Monday, January 11, 2010

Budget Bride? Breaking It Down – Part One

I’d do it again just to see the look on the wedding planner’s face when I told her we wanted to plan our dream wedding for $10,000 or less. Impossible, she told us. And you know what? She was absolutely right.

The truth is that from the beginning, I’ve considered myself a practical, frugal bride. Yes, I’ve ditched my original goal of planning the wedding for under $10,000. And yes, we’re now spending double that amount on our self-funded nuptials alone, even without the added cost of the honeymoon.

But while I still have moments where I go into total and utter sticker shock over how much my fiancé and I are spending on a one-day celebration, taking all things into consideration – including our incomes and the wedding-day aspects we feel are absolute musts – we are definitely keeping our costs at a level that is reasonable for us.

The part making me a bit uneasy is that although we’ve increased our budget to right around $20,000, not including the honeymoon, I still consider myself a savings-minded bride. I am looking for good deals anywhere and everywhere I can, have a relatively small guest list of no more than 100 close relatives and friends, and have said no to quite a few things that I feel are overly expensive and unnecessary, such as fancy floral décor for the church ceremony. In my eyes, my plans are unique, fun, and, most importantly, reflect what we want without being overly elaborate.

And in the end, maybe it’s all subjective. With The Wedding Report putting the average cost for the third quarter of 2009 at around $22,000, what one bride considers a “budget wedding” could seem extravagant and over-the-top to another. Plus, since our wedding will be held in a very expensive part of Southern California, we unfortunately get a lot less bang for our buck.

Coming up next, I’ll share a breakdown of our budget, along with my money-saving tips in each category, but right now, I want to know what you think. Am I crazy to call myself a budget-savvy bride? Have you increased your budget since starting to plan?

(Photo Credit: Google Images)


  1. Every bride and groom on a strict budget should be discount minded, so I think its perfectly okay to still look at discounts. That should keep your budget in check so it doesn't start climbing to $30k+. We are in the same boat, we definitely look for discounts to hopefully come in under budget.

  2. Our budget is also right around $20K since we are paying for it ourselves and considering we're getting married in Northern VA where EVERYTHING is expensive I think that's a reasonable amount. We are only able to stay within that amount by having less than 100 guests and doing a lot of things (like centerpieces) ourselves. I really don't know how people in a large metro area do it for much cheaper.

  3. Our budget has grown a little to be the same as yours. It started at $15k. We're planning for 120 guests. We're in the NY metro area, where weddings typically run MUCH higher than our budget. We've also taken advantage of discounts throughout our planning. I think being a budget-savvy means not going overboard with your spending and staying as close to your goal as possible. I'm interesting in seeing your breakdown!

  4. Considering you live in such a pricey area, I don't think you're crazy to call yourself a budget bride at all. At you can search the average cost of wedding by zipcode. You might've already used this tool, but if you haven't I wouldn't be surprised if the average cost of wedding in your area was higher.

    I feel the same way about our $13,000 budget. I feel like we are pinching pennies like no one's business and it's still an astronomical sum to me!

  5. My fiance and I are contributing to the wedding about the same amount that you and your fiance are contributing to yours. But since we have 400 guests that will be invited, and we live in the Bay Area, my fiance's parents will be covering the majority of the rest. In their culture, a wedding is a big thing that the parents save for, so even though we're spending a huge amount, no one is going into debt for it. Not going into debt = being budget-savvy to me.

  6. I don't think it's crazy at all. The term "budget bride" is all relative. This is a great write up and I'm looking forward to your next installment on it.

    We were able to save a lot just by choosing to do a destination wedding. It's not cheap, but we are definitely spending much less then we would have if we got married at home.

  7. I think you're right on! We're in Chicago, and going with $25K for about 100 people. Considering my zip code's average is $46-77K, I think we're doing OK!

    I'd also be interested to know what that $22K average really means -- are they including courthouse weddings too? I mean, there can be such huge differences! Compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. As the poster said above, try the cost of wedding calculator -- it'll make you feel great about what you're spending!