How To Have An Amazing Wedding On A Budget

Do You Take This Shoestring To Be Your Wedding Budget?  “I Do!”

Well, we did it!  We got hitched and we are now officially Mr. and Mrs. Money Monster.  Tonight is the last night of our Vermont Honeymoon and I couldn’t be happier to be starting this blog post.  My apologies for being MIA the past week, but, it was just unreasonable to think I could stay on the M-W-F blog post track during my wedding and honeymoon weeks.  In this post I’d like to focus on how we had an insanely unique and beautiful “wine” wedding on our “beer” budget…

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Here comes the bride – that’s me 🙂

Location, Location, Location

Mr. Money Monster and I wanted a unique and personalized wedding venue that didn’t break our piggy bank.  So, naturally, we asked Google.  I typed in something very creative like, unique wedding venues.  Our goal was to pick a venue that does not typically host weddings.  In doing so, we were hoping their price would not be the typical wedding price.  Originally, I wanted a rustic barn wedding.  Unfortunately, we don’t know anyone with a barn and all of the local barn wedding venues were charging standard wedding venue prices…an arm and a leg!  I didn’t realize how trendy barn weddings had become.  One such venue was asking $12,000 before they would even consider turning on the lights.  *gulp*  Since that was more than our entire budget, we didn’t even go to have a look.  Mr. Money Monster and I were paying for the entire gig out of our pockets so we needed to be smart.  Our goal was inexpensive and classy.  We were determined.

Okay, back to Google…

One such unique option that Google threw at me was a cave wedding.  Hmmmm…now that was interesting.  And, what was more interesting was that we had such a place about 30 minutes from our house.  We quickly called to set up an appointment to talk with the manager.

Our Ceremony Area

Our Ceremony Area – We stood at the podium between the candelabras

Venue Jackpot!

We arrived at the caverns and were awe-struck within minutes.  They had hosted weddings in the caverns before.  The cost?  $500.  Yup, I said $500!  They did not, however, ever have a reception in the caverns.  This was not up for discussion as far as I was concerned.  I’m embarrassed to say this was a mini Bridezilla moment.  Not having the reception in the caverns was not an option.

Did I happen to mention that we planned this in 3 months?  The proposal took place in mid-July and I always wanted an October wedding.  Instead of waiting another year, we decided to go for the gold and get it done this October.  Check!

Here is a list of ways we saved a ton of cash and still had an awesome day!

Officiant – A family friend performed our ceremony, but we still needed to hire a ‘real’ officiant to sign the documents afterwards.  However, since the officiant wasn’t a part of the ceremony, there was no need to have her there for the rehearsal.  That saved us 100 bucks.  Cha-ching!

Amazing Wedding On A Budget

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The Dress – I found the perfect dress online and didn’t hesitate to order it.  My back-up plan was to buy something off the rack at a local bridal shop if I didn’t like it in person.  I paid only a few hundred dollars and could not have been happier with the dress when it arrived on my doorstep.  It was amazing!  I understand that I totally got lucky here.  But there are definitely ways to dress beautifully without breaking the bank.  Just engage brain!

Wedding Party – The biggest trick to saving on a wedding party is to not have one 🙂  After all, it really is the bride and groom’s special day.  Personally, adding extra people was a huge stress we didn’t want to undertake.  Not to mention (but here I go anyway), I’m pretty sure my sister and best friends (as well as his pack) were glad to get out of the hassle and expense!

Photography – My (now) husband works in a field where he has access to talented individuals who are professional photographers, but don’t normally perform weddings.  Because of this, we didn’t pay a ‘wedding’ price.

Music – My niece has been dating a very talented musician for over a year now.  This is someone I have met on several occasions, at family functions.  He was happy to play at our wedding.  This is something we didn’t skimp on either.  We paid him a tidy sum to play during guest arrival and cocktail hour.  A total of about 1.5 hours.  Not having him play during the reception was a huge savings.  And let’s face it, after the food is devoured and the cake is cut, everyone just wants to cut loose.  A playlist on our iPhone worked just fine.

Make-up/Hair – I’m no stranger when it comes to putting on make-up.  Still, I was nearly compelled to hire someone to apply my make-up on the big day?  Why?  I don’t have a good answer for that, other than, that’s what you’re supposed to do.  Luckily, my frugal side kicked in and I said, “Wait a minute, I know how to put on make-up…and, in my opinion, I do it well!”  After that thought popped into my head I decided to use Google and YouTube to find the look that I wanted and I just copied that.  It was so easy.  I bought some new eye shadow and lip gloss at Kmart and away I went!  Now, remember, if you’re not used to putting on make-up just employ your friends and family members.  I’m willing to bet you know someone who puts on make-up and would be honored to help you out on your special day!

I did go have my hair done on my wedding day.  Fortunately, I wanted to wear my hair down.  Because of this, my salon didn’t charge me for a “wedding do”.  They charged me for a wash and style.  Perfect savings!  Just remember, associating anything with “wedding” will automatically give vendors an excuse to up charge on just about any item or service.  Be smart!

Flowers – If you choose the proper venue there really isn’t a need to dress it up.  The only flowers we ordered was my single bouquet.  It was a very classy (at least I’d like to think so) bouquet with 3 red roses, 3 calla lilies, and a few twigs.  Total cost:  $60.

Decorations – See statement above for flowers.  The only decorations we had were the candelabras, caved pumpkins, and mason jar candles.  That was it.  A few hundred dollars took care of it all.

NOTE:  Avoid associating anything with the word ‘wedding’ to avoid being overcharged.  We even did this with our cake.  We ordered a 3-tier party cake instead of a 3-tier wedding cake.  I can’t say for certain but I’m pretty sure this mattered…a lot.

Me enjoying our horseback ride in Stowe

Me enjoying our horseback ride in Stowe

The Honeymoon…Where The Magic Happened (please excuse this overtly cheesy title…I just couldn’t help myself 🙂

Despite not wanting to spend a ton of cash, we really just wanted to relax.  So, what we wanted and the amount it would cost just naturally aligned.  We decided to take a road trip from our home in Pennsylvania to Vermont.  We wanted to hike and we wanted to go horseback riding and we wanted good food and drink.

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Mr. Money Monster overlooking the Champlain Valley

Vermont was perfect!  We had a chance to hike quite a bit, including one hike along Lake Champlain –  no, we didn’t see Champ 🙁  In addition to hiking, we visited the Ben & Jerry’s Factory and Vermont Teddy Bear.  We paid $4/each for a tour at both places.  We also shelled out quite a bit for an authentic Vermont Teddy Bear that Mr. Money Monster and I made from scratch for Mini Monster.  We promised her a teddy bear, and we never break our promises, even though it meant we spent $80 *gulp – again* and we had to adjust our dinner budget to accommodate the purchase.  It was well worth it and we’re both looking forward to seeing her face light up when she opens it.

Bottom Line:  Use your creativity, imagination, and the people you already know to make your day and honeymoon spectacular!

Do You Have A Unique Wedding Story? Were you able to tie the knot on a budget? Tell us all about it!

39 comments… add one
  • Hue Lien Duxbury May 1, 2017, 10:06 am

    Awesome post. I hate to see couples start their marriage by spending too much on a wedding when it could go toward a down payment for a house. For our own wedding, I made our invites, we chose an afternoon reception at our fave restaurant and had a dragon dance that everyone still remembers! Total spent $5K.

  • TPOHappiness Jan 25, 2017, 5:31 pm

    Congrats on the wedding! Such an exciting time and even more so with your frugality! An example indeed.

  • ouellettem Jan 7, 2016, 4:29 pm

    Congrats and I am so impressed and happy to see the Teddy purchase. I am sure the mini monster will have fond memories of it forever.

  • Mrs. Dibidend Nov 13, 2015, 4:33 pm

    We saved a lot on doing our own invitations, not having a lot of flowers!, and only inviting close family and friends. We had a small wedding, but in great venue (close to the beach). I think we did pretty good and stayed within our budget. I can’t understand people who go into debt just to finance their “dream” wedding.

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 14, 2015, 9:34 am

      Financing a wedding is the worst! Unfortunately, I know of a couple who are still paying for their wedding after their divorce. Yikes. We did the same with the invites and flowers. If you have a great venue you really don’t need to waste money on decorations.

      Go Team 🙂

  • Maggie Nov 11, 2015, 8:25 pm

    Congrats you newlyweds, you! And excellent ways to save money! We got hitched nearly 10 years ago… but we got friends to do nearly everything. And to save even more money, we had a double wedding with my sister! 🙂 But that cave wedding looks awesome!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 12, 2015, 6:24 am

      The cave wedding was a bit more pricey than we anticipated, but still way more reasonable than a typical wedding venue. I must say, a double wedding was genius! Congrats on 10 years!

      • Maggie Nov 12, 2015, 11:29 am

        Thanks! And we never anticipated a double wedding, but it worked out!

  • wanderingwives Nov 3, 2015, 5:24 am

    Great advice. We found the package for our wedding on Groupon and it saved us a fortune. We also made all of our decorations and centre pieces, although that was very time consuming!

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 3, 2015, 9:44 am

      That is awesome! I love hearing how a little creativity (despite the sweat equity) and thoughtfulness and pack a huge financial punch. It also makes for a great story and memory!

      • wanderingwives Nov 3, 2015, 9:54 am

        There’s a few pictures of the stuff we created on our blog if you want to check it out

  • Claudia @ Two Cup House Nov 1, 2015, 4:25 pm

    Glad to hear you had an amazing and unique wedding and honeymoon! We had our wedding ceremony at Gifford Pinchot SP so that we could go back and visit often. It was also a rather frugal affair. 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster Nov 1, 2015, 6:45 pm

      Thank you! And congratulations on your wedding, as well! It’s always nice to hear from like-minded, frugal enthusiasts 🙂

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