kris - yes I am a photographer. I think a trade or trade discount might be an interesting idea. Being a wedding photographer and having a wedding is a conundrum. I'm inundated with lush details, gorgeous flowers and dresses and as I shoot these amazing details, I don't want anything less for myself.

I'm limiting details to things that are shown in pictures, so my flower budget will mostly go to a bouquet and maybe two arrangement as the altar. I'm doing a decorative cake table like the ones below after the ceremony. I'll keep the photographer for the ceremony and portraits only.

@akmprvn I really like the lunch reception idea, at a restaurant. It'll be cheaper since people don't drink at lunch, and I don't need to decorate or pay for rentals. I'm gonna skip all the dances/dancing.

@katie - beautiful dress! I was planning on a custom dress, but I suppose I could find an inexpensive dress and customize it a bit.

Thanks for the ideas, keep them coming :)

Married: 07/15/2012
Jan 13, 2012 at 12:35 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
my budget was $3000...but we had to up it [mainly cause I have a big wedding party] but as of right now, we only have the church booked, flower vender booked, and photography booked and we only have $300 dollars left on our budget...and in my area...thats the cheapest we can find

really though, GOOD LUCK! =]]
Jan 13, 2012 at 12:41 PM • Flag As Inappropriate
Okay, this is just my opinion, and I always tell my couples to spend as much as possible on their photographer, even if it's a great photographer for less hours. But everything has to be balanced; having a fab photographer and a gorgeous designer dress at a backyard pizza party...well...if I was a guest , I wouldn't appreciate that.

Your guests are what makes the day special; if they didn't, you'd be having a courthouse wedding with no one but your witnesses. But that's not what you're doing.

Cut the guest list to the bone, don't ask them to bring a dish, do something small and classy. You'll have a great time.
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